Zeiss is one of the most well know optics manufacturers in the world. They make or have made optical lenses for virtually every purpose and these days their lenses can be mounted to almost every major camera brand. As such, they have a deep history and have had many well-loved lens lines come and go over the years. One of those is the legendary Biotar line.
A new report out of Leica Rumors indicates Zeiss could be exploring the possibility of bringing the Biotar line of lenses back, specifically mentioning a 75mm F1.5. This part of the report notes that it comes from an individual who spoke with Zeiss and ‘said they said’. So clearly, some rather large grains of salt are needed at this point.
To add a bit of credibility to this report, the likes of Lomography and Lensbaby have been doing well with their vintage inspired lenses. Plus it’s no secret those lenses have a character modern glass just doesn’t give you.
But interestingly, the report got some additional legs when it was discovered that the Biotar name was recently trademarked in April of this year. However, in a weird twist, it appears that it may not have been Zeiss that registered the trademark. The company now thought to have registered the trademark was, in fact, Myer-Optik Gorlitz, the very same outfit behind those various Kickstarter Campaigns that have been getting so much attention over the last few years.
So at this point, it seems unclear if Zeiss is possibly working with Myer-Optik, or if both companies are planning to use the same name? If that is the case, it would seem to be a case where some sort of legal scuffle would have to be had to decide who got to use that name. Afterall, historically Zeiss had and used the Biotar name long ago… but it appears Myer-Optik registered it very recently. So it would need to be sorted out if Zeiss still controlled the name, or it was dormant for so long that Myer- Optik is allowed to take it over. This would fit Myer-Optik’s MO of late though, bringing old lens designs to modern photographers.
The other idea is that maybe they are partnering on the project, which to me seems more likely than both companies simultaneously developing their own lenses with the intent of using the same name.
Also as a brief history lesson, The Biotar lenses go back to the 1930’s, and the well-known Helios 44-2 58mm soviet many mirrorless photographers love to play with is actually a clone of the 58mm F2 Zeiss Biotar lens. So this is the legend we are talking about here, and bringing these back for a modern audience would be big news.
Seriously, there is no doubt that a new 75mm F1.5 lens would raise some eyebrows – especially if it was natively available for mirrorless mounts and priced aggressively. Zeiss has recently been more aggressive about pricing – look at the new Nikon 28mm f1.4 and the Zeiss 35mm f1.4 Milvus; they’re pretty much the same price. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes of this. Be sure to check out the full report over at Leica Rumors.