The future for German Cameras

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by snaggs, Feb 23, 2005.

  1. snaggs

    snaggs Member

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    Can someone please tell me why Zeiss, Contax, Rollei, Leica, Voitander, Linhoff, Schneider etc dont all band together and create a new 30mm x 30mm specification for lens mount and film/digital backs (ala the 4/3 format by Olympus, except a larger sensor size).

    Im sure anyone who has held one of these crafted cameras would love a "no stress", upgraditis free solution in the current disposable digital camera market place.

    Together they would be a force no?

    Daniel.
     
  2. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

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    Trouble is the current digicrap makers are making "disposable digital cameras" very much by design. They've learned from the computer makers. We consumers are stupid enough to buy a new computer every 2 years just because there's something faster out there. The old one works but "its just not fast enough!". That keeps those computer peddlers busy. The digicam is no different. Make 'em cheap, make 'em disposable.. Joe consumer will be back for more in 24 months.

    I still use my 1947 Contax IIa on a daily basis with its superb Stuttgart Carl Zeiss lens. That's why Contax is fading fast. I don't need to buy another camera from them... although I'd like to
     
  3. Slydog

    Slydog Member

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    "I still use my 1947 Contax IIa on a daily basis with its superb Stuttgart Carl Zeiss lens. That's why Contax is fading fast. I don't need to buy another camera from them... although I'd like to"

    That's one of Leica's (many) problems... it is competing against its own used market. Leica shooters still use forty and fifty year old M2 and M3 cameras. If the camera breaks down a routine CLA is usually enough to put it back in service for many more years. Regardless whether corporate Leica ceases to exist (although I doubt that will happen) there are enough Leica bodies and lenses out there to last well beyond my lifetime.
     
  4. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    My Voigtlander Vito CLR works as well today as it did when new. However, modern Voigtlanders should not be confused with the old German Voigtlanders. The modern cameras are made by a totally different and seperate Japanese company who bought the name but not the company.
     
  5. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Never happen

    The day that Nikon stops making their German cameras will be a cold day in hell.
     
  6. rjs003

    rjs003 Subscriber

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    I don't believe that I own a camera that is less then twenty years old. Everything I own is in good working order and takes great pictures. I do own a couple of really old dead folders that are display shelf items.
     
  7. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Please, feel free to do so! Seriously.

    Once you try you will know the answer.

    BTW, Leica, Zeiss, Contax, Rollei, Voigtlander all use lenses and other components (like, entire bodies) manufactured in countries other than Germany. Mostly from Japan, just like Hasselblad.

    I'm sorry to say that whenever I see threads like this get started they tread fearfully close to my own limits of tolerance w.r.t. Asia bashing. Why is it so hard to comprehend that perhaps many Asian products are simply great and can manage to do their jobs in a way that's highly competetive with products from the world over? As in, maybe better than German cameras for issues relating to actually making pictures?
     
  8. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Very true! As a matter of interest, I think Japanese dominance has less to do with the intrinsic superiority of their products and more to do with the fact that producers were/are market-led rather than engineering-led and had/have much better production engineering skills (i.e. skills at designing products which can be made easily and profitably).

    Time and again, German camera makers would produce fantastic products at vast cost (Leica M3, Rolleiflex) and then find these were over-priced. In response. they would then make a further vast investment to design what were meant to be cheaper versions (Leica M2, Rolleicord) but were still complex to build and therefore unprofitable.
     
  9. snaggs

    snaggs Member

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    Please, dont acuse me of asian bashing.. I didnt make any comment on whether the Japanese cameras were good. They obviously are or all the above mentioned list of german "has beens" wouldnt be in the position they are.

    Thats myh point, they historically have ties.. similar marketing thrusts "german engineering", and all of them are behind.

    Let me put if this way, if it was announced tommorow that all of the above have signed of on a new format, designed ground up for the next 100 years, where all backs and lenses would be compatible.. would you be excited?

    Daniel.
     
  10. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Well, Cosina has recently made cameras with Leica mounts, Nikon shutters and Voigtländer name. I have one, and it's a great little camera.
     
  11. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    "Can someone please tell me why Zeiss, Contax, Rollei, Leica, Voitander, Linhoff, Schneider etc dont all band together and create a new 30mm x 30mm specification for lens mount and film/digital backs (ala the 4/3 format by Olympus, except a larger sensor size)."

    Remember APS? Kodak disc? The 110 format? Betamax? The compact cassette?

    Voigtlander is owned by Cosina. Rollei is Samsung. Contax is Yashica which is Kyocera which may not be anything before long. Leica is controlled by Hermes and it's on the ropes financially. I don't know about Zeiss, Linhof or Schneider. But what's in it for any of them?
     
  12. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Their own fault

    When I was in my 20's Leica, Linhof and Rollei were pretty much in the drivers seat. Hasselblad was just getting their foot into the American door. Leica was not producing any SLR cameras and neither was Rollei. It seemed to me that the had a smug attitude that played directly into the hands of Nikon,Canon, Mamiya, Pentax. The Japanese produced innovative cameras at more resonable prices. It is NOT my opinion that these Japanese cameras were as good as their German counterparts. A s an example, although I owned a very satisfactory Nikon SP with 4 lenses I did not then as I do not now believe it equaled Leicas M series. Leica did some early development of an autofocus back when Pentax/Honeywell was the only game in town. The showed a system as I recall Correctofoc. They never produced it. In the USA Rollei pretty much gave Hasselblad the USA market by being slow to introduce their SL66. I do not believe that Hasselblad SLRs are inately superior to Rolleis but the damage was done as far as the USA market is concerned...they have, thankfully been market leaders in Europe.. In fact the Rollei SLR cameras could rightfully be considered the most technological 120 cameras ever produced. Too little too late

    So, Leica now has financial problems. Leica rangefinder cameras, as far as I am concerned remain the gold standard for camera quality and handling but they chose to put themselves into a niche and are seeing the result. It is really sad.

    Zeiss with their Contarex produced a fine 35mm camera but I believe the fact that it did not offer ground glass focussing was a very grave error. It took Zeiss a long time to get out of their ivory tower and build auto focus slr
    lenses. This I believe has impacted Contax sales. Rolleis 35mm slr cameras were another good example of too late.

    I believe with the proper engineering and manufacturing that first quality cameras can be built anywhere in the world that has an educated workforce available.
     
  13. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    this explains wy Mercedes benz cars have become so crappy lately?
     
  14. rjr

    rjr Member

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    Andy,

    the trademark "Voigtlaender" came a long way since it was owned by Schering, ZeissIkon and Rollei, but it was never sold to a japanese Company. Today it is owned by a german retailers/Photoshop chain "Ringfoto", Cosina just licensed the brandname and Ringfoto is responsible for parts of the distribution.
     
  15. rjr

    rjr Member

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    Lee,

    Rollei isn´t Samsung anymore. The true owners are unknown to me, but there was a management buyout in the late 1990s when Samsung pulled out.
     
  16. elekm

    elekm Member

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    It's a fact that many of the German makers are competing with Japanese counterparts, some of whom make products in Southeast Asian countries where labor costs are appallingly cheap. I mean appallingly because the wages these people are paid are a shade above slave labor. That's another discussion, of course.

    As we know, as Japanese society became more affluent, manufacturing costs rose. There are so many factors that this could just go on endlessly: use of plastics, mass production vs. hand built, individual testing vs. random testing, and on and on.

    However, I think the original post presents an interesting idea. Why not combine efforts to develop a product that could be successful and price competitive? Makes sense to me. It would make sense for Leica and Zeiss to jointly develop a digital M camera, for example. Each could still continue to offer their own lenses. But cost of research and development and manufacturing would be shared -- even if the camera is made by Cosina in Japan. Same goes for digital technology in other areas.

    I mean, heck, most of Europe was able to agree on a single currency. That in itself was tremendous. I was talking with an Italian fellow a while back, and he lamented the loss of the Lire. I gave him some old bills that I have had for many years. He seemed very grateful.
     
  17. fparnold

    fparnold Member

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    Maybe they just lost the mentality of "there comes a time to shoot the engineers, and move the product out the door"?

    I had the loan of an M3 once, and it was probably the second-nicest camera I've ever handled. Certainly the quietest, and easy to carry and focus, as long as it wasn't too bright. But, it was made in an era when it was meant to be high-quality, working, equipment. Now they're overengineered to impress dentists/lawyers, and no longer sold as 'work equipment'. (though they'll certainly trade on that reputation)

    Personally, I'd like to see something like the CV R2/R3 from Leica, where they give in to the polycarbonate body, but keep the Leica shutter, size, and fast-handling. If it sold for even twice a CV, that would put it into the price range of the Nikon F100s, where it would probably find a market. Making it with a factory-interchangeable back so that it could be a d*l (sorry) as well, using the same lenses at a similar price would make it more desirable. One body for work and fast output, and one for film, more personal work, and that which requires film resolution/permanence/look.

    As for what's wrong with Mercedes, maybe they're channeling the spirit of Chrysler's K-Car?