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01-23-2013, 08:42 AM   #1
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MIJ (Made in Japan) vs others

Are the lenses made in Japan really better than those made elsewhere (like the new ones being "Assembled in Vietnam")? In some ways I think it is. I feel like Japanese culture implements some sense of pride in people's work. I don't know if this is entirely true but I get the sense that whenever I'm using anything made in Japan, it's absolutely perfect in terms of fit and finish, as if the person (or people) making it paid attention to every detail to make sure it was up to par. My 50/1.7 lens (MIJ) is incredibly smooth to focus and sharp across the board. Absolutely no faults visible. My 55-300mm from Vietnam, on the other hand, is sharp and all, but the focusing ring is very light and makes a slight grinding noise. Maybe it's just a change in times and everyone's lens is like that, but I find it a bit strange how a 30 year old lens can be in flawless condition and feel brand new, and a 4 year old lens can't. I also see FA Limiteds being sold for much higher prices if they are MIJ.

It applies to guitars, too. I frequent a guitar forum and there is a general consensus that guitars made in Japan are of much higher quality than their "equal" counterparts from China. Korean manufacturing also seems to be held up as being of high quality. American-built guitars are stated as being the best, but from personal experience, Japanese guitars still have better fit and finish overall.

I don't mean to turn this into a culture war and if it's inappropriate then the admins/mods can certainly delete it. I'm just curious if MIJ glass is generally better than its counterparts, and why.

01-23-2013, 08:47 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by NitroDC Quote
Are the lenses made in Japan really better than those made elsewhere (like the new ones being "Assembled in Vietnam")? In some ways I think it is. I feel like Japanese culture implements some sense of pride in people's work. I don't know if this is entirely true but I get the sense that whenever I'm using anything made in Japan, it's absolutely perfect in terms of fit and finish, as if the person (or people) making it paid attention to every detail to make sure it was up to par. My 50/1.7 lens (MIJ) is incredibly smooth to focus and sharp across the board. Absolutely no faults visible. My 55-300mm from Vietnam, on the other hand, is sharp and all, but the focusing ring is very light and makes a slight grinding noise. Maybe it's just a change in times and everyone's lens is like that, but I find it a bit strange how a 30 year old lens can be in flawless condition and feel brand new, and a 4 year old lens can't. I also see FA Limiteds being sold for much higher prices if they are MIJ.

It applies to guitars, too. I frequent a guitar forum and there is a general consensus that guitars made in Japan are of much higher quality than their "equal" counterparts from China. Korean manufacturing also seems to be held up as being of high quality. American-built guitars are stated as being the best, but from personal experience, Japanese guitars still have better fit and finish overall.

I don't mean to turn this into a culture war and if it's inappropriate then the admins/mods can certainly delete it. I'm just curious if MIJ glass is generally better than its counterparts, and why.
If you look at a copy of the same lens AIV (assembled in Vietnam) and MIJ (made in Japan) there is no practical difference according to most users. It doesn't really matter where you put something together or where you make it as long as the parts are the same

With that said, older consumer Pentax lenses generally had much better build quality than modern ones, but fortunately you can't say the same about image quality.

Adam
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01-23-2013, 09:05 AM   #3
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For lenses, doubtful. As long as the QC is the same, it should perform the same, it's something that only brand snobs are probably concerned with, like some Leica owners on made in Canada vs Made in Germany.
01-23-2013, 09:08 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
It doesn't really matter where you put something together or where you make it as long as the parts are the same.
Manufactured parts do vary to within certain tolerances.

Then skilled assembly workers may be able to match parts with varying tolerances
to maximize the quality of the whole assembly.

01-23-2013, 09:16 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by NitroDC Quote
My 50/1.7 lens (MIJ) is incredibly smooth to focus and sharp across the board. Absolutely no faults visible. My 55-300mm from Vietnam, on the other hand, is sharp and all, but the focusing ring is very light and makes a slight grinding noise. Maybe it's just a change in times and everyone's lens is like that, but I find it a bit strange how a 30 year old lens can be in flawless condition and feel brand new, and a 4 year old lens can't.
For fast AF, lenses need to be made lighter, with shorter focus throws.
You should expect to get better manual focus behavior on dedicated MF lenses,
not on lenses that have AF on them, regardless of where they were assembled.
01-23-2013, 11:03 AM   #6
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And sometimes they spell Japan wrong.

01-23-2013, 11:10 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by lytrytyr Quote
For fast AF, lenses need to be made lighter, with shorter focus throws.
You should expect to get better manual focus behavior on dedicated MF lenses,
not on lenses that have AF on them, regardless of where they were assembled.
True, but there are also AF lenses that focus nicely (and quickly too). My 18-55mm focusing is equally light but doesn't grind like the 55-300. (And I haven't dropped it in sand or anything )
01-25-2013, 02:01 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by NitroDC Quote
Are the lenses made in Japan really better than those made elsewhere (like the new ones being "Assembled in Vietnam")? In some ways I think it is. I feel like Japanese culture implements some sense of pride in people's work. I don't know if this is entirely true but I get the sense that whenever I'm using anything made in Japan, it's absolutely perfect in terms of fit and finish, as if the person (or people) making it paid attention to every detail to make sure it was up to par. My 50/1.7 lens (MIJ) is incredibly smooth to focus and sharp across the board. Absolutely no faults visible. My 55-300mm from Vietnam, on the other hand, is sharp and all, but the focusing ring is very light and makes a slight grinding noise. Maybe it's just a change in times and everyone's lens is like that, but I find it a bit strange how a 30 year old lens can be in flawless condition and feel brand new, and a 4 year old lens can't. I also see FA Limiteds being sold for much higher prices if they are MIJ.

It applies to guitars, too. I frequent a guitar forum and there is a general consensus that guitars made in Japan are of much higher quality than their "equal" counterparts from China. Korean manufacturing also seems to be held up as being of high quality. American-built guitars are stated as being the best, but from personal experience, Japanese guitars still have better fit and finish overall.

I don't mean to turn this into a culture war and if it's inappropriate then the admins/mods can certainly delete it. I'm just curious if MIJ glass is generally better than its counterparts, and why.
I think that's kind of a ridiculous statement. It's all about the quality control and what you want to pay for it. In terms of computers, all the best quality ones are all made in China, whether you go for a PC (Thinkpad) or Mac. Heck most computer components are made in China/Taiwan, with screens made in Korea, and computer components require much higher tolerances than camera optics. I had a "made in japan" lens that was terribly off center. Replaced with a "made in vietnam" lens which was much better. It's not like the physics of light changes when you enter a different country

I don't think you can really say that just because it was made in Japan it will be better quality. As I understand it, Japanese products 50 years ago were uniformly very poor quality. Even nowadays, from what I read the FR-S and BRZ, the halo cars from Toyota and Subaru are plagued with reliability and poor build quality issues.

As long as the manufacturer wants to pay for good quality workers and Q/C, it's not going to make a difference. When the manufacturer decides to cut corners though...

01-25-2013, 02:56 AM   #9
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Let me put it this way I would rather have a AIV lens put together on a wednesday than a MIJ lens put together on a friday afternoon lol.

But seriously as stated above as long as the materials are the same and QC is in place there can't be anyway one could truly be better than the other just because of the country it was made in.
01-25-2013, 03:17 AM   #10
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Same lens, buy newer versions if possible. That's my experience and suggestion
01-25-2013, 04:32 PM   #11
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A quality product can be made anywhere. The other side of the coin is that an inferior product can also be made anywhere. Most of our camera gear is outsourced today. Wander through any electronics store and look at the boxes. All those big names from Japan...Sony, Panasonic, Canon, Nikon, Pentax....all made in places like China, Thailand, Malayasia, Vietnam. Finding a made in Japan product is almost as difficult as finding a made in USA product.
01-25-2013, 05:32 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by frank Quote
Same lens, buy newer versions if possible. That's my experience and suggestion
+1. I've found this to be case too.
Made in Japan need not equate to superior quality. There will always be sample variations and I actually prefer my Made in Vietnam FA77mm over my previous Made in Japan version.
01-25-2013, 05:42 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by creampuff Quote
+1. I've found this to be case too.
Made in Japan need not equate to superior quality. There will always be sample variations and I actually prefer my Made in Vietnam FA77mm over my previous Made in Japan version.
I much prefer my AIV FA31 over my previous MIJ version too
01-25-2013, 07:32 PM   #14
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Lol Vietnam is the new Japan. This debate comes up often enough. I love the quality of every AIV lens I've owned. People may pay more for an MIJ lens because there are a lot of lens collectors here and elsewhere. I agree with Frank and Creampuff. I would opt for a newer lens if given a choice. I sold my 77. If I had to buy it again I wouldnt hesitate to buy an AIV version.
01-26-2013, 01:54 PM   #15
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I had some difficulty when I first bought Pentax equipment that was made in Vietnam or Philippines. However...after much use of a number of products made in those countries, not Japan...I have to say I notice absolutely no difference in any criteria....reliability, optical quality, durability, quality control in assembling. They're all as good from my experience.
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