All of the above photos taken by a Carl Zeiss Photographer on Mon. 06.22.09 at the Carl Zeiss Optics Facilities in Aalen, Germany.
No grumbling about this write up of the June 22, 2009 Carl Zeiss Lens Factory Tour being late, how in the heck does one make the long tail long if one doesn’t feed the tail a wee later down the line? ;o)
All internet marketing jokes aside, the tour of the Carl Zeiss optics production facilities in Aalen, Germany, is hands down the best thing that has happened to me all year and I have had a good year so far. As I mentioned before, I love photography and I love factory tours, so to mix up a factory tour for photo lenses, I can’t think of a better combo!
All in all, I loved it. I loved seeing and hearing about all the processes that go into making Carl Zeiss optics and lenses for huge semiconductor lithography optics, to cinematography prime lenses (to film movies), all the way to the optics for tiny camera phone lenses.
We got to first tour the Carl Zeiss SMT AG facility in Aalen where over 600 researchers and 600 fabricators work on making semi-conductor UV lithography laser machines that are used by various other companies to ‘print’ ~75% of the computer chips in the world. Carl Zeiss is on the forefront of nano technology as it relates to optics and semi-conductors. This was a great place to start the day of touring Zeiss, as we got to see and hear about the future of optics.
From the SMT AG facility, we moved over to the main Zeiss AG headquarters facility that produces a wide range of optics including the lenses that are used on movie film cameras. As well as touring the Cinema lens facilities from start to finish, we also go to visit the Environmental Testing Lab.
The Environmental Testing Lab was the very bestest part of the whole tour as we got to meet a whole team of engineers whose whole job is to break lenses for a living. Yes, break stuff. How fun is that?
The Enviro team tests lenses and other optics in a wide variety of situations from simulating a truck or train ride, to a -20C/-4F room, a 55C/131F room, a rain room, and a horizontal gravity force machine to name a few. I was entranced by the lead engineer’s joy in his job to make sure that Zeiss lenses are the best out there all the while he gets to break things for a living!
As a wrap up to the day, after lunch, we met with Dr. Nasser and Oliver Schindelbeck who brought us into the Camera Lens division test space where they displayed a wide range of current Zeiss lenses ranging from Cinema lenses, to Hasselblad lens kits, to lenses for SLR cameras, microscopes, and, best of all, the ‘sugar cube’ lenses that get used in Nokia Nseries camera phones.
Dr. Nasser gave a wonderful speech on how optics works, particularly the optics of camera phone lenses, as well as demonstrating how their division tests for optical clarity of lenses.
All in all, the folks at Carl Zeiss do an amazing job at technological innovation, precision manufacturing, and they make great lenses.
Next up: My photos from the factory tour and the unedited version of my written notes.
More posts on the Carl Zeiss Adventure and the Nokia N86 (which has a Zeiss Tessar lens):
The Carl Zeiss Factory Tour, Before Departure
The Nokia N86: Phil Campbell’s Off-the-Cuff Review of Video Features
Carl Zeiss Lens Factory Tour
The Carl Zeiss Lens Factory, The Cinemizer Glasses
The Nokia N86: Dotsisx and Ms. Jen Weigh In
Dan Rubin’s Spectacular Hasselblad
The Nokia N86 – Review and Photos