1973: How many brands of 24x36mm interchangeable lens reflex cameras?

cjoliprsf

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There are lots of talks these days about the main camera makers, and the financial problems of some of them. They are quite few really: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Pentax, Olympus and Panasonic, (and Leica which is in a special class) are I guess the only players in the field of digital ILCs (excluding larger format which is more specialized).
How was it in 1973? I recently found in my things a box-full of old issues from the 1970s of the French magazine "PHOTO" - a beautiful magazine by the way. In the #66 of March 1973, there is a review of all the 24x36mm reflex cameras on the market. The number of makers is quite amazing, as is the number of models. The photographer of those days really had a lot more selections available than we now have!

The names we still know or that still hang around the camera business:
Asahi Pentax had 4 models including the Spotmatic
Canon had 5 models
Fujica had 2 models
Konica had 3 models of "Autoreflex" (now living in Sony)
Leicaflex had 2 models
Mamiya had 4 models (they left the field to concentrate on larger format)
Minolta had 4 models including the SRT-101 (now living in Sony)
Nikon had 2 models plus 2 models of Nikkormat
Olympus had the FTL and was introducing the OM 1
Ricoh had 3 models (merged with Pentax)
So this section includes 10 brands that made a total of 33 models of cameras

And then there are the names we might remember and those that are now completely forgotten...
Alpa (Swiss) had 2 models
Bell & Howell (USA) had 1 model
Chinon (Japan) had 1 model
Cosina (Japan) had 2 models
Edixa (West Germany) had 1 model
Exakta (West Germany) had 1 model
Kowa (Japan) had 1 model
Miranda (Japan) had 4 models
Petri (Japan) had 2 models
Praktica (East Germany) had 3 models
Regula (Japan) had 1 model
Rollei (West Germany / Singapour) had 1 model
Seagull (China) had 1 model
Topcon (Japan) had 5 models
Yashica (Japan) had 2 models
Zeiss Ikon (West Germany) had 2 models of Contarex
Zenit (USSR) had 2 models
This makes an additional 17 brands for 32 models.

So, in 1973, one could choose between 27 makers of ILCs for a total of 65 models of 24x36mm reflex cameras!
Now we are down to 8 makers of which a few have serious financial problems and might drop the business.
 
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Interesting. Do you know roughly how many different lens mounts were in use among those 65 models? And how many of those manufacturers offered lenses as well as bodies?
 

cjoliprsf

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Interesting. Do you know roughly how many different lens mounts were in use among those 65 models? And how many of those manufacturers offered lenses as well as bodies?
The table does indicate this. Many had their own mount and line of lenses, and also a good number were on M42 mount with sometimes a small number of their own lenses but with the possibility of mounting any other M42 lens.
 

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1973 is before my photo retail time, but I know that the K bayonet came in in 1975.

As an educated guess, and accounting for Fujica using a slightly modified M42 mount, my estimate is that there are 8 different mounts in the top section, and around 10 from the bottom.

By the 80s, Chinon, Cosina, Miranda, Petri and Edixa were all PK mount. Even Zenit had K mount camera by the 2000s :)
 

Brownie

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I got into it around '83 or '84. I don't know how they broke that list down, but there I recall US Department store companies JC Penny and Sears both had their own brands of lenses, and Sears had their own branded bodies, I think built by Pentax. Vivitar sold one too.
 

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Pentax did get sold under the brand Sears. Their Spotmatics were also marketed in the USA as Honeywell Pentax. Honeywell was judged to be more likely to go down better in America because it was more American sounding (or perhaps less Japanese sounding - considering the war had only been over for 25 years).
 

exakta

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The only companies that did not sell their own branded lenses were the East German brands (Exakta, Praktica). Like today, some of those lenses may have been farmed out to other companies like Sigma, Sun and Kiron for actual design or manufacturing. There were a lot more lens makers in Japan back then, too.

With one exception, the only shared lens mounts were the brands that shared the M42 screw mount, although the TTL full-aperture metering couplings were not all the same. Stop-down metering would work on all.

M42 mounts: Pentax, Fujica, Mamiya, Olympus FTL, Ricoh, Chinon, Cosina, Edixa, Petri FTX (FT had Petri bayonet), Praktica, Rollei, Yashica, Zenit

Topcon had two lens mounts, one for the low-end leaf shutter Uni series and the Exakta bayonet for the high end Super D series. Although Topcon could physically mount lenses build for the Exakta, the auto diaphragm and TTL meter couplings were different.

Every other brand had it's own unique lens mount.

Bell and Howell was selling rebadged Canons, that would end in another year or so. Through the 60s, most USA Canons were badged Bell&Howell/Canon. B&H was the US distributor.

RichardC,

Actually, Sears was selling rebadged Ricoh and Mamiya cameras in the USA, not Pentax. Honeywell was the US Pentax distributor until the mid 1970s. Their photo division was primarily making electronic flashes, they were the first to offer auto-exposure flashes. Honeywell is still around, their primary business is in the aerospace industry.
 
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mike3996

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They are quite few really: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Pentax, Olympus and Panasonic, (and Leica which is in a special class)
You forgot Sigma from the list. They make the "fp" MILC.

I don't know why you made Leica in a special class. In a sense they are, because they alone have chosen an alternative business strategy which doesn't focus on expanding the market share but instead maintaining a nice bite-sized segment which is fine and seems to work for them.
 

cjoliprsf

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You forgot Sigma from the list. They make the "fp" MILC.
Yes... But as Leica, it could possibly be put in a special class as I think it has a very specialized market. And I guess I forgot Samsung also. But these are quite marginal at best as far as volume is concerned.

But the main point was that in 1973, the interchangeable lens reflex camera market could sustain many more players than nowadays. And that didn't even include other types of cameras, such as rangefinder ILCs of fixed-lens cameras.

And by the way, the table I refered to above was for the market in France - so yes in the US, branding for some models could have been different.

And on related subject, we know Sony got into the field by buying Minolta/Konika. But how did Panasonic start? Did they buy another camera maker?
 

agentlossing

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Pentax did get sold under the brand Sears. Their Spotmatics were also marketed in the USA as Honeywell Pentax. Honeywell was judged to be more likely to go down better in America because it was more American sounding (or perhaps less Japanese sounding - considering the war had only been over for 25 years).
Which is funny, since "Pentax" originated as an abbreviated form of "pentaprism" (English) and "Contax" - a German brand.
 

ac12

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Pentax did get sold under the brand Sears. Their Spotmatics were also marketed in the USA as Honeywell Pentax. Honeywell was judged to be more likely to go down better in America because it was more American sounding (or perhaps less Japanese sounding - considering the war had only been over for 25 years).
In Japan it was Asahi Pentax.
In the US it became Honeywell Pentax, after the US distributor Honeywell.
Kinda like Bogen the US tripod distributor, and Manfrotto the manufacturer. My tripod is labeled Bogen, not Manfrotto.

I think the Spotmatic was one of the Pentax models. I wasn't a Pentax user, and don't remember the models.
 

ac12

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Yes... But as Leica, it could possibly be put in a special class as I think it has a very specialized market. And I guess I forgot Samsung also. But these are quite marginal at best as far as volume is concerned.

But the main point was that in 1973, the interchangeable lens reflex camera market could sustain many more players than nowadays. And that didn't even include other types of cameras, such as rangefinder ILCs of fixed-lens cameras.

And by the way, the table I refered to above was for the market in France - so yes in the US, branding for some models could have been different.

And on related subject, we know Sony got into the field by buying Minolta/Konika. But how did Panasonic start? Did they buy another camera maker?
Sony got into the stills market with Konica/Minolta, but they were into video long before that.

I think Panasonic went straight into digital.
 

BDR-529

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Sony got into the stills market with Konica/Minolta, but they were into video long before that.

I think Panasonic went straight into digital.
I didn't even realize that dpreview is so old but here's the news about first Panasonic-Leica digital cameras from 2001
https://www.dpreview.com/articles/8282419832/matsushitaleica

Panasonic had manufactured consumer DV camcorders since 1995 and they were also sort of digital cameras with a real flash for still photos.

I remember taking still images with my GS70 DV camcorder (2004 model?) which had excellent Leica optics but the "1,7MP" still image was a disappointment because they did use same clever mathematics as Foveon by simply adding pixels from three CCD:s together when in fact all were recording colour information from the same photosite.

Hands up, who remembers the horrible shutter lag these early digital pocket cameras had? Kids or pets were long gone by the time camera actually took the image.
 
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There are lots of talks these days about the main camera makers, and the financial problems of some of them. They are quite few really: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Pentax, Olympus and Panasonic, (and Leica which is in a special class) are I guess the only players in the field of digital ILCs (excluding larger format which is more specialized).
How was it in 1973? I recently found in my things a box-full of old issues from the 1970s of the French magazine "PHOTO" - a beautiful magazine by the way. In the #66 of March 1973, there is a review of all the 24x36mm reflex cameras on the market. The number of makers is quite amazing, as is the number of models. The photographer of those days really had a lot more selections available than we now have!

The names we still know or that still hang around the camera business:
Asahi Pentax had 4 models including the Spotmatic
Canon had 5 models
Fujica had 2 models
Konica had 3 models of "Autoreflex" (now living in Sony)
Leicaflex had 2 models
Mamiya had 4 models (they left the field to concentrate on larger format)
Minolta had 4 models including the SRT-101 (now living in Sony)
Nikon had 2 models plus 2 models of Nikkormat
Olympus had the FTL and was introducing the OM 1
Ricoh had 3 models (merged with Pentax)
So this section includes 10 brands that made a total of 33 models of cameras

And then there are the names we might remember and those that are now completely forgotten...
Alpa (Swiss) had 2 models
Bell & Howell (USA) had 1 model
Chinon (Japan) had 1 model
Cosina (Japan) had 2 models
Edixa (West Germany) had 1 model
Exakta (West Germany) had 1 model
Kowa (Japan) had 1 model
Miranda (Japan) had 4 models
Petri (Japan) had 2 models
Praktica (East Germany) had 3 models
Regula (Japan) had 1 model
Rollei (West Germany / Singapour) had 1 model
Seagull (China) had 1 model
Topcon (Japan) had 5 models
Yashica (Japan) had 2 models
Zeiss Ikon (West Germany) had 2 models of Contarex
Zenit (USSR) had 2 models
This makes an additional 17 brands for 32 models.

So, in 1973, one could choose between 27 makers of ILCs for a total of 65 models of 24x36mm reflex cameras!
Now we are down to 8 makers of which a few have serious financial problems and might drop the business.
How about the Contax? First, it was Zeiss, then it was built by Yashica/Kyocera, but as a respected brand name, it was around for quite a while.
 

Erich_H

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How about the Contax? First, it was Zeiss, then it was built by Yashica/Kyocera, but as a respected brand name, it was around for quite a while.
Contax:
First German. First used in 1932.
Then East German Carl Zeiss Jena.
Then, after litigation, West German Zeiss Ikon AG.
Then, finally, made in Japan, by Yashica/Kyocera under license from Zeiss Ikon AG (until 2005), who still owns the trademark.
 
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BDR-529

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How about the Contax? First, it was Zeiss, then it was built by Yashica/Kyocera, but as a respected brand name, it was around for quite a while.
Contax is the only premium camera brand that is currently on hold but still owned by the same company that coined it in 1932. This is of course Carl Zeiss AG (Well yes, due to so some unpleasant events in the 1940's it's not technically speaking the same Zeiss Ikon as in 1930's but anyway)

Carl Zeiss had a contract with Kyocera for camera manufacturing but just as Contax had released their first digital models, this contract was terminated without any explanation in 2005 and use of Contax brand ceased. Since Zeiss just released ZX1 they might eventually find use for Contax brand as well.

Casio is another major digital camera manufacturer who suddenly announced in 2018 that they will withdraw from digital camera business entirely. Casio was one of the first digital camera manufacturers and they introduced already in 1994 the first "modern" digital pocket camera with live view on LCD screen. I don't recall Casio ever launching ILC models but they sure got a substantial slice of pocket digital sales which peaked at 100 million units per year only 10 years ago.
 
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