Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/05/10

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Japanese inventiveness
From: "adrian bradshaw" <>
Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 09:14:27 +0800

Alan wrote-
>  I
>deliberatly avoided using Toyota and Honda in the metaphor to avoid charg=
>of patronisation <?> and I fell in a hole.
>However, since their early cameras (not just the lenses) were direct COPI=
>of Leica not to mention Bronicas copy of the Hassy I can be forgiven for
>looking on their current models as nothing more than a development of the
>original concept. =20
Well if you want to talk about ancient history your examples are half a
century old more or less!!! - Do you not see perhaps an element of Leica
attempting to emulate Japanese products in the R8 for example (I won't begin
to question the source of Hasselblad's 'inspiration' nor the Korean-owned
Rollei/Schneider/B+W group these days...)- the matrix metering, the
electronic lens mount interface, the mythical auto-bracketing,
auto-rewinding motor drive, the botched attempt to move towards an AF system
etc etc?? For that matter the original Leica was not the first 35mm still
camera, simply the most elegant and for a long time most successful
implementation of the concept. Should we chastise Leica for that? The
Germans copied photographic technology wholesale from the French and the
British (and vice-versa): do we like our Leicas any less for it?

>As for being patrinising.  Very few, if any, basic "inventions" have come
>out of Japan.  They live in a copycat society fueled by their cloning of
>cameras, cars, motorcycles, radios, televisions, ships, etc. etc. etc. Ev=
>the kimono is being replaced by western dress. =20
>The only reason computer and software manufacture is being kept out of
>their cloning clutches is because the soaring progress has not quitened
>down sufficient for them to copy something that the West will not outdate
>in weeks. =20
I am British and I could make a similarly specious argument about the great
nation of the USA copying Britain or Europe or Russia. I mean is the
American love of the (German invention) car a sign of something deeply amiss
in American society? Rather I would contend that if the western world were
not so blind to the many achievements of Japanese we would understand that
they have innovated in a number of self-evidentally successful ways:
industrial relations, production technology, quality management, the
integration of ergonomic and electronic technologies to name a few areas
where we westerners might learn a fair amount. As for your argument about
computer cloning clutches: where exactly is the US computer manufacturing
centre and what do they use for monitor screens, floppy drives, memory etc
etc if they don't use products INVENTED and mfd by Japanese companies? From
whom by the way do Sony copy their video technology? And were the
Impressionist painters a pathetic sham because they drew their major
inspiration from Japanese prints?

>You must be a very perceptive person Adrian, because I thought I had
>disguised my disdain for Japenese products quite well.  I also apologise =
>advance to any one on this international list if I have offended them.=20
>Don't worry about it.  I'm unimportant, and so are my opinions.
> Alan Hull

 Alan - don't be so hard on yourself! You are allowed to like whatever you
like and don't have to justify it to anyone. If it is any consolation you
may be happy to learn that the Japanese love of non-Japanese cameras is one
of the main reasons Leica is still in the black (just...)

Who knows, maybe Toyota will buy Rolls and make the first ion-pulse stealth
limo: darn copycats! :)