Photographica Pages

An online guide to collectable cameras and related stuff

Ernemann (Heinrich Ernemann AG)

Heinrich Ernemann AG was founded in 1889, not surprisingly by Heinrich Ernemann. They grew into one of Europe's most respected camera manufacturers. They marketed a wide variety of photo equipment from simple box and folding cameras, through high end, state of the art professional equipment. Like many camera makers of the time, they also produced binoculars. Like few makers of the time, they produced professional 35mm cine equipment, both cameras and projectors. They also produced studio camera, process cameras and 17.5mm cine equipment.

Although a few cameras were sold with Carl Zeiss or Goerz lenses, the majority of Ernemann cameras were fitted with Ernemann lenses. Some cameras sold in France were sold with French lenses, and sometimes with French names. Ernemann lens designs were often the fastest available at the time, most notably the 100/2 (and later 85/1.8) Ernostar lenses found on the Ermanox. Coupled with fast focal plane shutters, these cameras revolutionized photography under low light, changing the idea of what was possible in available light photography. The company also marketed its own line of between the lens leaf shutters which they called Cronos.

After the first World War, the economic conditions in Germany were pretty poor and much of the photographic industry in Germany was suffering. In an attempt to strengthen the industry, a merger of many of the leading photographic manufacturers took place in 1926. Ernemann merged with ICA (which was already under the control of Carl Zeiss), Goerz and Contessa-Nettel to form Zeiss Ikon.

The influence of Ernemann on Zeiss Ikon was great. Like Ernemann, Zeiss Ikon marketed a vast array of equipment catering to all segments of the market. Their designers developed innovative cameras and lenses, and influenced designers who came into the company after the merger. Ernemann's experience in high speed lens design allowed the success of the Contax system even though Leitz had an earlier start with the Leica (and was considerably less expensive) in large part due to the availability of high speed lenses from the beginning.

Ernemann Folding Plate Cameras
Ernemann Ermanox/Ernox