Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1996/02/11

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Subject: To filter or not to filter / whose glass is it anyway?
From: Tom Hodge <>
Date: Sun, 11 Feb 1996 10:11:25 -0500 (EST)

Chuck Albertson's comments about seeing a pallet of Hoya glass at the 
Solmswerke caused me to make that comment to an old frind of mine from 
the photo retail days in Chicago, IL just yesterday evening.

I threw in a few other comments from those posted here recently and my
source said, basically, that he had been told that Minolta had some heavy
interest financially in both Hoya and Sigma - either remotely or very
directly - hence a logical link between Sigma making lenses under contract
for Leitz since the Minolta/Leitz connection is/was strong indeed. 

He said Hoya might actually be under the same big umbrella as Sigma,
wholly owned by another group, with some big money strings tied to Minolta
(read copier optics below).  He said he would make a few phone calls for
more details. 

He said he was sure Sigma provided many optical components under contract
to Minolta as well and worked closely with Minolta R&D to optomize
variable focal length lenses and make binocular and telescope optics.  A 
"spill-over" to Leitz would be almost automatic, therefore.

Hoya apparently supplies a lot of raw and semi-finished glass to Sigma and
Minolta, too.  Not surprising, then, to see a batch show up at Minolta's
best European buddy, Leitz, if for nothing else but (less critical?)
binocular and microscope optics. 

Japanese anti-trust laws being far more relaxed than the western world,
this inter-linking would certainly come as no surprize.  And the greater
amount of privacy over knowing who owns who in Japan is also a factor. 
For example, I think we'd all be quite surprised to learn all that
Mitsubishi owns; actually, we'd be more surprised at what they DON'T own! 
They're into everything from seafood to cars and everything in-between.  
Their famous "3 Diamonds" logo doesn't always appear on everything they 
control.  Like, they're into movie production, other forms of entertainment, 
appliances, ship-building and so on.  Same with Fuji Heavy Industries and 
a zillion smaller controlled branches beneath it's flag.  Needless to 
say, they dwarf General Motors when all is considered.

Whatever the degree of controlling or financial interest, my friend said
the 4 companies (Leitz, Minolta, Sigma and Hoya) are very heavily "in bed" 
with each other globally.

My contact said, for example, the Minolta photocopier optics are made by a 
joint venture - another company name, however - between Hoya and Sigma; 
makes further sense.

The level of quality may differ depending on whose name is put on a piece
of goods but it's apparent the issue is simply filling every global market
niche possible.

Hard to tell a real difference between Leitz and Minolta binoculars, for
example, until you look at the price tag.  And the lower, multi-levels of
Minolta cameras before you hit the Leica level makes complete marketing

They're simply trying to cover all the bases.  IMHO, they do a pretty 
darned good job.


Replies: Reply from Nancy J Caputo <> (Re: The Minolta connection)