Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/05/05

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Japanese Optics Yet Again
From: "Arthur C. R. Krick" <>
Date: Tue, 5 May 1998 13:31:54 +0100

off topic so I will try and be brief. You have referred to a WWII list.
Would you kindly send me the address on my private Email?

- ----------
> From: Marc James Small <>
> To:
> Subject: [Leica] Japanese Optics Yet Again
> Date: 09 May 1998 22:22
> 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
> >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
> >Even before WW2 Japanese optical equipment could always stand comparison
> >the best of German and US gear. During WW2 the Japanese even delayed
> >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,
> 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
> 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
> 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
> the issue of the slow deployment of radar by the IJN has recently been
> discussed there.
> Marc
>  FAX:  +540/343-7315
> Cha robh bas fir gun ghras fir!