Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/05/09[Author Prev] [Author Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Author Index] [Topic Index] [Home] [Search]
At 03:23 PM 5/2/98 EDT, LRZeitlin wrote: > >Actually the US recognition of the quality of Japanese optics occurred when US >press photographers covering the Korean War bought Nikon RF cameras in Japan >and found that the lenses were better than contemporary Leica or Contax >optics. David Duncan popularized the Nikon among Life photographers. In actual >fact, the Japanese have always been in the forefront of optical manufacture. >Even before WW2 Japanese optical equipment could always stand comparison with >the best of German and US gear. During WW2 the Japanese even delayed putting >radar on their battleships because their optical rangefinders were so good. It >was a stupid decision but it shows their faith in their optics. The story about Duncan and the quality of Japanese lenses has been so thoroughly discussed on this list that I would recommend to Mr Zeitlin, and other interested new subscribers, that a jaunt through the Archives might be in order. The Japanese lenses, being direct thefts of German designs, could not possibly be "better". Being exact copies, made from Zeiss and Leitz designs without the formality of payment, they are arguably as good, but certainly not "better". The stated reason Duncan and his cronies claimed the "better" part was to convince their editors that they were using quality lenses -- but the REAL reason the photographers used Japanese optics was simple convenience and economics: German lenses were all but unobtainable and, when they could be found, cripplingly expensive, while the Japanese lenses were extremely inexpensive. In an era when free-lancers owned their own gear (there was extremely little "pool" equipment in the early '50's), this made sound sense. If you were going in harm's way, it made sense to lug around a $10 lens in place of that $200 German lens; when the barrage or ambush hit and you dove for cover, it was better to bust the $10 lens than the German original. As to the comment about Japanese rangefinders slowing up their radar deployment, I am apoplectic. I would suggest Mr Zeitlin post this suggestion to the WWII-L list for speedy, and perhaps rude, rebuttal, as there are a number of people quite interested in the topic on this list and the issue of the slow deployment of radar by the IJN has recently been discussed there. Marc email@example.com FAX: +540/343-7315 Cha robh bas fir gun ghras fir!