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For more than 60 years the prestigious and internationally known iF design award has been given out. In this year’s edition, Carl Zeiss submitted three camera lenses and two cine lenses for the category ‘product design’ — and with success. From the more than 3,000 products which were submitted, only 981 received a prize. A total of five ZEISS lenses were presented with the world’s leading international product design prize on February 22, 2013 at a ceremony in the Munich BMW World.

Happy and proud about the five received Design awards: The teams from Carl Zeiss and Phoenix Design after the awards show in Munich.

Happy and proud about the five received Design awards: The teams from Carl Zeiss and Phoenix Design after the awards show in Munich.

The winners are the cine lenses Compact Zoom CZ.2 70-200/T2.9 and the ARRI/ZEISS Master Anamorphic MA 50/T1.9 which was developed with camera maker ARRI. Three new camera lenses for single-lens reflex (SLR) and mirrorless system cameras (CSC) also captured awards.

One of the lenses even received the coveted iF gold award for particularly exceptional design, which was presented to only 50 of the 981 prizewinners. It concerns a focal length in the new product family of autofocus lenses for mirrorless system cameras (CSC), which should be available on the market starting summer 2013. This lens will help cameras such as the Sony NEX and the Fujifilm X perform at their best.

And the winners are… Three camera and two cine lenses received the coveted iF product design award 2013.

And the winners are… Three camera and two cine lenses received the coveted iF product design award 2013.

One of the winners: The cine lens Compact Zoom CZ.2 70-200/T2.9.

One of the winners: The cine lens Compact Zoom CZ.2 70-200/T2.9.

And another awardee: the cine lens ARRI/ZEISS Master Anamorphic MA 50/T1.9.

And another awardee: the cine lens ARRI/ZEISS Master Anamorphic MA 50/T1.9.

The high-end SLR lens that will come on the market at the end of 2013 reflects the new design language the best: the funnel-shaped form, a surface that is soft to the touch, the optimized focus ring and other details will contribute to even better manageability and an unmistakable look.

The high-end SLR lens that will come on the market at the end of 2013 reflects the new design language the best: the funnel-shaped form, a surface that is soft to the touch, the optimized focus ring and other details will contribute to even better manageability and an unmistakable look.

Prize winners: the upcoming lens family for mirrorless system cameras. On the picture: The Distagon T* 2,8/12.

Prize winners: the upcoming lens family for mirrorless system cameras. On the picture: The Distagon T* 2,8/12.

An autofocus lens from the new family for mirrorless system cameras picked up the iF gold Award. The jury remarked: “The quality of the production clearly exceeds that of most other products. Impressive precision work. The combination of the two different materials succeeds very well.  Sophisticated technology and good ideas led to this convincing result.”

An autofocus lens from the new family for mirrorless system cameras picked up the iF gold Award. The jury remarked: “The quality of the production clearly exceeds that of most other products. Impressive precision work. The combination of the two different materials succeeds very well. Sophisticated technology and good ideas led to this convincing result.”

In conferring the iF product design awards, the jury has paid tribute to an entirely new design approach at Carl Zeiss Lenses. Martin Dominicus, Head of Marketing of the Carl Zeiss Camera Lens Division, says: “For the first time, we have established a design language that aims to convey the strengths and the identity of our lenses already through their appearance, how they feel to the human touch, and the impression they create." The new product design language, which will be applied to all future lenses, was created in collaboration with the Stuttgart design studio Phoenix Design. "While ZEISS lenses have until now mainly been known for their technical precision, excellent image performance and ergonomics, our lenses will now also meet the highest aesthetic standards of our customers by becoming design objects in and of themselves," explains Dominicus. “Not only are functional aspects such as convenient handling and operation important, but also the effect that is communicated through high-quality design."

Especially when faced with poor lighting conditions, it is important that a photographer or cinematographer can quickly read the parameters of his lenses at one glance.

Especially when faced with poor lighting conditions, it is important that a photographer or cinematographer can quickly read the parameters of his lenses at one glance.

The new design language was developed in an extensive two-year process that involved in-depth interviews with experienced users and business partners. The result is a new corporate design guide that serves as the basis for representing the new design language of ZEISS lenses. Tom Schönherr, co-founder and partner of Phoenix Design, explains: “From the brand values of ZEISS lenses we derived product characteristics for the areas usability, perception and technology which should be mirrored in the product design. Attributes such as logical, reliable and user-oriented are reflected in the new concept for labeling and manageability."

Through numerous tests and discussions, Carl Zeiss and Phoenix Design have created a design language that will make ZEISS lenses truly unique and unmistakable in the future – in both image quality and product design.

Through numerous tests and discussions, Carl Zeiss and Phoenix Design have created a design language that will make ZEISS lenses truly unique and unmistakable in the future – in both image quality and product design.

The guide describes the characteristics that will distinguish the ZEISS brand in all future products, ensuring recognition across all product lines. Brand recognition will be reflected in such form elements as contour lines, the look and feel of the operating areas, and the properties of the surface. New features include an optimized focus ring, a smooth coating, and a stray light lens hood which presents itself as an optical component part of the camera lens. The lens hood's funnel-shaped form which faces upward signals the high speed and performance which ZEISS lenses are known for, among others.

But there are also some novelties in the area of typography. In order to create uniformity and optimal recognition in the future, the names and scales on the lenses will all be in the standardized typeface DIN 1451.  This typeface is not only known for its clear, classic and modern appearance; it has been used for German road and rail signage since 1936. The advantages are obvious: key lens parameters such as f-number and focal length will be quickly discernible and easily legible — even in poor lighting conditions. These are things that photographers and cinematographers value highly because they make it easier to handle a lens.

“The five iF product design awards confirm that, together with Carl Zeiss, we have succeeded in creating a truly distinctive design. Especially when it comes to a lens, this is a big challenge because the scope to influence the design is very limited. Nevertheless, we have come up with a new and modern design language consisting of few but characteristic elements that we are sure will gain acceptance with users,” says product designer Schönherr.

Dominicus adds: "For us it was important that the appearance of ZEISS lenses be just as unique as their technical characteristics. We have developed a concept that enables Carl Zeiss to achieve its premium claim more consistently in the future: uncompromising technology with outstanding product design."

Through numerous tests and discussions, Carl Zeiss and Phoenix Design have created a design language that will make ZEISS lenses truly unique and unmistakable in the future – in both image quality and product design.

Carl Zeiss and Phoenix Design discussing the new design for ZEISS lenses.

ZEISS lenses have been around for more than 120 years, but this is the first time that Carl Zeiss is focusing specifically on the aesthetics of the finished product already during the development of the lens. The newly defined design attributes will shape the look of ZEISS lenses and make them unmistakable for the next few decades and beyond.

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32 Comments

  1. Hannes

    Again, congratulations! I love the new product design of these lenses.

    But finally it’s time to give us more information about these new E-Mount lenses, don’t you think? ;)

    Reply
      1. Hannes

        Okay, I’ll wait as long as it takes. I’ll have fun with the 24mm lens until then. :)

        Thanks for this response anyways and sorry if you feel harassed by my attempts to get more infos from you.

        Reply
      2. Lawson Lu

        Just, can we, launch the 1.4/55mm SLR lens much earlier to the market, instead of the end of Y2013.
        Only, killer, release the fancy information so earlier without a realistic product offering schedule…

        Reply
  2. AquilaN

    Sorry, I don’t like a design of Phoenix studio :( It looks like experiment with Porche as a designer of lanfuage for Kyocera FS-820. I wish to see old design like Contax RTS/G or ZE/ZF.2 lens line. I hope good days will return :)))
    Best regards, WZ.

    Reply
  3. Wolf Rainer Schmalfuss

    WZ: The old Porsche/Contax days will be I’m afraid not return. I personally had the chance to hold the prototype of the Apo 1,4/55mm in my hands and I had a very good handsome feeling. ´But like it is with everything, its always a matter of taste!

    Reply
  4. Hannes

    I quite like the new design – finally lenses that look as modern as they are – just hope the focus ring is grippy enough. Still waiting for a picture of the 50mm f/2,8 macro for E-Mount though …

    Reply
    1. Wolf Rainer Schmalfuss

      Hannes: The rubber ring of the focus and f/stop is stunning grippy, to my opinion and feelings!

      Reply
      1. Hannes

        @Wolf Rainer Schmalfuss: Thank you for this info! I didn’t have the option to try them yet, unfortunately, but I can’t wait to get my hands on them!

        Reply
  5. Alexander

    Certainly a welcome and much anticipated addition to the e-line. I recognize there’s no firm release date available, but for a number of NEX users who are about to invest into some recently released Sony glass, it would be good to know at least a ballpark idea of when these are hitting the market. Q1, Q2, Q3? Personally I am about to purchase the SEL-1018 and the popular SEL-35F18, but I might just hold off for these primes so long as it’s not an eternal wait…

    Zeiss team?

    Reply
    1. ZEISS Camera Lenses

      Dear c.d.embrey,

      A 2.8/50 macro is already in development. But we cannot say anything about further focal lengths right now. We’ll keep you posted.

      Best regards
      Carl Zeiss Lenses Team

      Reply
  6. Shahbaz Ahmed Khan

    I don’t Understand anything about lenses.
    What is the difference between a Sony Lens and
    a Carl Zeiss lens.

    Reply
  7. Pieter kers

    When i look at the 1,4 55mm lens and the ARRI/ZEISS Master Anamorphic MA 50/T1.9 lens, I get the feeling that dirt could come between the distance scale and the housing…
    Or am I mistaken?

    Reply
  8. Alexander

    Zeiss team – with a few upcoming Sony announcements within a week or two, can you give us some more insight about these lens? Also, are there any zoom lenses in development for the e-mount system in the works?

    Reply
    1. ZEISS Camera Lenses

      Dear Alexander,
      sorry but we have no further announcements at the moment. Just follow our channels for new information regarding our upcoming products.

      Best regards,
      Carl Zeiss Lenses Team

      Reply
  9. I am interested in what other focal lengths will be available in addition to the 55/1.4 lens. In particular, I am hoping for a 35/1.4 lens in this series. Will the Zeiss representative be able to reveal the other focal lengths, especially the wide angle lens(s)?
    Thanks,
    Zoran

    Reply
  10. Yan

    I love the look of the lens however I am worry about the plastic on them. When i buy lens from Zeiss or Voightlander or Leica. It is not only for the Image quality but for the feel of metal.. Well made lens.. I am crossing my finger however looking on Leica’s side.

    Reply
  11. I had an opportunity to hold a CarlZeiss a long long time ago when I was young courtesy of a rich friend – it was the Contax (RX? sorry forget the code) and I was happy with it. Even in low concert lighting it gave pretty good impression.

    The new design I like very very much. It’s got clean lines, uncluttered, and very NASA. Just wish I were filthy rich. Sigh. But I’m just a poor street photograapher..Sigh.

    Kudos Zeiss team. Bravo.

    Reply
  12. Lee M

    The 55 f/1.4 looks gorgeous. Any sample images available? I see that the E-mounts are made in Japan. Will the 55 be made in Germany?

    Reply
    1. ZEISS Camera Lenses

      Dear Lee M,
      sorry no sample images yet. It will be produced in Japan as well.
      Best regards,
      Carl Zeiss Lenses Team

      Reply
  13. The 12 mm f.2,8 looks lovely. But why cant zeiss also make this available for A mount. It cant be that hard to make a lens so it fits every camera.
    Another thing. I miss a quality 24-105 f.4,0 and a quality 70-200/100-300 f.4,0. Is this in any plans available sometime in the future.

    Reply
    1. Hannes

      These lenses “only” have an APS-C sized image circle, which would render them useless on ff A-Moutn bodies. And they are built for the short flange focal distance of the E-Mount, so it’s not possible to use them on any SLR. Not with this optical design.

      In other words: Yes, it’s IS very hard to build a lens that fits every mount, especially with systems that are so drastically different. If you want a lens to use on every camera, look for the system with the longest flange focal distance, buy huge adapters, and be happy.

      Reply
  14. Paul

    Any news when the 12/2.8 will be available and what the price will be ? Will I be able to use it on my mid July holidays ? ;-)
    tnx & greetings

    Reply
    1. Hannes

      A zone focusing DOF scale is not possible when using focus by wire (how should it? The focus ring turns infinitely without any stops). And if you make a DOF scale which is electronically controlled, well, it adds electronic parts which could fail, it adds complexity, it needs better calibrated lenses for front- and back-focusing (which otherwise is not important with by wire focus systems) and all that adds to the price in the end.

      Reply
      1. Vladislav

        Not possible… until someone with better engineering imagination actually does it, right? Examples: Fujifilm XF 14mm F2.8, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm. Olympus m.Zuiko 17mm F1.8. Yes, there are more, and no, they are not electronically controlled scales. I expected more from a new Zeiss design, form over function. I wonder is someone from Carl Zeiss going to comment…

        Reply
        1. Hannes

          Yep, I know these lenses. But they have a push-pull-focusring, which I suppose has hard stops at both ends in the MF position (?).

          I guess this would be nice, but not possible with the current design of the Zeiss lenses – and they for sure don’t want to make the awesome design look any worse. ;) Form over function? Maybe, but a DoF scale would be nice, I’d like to have one, but it’s not absolutely necessary for most types of photography (even for night landscapes, focusing using live view works quite good).

          Reply

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