Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1996/07/17

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Subject: Re: Leica's USA price list
From: Marc James Small <>
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 1996 00:58:37 -0400

At 08:48 PM 7/17/96 -0700, Eric Welch wrote:

>Why? Contax is a licensed name from Zeiss in Germany. Wasn't it started up
>to produce Contax cameras in Japan beacuse they thought it woud be too
>expensive to do it in Germany? There were lots of technicians in Japan
>making sure that Kyocera was building them to Contax standards. From the way
>Blake Ziegler describes the arrangement, the quality factor is still there,
>and Kyocera now owns the Contax name. And Zeiss only makes a few exotics for
>the line now, and licenses the formulas for the lenses to Kyocera, but only
>becaue they build them to their high standards to bear the Zeiss name.

A couple of minor expansions on this.

First, Kyocera was hardly 'started' to build cameras:  it is a rather
long-standing ceramics company whose base is now in micro-chips of some sort
or other.  Zeiss, when the decision was being made to pull the plug on Zeiss
Ikon camera production, tried to work a deal for a German-designed,
Japanese-manufactured camera with Pentax;  this deal never went through,
though Pentax did receive the Zeiss-engineered K mount out of the
preliminaries.  Zeiss next worked with Yashica, and the Contax RTS resulted.
When Yashica -- for reasons not directly connected to their Contax line --
went bankrupt, Kyocera bought them out, and the present arrangement was born.

Second, Zeiss still owns the Contax name and licenses its use by Kyocera.
This is per Blake Zeigler, among others.

Third, all lenses are designed at Oberkochen and initial production on
almost all lenses is there.  Manufacture is shifted to Japan once the lens
becomes an accepted part of the system.

Fourth, all final inspections on Kyocera-produced gear bearing the Zeiss
name is by German-national Zeiss inspectors, sent to Japan on a rotating
basis.  The area where these inspections are done is off-limits to Japanese
and is, with some humour, referred to by the Japanese as 'the round-eye
room' (speaking of political correctness!)


Marc  FAX:  +540/343-7315
Cha robh bas fir gun ghras fir!