Shutter-Chatter #3 – the C.P. Goerz CITOGRAPH 35mm Hyperfocal
Part 3 of the Shutter-Chatter series delves into the past and looks ahead into the future.
Throughout the eventful history of photography many companies came and left. It is the outcome of evolution that at some point in time, even the most innovative and successful companies can vanish. This was also the faith of C.P Goerz. This company still resonates with collectors and analogue photographers alike, although it was discontinued almost 100 years ago. Goerz was famous for manufacturing folding cameras, Dagor lenses and military optics in WWI. In 1926 the German branch of Goerz merged with ICA, Contessa-Nettel and Ernemann to form Zeiss Ikon.
As remarkable as it sounds the C.P Goerz brand is now being resurrected with the launch of a unique lens: the Citograph 35mm. I was lucky enough to ask Mr Hartmann, the mastermind of this exiting project a few questions:
Mr Hartmann, on your Kickstarter campaign you are offering an interesting lens: the Citograph 35mm. This lens has no autofocus, no focusing, no adjusting of the aperture. Everything from 3m to infinity is constantly in focus. How did you come up with this idea?
I just like to have a camera with me and to capture scenes and experiences spontaneously. The focal length of 35 mm corresponds strongly to the viewing angle of the human eye. That is why it is the ideal focal length for documentary photography. What you see is captured by the sensor.
Of course, with a 35mm lens, you could achieve this by using the classic technique of shooting at f8 and using the depth of field scale in order to have everything in focus at 3 meters and beyond. In everyday life, however, there are a few difficulties: modern lenses often do not have this depth of field scale anymore and with older lenses it is usually inaccurate. In addition, and this is an important point, the setting shifts very quickly and easily. Some photographers help themselves with a piece of tape, but this is not really and effective solution. So I thought to myself: There should be a lens with these fixed, non-adjustable settings, like the Citograph 35mm.
What is the advantage of a Hyperfocal lens?
It can be manufactured without mechanical components and therefore can be build very flat. The lens is light-weight, looks good and is a lot of fun to use, because it is not a toy but a “serious” Tessar type lens.
What aperture setting does the lens have?
It has the legendary aperture setting of f8. It is the ideal aperture for getting the best quality out of most lenses, but in practice, it provides the ideal depth of field. Many photographers have a story about f/8, such as ” I chose f/8 to be on the safe side”.
In the days of analog photography, you could only photograph at f/8 in good light. It’s a different story these days. Cameras offer great image quality at high ISO sensitivities, which makes using the amazing f/8 aperture a piece of cake even in low light conditions.
Which mounts will the lens be available for?
The lens will be available with the following mounts: Canon-EF, Nikon, Sony E, Leica M, MFT and Fuji X.
Does your lens have a historical predecessor or is it a totally new design?
The base is the so-called “Tessar type” formula, but the Citagraph lens has been completely redesigned. The advantage of the Tessar is its sharpness paired with a relatively simple design.
The lens is branded as C.P Goerz. A company that was discontinued almost 100 years ago but that is still highly attractive for collectors and is famous for the Dagor lenses. How did the association with C.P Goerz come about?
The company history of C.P.Goerz is absolutely fascinating. It was one of the most exciting and innovative optical producers of its time. In 1912 the company had more than 10,000 employees and the list of production facilities was long: Berlin, Vienna, Pressburg (Bratislava), Riga and New York. There were also branches in Paris and London. It was a global company. Today comparable to Canon or Sony. They had an extremely high production depth and were leaders in glass processing. They had exceptionally good wide-angle lenses. The Citograph 35 also brings back a little of this great history into the memory of today’s photographers.
How was the reception of your campaign so far?
The response was overwhelming. All major online magazines have reported about it. I would not have expected this.
Are you planning additional lenses in the future?
Right now, we simply want to bring the project to completion and organize production.
Mr. Hartmann, thank you for your time and good luck with the project!