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Chinese Accessories vs. Respected Manufacturers
Old 11-29-2018   #1
ColSebastianMoran
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Chinese Accessories vs. Respected Manufacturers

I used to judiciously pick from the fabulous high-quality accessories of the respected manufacturers. RRS, Kirk, Studioball, ProMedia, Wimberly, even looked at Sachtler, for example for tripod heads. I thought Manfrotto to be very solid, often heavier, and less expensive, an attractive compromise.

Then, starting a couple of years ago, I began seeing much less expensive items. On a lark, I bought an Induro gimbal head on sale for $225 (still selling today at $450). I had a chance to compare it closely to the Wimberly and it was damn close.

A year ago, a $70 large ball head, Chinese manufacturer selling direct on eBay. Excellent, really excellent. Today I see an Amazon ad for a $65 gimbal head that looks pretty good, also available in carbon fiber for $150. My preferred flash today is a $100 item from Godox, instead of the camera-brand flash for 4-5x that price. Flashpoint items at Adorama look very good. All these are now sold through the major photo retailers.

What's your take on today's Chinese accessories, camera mounts, tripods, etc. vs. the long-respected manufacturers? I somewhat hate to say it, but I'm strongly tempted.

Amazon today: $65 Gimbal Head
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Old 11-29-2018   #2
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I have some Youngnuo flashes with a wireless remote and some Chinese (Neweer) umbrellas and stands and such. Quality appears to be quite high. Price is excellent.

If I were a working professional and needed reliability over price, I'd be more cautious. But I'm a hobbyist. This is not what I do for a living. If the choice was to pay $ for a flash from China or to pay $$$ for a name-brand from elsewhere, I'll go with the Chinese import. If I had no choice but the more expensive option, I'd go without - that is the key. I'm not really picking one over the other, I am buying what I otherwise would not buy at all.
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Old 11-29-2018   #3
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My ball head is Desmond DLOW-55, $75 in Fall 2016, now selling in several locations for $169. It is excellent. And, I note that this item has clearly moved up in price.
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Old 11-29-2018   #4
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I thought I was taking a gamble on the Godox TT685-S flash for $100. Promised full integration with Sony's new MI shoe on A6000 and A7 families of cameras. And, it delivers fabulously in all modes, including radio-wireless with the Godox X1T-S trigger.

Only minor issue is the less-than-perfect English in the manual.
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Old 11-29-2018   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColSebastianMoran View Post
My ball head is Desmond DLOW-55, $75 in Fall 2016, now selling in several locations for $169. It is excellent. And, I note that this item has clearly moved up in price.
I have the Yongnuo YN560-TX Wireless Flash Controller, which I bought two years ago for $40, now it is $37.

I have four YONGNUO YN560 IV Wireless Flash Speedlite Master + Slave Flash + Built-in Trigger System which I bought two years ago for $69 each, now they are $68 each.

My Neweer umbrellas were $25.99, now they are $26.99.

So overall, I have not seen prices change that much. They may change due to ... reasons.
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Old 11-29-2018   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColSebastianMoran View Post
I thought I was taking a gamble on the Godox TT685-S flash for $100. Promised full integration with Sony's new MI shoe on A6000 and A7 families of cameras. And, it delivers fabulously in all modes, including radio-wireless with the Godox X1T-S trigger.

Only minor issue is the less-than-perfect English in the manual.
Yes, the Youngnuo manual was worthless. Fortunately, Youtube came to my rescue, as well as various Amazon reviews; people can be quite sharing with their hard-won knowledge and I appreciate it.

For me, quality has been quite high. I'm pleased. I'd buy again, although I doubt I will ever have cause to do so.
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Old 11-29-2018   #7
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1. China did not sign any international intellectual property treaties, AFAIK —— thus many of their products are rip-offs, so to speak.

2. China's policy regarding their products that are meant for export ist quite the same the USSR had —— many prices are state-subsidised.

3. Any Western customer should also know under which circumstances Chinese products are made —— environment, workers' health, and so on, may not really play a big role...
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Old 11-29-2018   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumarongi View Post
1. China did not sign any international intellectual property treaties, AFAIK —— thus many of their products are rip-offs, so to speak.

2. China's policy regarding their products that are meant for export ist quite the same the USSR had —— many prices are state-subsidised.

3. Any Western customer should also know under which circumstances Chinese products are made —— environment, workers' health, and so on, may not really play a big role...
It is always wise to be an informed consumer, and each of us may or may not have moral, ethical, or other considerations to make besides economical choices. I get that.
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Old 11-29-2018   #9
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Purchased a Chinese clone of a heavy Manfrotto fluid video head.

I’ve used a dozen times, it’s pretty much scrap metal now.

Materials are fair, build ok, but they chose to use helicoils for all the threaded parts.... which if anyone knows helicoils like I do, they’re trash for anything you intend to reuse multiple times. I’ve successfully pulled every thread out of this head.

On the other spectrum, I purchased a cheap backup follow focus from China expecting it to be plastic and poorly assembled. Pleasantly surprised it was all metal and very finely assembled with a much smoother throw than my more expensive unit. I sold the name brand FF and pocketed it.
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Old 11-29-2018   #10
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Youngnuo flashes -- not a problem. Own three 685's which are amazing. Yongnuo transceiver for off-camera-flash. Excellent. $38. My favorite is a black leather camera strap from Canpis for around $25. Beautiful. Also Nikon "pinch" front caps and rear caps, and lens hoods. Had the Chinese not stepped in, I would not have "A" namebrand Speedlight, let alone three. So Yongnuo enabled me to get into flash photography with multiple flashes and off-camera flash.

The camera industry -- for years, gouged consumers on accessories. You want "how much" for that lens hood? Seriously? And do tell why that cameras straps costs what it costs.

I have no issue buying Chinese.
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Old 11-29-2018   #11
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I bought some Cactus remote triggers years ago and they were inconsistent but now I guess they are great. I will be buying a small Godox flash for the Pentax K1 which for $85 has HSS which I want because I'll be using it mainly for fill flash. Sebastian Moran did a write up on a bigger Godox model a while back and he convinced me.

I also have a Chinese remote shutter release that I think cost less than $3 with shipping included. It has never failed and I use it alot.
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Old 11-29-2018   #12
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It won't hurt if you buy a very well made, felt-lined heavy duty aluminum cap with Leica engraving for something like $3 to cover your DR Summicron. The quality is even better made than the 50-year-old original which may set you back $50...

I dispise the ruthlessly unimaginative clones like the numerous OP/TECH USA and Peak Design like straps you can find on Taobao. Extremely cheap and nowhere near the quality of the original. Meanwhile the Yongnuo and Godox strobes, the Laowa and 7artisan lenses, and the ever dominating DJI drones are quality and unique products. "Made in China" doesn't necessarily mean it's a copy.
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Old 11-29-2018   #13
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There are also things available from Chinese vendors that cannot be found elsewhere. I have two grips for Nikon F2s. They have bases that fit the Arca Swiss tripod heads and fit the cameras well. I don't recall who made them, but I could not find similar items made by more established firms.
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Old 11-29-2018   #14
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I buy Chinese goods but I seek quality items from reputable sellers rather than simply looking for the lowest possible price.
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Old 11-29-2018   #15
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Re. Chinese goods.
Sometimes there is little or no other choice. The type of items I get from China are most all small filter adapter rings (the quality varies). Even if you are buying from a U.S. dealer most of the stuff is 'made in China' anyway. Even my Olympus E-410, yep, made in China. My last purchase was a 43.5mm to 43mm step down filter adapter ring so I could use my considerable collection of 43mm filters on my Olympus Pen F (film) lenses on my Olympus RC. And no, it doesn't block the meter eye. I've also bought a couple of the M42 mount focusing extension tubes. They are a 'grease fit', but okay for the $25 price and my applications.
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Old 11-29-2018   #16
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Quote:
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I've also bought a couple of the M42 mount focusing extension tubes. They are a 'grease fit', but okay for the $25 price and my applications.
Glad to hear it - I am planning to pick up a couple myself.
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Old 11-29-2018   #17
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It is a mixed bag for me.
I have some Manfrotto tripods and heads, but recently I bought a cheaper Chinese video head. It looks nice but I still have to test it on the field.
I have a Godox flash, but I made a big mistake buying the 350 (because is compact and digital cameras are so small). In fact it is too weak. The declared GN is deceiving. Not recommended.
Also I bought a cheap leather bag. When it arrived it seemed to me a disaster. I made some DIY work customization, since I could not accept the waste of money.
I will post about that if I can find the time for the write up and to reduce and upload some pictures.
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Old 11-29-2018   #18
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I just bought some Kipon lens adapters for my Nikon Z, and they are perfect.
Can't see how spending $130 more (each) for the German made ones would make any difference.
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Old 11-29-2018   #19
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I'm not a professional tripod user, nor wedding photographer. I've used a number of Yongnuo flashes without any issues. Own a MeFoto tripod that works fine for my travel needs. I have had Manfrotto before in aluminum and carbon. I don't see a need to pay more than what I paid for MeFoto.
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Old 11-29-2018   #20
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i would buy accessories made by respected chinese manufacturers.
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Old 11-29-2018   #21
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Quote:
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There are also things available from Chinese vendors that cannot be found elsewhere. I have two grips for Nikon F2s. They have bases that fit the Arca Swiss tripod heads and fit the cameras well. I don't recall who made them, but I could not find similar items made by more established firms.
Here's an example of where it's something unique that really adds value for some folks. This is the kind of thing I'd buy without reservation.

B2 (;->
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Old 11-29-2018   #22
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I've used Chinese wireless transmitters and receivers for TTL flash with a Canon flash. Also transmitters and receiver for triggering non-TTL flash. Olympus OM to EOS/EF mount adapters with focus confirmation. Wireless remotes.

So far I haven't had a bad experience.

Thinking about getting Godox, TTL flashes with appropriate transmitters. From what I read the Godox flashes are cross compatible. You just need the correct transmitters for each camera brand.
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Old 11-29-2018   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColSebastianMoran View Post
I thought I was taking a gamble on the Godox TT685-S flash for $100. Promised full integration with Sony's new MI shoe on A6000 and A7 families of cameras. And, it delivers fabulously in all modes, including radio-wireless with the Godox X1T-S trigger.
Good to know. I have an A6000 and would get an extra transmitter for M4/3.
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Old 11-29-2018   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillBingham2 View Post
Here's an example of where it's something unique that really adds value for some folks. This is the kind of thing I'd buy without reservation.
Exactly; I couldn't find any adapters, made by some European manufacturer, that allow the usage of Deckel/DKL/Compur-Mount lenses (i.e. Kodak Retina S, Voigtländer Bessamatic, etc.) on more recent film-SLR-mounts, thus I bought them from ... China.
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Old 11-29-2018   #25
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Quote:
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Yes, the Youngnuo manual was worthless.
I found a helpful manual. "The Other YN622 Guide" pdf.
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Old 11-29-2018   #26
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Are generic lens caps even made anywhere else? China all the way.
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Old 11-29-2018   #27
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I buy from China if I can't get it from elsewhere. Unfortunately that is a lot of stuff these days.
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I haven't been disappointed yet!
Old 11-29-2018   #28
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I haven't been disappointed yet!

Dear Board,

I have Youngnuo, Neewer, and Meike flashes that all work perfectly with Canon, Nikon, and Fuji cameras. While they are each brand specific TTL flashes they were a fraction of the cost of a branded flash. A Youngnuo 685 is about $ 100.00, a Canon 600EX is almost 5X's the money.

I have Powerextra and Meike battery grips for two Canon cameras. I bought each grip with 2 batteries for less than the price of one Canon battery for the respective cameras.

Lens caps, body caps, and rear lens caps are all bought from China in lots of 5 with free shipping for less than the cost of 2 beers at the local bar! And I live in the woods with lots of seedy bars with cheap beer.

I sprung for a Wimberly 100mm Arca-Swiss lens foot mounting plate to use on a knock-off gimbal mount. I got a great deal on it, brand new. I've since purchased several 70mm, 100mm, along with a "genuine" knock-off lens foot plate for a Tamron 300mm/f2.8 from China. I had to wait a while to get some of them but I still haven't spend what I spent on a half-priced Wimberly. And guess what, they ALL FIT PERFECTLY!

For a casual user such as myself the money indeed does matter.

Regards,

Tim Murphy

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Old 11-29-2018   #29
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I was earlier adopter to YN flashes. For price reason. It was crappy made back then.

I'm using SLIK tripod (official address in Japan) and Horusbennu from SK/HK ballhead.
But you never know where it is made these days .

Oh, my official M-E Leica battery is made in China.
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Old 11-29-2018   #30
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" What's your take on today's Chinese accessories, camera mounts, tripods, etc. vs. the long-respected manufacturers? I somewhat hate to say it, but I'm strongly tempted."

Chinese like most people with a mercantile instinct are quick to learn and adapt to market demands. I have seen a few times that their products start off a bit rough and ready and over the years they adapt and improve.

I am old enough to remember the days when Japanese "stuff" was regarded with suspicion (not camera gear, but electronics generally - Japan was of course already highly regarded for cameras when I was a kid). Then the Koreans and their cars etc.......and then they got better. So it goes.

I am still regularly disappointed to some extent by camera accessories from China, most of the disappointment coming from quality assurance problems rather than inherently poor design (after all mostly the design is a knock off of some other firm's design).

Lens adapters designed for using legacy lenses on mirrorless cameras are an example that come to mind. The run of the mill ones best being described as "cheap and cheerful". But I have also noticed more than one brand of higher end and more expensive adapters being marketed and so far I have found them to be much better and more reliable than their cheaper cousins for perhaps twice the price. Even though these are more expensive than other brands from China they are still a quarter of what is asked for the highest grade adapters sometimes found on auction sites. No doubt they are not up to the standards of those highest end adapters but something tells me they one day may be.

In the mean time I have been upgrading my adapters from the cheapest ones I first had to the better Chinese made brands and having a lot of fun. In particular these adapters are still so relatively cheap that they allow me to buy and try pretty well any vintage lens type I am tempted to trial on my mirrorless kit. Something I would not be able or prepared to do if I had to pay $150+ per adapter rather than $25 that they actually cost me. So far I have adapters for about 10 different lens mount systems - proving to my satisfaction that there is a niche for such equipment.
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Old 12-09-2018   #31
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Here's an innovation from a Chinese manufacturer, Godox, that I don't see from the major brands:

I use a Godox TT685-S on my Sony A6500 and A7ii cameras (w/MIS shoe). Works great.

Then, add the transmitter X1T-S so the flashes are radio-controlled remote TTL on the Sony. Works GREAT! Just like the major brands, three groups, 30 channels, TTL w/flash exposure comp or manual output control. Put them in soft-boxes or however.

Then, notice that Godox has -N models for Nikon. Both the flash and the transmitter. Also -C for Canon and probably others.

Hmm... Maybe buy a -N transmitter and it will drive my -S flashes? Vendor tells me "yes" so I buy the -N transmitter for $46. Works like a charm! My three -S flashes give me radio-controlled wireless TTL on both my Sony and my Nikon gear.

So good, full function dedicated flash units for Sony, now remotely controlled from my Nikon gear at minimal additional expense. That's innovation!

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Old 12-09-2018   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumarongi View Post
1. China did not sign any international intellectual property treaties, AFAIK —— thus many of their products are rip-offs, so to speak.

2. China's policy regarding their products that are meant for export ist quite the same the USSR had —— many prices are state-subsidised.

3. Any Western customer should also know under which circumstances Chinese products are made —— environment, workers' health, and so on, may not really play a big role...
#3 We sent buyers to China to see about getting low prices. Zero heat in the factory at below zero F. When the tour guide was questioned about obviously dangerous life threatening practices, the answer was it is ok, were have lots of people.

So if you wish to subsidize this , buy Chinese.

BTW, they purchased multi million dollar locomotives from us and found one excuse after another not to pay for them. Their business ethics do not exist. Note the details of the trade war now in progress
to see if I am not correct.
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Old 12-09-2018   #33
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Most things around me, photographic or not, are made in China so I can not make a comparison.
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Old 12-10-2018   #34
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The quality varies, I get small things like lens caps and so on and the vented hoods because the alternative is paying through the nose. I've bought some bits that were rubbish and binned immediately. Nowadays I'm happier buying from dealers here but sometimes the goods still arrive weeks late from China direct in the post...


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Old 12-10-2018   #35
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It'll be hit and miss but a lot of branded stuff is most likely built in the same factory as the chinese/ no name stuff.

I used to see it a lot in car parts, oil was a brilliant one as people were sneering at the budget stuff on one shelf and going to the higher stuff on the next one with a treble price tag and not reading the back of the bottle, showing that it was the same refinery and exact same stuff in the bottle.
Chinese manufacturing standards have gotten a lot better in the last 20 years or so but as with anything be vigalent and check the sellers rules on returns so in the event its not much cop you can get your money back.

To make a comparison I picked up a cheap chinese made Halina, internally its as good as anything from Japan or here and I could trust it to give me good results, I picked up a Lomography Fisheye, a named product that when new isn't cheap, the plastic is cheap and the soldering appears to have been done by either Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder, especially the capacitor for the flash that pretty much fell out in my hand.
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Old 12-10-2018   #36
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My Induro tripod is every bit as well made as my Manfrotto. Both my Chinese L-brackets are well made. You might want to buy that Chinese accessory you are hankering after now before tariffs go up from 10% to 25% or even higher. You have a 90-day window.
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Old 12-11-2018   #37
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Their ethics and practices may be dubious but for many cash-strapped hobbyists they have opened the door to new aspects of photography that hitherto might have remained firmly and financially closed. I believe one has to examine ones own conscience and act accordingly.
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Old 12-11-2018   #38
Out to Lunch
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Chinese Accessories vs. Respected Manufacturers
Many 'respectable manufacturers' moved their production to China many moons ago. Today, some of the same manufacturers are moving their production from China to countries like Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
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Old 12-16-2018   #39
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Two words: "quality control".

Many Chinese products are of excellent quality, but if even 10% aren't, they easily destroy the credibility of those that are. The difficulty lies in knowing which suppliers are likely to be reliable.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 12-16-2018   #40
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Originally Posted by Ronald M View Post
#3 We sent buyers to China to see about getting low prices. Zero heat in the factory at below zero F. When the tour guide was questioned about obviously dangerous life threatening practices, the answer was it is ok, were have lots of people.

So if you wish to subsidize this , buy Chinese.
As far as I have learned, these particular factories of your report do exist, but: there are no regular employees working, but prisoners — precisely that kind of criminals who have actually not the faintest potential to be re-socialised.
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