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March 25, 2012

Your questions answered: 6 unique insights into the world of Carl Zeiss

Carl Zeiss and Nokia have been working together for seven years. In that time the partnership has produced a host of amazing camera phones, from the very first Nokia N90 to the world’s best camera smartphone, the Nokia 808 PureView. But what exactly makes Carl Zeiss so different to other lenses? The Nokia Connects community recently asked this and a bunch of other great questions. Now, those optical maestros at Carl Zeiss have given us their answers. Here’s what they had to say.

What difference will I see in a picture taken with a Carl Zeiss lens in comparison to other lenses?

Carl Zeiss quality standards ensure high and even sharpness over the whole image area. There are no blurred zones, no excessive flare. Good control of internal reflections preserves the natural colours and all that delivers high fidelity images. If the image isn’t enlarged too much they even match the quality of much larger digital still cameras.

What special skills do you need to make a camera phone lens?

You need to know modern optical design, which can handle very complex lens shapes, lens molding and mounting techniques. You also need to be able to use many, many measurement tools for quality assurance.

What’s so special about the Nokia and Carl Zeiss working relationship?

When Carl Zeiss and Nokia, the leaders in optics and mobile electronics, joined forces our aim was to create the world’s best cameraphones. Our working relationship combines the expertise and knowledge of two leading companies. We have an intense and trusting partnership. This allows us to share roadmaps and to work jointly on technology developments at very early stages in great detail. It means we can continue our long history of creating unique products, together.

What’s the toughest challenge in making a camera phone lens?

The toughest challenge is to achieve, when compared to regular camera lenses, an incredible high resolution, while keeping the size of the lens and the camera as small as possible at the same time. Thinness is a crucial success factor for cameraphones and only really outstanding cameras like the one in the Nokia 808 PureView are allowed to get a few more millimeters in size. The lens in the Nokia 808 PureView is close to the diffraction limit, a physical law that limits the resolution of a lens. It is not possible to build lenses with a higher resolution than permitted by the diffraction limit. The extraordinary resolution is necessary for the large number of pixels of the sensor to be able to capture the fine details in your photography.

What’s so good about the Nokia PureView 808 lens?

The lens for the Nokia PureView 808 achieves a resolution, which is 75% of the diffraction limit. The only way it could be much better would be if the f-stop number were smaller, which would mean a larger diameter hole. If it contained an iris to be stopped down it would only get worse, different from normal photographic lenses. To achieve this resolution in an affordable mass market product is our greatest challenge.

How will Carl Zeiss lenses improve in the future?

We’ll aim to design lenses, which will respond to new sensor technology and new sensor functions to offer stunning opportunities in pocketable imaging.

I’m sure you’ll agree, the guys and girls at Carl Zeiss have given us a fascinating insight into their work. If there’s anything else you’d like to know about one of the world’s oldest existing optics manufacturers, drop us a line here or at @Nokia_Connects.