Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1996/07/19

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Subject: Re: Leica's USA price list
From: "Charles E. Love, Jr." <>
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 1996 15:03:16 -0400 (EDT)

At 10:20 PM 7/16/96 -0700, you wrote:
>Charles E. Love, Jr....wrote
>>Second, I smell a whiff of racism in this sort of statement.   Eric 
>>out earlier that it's objectionable to use the term "Jap."  But 
>entirely too
>>many Leica and Hasselblad fans carry with them the assumption that 
>>European must be better than anything Japanese (witness the debate 
>about the
>>origins of Leica zooms).  Nonsense!  Even if you don't like Canon and
>>Nikon's auto-everything pro SLR's, any Leica rangefinder lover who 
>>appreciate a Mamiya 6/7 ought to look at his/her attitudes!
>Hi Charles,
>You may want to sit down for this...
>Objectively, the Europeans make the best optics, automobiles, 
>watches/clocks, model trains, camera bags and beer.  Lets give credit 
>where credit is due.
>The Japanese make the most sofisticated cameras and electronics.
>Bill Erfurth

I'm still standing.  I'd disagree with some of  what's on your list--e.g.,
I'd give the Foggs and Billinghams lots of camera bag beauty points, but low
grades for practicality--no more un-openable brass fittings for me!  As for
watches--haven't you read the story of how the Swiss missed the boat on
quartz, rendering their best mechanical brands toys for the super rich?

Furthermore, as a sports car fan who has owned 7 European-made cars I think
it's clear that if you look at *all* of today's production of Europe and
Japan, it's not even close (would you seriously prefer a Volkswagen or
Renault to Honda's best?).  Of course you may have been making a Leica-type
point, that,say, BMW and Mercedes are the best in their niche--but even
there, Lexus and Infiniti (Toyota and Nissan, to world citizens) have, to
say the least, mounted a serious challenge (which has resulted in huge
Mercedes price cuts--is there a photo lesson there?)  And Porsche came very
close to bankruptcy, knocked down by Japanese cars that looked and performed
as well and cost half as much.   BTW, I like the special qualities of
European designs as much as any sports car fan, but when you add in
reliability, ergonomics, value, etc., as I say, it's not even close, IMHO.

But none of this is truly relevant to the original point.  I was reacting to
a post which automatically, as many Leica fans and dealers do, lumped Leica
in with Rollei and Zeiss as real quality (Hasselblad wasn't there in this
case, but usually is)--and by implication dismissed everything Japanese as
"junk."  That's just not how it is.  Like the discussion about cars, this
discussion is lots more complicated--and should be.  

One real-life example:  the effort a lot of Leica RF users had to make to
persuade Stan Tamarkin to carry the Mamiya 6/7.  I think Stan's operation is
the best, and buy and sell with them a lot--but it was clear that they
didn't want to carry anything Japanese (of course Contaxes are pretty
Japanese, but....)  In the end, enough people (including me) talked to them
so they began to carry the camera, and it's been a great success for them.
(Sad to say, it's a camera Leica could have made.)

As someone's already said, let's love Leicas for their special qualities,
and not for who made them.
Charles E. Love, Jr.
517 Warren Place
Ithaca, New York