Friday, March 23, 2007

A Virtual Lens Plant!

Here is an interesting virtual lens plant on the net where you can see how a lens is built and made, from raw materials for making glass, building of glass elements, to the assembly process:-

http://web.canon.jp/Camera-muse/tech/l_plant/main.html (Japanese)

http://www.canon.com/camera-museum/tech/l_plant/main.html (English)

Well, as we can see, the lens plant is so labour intensive and I couldn't imagine before how manually the lenses are assembled and skilful workers with great care of works are indeed a must for good workmanship. It can be seen also that for each manufacturing process, QC and different inspections are carried out by the workers during the process along the production line. Well, there is a final inspection for the whole lens at the end, but the quality inspection and checking for *each* step is crucial.

I now know that why those various Canon lenses which are made in Japan are so expensive, as the labour costs are so high as the lenses are built in Japan locally.

While Pentax and Nikon have already transferred most of their lens making facilities and plants out of the Japan to Vietnam and Thailand respectively, it seems that Canon insist to build their mid to higher grade lenses in their Japan home despite that this will lead to high prices of their lenses, which make their product less competitive price-wise. But I bet Canon should have their own reasons for their insistence.

On the other hand, the main reason to migrate lens plants to South East Asia is clear. It is obviously aimed at the saving of the overall manufacturing cost since the huge labour costs involved can be significantly reduced by doing so.

From a consumer perspective of mine and my own experience with (Pentax) lenses made in Japan against those made in elsewhere, I can say those lenses made in Japan are undoubtedly with better built and quality (which hints at least a better quality control and assurance). But then Pentax lenses which *were* made in Japan in the past, instead of in Taiwan or elsewhere, are of a higher class or even luxury grade, so it would be somehow unfair to compare.

But on the other hand, the consumers could buy lenses at a cheaper price which would be impossible in the past, possibly at a lower (but not a *much* lower) prices, as far as I can see for some lens models (but not all, e.g., the new DA Limited lenses, which are indeed slower in speed, but the prices are comparable as the classic FA Limited lenses).

Now, when all Pentax lenses in current production are made in Vietnam (AFAIK, please correct me if I'm wrong, but preferably with evidence), I don't know if we could still spot the difference, as I did in the FA era, anyway.

Also, does anyone know if the coming DA* (Star) lenses will be made in Vietnam (as all those current other digital lenses of Pentax) or Japan (as their old film FA* and Limited lenses)? Anyway, I bet they will be / are being made in Pentax's large new lens plant at Vietnam which Pentax have put huge investment to the plant (according to the previous news reports one to two years ago) and that the current DA Limited lenses are made in Vietnam already.

Let's wait and see.. (all about the lenses' actual quality and performance, as well as where they are made and etc.)

Read also: RiceHigh's Pentax Blog: Where are the Pentax DSLRs and Lenses Made?

4 Comments:

bebop said...

http://www.canon.com/camera-museum/tech/l_plant/index.html
In English.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to go OT but I need you to see this. I think many times we debated what a camera meters for. I at one time wrote to Mr. Reichmann at LL because his mini-tutorial had it listed as 18% grey. I recently revisited this thread and you may be interested in what is now written:
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/understanding-series/understandexposure.shtml

RiceHigh said...

> Anonymous said...

> Sorry to go OT but I need you to see this. I think many times we debated what a camera meters for. I at one time wrote to Mr. Reichmann at LL because his mini-tutorial had it listed as 18% grey. I recently revisited this thread and you may be interested in what is now written:

Well, it's okay as I have never had any Blog entry for talking about the underexposure issue of the Pentax DSLRs here ;-) I haven't done that as I think my Homepages are more than enough for that, already! :-)

Regarding whether Pentax DSLRs are designed and made for 18% in the light metering department or something else, say, 12.5 or 13, I don't know for sure, frankly speaking. But in my homepage, I have based on a reference document and then with the ANSI formula, I calculated it could be 17.6%:-
http://www.geocities.com/ricehigh/home.html#NFAQ_0

However, the problem I discovered was simply that the Pentax DSLRs gave different EVs from my KM incident light meter and the Pentax MZ-S as well, which both agreed in general for the EVs most of the time. And, the Pentax DSLRs are indeed rather inconsistent with different metering mode selected. All these simply means that something are wrong within the metering system of the Pentax DSLRs.

RiceHigh said...

> bebop said...
> http://www.canon.com/camera-museum/tech/l_plant/index.html
In English.

Thanks for the supplement :-)

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