Camera names

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by david_kaye, Sep 6, 2013.

  1. Why are cameras given different names dependent on the market they are headed for?

    Is this for manufacturers to target various cultures.

    The classic iconic example is the Chevvy Nova which in Spanish translates into "no go".
  2. Most cameras which had different names in different markets were sold that way for legal reasons. A certain name may have been registered already in a particular country so a camera with the same name couldn't be sold there. Minolta called its AF SLR film cameras Maxxum in the U.S. and Dynax in other markets. Before that there was the XK in the U.S. which was called the XE-1 or XM elsewhere. Konica sold a camera called the Autoreflex T in the U.S. The same camera was called the FTA in Japan. The Konica TC was a U.S. name while Acom-1 was the Japan market name. The Konica Auto S3 rangefinder in the U.S. was called the C35FD in Japan. The Minolta X-570 (U.S.) was sold at the X-500 elsewhere. I have a Nikon N90S (U.S.) and a Nikon F90X. These are the same except for the names.
  3. And why is it that with cameras and other photo-equipment, that "particular country" always is the U.S. of A., that it's always an U.S. of A. vs Rest of the World thing?
  4. Jeff and Q.G., I wonder if this element of the Us versus the world may have had something to do with America being the most affluent country for almost the most of last century. This would lead to greater sales opportunities. Perhaps the manufacturers wanted to for American consumers to buy cameras that felt unique and exclusive? Europe was struggling way into the mid 60s. The postwar boom that America had seen was very much an alien concept here in ration coupon UK.
  5. Wasen't that to stop 'gray market' sales? At one time some (not all) cameras could be purchased much cheaper in some markets. A camera store, trying to bypass the official importer or just trying to obtain enough units of a popular type to meet local demand might resort to buying directly from overseas, a few cameras at a time. These of course would not have the offical importers warranty paperwork and that could cause problems if a unit failed and the customer expected warranty service.
    I don't think there is such price advantage anymore, at least for products coming into North America.
  6. Not that it matters a whole lot, but the "No va" story seems not to be true ( ).
    I will point out that USA tends to get names that the Japanese consider "macho". The rest of the world gets more numerical names.
    BUT, the Japanese names are something else altogether in some cases. They seem to be chosen to appeal to the iconic Japanese schoolgirl setter-of-fashion--e.g., xxxD in Europe, Rebel in USA, and Kiss (!) in Japan.
    This often goes for other products too, not just cameras.
    Unless an importer rebranding is involved, or some kind of trademark issue (Exakta Varex and VX), Germans most often seem to name their products pretty much the same everywhere.
    I would not recommend going into questions of national character here. That can be very dangerous ground.
  7. I always feel so macho when I am out shooting with my Canon Rebel. I can walk the toughest neighborhoods. People see that polycarbonate body and the kit lens with the plastic lens mount and they back away slowly.
  8. Not a camera of course but the energy bar called Snickers was originally called the Marathon bar in the UK, maybe because Mars Inc thought that Snickers was too close to the British 'knickers' meaning ladies underwear. Eventually Mars decided to brave British sniggers and call it Snickers here as well.
  9. Didn't the Minolta Maxxum name run into copyright issues in the US because Minolta spelled it with a crossed XX? As I remember it Exxon then sued them because their trade mark included the crossed XX. Minolta had to change the style to a normal XX.
  10. I'm still trying to understand why my beloved Minolta XD7 (European designation) should have been called XD11 in the US and XD in Japan. I cannot see any macho factor at work here, nor national sensibilities or name registration problems. So....???
    It is however true that on occasions brand names are selected, that sound spectacularly wrong and negative in some language or culture. This is particularly true with the contemporary trend for names, that have (supposedly....) no real meaning in any language. My favourite in this regard is the Kia Carens (European name, it's the Rondo in North America). Not a bad car, but "carens" happens to be a Latin word meaning "insufficient", "inadequate", "not up to", "unsatisfactory". Now admittedly not that many people know Latin, but still...
  11. It is however true that name registration issues may on occasion prove insurmountable. As regards classic cameras, the best known case is Nikon having to shift from the F to the F2 model, because Canon has already registered the F1 designation (legend says Canon did so immediately after the commercial launch of the F).
    Moving to a completely different sector, the F-16 fighter aircraft is formally named as "Fighting Falcon", rather than simply "Falcon" as per the original USAF choice, because Dassault of France, which produces a series of business jets called "Falcon", stubbornly refused to let the name being used for a US aircraft.
  12. It's not a Japan vs the U.S. of A. thing, JDM.<br><br>Gossen (German) meters don't go under their proper type names, with their U.S. of A. names not being particularly more macho than their Rest of the World names.<br>Manfrotto (Italian originally), called "Bogen" in the U.S. of A., use type numbers more than names, and - lo and behold - those numbers too are different in the U.S. of A.<br><br>The M.A.C. vs Mamiya brand name piracy case (a totally unrelated company being allowed to trademark the name of an existing, well-known other company) is notorious. Something that couldn't have hapened in most of the Rest of the World.<br>But that sort of thing (nor things like wanting to prevent grey imports, or names meaning something silly in another language) wouldn't explain the Manfrotto/Bogen renumbering.
  13. I believe the different numeric modeling of film bodies, was to ID gray market gear. But why couldn't warranties be international? The other mystery is why repair shops won't fix gray gear? As long as the money isn't gray, why do they care?
  14. It's not a Japan vs the U.S. of A. thing, JDM.​
  15. Didn't the Minolta Maxxum name run into copyright issues in the US because Minolta spelled it with a crossed XX? As I remember it Exxon then sued them because their trade mark included the crossed XX​
    You are correct. Standard Oil had invested a great deal to research possible new names - there is no language which uses the double X - hence no risk of unintended meanings ['Esso' apparently meant 'stalled car' in Japan] and crossing the X's as you say was for trademark reasons. I recall a political cartoon with a 'Nixxon' sign above the White House - the caption read 'But its the same old gas.'
  16. JDM,

    Re your "Huh?":

    "I will point out that USA tends to get names that the Japanese consider "macho". The rest of the world gets more numerical names."

    Whether or not the Japanese would decide they want names that appeal to schoolgirls for themselves (Huh?!), the Japanese are not the ones who decide that the U.S. of A. needs more macho names.
    It appears 'the U.S. of A.' (we don't yet know who or what is behind it. All we know is that it's something seen happening in the U.S. of A.) decides it will not allow Rest of the World names, so even numbers have to be changed.
    The question is "Why?" Because, say, the Italian Manfrotto numbers aren't macho enough, have too much of a schoolgirl appeal, and the U.S. of A. market needs numbers that are a bit more manly?

    Grey import? Only a (serious) problem in the U.S. of A. then, so only the U.S. market would need renaming to combat it?

    Trade marks? Apart from the infamous highjacking of the Mamiya name by M.A.C., does it really figure in this? Is calling, say, a "Canon" a "Canon" a problem? But calling a Canon "Eos" a Canon "Eos" is, so it has to be renamed "Rebel"? A Gossen "ProfiSix" must be renamed "LunaPro", because "ProfiSix" was already taken? Hard to believe that's it.

    So what is?
  17. What about Hubris or (American or German ) Exceptional ism? It's not so prevalent now but 20 years ago USA movie titles in Germany were often changed because they didn't translate well These days of Anglo infiltration it is done less.
    But of course the US market was very important to mostexport countries like Japan and Germany in the past. How much of their product was sold overseas?
    I've often found the Russian titles interesting and well Why is a German Folder called Billy?
  18. The Agfa Billy (1928 up to the 1950's in various evolutions) was exported from Germany to the US and UK as the Speedex presumably because they realised that Billy would sound silly outside Germany.
  19. ... and Rolls-Royce changed the name of one of their models from "Silver Mist" to "Silver Shadow" when they realised that "mist" translated to "manure" in German.
  20. Q.G., it hasn't been the US of A for a long time.

    It is the US.
  21. "Chevy Nova- no go"? Well if it's the old 151 cid inline 4 and Powerglide not much go. Later model with 396 4bbl and 4 speed, well, it goes.
    But for camera names- is it possible that this naming system served to discourage gray market sales. I learned from our Minolta rep (back in early 80's) that Minolta service centers in the USA would not honor the warranty of new Minoltas purchased in Europe or Japan. In other words, if you sent a Minolta XD or XD-7 that still had warranty coverage to the USA authorized warranty center it would be returned without servicing. Of course you were good to go if you had the XD-5 or XD-11. Of course it's possible that some of you may have heard or experienced exceptions. This is just what our Minolta sales rep told us. He told this information to help us explain to potential customers that if they chose mail order over our stock to at least be sure they were getting the model intended for USA sales.
  22. Absolutely from preventing grey market sales. The US being historically a "wealthy" customer, the manufacturers and US distributor sell in the US at a much higher profit margin. In the rest of the world, either due to a lower standard of living, or high value-added taxes, they have to sell the same camera at a lower profit margin in order for it to sell at all well.
    So the Nikkormat in the US was the Nikomat in Japan, so it would be obvious that the "grey market" camera was "not the right thing".
    Also, the official US importer might own the trademark in the US, and could demand that a grey market camera be "defaced" (have "their" trade name ground off) when you try to bring it into the country yourself, since you are importing a "fraud". You'll occasionally see used cameras or lenses with the brand name ground off, this is why. When our family traveled outside of the US in the 1970's, we carefully registered the "foreign" cameras with the customs service before leaving the country so that we would have "trademark" or "import duty" problems coming back into the country.
    The US economy was very "sheltered" in many ways in the 1950's and 1960's. Import barriers, high import tariffs, "fair trade" pricing, and these trademark games.
    For instance, Charles Beseler used "fair trade" to force all dealers to sell their equipment at the same list price, no discounts. They added "Beseler" to the engraving on Topcon cameras, and used different model names (the Beseler Topcon Super-D was the Topcon RE-Super in the rest of the world).
    Also, you just don't call anything a "4" (four) in Chinese-speaking countries, since it's a homonym for "death".
  23. Nikomat was the Japanese domestic name, Nikkormat for the rest of the world, not just US.
    Audi has used the A4 name all over the world. Now BMW has followed suit with the same number. Both sell well in China where they even have factories.

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