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Have Zeiss lost the plot again

grumpoid

Well-Known Member
Hi all,
So we have the not very surprising news; the new ZF lenses are Nikon F mount. I can see a small niche market for them, but still I am surprised; it seems a financial risk to say the least, Nikon F users are very keen on their Nikkors, why buy more expensive Zeiss lenses? but the real reason I ask If Carl Zeiss have finally lost the plot...M42 lenses,...are they mad? who on earth is going to pay several hundred pounds for new Zeiss lenses for their £40 Pentax spotmatic et al? surely Zeiss are just going to lose lots of money? their totally miguided and you might say plain incompetent product ideas never cease to amaze, or maybe it was just Mr Kobayashi fancying some Zeiss glass for his equally misguided M42 SLR's?
I love Contax & Zeiss but seriously worry for their sanity and business acumen.
Does anyone see any hope of Zeiss making money with M42 lenses?....

Grumpy Steve.
 

didzis

Active Member
My wild and totally uneducated guess.

First part: These mounts were the only ones or ones most easily available from the patent point of view.
Zeiss has lost its partnership in the 35 mm SLR world and now is realigning its business more along Tamron lines - selling lens for various mounts themselves. ZF and ZS could be seen as a desperate stop gap measure to salvage something from the lost slr market. These mounts were just the first that could be arranged speedily.

Second part: Zeiss does not own c/y mount - Kyocera does. My first reaction to Zeiss sales pitch that ZS line is the one to be used on Canon dslr was - why? I can mount my c/y lens on Canon no problem, I do not need another mount for that. But this does not solve Zeiss problem, who needs to keep selling NEW lens to make profit. Obvioulsy, for some reason Zeiss cannot keep producing and selling c/y mount lens themselves (which would make a lot of sense - look at those prices that Canon users pay for used Zeiss C/Y wideangles).

Maybe I am totally misguided and there are no patent restrictions for third party lens makers producing lens for various mounts, but then why Zeiss isn't producing lens with eos mount?

Does M42 mount make a business sense? It could, if Zeiss can somehow demonstrate that the new offerings are really improved designs providing better quality. This could persuade Canon dslr users to buy these lens over second hand C/Y mount lens. One can mount ZF lens on Canon EOS, so M42 is kind of redundant, but maybe the ZS line will be cheaper? Another reason why canon users may opt for ZF or ZS over used C/Y mount lens is because these lens would be new (warranty, service support etc.)
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
Hi Steve,
I cannot see them selling many M42 mount lenses. It is an attractive idea but in a nostalgic sort of way. Retro is fine but the photographic world has moved on to digital.
It is a universal mount I suppose in that adapters are cheap and easily available. I have one myself for C/Y to M42 but it won't be universal for small sensors because the lenses suffer from the crop factor. M42 used to be the universal mount 30 years or so ago. Also you do lose all the auto functions with an adapter plus open aperture metering. I cannot see many people buying the Bessaflex or an old screw mount camera just to be able to use these lenses. After all I doubt that the lenses from Canon and Nikon so bad that someone would pay hundreds to mount a screw thread Zeiss via an adapter. They would have to be very dedicated Zeissophiles.

Maybe in due course CZ will bring out lenses in all the current mounts, in the way that you suggest Didzis like e.g a high class Tamron, but there will still be the problem of non autofocus. Personally I like manual focus but most people now like auto and sometimes I wonder as I squint and try and get the right focus in lowlight through my old eyes and glasses.

I think it is a real problem for CZ and I have to admire them for trying. These may be stop gap measures simply giving us all more options but each option must be very expensive to produce.

John
 

grumpoid

Well-Known Member
Hi John,

You echo my thoughts exactly, although I simply think Zeiss are barking mad. The whole M42 exercise smacks of real desperation, which is all the more surprising since the Zeiss group is doing so financially well. To simply throw money down the drain just to retain market presence is just non-sensical.
The C/Y mount issue is interesting, I thought Kyocera had rights to the Contax brand, but C/Y mount lenses are ZEISS brand, so is it true that Zeiss are unable to make C/Y lenses? or did Zeiss really negotiate such an awful contract with Kyocera that they cannot even manufacture their own brand lenses?.....makes my head spin, all this German incompetance, hope they are just as poor on the football pitch this summer...

Steve the grumpy one.
 

albert4321

Well-Known Member
You guys are right, who want a new line of lens to retrofit into Canon body. The only thing makes sense to me is "if" Zeiss makes a killer M42 21mm and sell for $900. If that's the case, I would get one and a $30 adaptor for Canon body.
 

didzis

Active Member
Steve!
I tend to disagree about the deal with Kyocera being "awful" (providing that it is actually true that Zeiss does not own C/Y mount). Zeiss had it quite easy while things were more or less OK with Contax brand. They did not have to worry about designing the mount, cameras, marketing them, supporting them - all they had to do was to provide their optical designs - and do some manufacturing. Yashica/Kyocera had to take all the market hits etc. Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think that Zeiss had to introduce very many new optical designs especially and solely for Contax - many of these designs were shared with Rollei 35mm system etc.

In fact I think that the practice where the maker of cameras designs and owns the lens mount is a pretty standard way of doing this business - so, I am 100% sure that Hasselblad owns all the rights to Hassy mount (despite the fact that this is Zeiss glass in front) the same with Rollei in its various mounts etc. The fact that along the right to use their optical designs Zeiss also leased/sold the right to slap a Contax name on Kyocera cameras makes no difference.

A little side note: the final part of your latest post re "German incompetence" makes me a little uneasy. Why generalize, and what has this to do with soccer?

John:
Lack of manual focus is not a problem for the niche market that the Zeiss trying to play to. I think that the majority of applications where I would like to use Zeiss glass on a Canon slr would be tripod based work anyway, where even with Canon EF glass I would use manual focus. Of course there are people out there (and on this here forum) who have learned to use Zeiss glass even for quick paced reportage/social photography work. By the way, many Canon dsrl users DO think that Canon wideangle primes are SO BAD to pay raving amounts of money for second hand Zeiss manual lens.
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
Didzis,

I am sure that Steve's football comment was just a little joke between two Brits because in the best sporting tradition we hope to win the soccer. I don't think that can cause offence. (Hope Steve doesn't mind my commenting.)

As for lack of manual focus, I would still think that in terms of sales of a sufficient volume to make production worthwhile, lack of it must be a problem. It is not as though CZ cannot produce AF lenses either. It could be offered as an option perhaps.

John
 

grumpoid

Well-Known Member
Hi, Yep....a little in joke refering to this summers football world cup, being held in Germany, where with a little good fortune, 40 years of hurt may be consigned to the dustbin...apologies to all non football fans. Re the 'awful' contract which Zeiss entered into with Kyocera; yes for all the reasons given by Didzis, the contract appears ok, but the one simple reason that Zeiss finds itself in this current crazy mess, is THAT contract! All Zeiss had to do was enter a simple little clause that stated should Kyocera drop Contax early, then the rights reverted to Zeiss with immediate effect, then Zeiss could still make C/Y lenses for its own Contax brand, or maybe even get the nice Cosina people to make C/Y cameras. It is because of that oversight by the Zeiss legal people that they are in the mad sitiuation, where they 'own' Contax but not the rights to manufacture it...crazy!! It must have been fun in the Zeiss boardroom when they heard Kyocera dropped Contax....surely some one must have asked about an early discontinuation clause?...then lots of red faces when the penny dropped. I am no lawyer, but to me it seems obvious the legal lot dropped a BIG clanger. By the way, anyone speculating what the other two ZF lenses are in the Zeiss photos? I see a ZF 60mm f2 Macro Planar and a ZF 28mm f2 Distagon? anyone got any other ideas?
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
I suppose that Kyocera are hanging on to all their options but it makes you wonder what benefit thay can have for keeping the rights to the mount. Perhaps they are hoping to sell them to the highest bidder or hold CZ to ransom.
 

didzis

Active Member
Kyocera is not a charity that exists so that I can enjoy my hobby. They dumped loads of money into this business, why should they give something away. Lots and lots of old and out-dated technology is still proprietary. Did Canon say - hey, anyone can continue building FD system - it's free now?
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
I wasn't really intending to comment on the moral propriety of the situation just getting clear what the situation is. So you think they are trying to sell the rights then or do you think they may still have something up their sleeve that they may want the mount for?
 

patrik

Active Member
>I know that Zeiss own the name Contax and let Kyocera use it. Was it >Kyocera who decided which lenses to be designed? Did Zeiss have anything to >do which lenses to be designed or do they just design whatever Kyocera told
 

grumpoid

Well-Known Member
Hi, I had assumed that Kyocera thought they could sell the Contax 'rights' back to Zeiss, but clearly Zeiss do not want to pay the price asked (my assumption), so they prefer to flush ZF M42 money away instead. More than a little odd in my book. I do wonder if there is some sort of dispute between Zeiss & Kyocera which is not easy to solve, rather than just a price that is too high? ...maybe some legal wrangle? Which leaves Kyocera 'stuck' with the C/Y mount that they presumably do not want to do anything with and Zeiss cannot use it either until the contract expires, by which time C/Y will be dead anyway from a marketing viewpoint. Zeiss seem to be backing themselves into a tight corner. Surely it would make better business sense to make FD or OM fit new Z lenses rather than M42? There seems to be some obstacle to EOS mount lenses, but what? it does not stop Tamron, Sigma and others making EOS lenses. Zeiss state they see the new Z lenses being used by DSLR users, so EOS would be crucial to satisfy that market, suggesting EOS users buy M42 ZS lenses to use with EOS/M42 adaptors is just barmy it seems to me. I am toying with the idea of an FM2n or F6 with ZF lenses though....
 

didzis

Active Member
John:
I need to be humble - I do not know anything, these are just my speculations. But if you ask my opinion, then:

First of all there are three various mounts that Kyocera produced - C/Y, N-mount, Contax 645. But since this thread is about 35mm MF lenses, I contain my comments to this.

a) Kyocera does not want to do anything with the C/Y mount. It's a finished business. If they did, they would have arranged a more stately exit (cf today's Konica Minolta announcement re pulling out of camera business and Sony takeover)

b) I do not think anyone wants to buy the C/Y mount. It would not make sense. Market obviously thinks that the future of small format camera business is digital and very automatic everything. Epson rangefinder and Leica digital back are obvious exceptions, but are niche and very much legacy products. Noone would design a manual focus digital camera from scratch.

c) Only Zeiss could possibly, feasibly, ever want the C/Y mount (to sell new lenses to the shrinking number of users of old Contax gear - it's a kind of cottage business, but still). But they opted to gor for the more "universal" M42. For whatever reason.

Patrick:
I think some (most) of the lenses designs were determined by what Zeiss already had available (see identical (or near identical) optical designs for instance in their Rollei 35 mm range). I could imagine that some designs were requested by Kyocera. But it seems that optical designs always remained the property of Zeiss. This is what I think, only.
 

patrik

Active Member
I saw that the new ZF 85/1.4 was the C/Y design and not the newer design for the N mount. Is it possible that the lens designs for the N mount are locked by Kyocera and can not be used by Zeiss for the ZF (in manual versions of course)?
 

fotografz

Well-Known Member
"No one would design a manual focus digital camera
from scratch."

The Leica Digital M is the exception. Rangefinder cameras are the exception to the "I'd rather have AF" rule. Even though I prefer AF for my SLRs and DSLRs, I want my rangefinders to be manual focus and always will. The possibility of a Zeiss Icon M mount digital Rangefinder is a real possibility. Just depends if Epson follows up with an RD-2 or if Leica makes it to market in time. The one who finds the technology to produce a full frame, 10+ sensor for a rangefinder with a M based mount will take all the marbles. IMO, it will steal some business from DSLR sales with people like me and many others fed up with the size of DSLR systems, and being forced lug around a bag that feels like it's filled with bricks.
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
The size and weight of DSLR's is one of the things that puts me off. It makes me wonder about the E system although they are not tiny and I am not keen on the Pentax. The 5D seems a bit more manageable than many but the lenses are large too - zoom anyway.
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
Didzis,

Yes, I agree that one would think that only Zeiss could want the CZ mount but to add to the confusion there is the Braun CZ SLR around which was referred to on the Zeiss web site. I saw one for sale in Teneriffe about 5 years ago. I wonder how they got a licence to build it and apparently now as a new model. Perhaps Cosina might like the rights?
 

biggles3

CI-Supporter
Hi John,
I use the Olympus E-system and have the C/Y adapter. I've promised to put up some piccies taken with the E1 and CZ lenses - I'll get round to it soon. I love the E system - can't vouch for the consumer models but the E-1 is a gem and some of the lenses are breathtaking. Great flash units too. If you're pondering the E system, try the E-500 - it's not made to the pro spec of the E-1 but has had good reviews. Best news is the replacement for the E-1 is soon to debut (no news on specs yet) and I'll bet with the quality of the top Olympus lenses and the ability to use all CZ lenses (though the 85 1.2 won't stop down), this will be quite a treat. Being able to use the Contax swing and tilt bellows and the PC Shift lens on an E-1 - magic!

Cheers,

Graham
 
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