ZEISS Apologises for Anime Photoshoot Featuring Its New Lens

ZEISS Apologises for Anime Photoshoot Featuring Its New Lens

German lens manufacturer ZEISS has issued an apology to its customers for a recent advert that featured a female model holding one of its recently released lenses.

On June 28, ZEISS tweeted a trio of images showing an anime model dressed as the Disney character Ariel striking affectionate poses with the new ZEISS Otus 100mm f/1.4 lens.

The images stirred up a little resentment online, as many viewers felt the images reinforced gender stereotypes — men deploy expertise to use expensive, sophisticated equipment, while women sit and look pretty — that felt out of place in 2019. “If Ariel chose it, maybe have her use it with a camera rather than make her sit like a prop,” came one suggestion.

Shot at Animefest in Brno, Czech Republic, the image was given a caption and presented in a manner that was judged to be associating itself with outdated gender stereotypes that the camera industry occasionally struggles to shake off. Few would have objected to the model posing for the camera, but to be reduced to a fleshy prop to make a product look attractive was felt by some to be inappropriate. 

ZEISS later issued an apology:

In a field that is largely dominated by men and the male gaze, should manufacturers be more aware of the attitudes of their customers? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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I can understand Zeiss making an apology to appease the left wing SJW crowd, but give me a break people. This is the world we live in now, where a cosplay dressed women holding something in her hand can be taken as offensive? It's becoming a world that is getting harder and harder for someone like me to believe exist. I am a professional photographer that leans to the right and even far right on some issues. I am a Christian and a Green Beret who did three tours in Afghanistan and deployed "elsewhere!" So you can get a glimpse into who I am, but this really floors me, the SJW movement is about as ridiculous as the "fat-pride" movement.

Ignorance is bliss...

...or is that arrogance?...

Sadly any objectification is countered as being a political move to "appease" the "left wing" "SJW crowd" Sadly this is a "glimpse" into who some are in these forums.

"the SJW movement is about as ridiculous as the "fat-pride" movement."

This is not very Christian. I am Christian and when I hear other Christians say stuff like this I feel "It's becoming a world that is getting harder and harder for someone like me to believe exist."

Obviously here comes the liberals and pansies, along with all of their feminists and SJW friends.

Yeah, being a feminist or being against the constant objectification of women in photography makes me and pansy despite being 6'5" 260lb dude who powerlifts. I don't even agree that an apology by Zeiss was needed here, but...

1. You seem to have a tiny worldview informed mostly by your own ego and your inability to resist the signalling of your Limbic system.

2. There's a zero percent chance someone like you would say something like that to me in person.

My prediction is that you will respond to this with some half-formed neuron misfire, and I'll be too busy taking actual photos to even notice your existence beyond this short reply. Have fun pretending to be interesting and tough on the internet.

Eric, I would or could do a lot more than say something to you in person. I'm a Green Beret, 18Echo, did 6 tours in Afghanistan and deployed all over the world as part of a Special Forces Direct Action Team. However it would be a waste of both of our times because there wouldn't be a point to it, you would lose, and hit the ground in about a half-second "dude!" You come on here with your I'm a tough a guy, who protects SJW's....LOL. I promise you I'm not scared of you or anything, I've been shot at 1000's of times and wounded multiple times from RPG7 fragmentation's, IED blasts and small arms fire. Your little joke of a threat is laughable to me.

Not everyone who is left wing is insane, just as not everyone who is right wing is an abortion hating redneck. Please don't blanket stereotype, it's 2019.


Never apologise!

Zeiss really needs to know who their customers are, the coffee shop communists so concerned with gramscian identity politics don't usually have the money to buy five grand lenses.

For the meme culture summary
Get woke, go broke

I would be willing to bet that most of the outraged folk aren't even photographers, this is probably just brigading.

The only thing they should be apologizing for is for those bland photos.


Announcing your are offended is telling the world you have no control over your own emotions so need others to do it for you.

Maybe Zeiss were worried that people who have time to be offended at imagined trivial offences will stop buying their overpriced lenses. I would have have thought truly successful people have better things to concern themselves with.

I wonder if they just hired some random model and told her to dress like Ariel, because of the recent casting for The Little Mermaid, and she chose that godawful outfit just to sort of fit in with the con crowd. I also wonder why they went to a con when the vast majority of people going are younger, and more liberal, to advertise their expensive lenses.

Of course companies should be cognizant of their clientele, or future ones that may invest in their brand. These are hot button issues, and what once was a 'great' model of marketing some decades ago, is not so great now in this current political climate. Female photographers have to fight tooth and nail just to get out of the 'momtographer' trope.

That's debatable. Are you shooting female models in the nude in raunchy poses? Are you hitting on female models when you work with them? It's easy for a mlae to get over the GWC trope than a female photographer due to how a lot of our male counterparts see us. Even on here you see the commentary about female photographers being 'momtographers' or that we are somehow setting the bar low.

the fstoppers community is hardly indicative of the industry at large.

I just have to say something.. At least something. I just see how noone know the context of the photo. And don't even read the description.. This is random photo from event called Animefest in Brno, Czech republic. This photo was not taken as any ad or anything. Was just posted as funny reminder. Noone was hired or anything like that.. Just girl in Ariel cosplay took that lens in her hands and was amazed. Took documentary photo. if you want to see real photos from that event you can for example here https://bit.ly/30jj3J9

"If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck."

At the end of the day, they used the images to promote their product. Smells like an ad to me. And, so does to whole lot of people.

Seems like look we was on event and this happened post to me. And so does to whole lot of people.

Lol I read the description, and looked up on Zeiss' twitter to see the rest. That aside, yes this looks like an ad. Companies support events, in turn they are advertising their product even if it's not so blatant to the masses. If she was at the con trying to cosplay she did a shite job at it. A green skirt and a shelled top does not a mermaid make. Thus the assumption she's just a hired hand for the event by Zeiss.

Here in LA I don't see women getting any less work than men. It's about 50/50 and from personal experience the majority of the shoots I assist on are with female photographers. If you are having to fight tooth and nail to get out of "momtographer" or "guy with a camera" trope then it's simply because your portfolio or work experience aren't good enough to be taken seriously.

Lol because of your male personal experience shooting under female photographers it must mean you're right?Not me, the woman that has been published, has done a lot of commercial work, and has a solid portfolio.. I must be bad? Meh. You don't understand, really you truly do not. Perhaps instead of mansplaning on something you have no clue about, you should take a look at people like Jill Greenberg that has created an agency for female only photographers because of the lack of support for women in this industry. Maybe ask those female photographers if they've felt slighted by their male counterparts, and I imagine a good lot of them will say so. Men dominate this industry, so your 50/50 is not so equal.

Crystal, I'm simply relaying my own personal experience and I'm not implying your work is bad. There are plenty of great photographers who struggle to get work. I also don't doubt that women face hardships in the photography industry. I also don't doubt that it's different depending on what type of photography (sports photography vs fashion for example) you do and what city you live in.

Also, I think we can all agree that photography is a hard industry no matter what your gender is. There are plenty of older male (and female) photographers who have lots of professional experience working with big clients who struggle to get work today. It's not because they are men it's because they have struggled to stay relevant to the people hiring or because the clients that used to hire them no longer exist (most print magazines).

Finally, in the world of commercial fashion/lifestyle photography think about who is hiring – photography editors, creative directors, fashion brand owners – at least in progressive hub cities like Los Angeles, NYC, London the people who occupy these positions don't give a F if they're hiring a man or a woman, they're just looking to hire the best team to get the job done.

I'm sorry you feel like you've faced discrimination (although it sounds like you're getting work) based on your gender but again IN MY EXPERIENCE, the jobs I work on, the producers, creative directors, art directors, brand managers, small business owners, etc... are by no means overwhelmingly male.

Of all of the photographers I know all but one are women. All of the women photographers I know are the professionals making money.

I recently found out that one lady in Alaska (don’t remember the name of the place) created a firm only for crab fisherwomen. Also a similar company was founded a few years ago in Macedonia that was only hiring female brick layers.
One interesting bar was opened somewhere in Estonia where women had to pay for guys’ drinks.

Are people seriously complaining about this? She's a MODEL. Her job is literally to be a human prop or coat hanger...

We have to understand here that the issue is not "presenting a product with a girl". It's "presenting a product with a girl without purpose". (It's not an issue of being feminist or not)
Of course some reactions to this are over the top which is to be expected in a world that is rightfully very sensitive about unnecessary(!) objectification. The real reason why Zeiss deserves some backlash is because of it's laziness here.
What is the reason for her holding the lens other than "we want to make our primary demographic look at the picture"? If there was even a glimpse of purpose to the way the lens is presented, there wouldn't have been such an outcry.
It's just lazy advertisement relying solely on a pretty face and body. Nothing more nothing less.

"It's just lazy advertisement relying solely on a pretty face and body."

The way they wrote the caption made it seem like this was an off-the-cuff thing at an anime convention rather than any planned commercial shoot. Whoever manages their social media probably figured it was neat so they posted it.

I agree, especially as the Zeiss ad team usually has a pretty different style often not even showing people at all in their images.
The problem is the lack of reason. If it was photographers trying out the Zeiss glass, why giving the model one to hold? It certainly doesn't add to the shot and she's not even presenting the lens that is shot with. They might have been better off just shooting her without it and showing how the lens performs in a photoshoot.
I don't solely blame the photographer(s) either. Maybe they gave her the prop so she knew what to do with her hands.

As I stated above, I find some posts/reactions over the top and personally wouldn't have thought it to be sexist. But it's good to question our mindset in this regard. A simple "why?" can go a long way in creating a more gender-equal world.

"A simple "why?" can go a long way in creating a more gender-equal world."


whoever manages their social media should be sacked. there are so many talented people in the world who would jump at the opportunity for this gig.

Everything offends someone these days. Its getting pretty annoying.

Forgive me for not being up and hip with somethings, but what is SJW?

Ariel wanted to be kissed by a handsome prince (imagine that), and he wanted to do her. The Mer sisters were clamoring for the affection of their father (stereotyping), the price’s crew is all male, the chef wants to eat Sebastian (not vegan), the king is muscular, a woman is the antagonist, etc. The loser SJWs hate Disney.

She would look much better playing with a generic-appearing camera and that nice lens. I guess not enough imagination was at play, and no one could fix up a camera to make it look anime-ish. Would have liked to have seen it. Next time, Zeiss.

I'm sure these people who have nothing better to do than troll and manipulate are laughing their asses off for pulling off another one.... while real issues like mercy killings, human trafficing, and forced child labor still exists.

Isn't it a bit off target to fingerpoint at zeiss when it is actually the anime crowd who use stereotypes as the core concept of their whole movement ? the outrage is kind of ridiculous.

apologizing only provides these lunatics with a false sense of justification. wrong move. I don't feel in focus with zeiss in the way I felt before reading this article and I am someone who can actually afford to buy expensive lenses and does so on a regular basis.

The photos are bland but wow. These people just wake up in the morning scanning the web for things they can feel offended about. What a bunch of pathetic morons

It's turned into a well organized industry. Dictate policy by offense. The problem is, too many succumb to it.

According to some Ariel lived in the Renaissance era. And she lived underwater most of her life. How would it make sense if she suddenly picked up a modern lens and camera and started using them? What they captured in this photoshoot in terms of a story is perfectly logical.

Jesus, people nowadays get offended by absolutely everything, it's so stupid.

This article seems as click-baity as a Canon vs. Nikon vs.Sony articles but with more people willing to parade their vile personalities.

Social Justice is not defined by the worst videos that can be found on YouTube, which can be found for any group you want to demonize. The spirit behind Social Justice is absolutely in line with Christianity (e.g. Beatitudes, Matthew 25 or 1 Corinthians to name just a few).

Just another sign that Western Civilization is inexorably, inevitably, undoubtedly, headed for the proverbial cliff. Common sense has become the victim and now that the whiners know that they can dictate policy by letting enough people know that they are offended, common sense will continue its slide.

By the time the model finished handling it, it was a 300mm!!! Ooophs might have offended someone. Tough!

That is why they call people like her "talent".

Ehm, it's almost 12 inches LOL

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