Schneider widens range with SLRs, Micro Four Thirds lenses

The German lensmaker decides 2013 is the right time to bring premium designs to the Olympus and Panasonic world of Micro Four Thirds cameras. Also: Schneider Kreuznach's polarizing filter for iPhones.

Schneider Kreuznach, headed more toward the mainstream SLR market, added four lenses to its lineup. From left to right are a wide-angle 28mm f4.5 tilt-shift model, 35mm and 50mm f1.4 primes, and an 85mm f2.4 macro.
Schneider Kreuznach, headed more toward the mainstream SLR market, added four lenses to its lineup. From left to right are a wide-angle 28mm f4.5 tilt-shift model, 35mm and 50mm f1.4 primes, and an 85mm f2.4 macro. Stephen Shankland/CNET

COLOGNE, Germany -- Every 99 years or so, a company has to shake things up a little bit.

Thus it is that Schneider Kreuznach, a high-end lens brand founded in 1913 that's been focused on cinema, medium-format, and large-format markets, unveiled four lenses for more ordinary 35mm SLRs, three for Micro Four Thirds cameras, and even a polarizing filter for iPhones. The lensmaker, part of the Jos. Schneider Optische Werke, unveiled the lenses at the Photokina show here.

Its earlier lenses for conventional SLRs were the company's relatively exotic Super Angulon line, tilt-shift models that can enable perspective correction and unusual control over depth of field. The new 35mm lenses include one more, the wide-angle 28/4.5 Super-Angulon Aspheric with a 28mm focal length and f4.5 aperture, but also an 85mm f2.4 Makro-Symmar macro lens for close-up shots, and 35mm and 50mm f1.4 Xenon-brand lenses.

All the lenses are manual focus and will be available for Nikon, Canon, and Pentax SLRs.

More of a departure are the Micro Four Thirds lenses, autofocus models that mount to the newer mirrorless cameras from Olympus, Panasonic, and Leica. Such cameras debuted with relatively unexciting "kit" lenses with middling performance, but now there's a push to bring higher-end glass to the products.

"We believe the mirrorless cameras need a good lens," said Daniela Kesselem, photo product manager for Schneider Kreuznach.

A Schneider Kreuznach prototype for a 60mm f2.4 macro lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras.
A Schneider Kreuznach prototype for a 60mm f2.4 macro lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras. Stephen Shankland/CNET

So does competitor Carl Zeiss, which vies for customers in the same high-end market as Schneider Kreuznach market. More mainstream third-party lensmakers such as Sigma and Tamron also are Micro Four Thirds allies.

The first to arrive will be a Super-Angulon 14mm 42.0 wide-angle lens in the third quarter of 2013, with a 30mm f1.4 lens and a 60mm f2.4 macro lens to follow in the fourth quarter of 2013, the company said.

One issue for a lensmaker such as Schneider Kreuznach: Micro Four Thirds gets lenses to three camera makers, but it won't work on the new compact mirrorless camera models from Fujifilm, Nikon, Canon, Sony, Samsung, and Pentax.

"There are so many different mirrorless [models]," Kesselem said. "We decided to do Micro Four Thirds first."

And recognizing that photography is moving toward smartphones, the company's announced a new product in the B+W filter line, the Smart-Pro C-Pol. Polarizing filters can improve photography by cutting reflections to make colors look more saturated, and it's something that requires real-world physics to accomplish, not just processing with software. This one sticks to any smartphone with a flat surface -- but naturally the company pitched it for iPhones, which are recognizable and fitted with respectable cameras for the market.

"There is no app for that," Kesselem said.

Schneider Kreuznach's B+W Smart-Pro C-Pol filter gives mobile-phone photographers a polarizing filter for cutting down on reflections.
Schneider Kreuznach's B+W Smart-Pro C-Pol filter gives mobile-phone photographers a polarizing filter for cutting down on reflections. Stephen Shankland/CNET
 

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