Icons of Photography


womble

Link Posted 14/05/2010 - 10:15
I have just been reading Amateur Photographer's column "Icons of Photography" in the May 15th issue. This column is normally my favourite in the magazine.

The article this week is about the the Canon FT released in 1966. What I find interesting is that the author talks about Canon and Nikon in the 60s as if the current "canikon" dominance was already the case. For example: "What the Canon FT had that the others, apart from Nikon, did not was Canon's entrenched and unassailable reputation for quality and reliability..." I can see how the breech lock system and the quick load film would appeal to press photographers, but they came in with the FT.

Now, I was just a babe in arms in 1966 but my impression was that the jostling amongst the "big five" Japanese camera manufacturers was much more even at that date (and even into the 80s although by then Canon and Nikon seem to have cornered the press sector of the market). My question is, therefore, was the "big two" situation quite so clear cut in the 60s or has the author back-projected the current situation back into a period where things were actually a bit more fluid?

Best wishes, Kris.
Kris Lockyear
It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head. Henri Cartier-Bresson
Lots of film bodies, a couple of digital ones, too many lenses (mainly older glass) and a Horseman LE 5x4.

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walkeja

Link Posted 14/05/2010 - 10:39
Yes, he definitely has, Pentax were then the leading camera maker of SLRs iirc, and all the press used them, or was it still the big plate cameras?
In the 70s, Pentax were ahead of all the rest.
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chris_jl

Link Posted 14/05/2010 - 10:52
walkeja wrote:
Yes, he definitely has, Pentax were then the leading camera maker of SLRs iirc, and all the press used them, or was it still the big plate cameras?
In the 70s, Pentax were ahead of all the rest.

It's typical of AP to be technically, shall we say, hit or miss. Last month in the AskAP section, a reader asked about sensor sizes and the 'expert' stated that Pentax APS-C sensor is the smallest APS-C out of Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony. A cursory look at the manufacturers sites would show the 'expert' to be talking out his hat. I presume they get them from Jessops.

C

davidtrout

Link Posted 14/05/2010 - 11:00
By the late 1960s the top press camera was the Pentax Spotmatic which had replaced the twin lens Rollies which in turn had replaced the earlier plate cameras.
My experience on newspapers in the North East of England was that the Pentax Spotmatics ruled well through the 1970s before they were usurped by Nikons. The Nikon FM2 became popular on my newspaper.
Nikon then ruled until the Canon EOS models came out in the 1990s. Since then Canon seem to have dominated the newspaper world although there are still a lot of Nikons in use by journalists.
david
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Dangermouse

Link Posted 14/05/2010 - 11:09
chris_jl wrote:
walkeja wrote:
Yes, he definitely has, Pentax were then the leading camera maker of SLRs iirc, and all the press used them, or was it still the big plate cameras?
In the 70s, Pentax were ahead of all the rest.

It's typical of AP to be technically, shall we say, hit or miss. Last month in the AskAP section, a reader asked about sensor sizes and the 'expert' stated that Pentax APS-C sensor is the smallest APS-C out of Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony. A cursory look at the manufacturers sites would show the 'expert' to be talking out his hat. I presume they get them from Jessops.

C

How on earth can you have the "smallest APS-C"? Surely they're all the same size (that of the old APS film frames)?
Matt

Shooting the Welsh Wilderness with K-m, KX, MX, ME Super and assorted lenses.

robbie_d

Link Posted 14/05/2010 - 11:21
Dangermouse wrote:
chris_jl wrote:
Quote:
Yes, he definitely has, Pentax were then the leading camera maker of SLRs iirc, and all the press used them, or was it still the big plate cameras?
In the 70s, Pentax were ahead of all the rest.

It's typical of AP to be technically, shall we say, hit or miss. Last month in the AskAP section, a reader asked about sensor sizes and the 'expert' stated that Pentax APS-C sensor is the smallest APS-C out of Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony. A cursory look at the manufacturers sites would show the 'expert' to be talking out his hat. I presume they get them from Jessops.

C

How on earth can you have the "smallest APS-C"? Surely they're all the same size (that of the old APS film frames)?

As I understand it, it is a wide term which covers many "formats" each which has a slightly different size and therefore multiplier factor to display it in 35mm terms. Sigma and Canon have the smallest APS-C sensors I think, and bizarrely Canon also have the largest (formally known as APS-H).

Pentax even uses two different (although virtually identical) sizes.
If you can't say something nice about Pentax, you won't say anything at all.

Apparently.
Last Edited by robbie_d on 14/05/2010 - 11:23

womble

Link Posted 14/05/2010 - 12:08
davidtrout wrote:
By the late 1960s the top press camera was the Pentax Spotmatic which had replaced the twin lens Rollies which in turn had replaced the earlier plate cameras.
My experience on newspapers in the North East of England was that the Pentax Spotmatics ruled well through the 1970s before they were usurped by Nikons. The Nikon FM2 became popular on my newspaper.
Nikon then ruled until the Canon EOS models came out in the 1990s. Since then Canon seem to have dominated the newspaper world although there are still a lot of Nikons in use by journalists.
david

That was more-or-less my impression. I vaguely remember the Nikon F3 being "the press camera" in my early days in photography. It would be nice to have some hard facts to back up my impressions though.

Thanks and best wishes, Kris.
Kris Lockyear
It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head. Henri Cartier-Bresson
Lots of film bodies, a couple of digital ones, too many lenses (mainly older glass) and a Horseman LE 5x4.

My website

MarkD

Link Posted 14/05/2010 - 14:01
From my memory of the situation...
Pentax were the first "big" brand and were ahead of Nikon in the sixties.In the late sixties and early seventies Nikon caught up and pulled ahead but as I remember it Pentax and Nikon were the dominant forces with Canon and Olympus bringing up the rear. Through the seventies Canon and Olympus became more popular but I'd have put Nikon in the lead and Pentax second. I would say that it wasn't really until the very late 70's and early eighties that Canon became one of the big players.
At least that's how I saw it.
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chris_jl

Link Posted 14/05/2010 - 17:51
Dangermouse wrote:

How on earth can you have the "smallest APS-C"? Surely they're all the same size (that of the old APS film frames)?

FWIW typical APS-C format sizes

23.6x15.8 D90 - Nikon DX format
23.7x15.7 K200D
23.4x15.6 K7
22.3x14.9 550D - Canon EF-S mount

C

johnriley

Link Posted 14/05/2010 - 18:35
A lot of writers are incredibly dismissive about Pentax, and there is a lot of ignorance and mis-reporting in the photographic journals.

Pentax was indeed one of the big two names in the 1960s/1970s, the other being Nikon. Canon were not small or unknown, but I would have rated them No. 3 in the pecking order. Olympus were a late contender, not really arriving until the OM series. The other marques, and there were plenty of them, were not in the same league - Konica, Mamiya, Ricoh, Miranda, Fuji, just to name a few.

I am of course referring to 35mm SLR cameras.

As regards others, Rollei were the masters of the TLR and Zeiss and Voigtlander the masters of brilliantly crafted but clunky and expensive designs.

Things have changed a good deal, but Pentax have remained true to their design ethos.
Best regards, John

George Lazarette

Link Posted 14/05/2010 - 21:49
Two things upset the Pentax applecart.

First, they were the last major manufacturer to embrace the bayonet mount. This was unfortunate because being able to change lenses quickly was important to press photographers in the days before good, fast, zooms became available.

Second, Pentax bodies then, as now, appealed to people who don't like big, heavy, cameras. The advent of the OM1, accompanied by an advertising blitz, therefore hit Pentax harder than Nikon and Canon, and although they fought back with the MX and ME (and later the LX), the company had irretrievably lost its pre-eminence.

Pentax was the first to offer auto-focus, with the ME-F, but it wasn't especially good, and Minolta then stole the spotlight for a while. After that, Canon and Nikon used their fame as suppliers to the pro market to successfully sell so-so cameras to the masses.

And so it continues.

G

PS: Canon did produce one very good amateur's camera, but memory fails me. Was it the T90?
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Last Edited by George Lazarette on 14/05/2010 - 21:50

Oggy

Link Posted 14/05/2010 - 22:24
I find your second point interesting George. I chose the K20 for it's solid substantial feel. If I pick up my OM1 now it feels tiny and uncomfortable.

Saying that, The K-x and K7 are both significantly smaller than the K20.

womble

Link Posted 14/05/2010 - 22:30
The OM1 is pretty much the same size as the M series cameras though, like the ME Super and MX. The ME Super was fantastically successful as can be seen from their ubiquity on ebay! The K10D/K20D are indeed big compared to the M series and the LX.

K.
Kris Lockyear
It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head. Henri Cartier-Bresson
Lots of film bodies, a couple of digital ones, too many lenses (mainly older glass) and a Horseman LE 5x4.

My website

mowog

Link Posted 14/05/2010 - 23:03
Yes. The delay in changing to bayonet mount was damaging. By the time Asahi introduced the K mount in 1975, the M42 mount they were using until then, was associated with lesser makes, like Praktica, Fujica, Zenit and many other lower end SLRs. Certainly not a system for professionals.
I think Asahi originally intended to introduce a bayonet mount with the Spotmatic in 1964, but changed their mind. In the Cecchi book, there is a picture of a Spotmatic prototype with a bayonet mount.
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Anvh

Link Posted 14/05/2010 - 23:42
Mowog this one maybe?
Pulled it from ASAHI OPTICAL HISTORICAL CLUB site.


Metalica II (1966)
World's first aperture priority automatic exposure, TTL metering SLR. Bayonet mount and electronic shutter. Again, Asahi brought innovation to the SLR concept, followed years later by all competitors.

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