Zeiss Has Left the Photo Industry: Report [Updated]

According to a new report, Zeiss appears poised to fully exit the photography industry this year and will cease production of cameras and lenses.

While unconfirmed, the report was originally published as a Fred Miranda forum discussion and spotted by The Phoblographer. Details are scant and the story is based entirely on a secondhand “confirmation” from a photographer who spoke with an Australian distributor.

“Hi all, I just had confirmation today from the Australian distributor, that Zeiss are discontinuing all of their still lenses and filters: no more Loxia, Batis etc. End of an era,” the forum post reads.

PetaPixel reached out to Zeiss for comment, but the company did not respond.

At the time of this writing, the Zeiss website continues to feature a section dedicated to its still photography products.

A screenshot of the Zeiss website Photography section on June 7th, 2023.

A Long Time Coming?

While many have expressed sadness at hearing that Zeiss, once one of the premier optics brands in the industry, would cease to support photographers, some were quick to point out that this has been a “quiet retreat” for years now, pointing to the company’s focus on smartphone optics partnerships rather than the production of new, standalone camera lenses.

In fact, Zeiss hasn’t produced a camera lens since 2018 — the 40mm f/2 Batis. Since then, the company has mainly focused on smartphones outside of the $6,000 ZX1 camera.

That fixed-lens camera was, unfortunately, unsuccessful and Zeiss ceased support for it earlier this year. The ZX1 took years to develop and was likely an exceedingly expensive flop. It would not be surprising to find out that the failure of the ZX1 is directly tied to Zeiss’s current position in the camera industry.

Perhaps more telling is that Zeiss started to offload some of its lens sale and repair services to Kenko Tokina in 2021. While this only affected Japan, it does perhaps show that Zeiss was slowly taking a step back from the photography industry.

While Zeis may be exiting the still photo camera industry, it’s not likely it will stop supporting the filmmaking community. Zeiss very recently expanded its Supreme Prime Radiance lens line-up with four full-frame optics: 18mm, 40mm, 65mm, and 135mm.

The company uploaded the video above that discusses the cinema lenses just two days ago. To jump ship now would be extremely unusual.

All of this, including the initial report, remains speculation until Zeiss issues a formal comment.

Update: Zeiss ‘Sort of’ Refutes Rumor

While PetaPixel has still not heard from Zeiss directly, Sony Alpha Rumors spoke with Zeiss photographer Greg Waterman who says the company refutes the rumor. Again, this is all second hand.

“Zeiss has not withdrawn from the photo lens market,” the company told Waterman. “A simple look at Zeiss.com or Amazon.com shows that we are still promoting and selling our photo lenses.”

The company says this, despite the fact the discontinued ZX1 is still listed on the company’s website and appears to be actively promoted. Beyond that, while that quote sounds definitive, Zeiss followed it up with one that again raises questions.

“But we have to face the facts. In the first months of the pandemic, the global market declined significantly and irreversibly. And companies have to adapt. And, of course, we are bringing our unique expertise to mobile imaging. Because it is also clear that consumers, as well as ambitious and professional photographers, increasingly prefer their smartphones for all-day photography.”

So while Zeiss says it isn’t exiting photography, it follows that up with a quote that immediately questions that. Without knowing more information or hearing from the company directly, it’s hard to say for sure what is happening. That said, what is likely to happen here might just be the Samsung strategy: deny the exit from the industry vehemently while slowly disappearing.