Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2006/01/21

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Subject: Was RE: [Leica] DSLR choice - now Zeiss-Ikon
From: billgem at (Bill Marshall)
Date: Sat Jan 21 10:00:43 2006


I truly appreciate all of the information that you have presented & the fact 
that you have lent your expertise to this discussion. Thank you for your 
patience with me who knows next to nothing about this subject other than 
what I can learn from reading. I'm just a guy who likes cameras & who is 
trying to understand the marketplace.

I certainly understand that Marketing Departments are paid to hype their 
products & that these departments can be prone to exaggeration. So, I'm not 
surprised when they claim that something is "rugged," "durable," or "robust" 
& it is so only to a very limited degree. However, it's certainly confusing 
to read about the testing that Nikon & Zeiss say that they have done & to 
read their claim that magnesium meets the highest standards of professional 
use (Nikon's claim) in terms of resistance to corrosion & of shock 
resistance and for this not to be true. This would be more than marketing 
hype & exaggeration. It would be misrepresentation, a blatant lie. While I 
certainly don't put it past the corporate community to engage in such 
deceipt, it would be surprising coming from companies like Nikon & Zeiss. I 
assume that Canon & Leica have done similar testing although it is not 
explicitly stated in their materials, so it only adds to my confusion when 
companies of their stature also represent this material as strong & as fit 
for its intended purpose.

Some time ago, I corresponded with Hasselblad about the Zeiss Ikon, 
specifically in regard to the magnesium body plating as well as other 
matters. Since they couldn't answer my questions, they referred me to one of 
the engineers at Carl Zeiss AG. In an exchange of several lengthy e-mails, 
he assured me that they had subjected the camera to intensive testing in 
their environmental test lab for extremes of temperature, humidity, shock, 
and vibration, that they had insisted on improvements & modifications where 
they felt necessary, & that the camera met all of their standards in this 
regard.  The tone of his letters bore no resemblance to someone from a 
marketing department.

I don't know if the following sheds any light on the discussion, but here is 
what Leica has to say on the subject in a press release about the R9:

"Magnesium is particularly difficult to manage with respect to corrosion 
resistance and scuffing. Leica for the first time employs a plasma-chemical 
process for coating the light metal. This transforms the surface of the 
magnesium into a thick ceramic layer. In the process, special demands are 
placed on the magnesium alloy and on the preparation of the surface. Special 
lacquers are then applied to achieve an extraordinarily long-lasting finish. 
A greater fabrication effort is also required for casting the magnesium in 
the molds because this takes place at temperatures of 700 degrees C (1292 
degrees F) as compared to 400 degrees C (752 degrees F) in the die-casting 

More from Erwin Puts on the matter:

"Magnesium is the lightest of all commercially available metals with a 
specific gravity of 1.75. It is in itself not a strong metal, nor has it 
good elasticity. You need to create an alloy and use a considerable 
thickness or utilize deep sections to obtain good stiffness. It is a very 
high cost material and does not possess good corrosion characteristics. The 
painting and casting and shaping of the topcover is a process that takes 
place in three countries (Germany, France, and Portugal) before it ends up 
on the R9."

Again thanks for sharing your knowledge & for your patience with me.

Best regards,

Replies: Reply from Frank.Dernie at (Frank Dernie) (Was RE: [Leica] DSLR choice - now Zeiss-Ikon)