I bet you thought it was Zeiss
by Walter Graff



BT Barnum was supposed to be the person attributed to the line; "A Sucker is born every day". He was right.

My mom loves to get the bargains at Costco. She finds all sorts of name brand shirts at a fraction of the price that she sees them in more upscale stores. Problem is she is paying for a name but not necessarily the product. I'll explain.

This is the day and age of names. Panavision instills professional the vision of the finest motion picture cameras. Ferrari is a pretty cool car. What all of these things have in common is a sense of respoect. A sense that it just doesn't get any better. And when you've built up a brand and have instant recognition, it usually means you can charge a premium price. So when you see a name brand shirt for half the price you'd expect to pay you think you are getting quite a bargin. You might be getting an okay shirt but I have a secret, name brands aren't all alike.

One of the most recognized names in still lenses is Carl Zeiss. Zeiss started out making microscopes. He collaborated on new forms of glass and created what to this day are considered some of the finest lenses in the world. People wouldn't think twice at paying $1000 for a pair of binoculars with the Zeiss name on them. Nor would they blink at paying $133,000 for a DigiPrime Complete Cine Lens Set by Zeiss. And for good reason, the name is synonymous with quality.

You wouldn't find Zeiss lenses in Costco... or would you? Sort of. You see, once you have built your name recognition, it allows you all sorts of freedoms. For instance, what happens when you team up with a camera maker and allow them to use your name. An example of that would be Panasonic. Ever see those nifty $4000 Panasonic HD video cameras with the Zeiss logo emblazoned on them? Wow! What a deal. I bought an affordable camera with a "Zeiss lens"... well sort of.

I need to make one thing clear, if you've built your name brand up to such high standards, you need to maintain those standards. Zeiss isn't going to make Sponge Bob Square Pants Binoculars for Walmat. But if you give them enough money and agree to their terms, you can act like they make lenses for you. A perfect example of that is Panasonic.

Pick up a nifty HVX200 for example. Notice the cool little Zeiss logo on it. That must mean my relatively inexpensive camera has a super duper Carl Zeiss lens on it. Now doesn't that make the camera that much more worth it. Yes, from a marketing perspective. In reality Zeiss did not make that lens. Rather Panasonic who is not really known for making lenses needed a selling point to their cameras. So they struck a deal with Zeiss. Lots of money followed. And in that deal Zeiss said Panasonic can use the famous logo if they build lenses to Zeiss' specifications. And occasionally Zeiss will make sure that Panasonic is following correct quality control.

So there you have it. The secret is out of the bag. The reason you see that logo is because in theory that is a Zeiss lens. Sort of like Ferrari allowing a Chinese factory to build Ferrari cars to Ferrari specs. Are the lenses bad. No, not at all. Are they Zeiss lenses? Not exactly. They are made to Zeiss specifications, so sure they are Zeiss lenses made in a Panasonic factory. What do you think, you'd get a $10,000 lens on that $4000 Panasonic camera? Sort of like my mom who thinks the shirts she buys are really by the maker. They are production products made to specs of the brand, but as you'll find when you wear them, it's not exactly the same fit you might expect. But then again, with a $4000 camera are you really gonna notice.

Copyright 2013 by Walter Graff. This article may be circulated and shared as long as the following reference is made: 'This article appears courtesy of Walter Graff- http://www.waltergraff.com'

Please don't hesitate to send me an e-mail if you have any questions or comments please e-mail me at Walter@waltergraff.com