Zeiss has posted a blog article that talks about the inception and development of its latest line of lenses, led by the 55mm F1.4 that was first shown at Photokina last year. Titled 'No Compromise', it explains how the company is aiming to meet the demands of the latest high resolution sensors, to satisfy the needs of both professional photographers and ambitious hobbyists.

The development of the 55mm F1.4 is discussed by leading members of the team involved, the product managers Nicole Balle, Dr. Michael Pollmann and Christophe Casenave. The ambitious goal was simply to create the best lens on the market, able to realize the full potential of cameras like the 36MP Nikon D800. After interviews with potential customers, the team decided to focus on lenses for portraits, landscapes and still lifes - applications for which the company's manual focus lenses are best suited.

Dr. Pollmann talks about the evaluation of the first prototypes as a key moment of truth; would the lens's predicted performance be visible in actual use? The answer, apparently, was yes: "After we had the first results from the prototypes, even the skeptics were surprised at how clearly the higher image quality becomes visible in the pictures." One compromise that does seem to have been made, though, is size - the 55mm F1.4 is a monster due to to its complex optical system.

This picture of the 55mm F1.4 on a Nikon pro body shows the sheer size of the new lens

The final phase of the project was about bringing the lens to production and sale. Even the packaging was carefully designed: according to Casanave "Such a product is not just unpacked. We want the “unboxing experience”  to be something that is really special and representative about this unique product."  

The 55mm F1.4 will come onto the market towards the end of this year, and Zeiss is confident it will be one of the best lenses on the market. Says Casanave "There will be nothing of comparable quality, and that not only applies to this specific focal length range". It'll be interesting to see whether users agree.