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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Where are the Pentax DSLRs and Lenses Made?

This is a frequently asked question which appears from time to time.

Actually, the answers are not difficult to find, just search those popular forum databases or go to major “review” sites to have a look at the photos which show the bottom of the DSLRs (but for lenses, pictures showing the product labels, are rare).

Okay, I tell here for the answers again, for this FAQ: Pentax DSLRs are "Assembled in Philippines" and *current* Pentax digital lenses are “Assembled in Vietnam”, as shown on SOME of the product labels.

It is interesting to note about the word "Assembled" used instead of "Made". People often wonder about the actual difference about this. However, I myself cannot figure out what the actual difference is and why a different word needed to be used, in terms of both the meanings of the two words as well as in practical terms.

Nevertheless, the fact is that Pentax do NOT stick a label showing the place of manufacturing for ALL their DSLR or lens products of the SAME model made by them. Depending on the place and the country where Pentax would ship to, they would particularly have a different version of the labels where the place of made will be omitted totally, or, there is even no trade description label on the products at all, e.g., for lenses. In fact, the recession position for accommodating the labels are omitted all together, on those lens barrels, which means that the production line(s) at the Pentax factory must be tailored to cater for those individual differences.

Since quite some times ago when Pentax marketed the *ist D (which were made in Philippines) and the "kit" lens FAJ 18-35 (which were made in Vietnam) in fall 2003, I have never seen any Pentax products sold in China have any labels which tell where they were made. Below is a shot of the base of my K100D, which was bought earlier this year:-

(My K100D)

For quick comparison, you can see the obvious difference for the following picture of the K100D base, which was reviewed by Phil Askey of Dpreview (and supplied by Pentax):-


By comparing the above two images, it is not difficult to see that it is not only the place of manufacturing is missing, actually four other marks including the common CE mark are "deleted" altogether and only blank spaces are left (for the HK-China version). So, can we understand that all the K100D sold in China do not comply with the CE standard? (as long as the labels are the same as the one on my K100D, and, it is very clear that the marks are intentionally removed)

Additionally, below are a number of shots showing the labels of various generations of Pentax products, for what the places of manufacturing were shown in the past, against those newer digital lenses made (in Vietnam) since 2003 and up till now (again, not applicable for products sold at Japan home market, US, UK and EU countries of which the labels DO show the place of made):-

(Optio 330) (BG-10) (MZ-S) (F 17-28 Fisheye Zoom) (DA 16-45/4) (D FA 100/2.8 Macro)

Okay, at this point, some people may again ask me that "what's the fuss about?". Well, I just wish to ask a few questions arouse from this issue, based on the facts I've pointed out above:-

1. Why the place of manufacturing needed to be omitted and "hidden"? What is the rationale/purpose/intention of Pentax of doing so?

2. Why the omission is limited to Pentax products shipped to particular countries and places, e.g., China and Hong Kong (Well, this would include all e-Bay HK gray market Pentax products sold in Europe, etc.)? Whereas countries like Japan, US, UK and EU countries will have the information “disclosed” and printed?

3. Would it be illegal to omit the information? I know that in the local HK laws, there are legal requirements on the trade description of imported goods for showing the correct country of manufacturing/origin and that the country for which a product is made cannot be mis-quoted. Otherwise, it is illegal. The following are two relevant Chapters of the HK laws about the requirements of the trade descriptions for imported goods:-



In addition, do note that China and Hong Kong are World Trade Organisation Members which the Trade Description requirements are in principle in line with all other member countries, i.e., including Japan, US, UK and all EU countries, according to the WTO Paris Convention Signed.

4. Apart from legal concerns, (what) do you think if this act is ethical or not?

Well, I welcome any inputs and comments on any of my above questions, any further *sensible* discussions with reference to some grounds are encouraged!

On the other hand, as a "counter" example (actually, it is something that should be done, IMHO), I notice that all Canon and Nikon goods sold in HK and China have never had this simple and basic trade information omitted. For example, there were 300D that “Made in Taiwan” as well as some others that were “Made in Japan” on the market, sold at the streets at the same time. Indeed, the labels tell the consumers clearly for a basic piece of information that they might concern with. In the end, the market will have all the outcomes determined, e.g., selling prices, demand volume, and so on.

Another relevant example is that Nikon DSLRs (and some cheaper lenses) are mostly “Made in Thailand”, including D200, D100, D80, D70/70s, D50 and D40. Nikon do show clearly “Made in Thailand” on all their labels on their DSLRs, like this:-


But then the *fact* is that those Nikon DSLRs and lenses are selling much much better than Pentax DSLRs and lenses. So, I just wonder what are the concern(s) (by Pentax) here. Why they need to spend extra efforts and costs at the factory to do something which might be illegal, may be considered as inhonest/unethical, but, probably will have no real commercial benefit of any kind at all, in the end!

From the consumer rights' perspective, it is clear that every buyer has the basic rights to know. Also, haven't Pentax ever thought about the lack of this basic and common (all the competitors have this) information on the labels, would actually de-promote their products, in the other way around? E.g., I know someone in China bought a DA 12-24 lens, he told that he felt not so good for seeing there was no product label/printing for such an expensive lens.

Whilst I do agree that product quality, reliability and performance are the final things which should count for a product, I don't think that the basic trade information, especially considering that it would be a common legal requirement, for most of the countries, should be omitted, especially by intention, and selectively, e.g., why China??


  1. Here's some food for thought:
    Made.. assembled.... What is your point????
    They are all probably various legal definitions that I'm sure have been worked out/though out and presented correctly. Are you becoming a lawer now????

  2. I really think the questions you ask are not very relevant and are somewhat biased: you are presuming illegal activities, without any substantial proof therefore.

    I would be much more interested in information about the de facto factories where Pentax makes and / or assembles its products.

    I do not think omitting a label is fraude, it can just be 'political correct' not to label a product.

  3. DSLR's are "assembled" in the Phillipines. Parts, sub assemblies from who knows where and probably a half of dozen countries.
    Lenses assembled in Vietnam... same story. The glass blanks are Hoya I believe. Not sure where there cut/poured. Think Pentax does final polishing/coating, though that could be contracted out w/ Pentax "specs" of course. See how silly this all gets?

  4. Anonymous5/2/08 09:47

    maybe you got it off of black market and trying to blame Pentax..how low is that? ^^

  5. Anonymous8/1/09 17:12

    This is completely pointless post. Because of the post like this you loose credibility and interest of people.
    Concentrate on real issues – I think there are plenty.
    Just because nothing bad surfaced this week doesn’t mean you absolutely have to make up something.

  6. This old post reveals facts which answer an FAQ which have being been asked by different people consistently.

  7. i wouldn't pay a premium price for a premium lens made out of japan.

    while pentax proudly displays "made in japan", it is probably ashamed of the label "assembled in etc" and therefore replace the label with a code.

    can forget about getting the FA 31mm limited for now.

  8. Anonymous23/6/10 12:53

    I will not buy a lens make in Vietnam. Thanks for the info.

  9. Anonymous16/7/11 08:22

    Although this may be an older posting, I was looking for just this information, and appreciate it, because build quality can have some association with the factories and even the countries involved. Electronics are a very delicate manufacturing process and when a lot of oversight and manual labor is still used, training can be critical. There is a reason people bought Japanese cars as a superior product for years, and it took a while for Korea (or the USA) to come to those standards.

    I noticed a difference in feel and build finishing between Sony cameras with the Japan label versus those with Thailand (same model) and in Canada they were selling for different prices (guess which cost more?).

    I just bought a Pentax DSLR camera and the interior sensor unit on the two I have tested has been very loose and noisily clunking around. I looked at a unit made a little while back and it's sensor unit is much better damped and much quieter. I had been wondering if the difference might be where the camera had been made and the level of expertise of the workers or age of the equipment in use.

    My question was "where Pentax DSLR bodies were made and how long they have been made there". I got the answer from this blog posting, and so it was a helpful bit of information for me. So, thank you. I don't think it trivial, silly, useless or any other negative comment which were made about it.

  10. FWIW, I think gadgets made or assembled in Japan tend to have higher quality. It could be culture, training, assembly line etc.

    If however, the manufacturers want to ensure that high quality is maintained, they can. But the fact is with so many manufacturers moving out to countries with cheaper labor, this is to be expected.

    Am I happy this is happening? No. Especially if I'm paying a fair chuck of change for a gadget which is supposedly a precision tool, this makes it even worse.

    Hiding the fact? Perhaps when people in HK buys such items, a made in Vietnam will have lower perceived value.

    Anyway, most things today are "made to break" rather than "made to last".

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