Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/08/18

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Contax and Kyocera
From: "Steve LeHuray" <>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 1999 12:42:42 -0400

So Marc,
Who makes the $25,000 + Zeiss lenses that Arriflex uses on their motion
picture cameras (16mm-35mm-65mm)?
- ----------
>From: Marc James Small <>
>Subject: RE: [Leica] Contax and Kyocera 
>Date: Wed, Aug 18, 1999, 10:14 AM

>At 06:24 AM 8/18/1999 +0000, Dan Khong wrote:
>>1. In what manufacturing arrangement has Zeiss gone into with Kyocera
>>(which I presume is a big Japanese company which bought over Yashica)?
>>2. What are Kyocera's other camera/optic/and not so optic business interests?
>>3. Why did Zeiss have to partner with Kyocera or for that matter with
>Kyocera is a ceramics company which has made it big in producing computer
>components such as micro-chips.  They purchased Yashica when that company
>went bankrupt.
>Zeiss had decided by the 1950's to concentrate on military, scientific, and
>industrial optics, as the profits were so much greater:  Zeiss makes ten
>times the profit off a single periscope, say, than it does off a hundred
>Hasselblad lenses.  Once this decision was made, it was only a matter of
>time before the plug was pulled on Zeiss Ikon Voigtlander.  That ZIV
>soldiered on for another 15 years was a tribute to the high esteem accorded
>the head of Zeiss, Dr Heinz Kuppenbender, who had come out of Zeiss Ikon.
>When Kuppenbender retired, the Zeiss Foundation refused to pay any more of
>ZIV's losses, and they left the camera market in 1973 to the general relief
>of the rest of Zeiss.
>Zeiss, however, had been unwilling to completely abandon the camera market.
> Hence, they worked closely with Franke & Heidecke and Victor Hasselblad
>and Linhof and Arnold & Richter to supply lenses for these firms' cameras.
>They also sought a partner in the Orient to produce cameras which would use
>Zeiss lenses, the one kicker being that the partner company was to produce
>most of the lenses in Japan.
>The first talks were with Asahi but failed over the lens-production issue:
>Asahi was convinced that the public, especially in Japan, would never
>accept a Japanese-built Zeiss lens as being "real Zeiss".  The second firm
>with whom Zeiss negotiated was Yashica, and they did agree to make most of
>the lens line in Japan.  And, hence, the Contax RTS system, a brilliant mix
>of Japanese and German technology.
>In brief, Yashica designs the camera bodies with strong engineering input
>from Zeiss (it might be fair to see the camera bodies and accessories as
>being a 65% Yashica, 35% Zeiss mix), and the bodies are built in Japan.
>Zeiss and Yashica determine what the lens line shall consist of.  Zeiss
>designs the lenses.  The exotic lenses are built in Germany, the more
>conventional lenses in Japan.
>It is a marriage which has prospered mightily.
>  FAX:  +540/343-7315
>Cha robh bas fir gun ghras fir!