Grandson of Famed Zeiss Designer Owns ‘Holy Grail’ Collection of Glass


When your grandfather was Dr. Erhard Glatzel, one of the great lens designers of the twentieth century, it won’t come as too much of a shock to find out that you’ve inherited two lenses that, by all accounts, don’t officially exist. Other people? Well, they might be a little bit surprised… and a lot bit jealous.

The two lenses in question are the Distagon 25mm f/1.4 and Distagon 18mm f/2.8. Up until Reddit user Raspberryrob revealed their existence on the MFlenses forum, most of the details regarding these lenses came as rumor. The serial numbers on Rob’s lenses don’t match any of the four prototypes known to exist (2 prototypes per).

These prototypes (including Rob’s, and perhaps a few more never reported) never saw a production run and are some of the rarest glass in existence. In short, Rob is a very lucky guy, who could make a small fortune if he put these up at the WestLicht auction.

Here are a few pictures of the lenses:







Dr. Glatzel also designed the famous Planar 50mm f/0.7 used by Stanley Kubrick to film the candlelight scene in Barry Lyndon. There are only 10 of those in existence.

Rob was granted ownership of the 18 and 25mm lenses when his grandfather died and passed his camera bag down to him. In there was a small treasure trove of Zeiss glass (sadly no 11th 50mm f/0.7) complete with a Contax RTS and, of course, these two “holy grail” lenses as they’ve been referred to recently.

For more info and some sample images, check out the original forum post. In addition to getting some great lens discussion, a few well versed lens historians end up chiming in and offering some wonderful insight.

(via Reddit via MFlenses)

Image credits: Photographs by Raspberryrob

  • check yourself

    Damn. I just hope he doesn’t do anything stupid with them.

  • a

    50mm F0.7?! Holy fuckin’ god, I want it all and I wan it NOOOWW!!!

  • Joe Shaffer

    SLR Magic makes a 50mm T/.95. Unless you want to sell your everything… I think that’s about as close as us mortals will get.

  • Caca Milis

    Will it blend! That is the question.
    Zeiss dust, don’t breath it!

  • Mdt

    Could someone explain why this is so significant? Why is it such such a big deal that these two fast wide angle primes exist? Is it just because they never had a production run?

  • harumph

    “…used by Stanley Kubrick to film the candlelight scene in Barry Lyndon.”

    It wasn’t just a single scene, although the wikipedia entry you linked to can be misread easily due to the wording. There are many natural light/low light scenes in Barry Lyndon that Kubrick shot with this lens. It’s definitely a film that every photographer should see.

  • Peter Morenz

    Why do you want this? Do you live by candlelight? Learn to shoot as a photographer, and you will not need to rely on shallow depth of field to make your images shine! I mean absolutely no disrespect, but I feel your talent should lie in your ability to tell a story with your image, rather than impress by your ability to focus.

  • harumph

    You’d say that to Stanley Kubrick as well?

  • Gannon Burgett

    Correct; scarcity.

  • Torben Greve

    Haha :D

  • Jay Javier

    Peter M: Stanley Kubrick did not want to, and did not “need to rely on shallow depth of field to make your images shine” when he used the 0.7/50mm lens. He wanted to use no extra lighting which will ruin the effect of candlelight and windowlight in the Baroque/Rococo scenes of Barry Lyndon. Kubrick wanted to put in his frames the quality of pictures he’s seen on paintings from that epoch. That’s being a photographer (Kubrik had once been)- knowing what tools to use to get a specific image on the film (or sensor). :) Any one else may be opting to do this and they would have equally valid reasons (than just shallow foci effects) to want this type of lens as well.