Friday, May 11, 2007

Worlds Largest Non-Military Lens

The Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* was designed by Carl Zeiss to be the world's largest nonmilitary camera lens. The 1,700mm lens weighs more than 550 pounds, is larger than a refrigerator, and gives a medium-format camera a telephoto factor of almost 29X. Don't expect to actually see it in the wild anytime soon, though; the Apo Sonnar T* is a special project from Carl Zeiss and costs as much as a small house.

Never before has the world of photography seen such a lens. The ZEISS Apo Sonnar T* 4/1700 was developed by Carl Zeiss for a customer with very high demands and a special interest in long distance wildlife photography. To achieve the highest possible image quality, the customer decided on the Hasselblad 203FE 6x6cm medium format camera and ZEISS lenses as the best combination for his special needs.

At a focal length of 1700mm and a speed of f/4, this project even challenged the manufacture of the optical glass. The delicate, special glass types required for this unique design had never been cast before in such huge dimensions. Some of the resulting lens blanks weighed more than 25 kg (55 lbs.) and were valued more than a luxury sedan! Turning these blanks into the finished lens elements added even more to their value.

The design of the ZEISS Apo Sonnar T* 4/1700 required new lens assembly techniques and quality assurance methods never before applied in photo lens production – even by Carl Zeiss’ normally high standards. The finished lens weighs a staggering 256 kg (564 lbs.), placing unique demands on the focusing mechanisms. To address this issue, Carl Zeiss developed a totally new way of operating a telephoto lens, including servo controlled aiming and focusing systems like those used in large telescopes and similar instruments for astronomical scientists.

Drawing from its expertise in developing and producing satellite and space optics, as well as ultra-high resolution microlithography lenses for semiconductor fabrication, Carl Zeiss was happy to accept this challenge.

The resulting Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 4/1700 lens consists of 15 optical elements in 13 groups. It is the largest telephoto lens ever produced for civilian photographic purposes and a testament to the precision design and manufacturing capabilities at Carl Zeiss.

Photo: Apo Sonnar T* 4/1700: the largest tele lens for non-military applications across the globe.

One must wonder what the military is using?

For those who are interested, you will probably need to fabricate some kind of adapter to mount this animal to your cell phone. Good luck.


Anderson Nation said...

Yeah Buddy!! That's what I'm talking about!! I bought one of these babies last night, hooked it to my Sanyo phone, but when I hit the picture button, the weight of the lense keeps closing the phone. I have to use two hands to hold the lense up and to hold the phone open. I wanted to get some good useage before I wrote my product review:

Like I said, the weight is the big issue with it. I'm used to toting my big fat wallet around, so I can carry it easily in one hand, but, like I said, it will pull the phone closed. Also, the price is a bit steep. I paid just under a hundred fifty thou, plus traded my dentures and a small cow.

I do love the quality of the pictures I took so far. I got some awesome shots of Sheryl Crow's benefit concert in Mars' Grey's Stadium. (She was up there helping the little critters with their global warming problem.) Although I did bust her in some comprimising shots, using seventeen (17) sheets of Charmin concert confetti for her post-party, um, cleanup. Well, see the Mars article on this site, and then the Sheryl Crow article on this site, and you'll see what I mean.

Anyway, I guess I got a bit off topic. Sorry. I give this lense three thumbs up.

The Gamin said...

Surprised you have Any thumbs, or fingers, or hands, or arms, or back after toting this baby around!
Please keep us informed as you go through your review paces. We would like to see some pics from that Sanyo/Zeiss combination.
And I bet your 'big fat wallet' is not so fat anymore. Your original strength must have come from lugging that wallet around. Could you bench press it?