Erhard Glatzel


Distinguished Optical Designer 1925 – 2002

Dr. Erhard Glatzel was one of the great lens designers of the twentieth century. He was born in the city of Marl in Germany and attended the University of Bonn where he concentrated in Mathematics. Then he completed his external doctoral thesis on steel hardening in association with the firm of Krupp in Essen. He handed in his thesis at the University of Cologne whereupon he received his Ph.D.

At this point in his life, he joined the firm of Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen. He was instrumental in continuing the tradition of excellence in lens design at Carl Zeiss at a critical time in the firm’s history. Dr. Glatzel designed numerous lenses of varied purposes but he was well known for his photographic objectives. Primary among these are the famous Hologon of 1964 and the Distagon that is the basis ~ for the modem double-bulge micro-lithographic lens. The Hologon was adapted for a special version of the Contarex camera, which was devoted solely to this lens. He designed a special wide-angle lens for the Hasselblad camera that was taken to the Moon. For this he was honored with a special award from NASA named “The Apollo Achievement Award.” He also was awarded with the Diesel Gold Medal as an “important, successful researcher.”

Most importantly, as the “chief optical designer of the company Carl Zeiss,” Glatzel brought Zeiss into the computer age with regard to optics design and developed the adaptive optimization method in lens design. He wrote several very important papers dealing with lenses and their design. Worth noting in English are the papers “New developments in Photographic Objectives” (1965 and, again, in 1975) and “New lenses for Micro-lithography (SPIE proceedings V 280, 1980).

Dr. Erhard Glatzel was an exemplary, creative scientist of the old school and was held in great esteem as a person and a colleague by everyone. His calm, prudent and yet humorous character fascinated anyone who knew him personally. His obituary reads “Do not mourn because the life is over but be glad because it was a good life.”

A few examples of his work follow:

Makro-PlanarThis exceptional lens was designed to enable the user to have an exceptional normal and macro lens for all sorts of applications.

It is universally accepted as the best of all macro lenses.

The lens is available in two focal lengths for the modern Contax SLRs: F/2.8 60 mm (as shown) and F/2.8 100 mm. It is also available for the larger format Contax 645 and Hasselblad cameras.

Dr. Glatzel developed an incredible new lens in the late 1960s. This new lens enabled extreme wide angle pictures in a 15mm lens with a 110┬░ field of view with virtually no Hologon Contarexdistortion in the picture. This allowed near panoramic picture in a normal sized camera. A special Contarex camera was designed to accommodate this lens. The camera shared the name “Hologon” with the camera.

When Zeiss Ikon went out of business in 1972, the Leitz approached Carl Zeiss to purchase the remaining stock of Hologon lenses for use on their Leica M series of cameras. Several hundred of these lenses were so adapted.

Both the Leica and Zeiss Hologon are prized items today and worth several times the purchase price in the 1970s.

When the recent new rangefinder from Contax named the G-1 and the newer G-2 were Hologon 2introduced, one of the four Carl Zeiss lenses announced was a special version of the Hologon.

This was an important part of the entire package for the first new 35 mm rangefinder camera in a good many years. Leitz, again, approached Zeiss about having access to this new lens but, based on contractual agreements with Kyocera Contax, this could not be done.





These are just a small sampling of the scientific accomplishments made during by Dr. Erhard Glatzel during his lifetime. Here is a view of the honor awarded him by NASA


NASA Award

glatzel2This is a picture taken of Dr. Glatzel at one of the seminars that he gave regularly. His presentation was based on his publications every five years that were entitled “New Developments in the Field of Photographic Objectives.”

In the 1969 edition, he went through the design steps and the formula that he developed with regard to the Hologon as well as the Distagon wide angle lenses, the Vario Sonnar zoom lenses and other Zeiss Photographic Objectives for which he was the lead scientist and designer.

These presentations were documented in German and English and he prepared other documents regularly for the scientific press to identify the means that he used to design the finest lenses of the era.