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Copyright Nlens mount etc



a couple of days agao, you asked for a clarification on who is owning which lens mount. So this is the information we got.It is not double checked by lawyers, but we can assume that it is correct:

1. The C/Y mount is very old and any kind of protection rights/ copyrights are not valid anymore. So everybody who would like to, could use this mount now.

2. The N-system mount is Kyocera the owner of the copyright. Also nobody except Koycera knows the Datatransfer between N-lenses and the N-bodies.

This sounds pretty tricky to me. In other words: The continuation of the N-system is only possible, if Kyocera is not blocking it. They have either to "sell" the patents and the know-how to a new cooperation partner of Zeiss, or they have to produce for this cooperation partner in the future this system. This would imply that they really have nothing to do anymore with marketing etc. of the Contax brand. They would act the same ways as zthey do for Leica and all others, for whom the currently produce lenses, do R&D etc.

Now, the question is:

a) is Kyocera to proud to do that?
b) Do they have enough capacity free for this? - Depending on the internal demand for their ressources from other departmennts i.e. mobile phones or other camera-brands i.e. leica, etc.
c) If orders from Leica et alii would disappear (as a scenario), is Kyocera willing to keep up the facilities only for a future cooperation partner of Zeiss or would they close down the whole production for the photo-industry?

We have to bear in mind, that the whole industry is suffering and almost nobody makes money at the moment. Worst case, a few well known brands will disappear from the market over the next few years. If that is the case, this will also influence Kyoceras ability to work coist efficiently in this industry as a pure producer for others.

Many question marks, I would say - more than I like to have...


Thanks Dirk, for looking into the patent situation.

However, there is a third scenario for the N mount - and that is to do nothing with it and let it disappear altogether. I agree that there will be quite a few brands disappearing eg. Bronica - are they producing anything at this moment in time?

On the bright side, it would be nice for someone to use the C/Y mount!!

Cheers, Saras


Active Member
Let me dream a little ... may be fantascience ...
Considering the high reputation of German lenses survives, the situation about Contax future, the fact Leica is in deep crisis ...

A dream ...

A giant Leica-Contax brand who make reflex with common Zeiss-Leitz lenses (in order to avoid to fight each other)


Oh, something is ringing ...



Well-Known Member
I guess we'll never see that N mount 35/1.4 I had hoped for.

Oh well, N mount & Zeiss has been a labor of love for awhile, and they are still making new films for 35mm so we should be happy it made it this far.

Anyone want to sell their N100/2.8 Macro or N400/4?

Also, I was going to get an NX for a smaller vacation camera but no one has the diopter correction lenses that I can find. Is there another camera brand diopter that fits the NX? It says they are FL type on the Kyocera web site. Any help would be appreciated.


Well-Known Member
Ugo, your dream is wonderful. Let's dream on more... thinking globally ...

Leica and Contax join forces and produces a line of super fast optics for rangefinder and SLR cameras all made in Germany... their business partner for camera bodies is Epson allied with Fovan ... who, with Epson's financial backing develops a proprietary full frame chip and software that leapfrogs Canon and Nikon. The Epson camera firmware has proprietary ability to link with a line of super Epson desktop printers that produce perfect prints through super scanning analysis of each image (closed loop technology). The world of photography is stunned by the massive leap forward. Canon struggles to keep up. Nikon folds it's tent and goes quietly into the night. For their unwavering devotion and belief in Contax and Leica, loyal customers are awarded a lifetime discount for all products ; -)


I would like to think that the N system can still be a future strategy as well as the other mounts. Maybe the dream is that Zeiss takes Contax back into the market with Kyocera still doing the production. This protects Zeiss and provides continued revenue for Kyocera. If there is a G3 and a N2 Digital this should not be that hard to join the current market.

I don't want to consider that the N mount and N system are dead there must be away to take them forward into the digital market beyond the N digital.


Leica just replaced their brand new CEO (in place since 4 months - Ralf Coenen) with Dr. Spichtig, who shall be an interims solution.

I wonder whether he wanted to leave the boat before it is sinking or whether there are other reasons for this replacement..

So a lot of speculation is going on there too

I agree with Marc. I only can recommend to buy any kind of N-gear and shoot with it as long as you get it that cheap. It is definitely cheaper than any kind of Nikon or Canon gear. In case there will be no future for the N-system, you did not loose too much money, but did get great quality with Zeiss glass for the price of a hot-dog

Last week a german dealer tried to sell on ebay a brand new (with wararanty) N24-85 zoom for 399.- Euro (buy-now option) - and nobody bought it. I have already one, but was to close to buy this as a second one just because of that price

Leica prices are also going south dramatically on ebay. Surprisingly not in the US. You get it significant cheaper in Geramany (
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). The prices went down around 30% second hand over the last 6 months. Leica R7 for 600 Euro (new price was around 2000 Euro), Leica R8 for around 750 Euro (although upgradable with the digital back)...

So this seems to be a crisis for brands that are mainly focused on analogue cameras, with no convincing upgrade path for a DSLR. The perfect timing to buy great stuff at a bargain. All are able to take pictures over the next 20 years.

Buy it and enjoy our photo-galleries and upcoming photo-competitions with it


"...For their unwavering devotion and belief in Contax and Leica, loyal customers are awarded a lifetime discount for all products ; -)..."

I do think all members of our Contax and Leica forum should get a SLR and on e lens for free, for their enthusiastic marketing efforts

"... Maybe the dream is that Zeiss takes Contax back into the market with Kyocera still doing the production..."

As I stated earlier, this is one of the options Zeiss is trying to double check. But this depends on the view and will of Koycera, as far as I understood it.


Well-Known Member
My dream would be the C/Y mount being reincarnated by another manufacturer but who makes models as good as Kyocera made. When you see the amount of advertising that other brands do and consider how litle Kyocera did, it is not surprising that people did not buy their cameras. I expect that people have never heard of Contax and don't know what it represents and is capable of.
Another dream would still be a digital G3 using existing lenses.
Did anyone else see the complementary review of the G2 in British Journal of Photography edition of 21.07.04 which I have only just now read?


An RX I, an Aria and an S2 is all that I ask for. I'm not asking for any upgrades or for more bells and whistles, just those three great cameras to continue.


A digital G3 would be my biggest wish. I did an exhibition at the North York Moors National Park Visitor Centre of A2 prints from transparencies - about 2/3 of them were taken with the G2 and the rest with the RTS. All the photo enthusiasts that commented to me thought they had been taken on medium format.


Well-Known Member

Just curious, where did you hear that Kyocera is doing something for Leica? I would be really-really surprised if that was the case. Think about it, if Kyocera was partnering with Leica and Zeiss at the same time, why Zeiss and Leica couldn't establish direct partnership?


Hi Mike,

Kyocera is/ was producing the 80-200/4.0 and 1 or two other lenses for Leica (zooms) which I do not know exactly anymore.

You might be surprised to know, that Leica used to have also Leica lenses, which have been designed by Carl Zeiss (8.0/15 and 3.5/15), by Minolta (2.8/16, 2.8/24, 8.0/500, 3.5/35-70, 4.5/75-200, 4.5/80-200) or by Schneider (4 different 21mm, PC 2.8/28, PA 4.0/35, 1.5/50, 2.8/180) or by Sigma (both versions of the current 28-70).

The industry is very small and there are not that many players with a certain know-how. Kyocera is definitely one of the few players in the market, who has a very good know-how in producing lenses and bodies.

In the mobile business by the way, you hardly can buy a mobile phone without having Kyocera parts in it.

In every industry there is a pressure to specialise to be able to survive in a cost cutting environment. You end up with only 1-3 producers of certain parts that are needed for that technology/model. If one of them dies, parts are no longer available and often a different model has to be designed, because of thise missing parts (see RX II).

As a sidenote: Ralf Coenen, who was just for 4 months the CEO of Leica (until now), was a former Zeiss employee

The world is small...


Well-Known Member

Let me rephrase. It's one thing to design a product (lens in our case). It's totally different story when it comes to making the product. I know that Leica used designs of Zeiss, Minolta and Schneider in the past (I think there were even couple lenses that were actually made by Schneider for Leica). But using someone's design and producing your own version of a product is not the same thing as asking Kyocera to produce Summilux that will be sold as Leica. Almost any camera manufacturer produced or still produces their own version of Zeiss Planar, probably the most widely copied lens design in the world.

Also, from your post I got impression that you're saying that Kyocera is still producing something for Leica. I don't know if that's still the case, hence the question I posted.

AFAIK Kyocera did indeed produce some zoom lenses for Leica-R, but these were Sigma-designed lenses, which were then redesigned by Leica. I seriously doubt that Kyocera had any involvement with Leica-M line or that Kyocera designed AND produced lens for any Leica. Leica went to Kyocera for production of the lenses that they didn't consider top-performers (that's my understanding of their past partnership).

Leica's sales are mostly in Leica-M line and when paying over $2,000 for each lens, people certainly want the best, which is something Kyocera isn't known for.

As far as mobile phone industry goes - many makers may certainly use some parts produced by Kyocera at their discretion. But these are usually not vital parts. Kyocera's own market share in mobile phones in US will most likely disappear completely very soon - I don't know a single person that liked Kyocera phone they bought. Almost everyone I knew that had Kyocera phone switched over to Motorola, Nokia, LG, Samsung or even Ericsson within a year. To put it simply - Kyocera phones suck. This technically applies to many of their other products as well, and the problem is often not even the product itself - it's the service.

As far as Leica's former CEO goes - sure industry is small and it's not a big surprise that one German company hires a person to CEO's position that used to work for direct competitor, which is also based in Germany
Perhaps they wanted to get some inside scoop on their competitor. Perhaps it was something else. It doesn't really matter that much considering he spent only 4 months in the office.

This may also explain why he spent only 4 months at the job - perhaps clash of cultures. He wanted things done his way (the Zeiss way), the rest of Leica company wanted things done their way. Or maybe he wanted to tear everything apart and drive Leica to the ground
We will probably never know.

Anyhow, my point was that if Kyocera really partnered with Leica at the same time it was partnering with Zeiss, it's very odd that Zeiss and Leica couldn't form direct partnership.

Right now Leica has excellent partner in Matsushita. Panasonic digital cameras with Leica-designed (and probably Panasonic-produced) lenses are becoming more and more popular these days (I own one myself, it's good for what it does). And digital camera production is probably the only area where Leica would need a partner like Kyocera, but since they already deal with Matsushita, I see no point for them in dealing with Kyocera.

Going back to original discussion - I really hope that production or design of any Contax products will NOT be handled by Kyocera in future. I think Kyocera is unreliable as a partner and with their terrible service it's in our best interest that they play no role in future of the Contax brand.


Well-Known Member

Just as an FYI... the 35-70mm F4 zoom for the R series is still produced by Kyocera and it is a true Leica design, not a derivative of the old Sigma sourced lenses. Believe it or not Kyocera is pretty well thought of as a OEM lens producer. Too bad their management succeeded in blowing Contax apart.

They have never produced a M lens to my knowledge.

Hope everyone's having a good day!


ps- I just got some pictures back from visiting a presidential library a few weeks back and I am more pleased then ever with my G2. Nice lenses for the $$$.


Active Member

I am new to this forum. It is a pity with the uncertain future of Contax. The factory manufacturing the Zeiss lenses for Contax is in Japan. Who owns this factory? Is it Zeiss or Kyocera? If Zeiss owns it, is it possible for Zeiss to still produce lenses even if Kyocera does not manufacture the Contax brand?


Hi Patrik,

welcome to the Contax community!

The factories in Japan are owned bei Kyocera. Kyocera is also producing on an order-by order basis for other manufacturers. Zeiss has the final control at the end of the production line within the Kyocera factory (of course only for Contax lenses). So the Zeiss standard is kept there, although Zeiss is not producing them in their own factory.

Because of the quality control by Zeiss, all Contax lenses (no matter where they are produced) have the Zeiss name on it - also for othert cooperation partner of Zeiss.

If you look for ex&le at Rollei lenses, there are some with the name Zeiss on them and some with the name Rollei (i.e. the Planar 80/2.8) on it. This means that the lens design is from Zeiss, but Zeiss did not do the quality control. Therefore they do not allow to have the Zeiss name on it...

This does not mean that they are inferior. It is just a business practice from Zeiss, that as long as they do not make the quality-control, they do not want to have the Zeiss name on it...

So why some manufacturers then do not have always Zeiss doing the control? IMO this is a question of price


Active Member
Thank you Dirk for your reply. Was it Kyocera who decided to change the lens mount? Does Zeiss have to agree according to the change to N mount?