November 25, 2014

How Zeiss Puts Their Lenses Through Hell to Make Sure They Always Perform Well

Zeiss Lens Drop Stress Test
Our expensive filmmaking gear is never 100% safe, no matter how well it's protected, or how careful we are.

The truth is that accidents happen. Manufactures know this, and they (hopefully) build their products to withstand our abuse. Zeiss is one such company that goes out of its way to engineer their lineup of lenses to withstand a wide range of physical torture, everything from the obligatory lens drops to extreme changes in temperature and humidity. But just how do they carry out these rigorous tests? Here's a look inside the Zeiss Center for EMC and Environmental Tests, a place where wonderful lenses undergo cringe inducing experiments for the betterment of all lens-kind. It's truly a noble undertaking.

Obviously, it's never advised to push the limits of your gear to the extent that these Zeiss scientists do. But it's nice to know that when the going gets tough, your Zeiss glass is up to the challenge.

Do you have any horror stories about Zeiss lenses -- or any lenses -- that have withstood absurd amounts of abuse? Share them down in the comments!     

Your Comment

11 Comments

just this summer i dropped my 5Dmk3 with the canon 24-105L lens from roughly 2m onto stone floor. the quick change tripod plate was not locked in and the camera just fell off.

the lens had the sun cap on which might have been why it survived. the camera hit the floor with the lens first. one edge of the front of the lens where you screw your filters on broke off.

everything still works, IS, AF and there is no optical flaw. canon's L series is very sturdy as well.

November 25, 2014 at 9:30AM, Edited November 25, 9:30AM

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SL
filmmaker
97

Similar experience. To cut a boring story short, dropped 5D3 + 35L. It also had a speedlite on top. I thought there was a crack on the lens and a dent in the filter thread, but it turned out to be just the UV filter. It protected the lens completely.

I've seen lots of used lenses that have a dent in the thread, making it impossible to attach a filter.

So I'm a big fan of UV or clear filters now... quite apart from the fact that lenses where I haven't used them have sustained all sorts of micro damage over time, but the lenses with filters are still pristine.

November 25, 2014 at 5:47PM

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Adrian Tan
Videographer
1119

Same happened to me last week, but I was shooting a picknick setup on a sandbank out in the ocean and the camera and lens (5D2+24-105) fell into about 5 inch salt water and sand. I picked it up immediately and dried it, the body turned out to be unharmed but the lens had a lot of sand washed into the focus ring making a horrifying creep sound when turned. I needed the lens to work for the remainder of the shoot thus I took it apart and cleaned it during my lunch brake (there are youtube tutorials for that) had it working again in the afternoon of the same day but now sometimes the aperture value is incorrect and every now and then it gets an 'error 01' message telling me the body doesn't communicate with the lens correctly.
Under normal circumstances I wouldn't have gone to the length of opening the lens myself, but it is out of warranty anyway and I am currently in East Africa with no service center anywhere near, thus the DIY route was the only way to go!

November 26, 2014 at 3:07AM

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just this summer i dropped my 5Dmk3 with the canon 24-105L lens from roughly 2m onto stone floor. the quick change tripod plate was not locked in and the camera just fell off.

the lens had the sun cap on which might have been why it survived. the camera hit the floor with the lens first. one edge of the front of the lens where you screw your filters on broke off.

everything still works, IS, AF and there is no optical flaw. canon's L series is very sturdy as well.

November 25, 2014 at 9:31AM, Edited November 25, 9:31AM

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SL
filmmaker
97

I dropped canon 7d When i got it, but is was a sturdy camera it survived the fall, and worked for 4 years till I sold it and still working with someone else. its good to have strong and durable equipment. Thanks for the video.

November 25, 2014 at 11:18AM

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Aurelien Brentraus
Director/Cinematographer
182

That Zeiss ZE glass is my favorite glass to use however I thought it was all made in Japan. That guy is super German. Any word on where the video takes place?

I'm pretty rough on the glass that I use. I keep 3 or 4 primes on my hip and one on my camera at all times and I get down in the dirt or grass to get shots that call for it. I'm also very clumsy and some times end up in the dirt or grass unintentionally.

November 25, 2014 at 2:19PM

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Josh Paul
Most often DP, Direct or Gaff
1113

Why would Zeiss Glass have anything to do with Japan? It is a German company and their lenses are made in Germany (unless maybe some of their cheaper licensed products that end up in Sony cameras for instance).

November 26, 2014 at 3:13AM

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I think the ZE lenses say "Made in Japan" on the side... But that might mean something else I guess.

November 28, 2014 at 2:54PM

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Josh Paul
Most often DP, Direct or Gaff
1113

All the Zeiss ZE series primes are made in Japan. Designed in Germany, but made in Japan.

December 4, 2014 at 5:58PM, Edited December 4, 5:58PM

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Nathan T
DP
195

Dropped a Tokina 11-16 lens from about 4ft. The UV filter on the front shattered to pieces, but the lens continues to work fine. Good stuff too.

November 26, 2014 at 11:59PM

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Benton Collins
Camera aimer
380

Is it just me or does this guy handle a lens like someone who is not used to handling lenses??

I smell a rented lab. Everything in that lab is way too big for lenses.

December 7, 2014 at 7:00PM, Edited December 7, 7:00PM

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