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Camera names

David Kaye , Sep 06, 2013; 07:01 p.m.

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".


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Jeff Adler , Sep 06, 2013; 07:46 p.m.

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.

Q.G. de Bakker , Sep 06, 2013; 08:06 p.m.

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?

Starvy Goodfellows , Sep 06, 2013; 09:30 p.m.

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.

john robison , Sep 06, 2013; 09:33 p.m.

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.

JDM von Weinberg , Sep 06, 2013; 10:53 p.m.

Not that it matters a whole lot, but the "No va" story seems not to be true ( http://www.snopes.com/business/misxlate/nova.asp ).

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.

Marc Bergman , Sep 06, 2013; 11:51 p.m.

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.

Colin Carron , Sep 07, 2013; 02:12 a.m.

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.

Colin Carron , Sep 07, 2013; 02:37 a.m.

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.

Bonsignore Ezio , Sep 07, 2013; 03:20 a.m.

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...

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