Post by Just Plain Curt on Jun 13, 2008 15:25:27 GMT -5
Hi Randy, Yessir, definitely a Cosina rebadged. I have two Kalimar K-90 TTL 1000's (Minolta MC/MD mount), a Hikari (PK mount), 2 Promaster 2500's (both PK mount) and a Vivitar 3800 N (PK mount). All the same camera by Cosina.
Post by nikkortorokkor on Jun 14, 2008 20:32:24 GMT -5
Sorry to disagree, but...
Having used owned both a badge engineered Cosina (an Oly, OM2000 spot metering) and one of the MANY Phenix manuals (a DC701, I think without going & checking), these cameras are similar to the point of being identical, but a Phenix is not (I repeat, NOT) a badge engineered Cosina.
The Phenix Optical Group HQ is located in the land locked province of Jiangxi. The company began making cameras in 1965 and opened a factory in the rail-hub town of Shangrao, Jiangxi in 1987. Since about 2001 there has been a shiny new facility in Nanchang, the provincial capital. How do I know? I've pedaled my bicycle past it on the way to work! The new factory makes some very nice "joint venture" cameras, including a panorama model that I always regret not buying for 12,000 Chinese Yuan a few years back.
Other joint venture cameras produced by Phenix have included the Yasuhara T981 rangefinder, which they also released under their own name as the JG50, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the revolution in 1999. I've also seen gold plated Seagull TLRs and the classic Phenix 205 compact rangefinder glammed up for the anniversary. The JG50 in red leather looks particularly fine, & one day I hope to own one. Here's one in black leatherette.
Phenix make Lomos & other "cameras" for lomo.com and various of the more exotic & interesting Phenix cameras could be had from them last time I checked. By far the most common Phenixes to make it onto the western market are their various all manual student cameras like Randy's, which are sold by various camera houses throughout Europe, Nth America & Australasia. Oddly, Phenix used to use a distinctive logo using a font that they cribbed from Braun, who in turn sell badge engineered Phenixes under their own name in Germany
In China, Phenix & Seagull sold a gazillion variations on the 90's style 35mm P&S zoom. I bet now they'll be doing the same with digital. They now have factories in Shanghai and Guangdong (Canton) and have 5000 employees at last count.
While Phenix was under the umbrella of Seagull in the early 70s, it has been a separate entity since Deng's Opening Up policy of 20 years back. In China, Phenix always had a high reputation and were often more expensive than Seagulls. Now, both companies' SLRs sit in one corner of Chinese camera shops, squeezed out by shiny Canons, Nikons, etc. But don't fear for Phenix, their new plants are churning out lenses as fast as they can, their list of products includes glass spherical lenses, plastic aspherical lenses, lenses and lens assemblies for cell phones, digicams, projectors, scanners, CCTV cams telescopes and microscopes!
"During the year ended December 31, 2007, the Company obtained approximately 93% of its total revenue from optical processing business."
The Phenix name, probably phonetically spelled to avoid copyright problems, is auspicious in China, where the Phoenix legend holds a lot of currency. The other Phoenix brand seen throughout China is a bicycle.
I'm constantly amazed at the variations on the plastic covered manual SLR built by Phenix, usually with 1/1000 or 1/2000 Copal shutters. They are virtually identical to many Cosinas, and there could well have been some official cooperation between the two companies, but Phenix are definitely made by Phenix, and while some Phenix are sold under different labels on the western market,
I would be very surprised if a Cosina made camera was rebadged as a Phenix - a Cosina made Phoenix, on the other hand, is quite likely - ironically, Phoenix of America do sell badged engineered Chinese cameras, but last time I checked, they were all Seagulls!
Phenix are responsible for my interest in Minolta in a roundabout way. Phenix produce their SLRS in 2 mounts: PK and Minolta MC. In China, I could only find zooms in PK mount. Seagull, on the other hand, make various primes in MC/MD. Minolta invested quite heavily in Seagull, I believe. I wanted some primes, & MC/MD it was.
last of the line: the Phenix 205E. The venerable 205 was designed and built by Shanghai Seagull in 1965. Production was moved to Jangxi in 1969, and finally ended circa 2001 after a 36 year production run.
Aha, found it. The DC701. 1/1000 Seiko shutter. Seagull f1.4/50mm lens. The DC901 looks identical, but gets the same 1/2000 Copal mechanical shutter as all those Cosina clones.
A Phenix by any other name
If it weren't for the lack of PK primes in China, I would've lumped for the EK180, the priciest (still not much) and most fully featured Phenix that I saw on Chinese camera shop shelves.
Perhaps a good option for those with a swag of PK glass looking for a nice, small, light AE body?
Post by nikkortorokkor on Jun 15, 2008 15:56:50 GMT -5
My knowledge of Chinese cameras is really so small as to be dangerous. If I get a chance to visit this guy, however, it may improve: app1.chinadaily.com.cn/star/2004/0401/pr20-1.html The book would be an incentive to improve my almost nonexistent Chinese!
In the meantime, here are a few of the interesting Phenixes available from Chinese web merchants.
50th Anniversary edition of the 205. Leave your taste at the door!
The Yasuhara/Phenix T012 compact/fixed lens rangefinder with built in flash! rather nice. They go for about US$500 in China.
I remember reading an article several years ago in the last camera magazine I bought that one of the Chinese SLRs--(maybe the Phenix DC701) was, if you pulled off the modern skin, essentially an SRT201 --or some 20-year-old Minolta. They had examples of both camera with the skin off and they were very close to identical.
Post by nikkortorokkor on Jun 18, 2008 23:31:11 GMT -5
Wayne, I bet It'd be a Seagull that you read about. The DC701, like most Phenix SLRs is almost functionally identical to a Cosina clone, so much so that I can understand why some people are sure Phenix are Cosina clones. Seiko or Copal metal vertical plane shutters, red for under and over, green for go leds in the viewfinder (their rangefinders use the same system, just like the Cosina Voigtlanders).
Joe McGloin at manualminolta has a good article on the tie-up between Minolta and Seagull and why some of their cameras look identical. He has some mistakes, but knows more than me, so I won't get picky. The most interesting thing is that there was an official relationship between Shanghai Seagull and Minolta. The former were not simply unlicensed copies of the latter. members.aol.com/manualminolta/china.htm
Post by nikkortorokkor on Jun 19, 2008 11:54:07 GMT -5
O.K., sorry if I'm boring anyone, but since we are looking to move to Shanghai sometime in the next six months, I've got a bit more interested in the Chinese classic camera scene again. I found this Chinese language history page from Shanghai-Seagull. hopefully the google-translate link will work here.
Hit the big blue buttons to get different formats and also the blue tab beneath each image.
I want me a Chinese M3, but at US$10,000, I'll be lucky to ever see one.
You're certainly not boring me, Michael. I had no idea of the age of the Chinese camera industry. Particularly I'd forgotten that the Chinese made Leica clones.
I've never handled one, but from the pictures of them I've seen it seems as if the design was 95 percent Leica with about 5 percent borrowed from Fed and Zorki.
Mind you, I don't regard the pre-M series Leicas as particularly difficult cameras for good engineers with well-equipped machine shops to copy and produce. Like many brilliant designs they were basically quite simple. It was the quality of the materials used, the accuracy of the machining and the very high standard of assembly that made the name Leica stand for high quality and reliability. As ever, it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it.
It would be interesting to learn if the Chinese ever made a 'lookalike' (I'm not fond of the word clone) of a Contax II. Even the Rusians, not short of good engineers by any reckoning, needed help from Zeiss technicians to get the Kiev into production. I reckon if the factory hadn't been dominated by impossible production quotas from non-engineering beaurocrats the Kiev could have rivalled the Dresden Contax in quality.
As far as I know, neither the Russians nor the Chinese have attempted a lookalike of the Contaflex/Retina Reflex. Working on the early-days assembly lines of either of those, until problems were ironed out, has gone into camera-making legend as a minor nightmare.
When you get to Shanghai do visit Zhao Zhenxin's camera museum. There's a dedicated man if ever there was one. I look forward to hearing more about Chinese cameras over the past 100 years - and about your opinion of their general quality.