CI Photocommunity

Register a free account now!

If you are registered, you get access to the members only section, can participate in the buy & sell second hand forum and last but not least you can reserve your preferred username before someone else takes it.

Limited edition for Contaxinfo members

Dirk-

Maybe that is Contax's problem. It's been 18 months and we have NOT seen a TVSDII! 18 months is an eternity given the rapid pace of digital development -- not just in sensor size or number of pixels, but in image processing quality and speed as well. In those 18 months we went from a Canon G2 to the G3 and now the G5. 18 months ago, the Contax TVSD met with lackluster reviews. How can it expect to compete at all now with everyone else continuing to advance??
Not expecting to see a Contax SL400R or even a SL500R is part of the problem. Contax, in the digital realm, will consistently have nothing but obsolete, archaic products. I have a Olympus E-20. This was formerly a d*mn good performer. But today, 18 months later it pales by comparision to new products -- not just in pixel count either. But in terms of speed, image processing, image noise, color rendition, image smoothness, and so on. The only person buying a TVSD now is someone buying it for the name. OK, it has a Zeiss lens, but so does Sony. Any Sony digital cameras are far ahead in technology. They make sure the models they offer have all the latest advances. Pixel for Pixel, Canon excels in image processing and works hard to stay ahead of the pack.

So as you're suggesting, and we've discussed, ultimately Contax's strategy is to not be a technological leader. That's a new one for Contax. In a market segment were it is all about technology and technology is growing and improving daily, this is not a strategy for success in any sense of the word.

The SL300R is a recent addition to the market that has already been surpassed by the SL400R. Kyocera is choosing to show technological leadership with the Kyocera brand, and not the Contax brand. With the premium that can be had if their leading edge products had the Contax name, they are leaving money on the table in the marketplace. I, like others, might pay $50-$100 more for a CONTAX SL400R than a Kyocera SL400R, so why sell it first as a Kyocera (other than ego)? Instead they loose the $500-$600 I might spend on a digital P&S, because I go elswhere rather than buy into a Contax with obsolete technology. Others may have a different perspective, but there are alot of people who think about this just like I do.

I have a Contax 645 and Contax G, and had Contax MF 35mm as wll (still have a couple lenses lying around). I might buy a Contax ND II to replace my Olympus E-20, but it looks like I will eventually go elsewhere because I can't wait any longer for a new product.

Zeiss might want to examine Kyocera's seemingly lack of commitment to the Contax brand and product, and sign up to produce lenses for the 4/3rd's system. At least they will be able to sell some lenses.

Or is there some really closely held secret plan that has Contax bursting back into the market with an outstanding cutting-edge products -- with a committment to continuous improvement and consistently competitive products? It would be great if it were true, but I am beginning to doubt it. Maybe I'll just give up and buy an adapter to put my Zeiss lenses on an EOS Digital...
 

jsmisc

Well-Known Member
Lotus,
I suppose that the point is that, as Dirk has pointed out, the Contax SL300R is here and now and available as a special edition. I think that it will be very nice. Negotiations in the future might produce a special edition SL400R or SL1000R but the Original SL300R SE would be cheapened in the process, if other models became Specials.
I am sure that the Special Edition one off SL300R will be a very nice camera to own and use and will also be a collectors' piece. The line has to be drawn somewhere. More megapixels are not necessarily better, as Wilson has pointed out, on a small sensor, they can mean more noise and how large does one usually need to print from a pocket camera, setting aside the cropping aspect. It will be certainly more than fine for use on the computer or 6x4 prints home inkjetted or from the lab.
As for Sony, it is a sad thing but the new F828 has been slated in the press. I have tried one in a shop and found the EVF and handling to be awful. On the other hand I have tried the new KonicaMinolta A2 in a shop and found the EVF to be acceptable despite being an EVF and the handling to be superb. I await reviews with interest.
The trouble with digital is that each camera is different. With film, despite differences in lenses and so on, you put a particular film in and you knew pretty well what results you will get. If you get a digital home and don't like the results, it's an expensive mistake.
Regards,
John
 

wilsonlaidlaw

Well-Known Member
Just to add yet another tuppenceworth. I was seriously considering selling my RX recently and buying a Sony 828, partially because of the Zeiss lens on the 828 and for film, I use my G2 almost 100% now. I agree with John the ergonomics and appearance of the 828 stink but what really put me off was the horrendous noise on all colours. It was even worse than the Leica Digilux 1 that I used to have and that is saying something. The very honest guy at my local photo shop showed me all this and recommended against any enthusiast buying one. He said it was one for the gold medallion and chest wig crowd! I think the ony people who seem to be getting high megapixel chips really right at the moment are Canon and Kodak. Most of the best digital photos I have ever taken to date, were with a 2.1mp camera with a Leica lens. I have come to the conclusion that lens matters just as much as pixels. At Focus on Imaging, the Kyocera people said the Contax SL300R not only had a completely different lens but also different internal processing. Wilson
 

jakob_groes

Active Member
Wilson srote:

> At Focus on Imaging, the
> Kyocera people said the
> Contax SL300R not only had
> a completely different lens
> but also different internal
> processing.

Oh, they said that?

If the lens was really different from its Kyocera twin, how come every - every - specification is identical?

And if a special lens was really developed by Zeiss - with all the cost included - for the Contax generic, isn't it strange that Kyocera after spending such money did not spend as much as one Yen on giving this very special camera any specifications at all, that was not similar to its Kyocera cousin?

Apart from that, I guess both cameras are quite nice - and Dirk has done a great job building relations with Kyocera.

Kind regards,

Jakob
 
"... 'COMPLETELY" (emphasis added) different lens..."

I'm with Jakob. How can it be "completely" different if the sepcifications are the same? If Zeiss did develop the lens, why would Kyocera spend additional money just to develop one that would not perform as well? The same arguement goes for image processing. Why spend development money twice only to develop a another internal processing system that would perform less well. It doesn't make production sense.
 

jakob_groes

Active Member
Although I am basically in line with Lotus on this, I would like to add that I do not question the fact that Zeiss developed this lens.

Zeiss is selling their knowhow and development expertise, and Kyocera is a long term business partner.

This means, Kyocera pays Zeiss the initial cost for designing the lens and then another license fee for each lens being manufactured/sold.

This is no different for the Contax or the Kyocera SL300R. But - Kyocera of course will have to pay more, if they use not only the Zeiss LENS but also the Zeiss BRAND.

So from what I can see, the lens in the two cameras are the same. But Kyocera pays extra money to use the Zeiss brand on the Contax version - and this is sound businesswise because with a more retro design and Zeiss-tack on the cover, they expect to be able to gain a higher on such a model.

I guess the rapid technology development characterizing digital photography also means that more models will be nearly identical. With a life cycle of only a few months, it makes sense to do things this way. It's simply too expensive to differentiate too much, because the life cycle will not allow such investments to be returned.

The new Leica D2 is also manufactured in two versions (Panasonic as well) with similar specifications. They also share the same lens - and in opposition to Kyocera/Contax they lenses are both labeled with the Leica brand.

Apperantly Leica has agreed to this, because they are very satisfied with the copperation with Panasonic (they should be - Panasonic has saved Leica from bankrupcy).

Leica may also see an advantage in getting their brand more well-known amongst average consumers, and Panasonic does the job, like Sony does it for Zeiss.

Kyocera missed that chance, unfortunately.

Kind regards,

Jakob
 

bobbl46

Well-Known Member
Hello Jakob .... out of interest .... do you have an insight to whether Kyocera/Yashica developed the ML series of lenses or was it Zeiss selling their know-how.

Likewise, the Kyocera AF lenses for the "MP" series of cameras ...... Zeiss or Kyocera?

Cheers, Kyocera Kid
 

wilsonlaidlaw

Well-Known Member
Jakob,
I bought a Kyocera Finecam S5 last year on the assumption that as the numbers of the lens specs were the same as that fitted to the TVSD and obviously it was made by the same people, in all probablity it was the same lens with different badging. I was sadly disappointed. The lens in the Finecam is mediocre to say the least. Similarly, I have a Zenit 16 mm C/Y that is the same focal length , same aperture and same number of elements as a Hologon - but it's rubbish! It may well be that the design of the lens on the Kyocera version and the Contax one are very similar but they may be made from different qualities of glass and the Contax one has the T* coating whereas the Kyocera one does not. The processing also can be skewed to give the sort of result that the targeted clients are looking for, from garish to subdued. The processing on the SL300R produces a result far easier on the eye than my Finecam. On the Kyocera stand they did have comparative prints from the Kyocera and Contax camera and although I don't know if they were deliberately processed differently, one could certainly distinguish between them. Wilson
 

jakob_groes

Active Member
Wilson wrote:

> The lens in the Finecam
> is mediocre to say the
> least


This is a surprise to me. When this lens was first introduced (in a 3MP-Finecam i think), it was tested along with a dozen other lenses in digital cameras from all the leading manufacturers by German magazine Color Foto.

In this test, the Finecam-lens was one of the very best with the most snappy contrast of them all.

Kind regards,

Jakob
 

jakob_groes

Active Member
Wilson wrote:

> the design of the lens
> on the Kyocera version and
> the Contax one are very
> similar but they may be
> made from different
> qualities of glass ...


I agree with you, that apart from the design itself, many parametres might differ between the two lenses. Type of glass and coating, as you mention, are only some of these possible differences.

Quality control is another and maybe the most likely diffrence possible. In all production there are variances in quality, even though all manufacturers try to minimize these. What tolerances should be accepted? Maybe the tolerances for the Kyocera lenses are wider than for their Zeiss cousins.

A hythetical ex&le: From a production of 1000 lenses, maybe the 100 best lenses ones go to Contax, the next 600 goes to Kyocera and maybe 300 do not pass the quality control at all and may be destructed or sold off to tertiary brands or tertiary markets.

Such a selection would be rather delicate for Kyocera to announce publicly, because they want their own brand model to gain interest because of the similarity to its high end relative under the Contax brand.

If the construction of the two lenses or of the cameras were actually different in regard of materials, coatings or electronics, it would be probable for Kyocera to spell out these differences to their costumers.

Why shouldn't they?

If you take a closer look at Kyocera press releases announcing new cameras, you will find that they do not tend to oversee any possible sales argument.

Kind regards,

Jakob
 
J

jgban

Regarding quality control of Zeiss lenses, this is what Popular Photography wrote in their review of the N1 and N lenses:

"The lenses are in short supply, according to Contax, because Zeiss production tolerances are unusually high: About seven out of ten AF lenses fail initial quality-control tests and are returned to the production line."

So the quality control issue could definitely be an explanation for differences in quality (and cost!!), and particularly for not using the Zeiss name on the lens of the Finecam.
 
How does Sony do it then? They can get a Zeiss lens (presumably produced to the applicable Zeiss quality standards and tolerances) into competitively prices products. Or is Kyocera's production capabilities that poor that it costs them that much more to get their lens output up to Zeiss standards?

Or is it all questionable since Kyocera is known to produce a number of Sony digital cameras? Isn't Kyocera the only one in Japan accepted to produce Zeiss lenses -- or has Zeiss finally allowed others to do so as well?
 

jakob_groes

Active Member
Kyocera Kid wrote:

> do you have an insight to
> whether Kyocera/Yashica
> developed the ML series of
> lenses or was it Zeiss


This may be the wrong forum for such discussion, but here we go:

The Contax RTS with brand new C/Y-mount was the first result of cooperation between Yashica and Zeiss. The camera was introduced at the Photokina i 1974 and came to market in 1976. I bought one in January 1977.

For the C/Y-mount was also a line of Yashica cameras (FX-1, FR, FR-I, FR-II) and a line of Yashica ML-lenses. In those days, all Yashica lenses for C/Y-mount was called ML (short for multilayer coating).

To answer your question, you will have to examine the background for this new German-Japanese cooperation.

Zeiss manufactured their own SLR cameras throughout the 60s, and in this time they developed some very nice lenses, in production until today (like 85/1.4, 35/1.4, 50/1.4 and some more).

Unfortunately Zeiss was under stiff competition from Nikon and Canon in the SLR-segment, and in 1972 it was decided to focus on lenses only and get a license-partner to manufacture cameras and develop the Contax brand further.

Seceral such partners were approached, most seriously Pentax. Some new lenses were jointly designed by Zeiss and Pentax engineers (28/2.0 and 15/3.5 amongst others), and these designs were later used by both companies. But Pentax ultimately withdrew from the collaboration with Zeiss and did not want to do the camera.

Yashica became the new partner. They already had their own line of lenses that was even bigger than the 15 lenses, Zeiss at the time presented for RTS. AFAIK Zeiss did not design these ML lenses. The optical designs of these lenses, although generally of high quality, were less sofisticated than to the Zeiss lenses and far from similar.

Feedback from the market soon learned Yashica to gradually differentiate their market approach between their two camera brands. Yashica became much lower priced, and most ML lenses were taken out of production and replaced with substantially cheaper USB-lenses from different third party manufacturers.

I guess the logic in this was, that any Yashica-owner wanting a really good lens would ultimately go for a Zeiss lens anyway. To fill the gap (and boost sales of the lower priced Contax 139), a number of cheaper Zeiss lenses were also introduced (50/1.7, 100/3.5, 45/2.8 and others).

So in the end the history of Yashica ML-lenses was rather short, except from a handful of very basic designs. Fortunately most of them were of a very solid build-quality, so many of these lenses from up to 30 years back are still around and can be picked up in perfect working order.

As for the MP-lenses, I have no indication whatsoever, that Zeiss have had anything to do with them. I would think not.

These lenses were also targeted for a rather price-competitive segment of the market. Many third party manufacturers would offer lenses of this non-sofisticated type much, much cheaper than Zeiss.

Kind regards,

Jakob
 

jakob_groes

Active Member
Lotus wrote:

> How does Sony
> do it then?


If you take a look at the US sales figures for digital cameras i 2003, Sony was number one with around one fifth of all cameras sold.

Kyocera wasn't even among the ten biggest manufacturers.

That's one reason that Sony's investment in development gets a hell of a lot faster return.

Also, Sony generally is able to maintain higher prices than Kyocera for comparable units.

Kind regards,

Jakob
 

jakob_groes

Active Member
Kyocera Kid wrote:

> where exactly are
> you getting this
> "information" from?


What information exactly (I have written so much to this list today already...)?

Kind regards,

Jakob
 

bobbl46

Well-Known Member
Let's start with .....

<font color="0000ff">"This means, Kyocera pays Zeiss the initial cost for designing the lens and then another license fee for each lens being manufactured/sold.

This is no different for the Contax or the Kyocera SL300R. But - Kyocera of course will have to pay more, if they use not only the Zeiss LENS but also the Zeiss BRAND.

So from what I can see, the lens in the two cameras are the same. But Kyocera pays extra money to use the Zeiss brand on the Contax version - and this is sound businesswise because with a more retro design and Zeiss-tack on the cover, they expect to be able to gain a higher on such a model."

Cheers, Kyocera Kid
 

jakob_groes

Active Member
This is the basic nature of such an agreement, Bob.

Nothing mysterious or extraordinary about it.

Did you think it worked differently?

Kind regards,

Jakob
 

bobbl46

Well-Known Member
Of course, if Kyocera were capable of developing their own lenses, or having them designed independent of Zeiss, then this might all fall down.

<font color="0000ff">"They already had their own line of lenses that was even bigger than the 15 lenses, Zeiss at the time presented for RTS. AFAIK Zeiss did not design these ML lenses. The optical designs of these lenses, although generally of high quality, were less sofisticated than to the Zeiss lenses and far from similar."

I agree, and were very well thought of and reviewed, and they weren't even Zeiss designed.

and .....

<font color="0000ff">"As for the MP-lenses, I have no indication whatsoever, that Zeiss have had anything to do with them. I would think not."

I agree.

I suppose what I am really asking is "Do you actually know that the lenses are the same" or are you just assuming?

I'm asking because I really want to know from someone(anyone!) about such definitive information that will surely benefit us all.

How can we explain Wilson's first-hand experience? Are we to consider the "A/B/C quality" lens output off the production line scenario?

I'd recommend anyone to have a look at the Production Tour of Camera/Cine lenses on the Zeiss.de website, when considering the possibility of the above.

Cheers, Kyocera Kid.
 
Top