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Meaning of Zeiss Lens Names


New Member
Hi, sorry if this is a FAQ. I understand that some of the Zeiss lens names - Distagon, Sonnar, Planar etc - go back many years. But do they mean anything? And is there any significance in whether the name ends with ~ar or ~gon?

The names refer to the DESIGN of the can see the history on . 'Sonnar' is based on sonne, German for sun, for ex&le.

I had thought that maybe CZ had trademarked more generic names, at least for 'Planar' (a Planar/Planer design is a flat field design), but apparently it was Carl Zeiss who invented the Planar design, so they get to name it.

Biogon and Sonnar are also CZ inventions, but they were a bit vague about Distagon, which is a retrofocus WA design. No doubt their name, but maybe not their design.

It seems -ar is for relatively longer focal lengths, while -on is for wide angles.

BTW, I did also happen to see that it was CZ lenses used by Andrew Lesnie to shoot the Lord of the Rings films...