Zeiss influenced history from the birth of optics to cutting-edge modern technology
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When I started my series about the history of lens development, I had planned three articles ending at the turn of the 20th Century. By that time many modern, excellent lenses had already been developed and it seemed a natural stopping point. After my series of 3 articles, I planned to return to 1840 and start on the history of cameras. However, I am the poster child for that old saying, “when I want to give God a good chuckle, I tell him what my plans are.”
Stopping after the first three articles left out three major lens developments, and after some prodding I wrote a fourth article about the development of the telephoto lens. That sort of leaves things unbalanced, because I haven’t said anything about the other extreme: wide-angle lenses.
Wide angle lenses are even more different from standard lenses than telephoto lenses are, so I just couldn’t rest until I’d covered the development of wide-angle lenses too. The last major lens development will wait a while longer. (I know you’re thinking Lensbabies are the last major lens development, but actually I’m referring to zoom lenses.)...
For those who missed all the excitement, in Part 1 of this series I discussed that almost all modern SLR lenses derive from one of 6 types of lenses that were basically in use by the 1920s. Part 1 covered the first three lenses: the Symmetrical, Double Gauss, and Petzval lenses. Those three lenses give rise to almost every “standard range” prime lens (40 to 85mm) for SLRs and slightly longer and shorter lenses for medium format and rangefinder cameras. As we discussed in the first article, knowing the original type of lens lets us predict the type of aberrations it will be prone to.