“Made in Japan”

Canon EF 20-35L
[T]here is an old photographer’s  joke that states if the one guy who could build certain lenses (e.g. Canon’s legendary 1200mmf 5.6 or Nikon’s awesome 6mm) went on vacation, you would just have to wait till he got back to order one.  

I was reminded of the joke when Bob Carey posted these tweets earlier today:

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[B]ob got me to thinking about my favorite lens.  It is a Canon EF 20-35 f.8 L wide angle zoom I have had for about 15 years.  Even though it can no longer be repaired and now permanently set to auto-focus mode, it is a tank.  It was the lens that took this month’s wallpaper of the Space Shuttle Discovery’s final launch. I have taken more portfolio shots with this lens than probably any other I have ever owned.  Even though it is heavy, I stays in my bag all the time. And I have the wonderful team at Canon to thank for it.

Japan has always had strong love affair with photography – to the extent that one of the stereotypes about them is the with a camera.  They have given us the greatest camera companies in the world.  Their equipment is known for it’s quality – how many Zenit’s do you see in the hands of photographers these days?  Nikon and Canon glass dominate the sidelines of major sporting events and the runways at fashion week.  The Canon vs. Nikon debate rivals the intensity of  Mac vs. PC, Republican vs. Democrat or Night vs. Day. I am sure  Japanese are behind the popular marriage of the cell phone with the camera.  A marriage that now has all of us carrying around a camera these days.

But behind all the camera bodies and lenses are people.  At this point we can’t know all they are going through as they search for loved ones, are injured or mourning. The status of the factories will get written about but the real story is the people who work there and build the tools that make our pursuing our passion possible.  I hope someone tells their stories but in the meantime…


[P]ray for the hands of those who built your favorite lens. And the eyes that inspected it. And those packaged and shipped it. And if you are not a photographer, pray for the Japanese workers who built your Toyota. Or the programmers behind your Wii or Playstation the next time you fire it up to play.

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