Carl Zeiss Lenses Endure Hours of Vibrations in Their Stress Tests

Carl Zeiss is known for their decades of precision optics and world-renowned quality. All this would be nil if the lenses could stand up to a jolt now and then right?

In a photographer’s bag, lenses seem to get the roughest treatment out of everything else in there. Constant mounting, un-mounting, accidental drops, and just plain old rolling around in a crowded bag full of metal objects. There’s so much that could go wrong during the life of a lens that the temptation is almost too great to just buy cheap and plan on replacing frequently. Carl Zeiss says no; that’s not the answer.


When you look at the rigorous stress tests that these lenses go through and the conditions they are subjected to, it makes that high price seem a whole lot more sensible. What would you expect a lens to do optically after 12 hours of repeated and varied vibrations? Massive variances in temperature change? Jarring shocks simulating drops? I would think the elements shift a bit, the focus might be a bit less accurate, or possibly even the back focus gets thrown out. I’m sure this is the case for a whole lot of lenses out there on the market (especially autofocus lenses which are subject to lots of errors), but that is not the case with Carl Zeiss lenses. The lenses are designed for a more rugged-use life and they are built with that intent in mind. The lenses were optically checked before and after the tests:

The focus of the lens, and the optical performance (here the modulation transfer function, MTF) were measured before and after the test to determine usability in practice.
Even after hours of vibrations, there was no verifiable change to the back focal distance. The optical elements of the lens remained stable in their position and the focus was also unaffected in its one-time setting despite the multiple amplified vibrations.

Take a look at Carl Zeiss’s page on the test here for more info and specifications on the test. While these results are specific to the industrial line of optics that Carl Zeiss makes, the testing is very similar to their photography and cine lenses.

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