I noticed the dirty lens a well in the clip. The show how it's made also had a very nice segment on the manufacture of modern lenses. There is also a very nice video though dated called quality in photo graphic lenses which covered every step of the process in detail.
After WWII, Japan was placed under international control of the American-led Allied powers in the Asia-Pacific region through General Douglas MacArthur as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers.
Originally Posted by E. von Hoegh
So, its not like Japan woke up the morning after WWII and started making cameras and lenses to compete with Leitz, Zeiss etc.
Japan received knowledge boost from the allied powers and used it to mimic German optics.
By the time Japan managed to produce passable cameras, Leitz and Zeiss shifted into aerospace optics, cartography etc., alongside the only veteran in that game., Russia.
In the meantime Voigtländer was killed by Zeiss, so Japan was pretty much left alone in the consumer photo camera field.
Present day Canons, Nikons, Olys, Fujis. camera designs clearly shows Japan still lacks innovation and taste.
In the meantime, their customers are snapping more and more with smartphones.
Emil, to disagree a little, what killed Leitz in particular was the world's shift from rangefinder to SLR cameras. Leitz took their time developing the Leicaflex, brought an uncompetitive product to market and never made a really satisfactory anti-Nikon. After they gave up on their own design they made Minolta SLRs under license, but not as well as Minolta made them.
Originally Posted by E. von Hoegh
What killed most of the European manufacturers of photographic equipment for the civilian market was Japan's cost advantage and responsiveness to consumer demand. Some Japanese makers turned out very high quality equipment, others weren't so good. Remember Miranda? Many features, nil reliability. Remember early Sigma brand lenses? Poor performance, nil reliability, but cheap.
When Eric Beltrando and I were working on our Boyer article he shared a story with me. Boyer's last owner was a man of high integrity. Boyer received a request to bid on making lenses for small format cine projectors, refused to bid because the owner knew he couldn't match Japanese lens makers' prices. The customer told him to bid anyway, said that Boyer's quality was so high that he'd never rejected a lens Boyer had sent him and that the rejection rate for the lenses he got from Japan was intolerable.
Re watches, as soon as I was old enough to work legally my parents sent me to work for a jeweler. In those days Rolex were seen in the trade as second rate, Omega as third rate. People who knew wore unobtrusive Pateks. The jeweler was Bueche Girod's US agent. IIRC, BG was the first with a 1 mm thick man's watch.
Georg, that's a nice story, but it's grossly unfair to the Japanese. To be sure, they received a lot of assistance in post-war reconstruction, but they transformed into a world-class manufacturing and design power and made a lot of genuine contributions along the way.
Asahi (now Pentax) invented the automatic-return mirror in 1954, with the Asahiflex IIB. Nikon introduced the F in 1959. I think it's pretty safe to say that they were building "passable" cameras by then, and it's very likely that without the contributions from Asahi the 35mm SLR wouldn't have nearly the dominance that it does today.
Leica was so "innovative" that they wrote off SLRs as a passing fad until 1964, when they introduced the LeicaFlex, and they were so chronically far behind in features and design that they gave up and partnered with Minolta in 1976 to catch up, an arrangement that lasted through the R7's retirement in 1996. It's only recently that they stopped rebadging Panasonics for their compact digital line.
Voigtlander/Zeiss didn't stop producing cameras until 1972, thirteen years after the F made Nikon an unmistakable contender. For having "shifted into aerospace optics, cartography etc.," they sure took a long time to wind down that factory.
Kodak was building consumer cameras in the US and Germany both until well into the eighties.
The Germans didn't think, "Oh, the Japanese can build passable cameras now, so we should leave that multimillion-dollar market to them. Time to do aerospace and cartography lenses." That was a knock-down, drag-out fight for market share.
In the meantime, Japan put out some truly world-class cameras and optics. The XPan is widely praised, and that's a Fuji design. Fuji has a long history of building new, interesting cameras, "just because they can". They even released a new, very tasteful GF670 in 2009. Think about that: they built a new film camera in 2009! Ctein rates some of the EL Nikkors as the best enlarging lenses he ever saw, and certainly the Cosina lenses are no joke. The Mamiya 7 lenses are triumphs of manufacturing precision, and the tests say they'll go toe-to-toe with anything Leica ever put on an M, only bigger. Japanese companies certainly owe a debt of inspiration to the Germans for the head start, but it's no more than they owe for the automobile. In the meantime, they raised the bar in a very big way, and photographers everywhere came out ahead as a result.
A good lens is a good lens, and a good camera is a good camera. Some German companies build world-class optics. Some Japanese companies build world-class optics. Some American companies build world-class optics! Who do you think builds the sniper scopes that can draw a bead on a target a mile and a half away? Why are you people so invested in ignoring Japanese achievements and contributions? I swear, I love my Zeiss lenses as much as the next guy, and I'd like to own a Leica one day, but this cultish Teutonic superiority complex gets really, really old.
Last edited by shashinzukuri; 01-23-2014 at 12:51 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I used to grind & polish lenses in an ophthalmic lab in the '60s. Interesting to see that the basic principles haven't changed but we'd have donated organs to have precision equipment like in that video.
RE:Sniper scopes, Raytheon ELCAN in Midland, Ont. are a major supplier. That area was at one time home to a few optical companies (Bausch & Lomb, American Optical). Interestingly, Raytheon ELCAN is the old Ernst Leitz CANada plant, home of the made in Canada Leitz lenses and the M4-2 and M4-P camera.
Last edited by oldtelehacker; 01-23-2014 at 03:28 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: add some detail
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