Tony digs into why all the most successful camera companies, including Sony, Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus, Pentax, and Fujifilm, are Japanese.
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The answer is complex, with 4 major turning points: 1) In the 1940s, WWII's divided occupation of Germany set it back, while the United States' occupation of Japan seems to have helped the Japanese camera companies 2) In the 1950s, the Korean war brought many photojournalists to the US-occupied Japan, and David Douglas Duncan, in particular, had great success with Japanese lenses on their Leica cameras. In the US, Joe Erinreich promoted Nikon heavily. 3) In the 1990s and 2000s, US digital camera companies (such as Kodak and Polaroid) failed to transition to the digital era. 4) In the 2010s, the transition from conventional cameras to smartphones saw non-Japanese camera companies (such as Samsung) exit the market. Japanese camera companies didn't have the freedom to easily exit the industry because of the legal challenges around layoffs. Sources * Software is second class: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqMSWuSeDPA * This discussion https://www.photo.net/discuss/threads/the-quality-mechanical-camera-japan-vs-germany.416815/ * Ehrenreich: https://www.nytimes.com/1973/02/09/archives/joseph-ehrenreich-65-dead-brought-nikon-camera-here.html http://www.klassik-cameras.de/WestdeutscheSLR.html * By User:52 Pickup - Based on map data of the IEG-Maps project (Andreas Kunz, B. Johnen and Joachim Robert Moeschl: University of Mainz) - www.ieg-maps.uni-mainz.de., CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4951565 * By Yokosuka City Council - Welcome Yasuura House in Red Fox, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17725027