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Friday, September 08, 2006

Zeiss Digital Rangefinder Unlikely Soon

Herbert Keppler, in his column "Speaking Frankly" for September 6th, 2006, interviewed "a major planner of the new Zeiss camera and lenses," Dr. Winfried Scherle, Vice-President and general manager in the Camera Lens Division of Carl Zeiss AG, about the film Zeiss Ikon. In the course of the intervew, Keppler asked Scherle about the possibility of a digital version of the Zeiss ragnefinder arriving soon. Here's the relevant exchange:

Q: There are rumors that Zeiss will eventually have its own digital rangefinder camera body that will accept the M mount lenses. True or false? Will it be Cosina-made? Full 24 x 36mm sensor?

At Carl Zeiss, we can imagine such a camera. But we feel that is not the right time to introduce such a camera now. Today digital technology is still developing fast and the initial value of a digital camera is lost in quite a short time. Carl Zeiss wants to protect the investment of its customers and will therefore require a high level of maturity of products before we can justify to offer them to our customers. At the time we introduce such a camera we want to be sure that the owner has invested in a long term value.

1. It is much too early to determine a manufacturer for such a camera.

2. Full 24 x 36 is, as far as we see today, for a variety of reasons the preferred sensor size of most serious rangefinder photographers.

(Interestingly, almost all of the comments in the thread that follows the interview concern the line "Carl Zeiss wants to protect the investment of its customers." As one commenter said, "As a Contax RF, Contarex SLR and Contax SLR owner, I have strong doubts about this statement.")

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON with a tip o' the hat to O.G.


Blogger bjorke said...

Generally (though not always), people in manufacturing are smart enough to know that the purpose of announcing products in advance is to slow the sales of current products. A great idea if your competitors are leading, and a ROTTEN idea if you are leading. If CZ are developing a digital ZI, saying so would slow and/or cannibalize the sales of their current stock of ZI cameras. Why would they do such a thing?

5:16 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"If CZ are developing a digital ZI, saying so would slow and/or cannibalize the sales of their current stock of ZI cameras."

Hi Bjorke,
I really don't think so. While this might would hold true with a replacement film model, film and digital are too different for this to happen.

If anything, announcing a digital version might encourage sales of lenses. Maybe.


6:26 PM  
Blogger D. Kreithen said...

Doesn't it strike you that Zeiss is walking the same path as the ill-fated Contax full-frame digital body? Leica was spouting the same nonsense about having to be full frame until they changed top management, who suddenly had a revelation that if they didn't get a digital M body to market that there would be no market left for them to capture, or company to make it for that matter. Sometimes the good is not the enemy of the perfect. I wish Zeiss would see the light and release what essentially would be an updated and less expensive RD-1.

7:39 PM  

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