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04-05-2012, 05:43 PM   #1
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Is there ACTUALLY a difference between MIJ and made somewhere else Limiteds?

Hi guys, I'm sure it's been asked before but I cannot find a straight answer on here - is there actually a difference, OPTICALLY in the FA Limiteds, between the ones made in Japan and the ones made in Vietnam or the Phillipines or wherever it is. I have noticed the MIJ ones being sold second hand on here have a price premium, so I wanted to know if anyone thinks they actually take better photos? And if it's not in the photos, then is it in build quality and how much difference are we talking?

04-05-2012, 05:45 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Quazimoto Quote
Hi guys, I'm sure it's been asked before but I cannot find a straight answer on here - is there actually a difference, OPTICALLY in the FA Limiteds, between the ones made in Japan and the ones made in Vietnam or the Phillipines or wherever it is. I have noticed the MIJ ones being sold second hand on here have a price premium, so I wanted to know if anyone thinks they actually take better photos? And if it's not in the photos, then is it in build quality and how much difference are we talking?
There has been a lot of talk about this on this forum and the concensus is: no.

JP

P.S.: just do a search here on this forum and use the "tags" "vietnam" and "philippines" .... you will find loads of stuff on that.

Last edited by jpzk; 04-05-2012 at 05:52 PM.
04-05-2012, 06:10 PM   #3
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As jpzk said, the answer is NO. At one time, MIJ products were thought to be shoddy. Now items made elsewhere are similarly dissed, even though they're built to MIJ standards. Go figure.
04-05-2012, 06:36 PM - 1 Like   #4
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During the first production runs during late 2008, more than a handful of people demonstrated decentering defects, especially on the FA 31. That was enough to convince me that at least the first production runs may have had issues with incorrect setup or tolerances. IMHO, moving the production lines from Japan to Vietnam could easily account for QC errors while production ramped up. Many others disagree. For my money, I'd buy MIJ because they had been making them forever with fewer reported incidents of error. On the other hand, I'd trust a recent AIV lens for QC as much as any other modern lens can be trusted.

If there was a "dislike" button, many people would dislike this post and this opinion. Take it with a grain of salt.

04-05-2012, 07:59 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Quazimoto Quote
is there actually a difference, OPTICALLY in the FA Limiteds, between the ones made in Japan and the ones made in Vietnam or the Phillipines or wherever it is.
AFAIK, strictly speaking, no lenses are made outside Japan. They are assembled in Vietnam, but all the pieces including the optics are made in Japan.
04-05-2012, 08:51 PM   #6
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Finally. I had been wondering what the MIJ stood for..
04-05-2012, 09:48 PM   #7
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If you want to split hairs there were some early runs of the FA43 that used leaded coatings which were later replaced with unleaded equivalents, if you care for the leaded version (which supposedly does have a minutely different look), then you want to look for an early serial MIJ, but that's the only reason I could think of preferring one over the other.
04-05-2012, 10:21 PM   #8
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As an interesting anecdote, marginally related point of reference, check out Intel's policy of Copy Exactly!
ftp://download.intel.com/technology/itj/q41998/pdf/copyexactly.pdf

If nothing else, look at FIG. 1 from the above-linked document. Under traditional methods of technology transfer from an original factory to a copy (i.e. from USA to China, or similarly from Japan to Vietnam), the initial production runs of the new factories produced uneven results, and only eventually would yields converge.

The steps Intel takes to Copy Exactly! are pretty much mind-blowing. I doubt that any other company or industry takes as much care as Intel does when opening new manufacturing facilities.

It seems very natural that other industries would have similar growing pains at new production sites.

(I realize that some comparisons here are apples to oranges. I'm only sharing my opinion).

04-05-2012, 11:49 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by jeffshaddix Quote
If you want to split hairs there were some early runs of the FA43 that used leaded coatings which were later replaced with unleaded equivalents, if you care for the leaded version (which supposedly does have a minutely different look), then you want to look for an early serial MIJ, but that's the only reason I could think of preferring one over the other.
I'm very interested that you mentioned the coatings on the FA43. When I was buying one last month SRS had an early silver MIJ copy which was some £120 less than a new AIV one. But when I tried it, the MIJ exhibited some heavy purple fringing, straight out of the bag which I couldn't reproduce with the AIV copy.

From the Made In Japan version I didn't buy.
04-06-2012, 03:44 AM   #10
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Ok thanks everyone.
04-06-2012, 04:00 AM - 1 Like   #11
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the aspect of this that a lot of people skip over, is the difference between "Assembled in" and "Made In". the newer FA's are assembled in Vietnam. all the Optics are still manufactured in Japan. I completely agree with the sentiment that the early ruins of these lenses had issues, likely due to the switch from Japan to Vietnam for assembly, but that was only the initial run. just like the DA16-50, you don't hear continuous stories of problems and issues, yet people are still weary. it amazes me how people look at other countries and the people that assemble the things we use. Pentax bodies have been assembled in the Philippines for nearly a decade, yet nobody seems worried that their body is somehow not as good as it would have been had it been assembled in Japan. so why are people weary of the lenses? it doesn't matter who's hands they are, where those hands come from, as long as they are properly trained to do the job, the hands in Vietnam are just as good as the hands in Japan. with the huge undertaking mass manufacturing is, and to couple that with premium products with higher price tags, you can have issues at times. things happen, when you make so many of things. I think the only reason you didn't hear about the earlier made in Japan lenses having any issues, isn't because there werent any, its because when these lenses wee first put into production, forums like this weren't around. people weren't spending all day on forums discussing things to death. that doesn't mean there weren't any issues to be reported.

bottom line is, mass manufacture QC is a flawed idea to begin with, but Pentax tries to the best degree, just as any other major player, to give us the best quality it can for the price. and on the note, there is no difference between a Japan version and a Vietnam version.
04-06-2012, 04:46 AM   #12
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I have a Pentax FA31 Ltd (AIV) from B & H- now 9500 shots with it and love it.
It is sharper than my Canon L series zoom (MIJ).
04-06-2012, 04:51 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Quazimoto Quote
Ok thanks everyone.
Hah! Do you think it ends here just because you have heard what you needed to hear??
There are pages of opinions to come yet....
04-06-2012, 07:58 AM   #14
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My best lens was made in Lichtenstein. So *there* !!
04-06-2012, 03:17 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
Hah! Do you think it ends here just because you have heard what you needed to hear??
There are pages of opinions to come yet....
Yes but I'm not really going to read the, so I can still say thanks.
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