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About Hartblei

A long way for a small Ukrainian Company!

Hartblei was founded in the mid-90s as Ukrainian Company based in Kiev. The companies original mission was to modify Kiev Cameras and Lenses by Arsenal, a big manufacturer of optical products. Arsenal was founded after WWII and developed the "Kiev" product line based upon the German Contax constructions.

Todays Hartblei workforce consists of former USSR staff, both military and civil, with a vast experience in technical development of systems for optics, air defense, and space. Antonov, who still builds the worlds largest airplane, is headquartered in Kiev. Arsenal develops cameras and lenses, e.g. highly specialized targeting units for military use. There was a tight relationship between the products of Arsenal and the "Tune Ups" developed by Hartblei.

During the past ten years, Hartblei developed the line of "Superrotators", i.e. Shift and Tilt lenses with 2x360 degrees movements for Shift and Tilt. These were originally equipped with Arsenal medium format lenses and directly sold from the USA and the Ukraine. In our product portfolio, these were the "Russian Lenses".

Stefan Steib Stefan Steib, a photographer from Munich, Germany, discovered the Hartblei products in summer 2005. He was fascinated by the mechanical quality and the functionality of the Superrotators. Thus he ordered a prototype from Hartblei using a 80mm Planar lens kit from Carl Zeiss. He presented the resulting lens to Carl Zeiss early in 2006, and to make a long story short: they loved the lens. They offered their support. The goal was to get three lens prototypes ready for the Photokina fair 2006, all three using the high-end lens kits by Carl Zeiss: the 4/40mm IF TS, the 2.8/80mm TS, and the Macro 4/120mm TS. The lens kits are "Made in Germany" and are fully mounted and checked and embedded into barrels made from German special aluminium, anodized black at CZ in Oberkochen.

Steib was sure that the use of Carl Zeiss optics would create an incredible demand on the global market for professional lenses. So Sergeji Naumenko (Kiev, Construction and Development) and Stefan Steib (Munich, Concept, Sales, PR and Marketing), decided to restructure Hartblei to achieve best possible results for this task.

After the presentation of the proof-of-concept prototypes at the Photokina 2006 further technical discussions were held with Carl Zeiss, leading to impressive improvements. The whole Shift- and Tilt-Mechanism is now sealed to completely eliminate any flare. At the same time, first potential customers were contacted. These discussions resulted in the decision to have an initial series of prototype lenses, offered to be sold directly through Hartblei and our partners.

Since March 2009 our lenses have now received full certification of Carl Zeiss. The naming is now "Hartblei-Optics by Carl Zeiss". We offer a steadily growing number of international dealers, there you can test, rent and buy our lenses (and now the new HCam-B1) with full professional service and guarantee.  

Hartblei is member of the Photo Marketing Association


All photos were selected, edited and prepared for publishing using Apple Aperture. Stefan Steib is "Apple Aperture Certified Trainer" and member of the german Aperture ADP (Apple Distinguished Professionals) Group . Please feel free to visit his homepage on the web, www.digitalfoto-trainer.de or his LinkedIn Profile


Bessarabska Market - Panorama
by Stefan Steib

4 x Panorama: Canon 5D, ISO 800, 24mm f/4,5, 4 x 1/15 sec

"This photo is for our staff in Kiev. They do a damn good job. Thank You!"
Stefan Steib

Copyright © 2007-2011 by Stefan Steib, Munich/Germany | Imprint