Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1996/11/07

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Subject: Re: Nippon Kogaku 8.5cm LTM lens
From: Marc James Small <>
Date: Fri, 08 Nov 1996 00:03:30 -0500

At 06:26 PM 11/7/96 -0800, Stephen Gandy wrote:

>As as side note, the 35/3.5, 50/1.4, 85/2, and 135/4 are historically
>very important lenses.  These lenses in Leica mount, NOT Nikon mount,
>established not only Nikon's post war reputation, but the growing
>reputation of the entire Japanese photo industry.  It was these lenses
>on a Life Photog's Leica body which were first recognized and praised in
>the New York Time's camera column (December of 1949 if my memory is

Well, no, it's a year or so later, and it involved several of the War
Correspondents in the Korean War, especially Duncan.  They hype is great,
the myth is deep, but, apparently, he DID like the 1.4/50 and 2/85 lenses
quite a bit.  He was the one who started the 'Nikon is better than Leica'
stories going.

What was actually happening was this:  German lenses were almost impossible
to get, especially in Tokyo, while the Nikon lenses were available.  A war
was going on, these correspondents owned their own gear, and wanted to risk
NOT the hard-to-replace German glass, but the obtainable and rather
inexpensive Japanese lenses.  Once Duncan showed them that the Japanese
lenses were capable of fine work -- most are, after all, direct thefts of
German patents and built to high standards -- the next quibble was how to
convince the magazine editors to not go ballastic when the found out their
pictures were NOT shot with Zeiss or Leitz glass.  So the campaign began:
Nikon is better than Leica.

Of course, it wasn't true then, and it's not true now.  But editors, I
guess, are really dumb -- they fell for it.

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