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Old Sep 23, 2004, 7:30 AM   #1
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These are from an article published recently in an Australian photo/IT site: http://australianit.news.com.au/arti...nbv%5E,00.html.
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"WHEN buying a digital still camera there are several measures of whether you are getting the best value for your money. Resolution is an easy one: more megapixels equals better detail and a wider range of options in zooming and cropping.

What about the lens, considered by some professionals to be the most important part of a camera? Two electronics manufacturers, Sony and Panasonic, have partnered with two big names in the lens business, Carl Zeiss and Leica, and both Sony and Panasonic list the imported lenses as key features in their marketing promotions.

However, while Panasonic's Lumix range is said to have Leica lenses, the lenses aren't actually made by Leica. They are manufactured at Panasonic's Yamagata factory in Japan under Leica's stringent quality control program, according to Panasonic Australia.

Sony and Zeiss have a similar relationship – the lenses are produced according to "strict manufacturing specifications".

Some have asked whether customers are getting a Leica lens or just the Leica name..."
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So, is it really a Leica on the Panasonic? Is it really a Zeiss on the Sony cameras? Everything is gray in manufacturing these days, and I'll leave that one to the digicam philosophers. If the lens was designed/prototyped by Leica (...and the article doesnt say who designed the lens - Panasonic or Leica, however it IS manufactured to Leica's "strict QA standards" - whatever that means, and truthfully it sounds like so much marketing spin) is it a Leica?" I mention this because I KNEW given the price of Leica and Zeiss lenses - and the fact that neither company is in the mass consumer market with respect to production capacity - something "was up" for Panasonic and Sony to equip their camera with true Leica or Zeiss lenses at such low cost. If you're buying a Rolex for $50 >real good chance< that it's a knock-off but that doesn't mean it isn't a fine watch.

So, if this isn't "old news" do you think that...

1. This camera really has a >true< "Leica lens"? Does a "Leica lens" mean it HAS to come out of a Leica factory and shipped to Panasonic for assembly?

2. Does this "burst your bubble" with respect to the lens on your camera, Panasonic, and Leica?

3. Is this a dishonest, deceptive marketing practice on the part of the large japanese consumer electronics companies to garner the necessary name recognition for their product to compete against the Nikons and Canons?

4. Is this a case of Leica and Zeiss knocking off their own product? Isn't this like Rolex saying, "we'll go to Timex, use their high-capacity factories, crank out a zillion "Rolex's" to be sold for $50, and make a few quick bucks marketing our name? How is this different, in terms of "what the consumer is getting for their money" - from a chinese plant knocking off Rolexes, as an example, if the watch they produce is of high quality, legal issues not withstanding, apart from the use of the brand name, "Rolex" being unsanctioned? Isn't it >more deceptive< that Zeiss and Leica actually sanction such a practice?


It doesn't really matter to me in THIS case, that of the Lumix line - they're great cameras with great optics. At the end of the day, it's the picture quality that matters. However, I think that the government - or at least some international standards should be adopted, that determine under what circumstance a manufacturer has the right to use a "brand name" apart from the willingness of the manufacturers to wh--re their name around. Absent any standards, it's tantamount to deception and consumer fraud with "brand" logos rendered meaningless. So, ya can't put trust in a brand name these days, since you don't know what the heck you're really getting. Remember "Singer"? As always - now more than ever, "caveat emptor".
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Old Sep 23, 2004, 8:08 AM   #2
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And to complicate things further, Leica's rangefinder digital camera has the same specs as the FZ20 and it is manufactured by Panasonic.
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Old Sep 23, 2004, 10:20 AM   #3
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Are you trying to say the Nikon D70 made in Thailand is not a Nikon?
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Old Sep 23, 2004, 11:45 AM   #4
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Jon_Doe wrote:
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And to complicate things further, Leica's rangefinder digital camera has the same specs as the FZ20 and it is manufactured by Panasonic.

I believe you mean the LC1 has the same specs.



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Old Sep 23, 2004, 1:44 PM   #5
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Panasonic and Leica's explanation of the situation actually seems credible to me: they say the lenses are jointly designed, then manufactured by Panasonic as part of an integrated mass-production process that brings the lens system and the rest of the camera together. Leica requires the lenses to meet their QC standards, and Panasonic is obviously very good at mas-production QC when it comes to their many electronics products.

The real question is why the cameras bearing theLeica name, but manufactured by Panasonic, costso much more thansimilar cameras bearing thePanasonic name, but with Leica-designed lenses.
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Old Sep 23, 2004, 3:17 PM   #6
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mudshu wrote:
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I believe you mean the LC1 has the same specs.

mud
Yes, the LC1 is the identical camera under the Panasonic label, but the Leica Digilux 2 boasts the same 5 megapixel engine as the FZ 2, with the same lines of resolution, etc.
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Old Sep 23, 2004, 4:43 PM   #7
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So, if I am correct to infer that posters are saying that the Leica Digilux 2 isn't really a Leica - it's a Panasonic, then why isn't it correct to infer, likewise, that the Leica lens on the Lumix isn't a Leica, it's really a Panasonic?

"Panasonic and Leica's explanation of the situation actually seems credible to me: they say the lenses are jointly designed, then manufactured by Panasonic as part of an integrated mass-production process that brings the lens system and the rest of the camera together. Leica requires the lenses to meet their QC standards..."

So, if it's "jointly designed" and not manufactured by Leica but >is said< to "meet Leica QC standards" then it sounds more like a Panasonic than a Leica lens. Leica seems only to have played a role in its design, and consulted with Panasonic on QC procedures. Panasonic also played a role in the design and it rolls off their assembly line. To me, the line of deliniation is, who finances the production of the lenses, that's Panasonic. And, whose management team is responsible for its production - that's Panasonic. Leica has no involvement with its production at this point - financial or managerial. They're out of it.

In an acceptable subcontract arrangement, it's a case of the manufacturer "leasing" production capacity from another company's facility, but that the "leassor" - Leica, for example, oversees, pays for services rendered, and has termination rights with it's subcontractor producing its lens. Thats common, an that's fine. Leica would have a vested interest, it's essentially treating the subcontractor as an employee that can be terminated, and >Leica is the entity legally responsible for the the component<.

This is not the case regarding Leica and Panasonic. Leica is not in a subcontracting agreement with a Pana production facility to produce lenses to their spec. Leica has no right of managerial oversight and no say in the production of the lens beyond whatever design input they had, and whatever QC procedure >recommendations< they made. Leica is NOT the company responsible for this lens in any way, shape or form. They're out of it. >Panasonic is complately responsible for the manufacturing of this lens<.

Verdict?
1. Panasonic customers are being misled into thinking they have a Leica lens. What they really have is a Panasonic lens, that Leica had some degree (perhaps) of design input, and some input (perhaps) into quality control.

2. Leica customers of the Digilux 2 are being duped even more. They own a Panasonic camera with a Leica label slapped on it.

While this may seem like so much "hair splitting" it isn't in the case of companies like Zeiss, Leica, Rolex, Electolux, etc. who charge a premium well above market prices based on an implied trust that >THEY< are manufacturing the product. I simply think that there should be some kind of standard regarding when a company can put their label on a product, other than at their disgression.

Consider - if there was a class action suit regarding a production flaw in the lens, who would be responsible for it? That would be Panasonic.

The defense rests.

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Old Sep 23, 2004, 7:52 PM   #8
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OK. I have from time to time called in for support at Panasonic, and got to talk to one of the engineers. The wayhe stated it to me, is that the glass is strictly Leica. The assembly into the camera is Panasonic. Panasonic follows Leica's manufacturing specs for the assembly process.



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Old Sep 23, 2004, 10:56 PM   #9
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"The way he stated it to me, is that the glass is strictly Leica. The assembly into the camera is Panasonic"

If this is the case, then you have a Leica lens on your camera, no question, and I stand corrected. But what the Pana engineer said conflicts with the article, which states...

"However, while Panasonic's Lumix range is said to have Leica lenses, the lenses aren't actually made by Leica. They are manufactured at Panasonic's Yamagata factory in Japan"

Note the line >the lenses aren't actually made by Leica<
which means IT'S NOT A LEICA LENS!
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Old Sep 23, 2004, 11:01 PM   #10
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My question is, why does it matter who "makes" it? If it does a good job, I don't care if it was made by a bum in the streets of new york.


And the lens on my FZ10 does an awesome job


On a slightly different topic. Brand name loyality is rather silly, people should go for camera that does the best job for what they want. Not because it has Canon written on the front. Big names often put out great cameras, but that doesn't mean that you should only go for them.

Simply said, if it does what you want, what does it matter who's name is on it?
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