28th April 2021, Singapore – China-Made lenses had been around for the longest time. Dating back to film days, I am sure many of you (of my age) would have heard of ; or used brands like Mitakon lenses for your systems. These lenses are some of the cheapest that one can buy back then and since the asking price is rock-bottom low, many of these lenses are flawed & faced many issues with optical quality, build quality etc.
Fast forward to the early 2000s, many of you would have remembered Yongnuo’s release of the 50mm F1.8 which was widely touted as an exact copy of Canon’s EF 50mm F1.8 – although Canon took a legal stand, nothing (really) can be done. Priced cheaper than Canon, the Yongnuo went on to open up the lens market from China to the world’s stage.
Today, China made lenses are everywhere, in almost every photography store, in almost every country. The recent years (in Singapore) had also seen the rise & success of many China brand lenses. In this article, we will share some of the China brand lenses that are really popular today. While Some won by price point, some won by quality and some simply won because they are from another universe.
Handevision is a hybrid brand that was created by Shanghai Transvision Photographic Equipment Co. Ltd & IB/E Optics GmbH (Germany). Many of you have not heard either of these companies but I am dead sure you would have heard of the brand “Kipon” as it is also from this company. Kipon rise to fame for the array of lens adaptors that are of high quality and very affordable.
The current HandeVision IBELUX 40mm F0.85 offers the fastest aperture in this focal range and built like a German tank with its full metal construction. (anodized aluminum for the lens barrel and main structural parts and brass for focusing parts and stainless steel for everything else)
Not the cheapest of China brand lenses, it will be interesting to watch HandVision’s new releases, probably more F0.85 lenses will be on their way.
See Below for Kipon’s Lens
Jaray & Kaxinda
Very little is known about Jaray/ Kaxinda, except that we found out that Kaxinda specializes in OEM for camera lenses for other brands. According to reliable sources, Kaxinda is also involved with R&D with “Japanese Camera Brands” and from what we had gathered, Kaxinda produces lenses that are of international quality and offering at a relatively low asking price.
At the moment, the Jaray/Kaxinda 14mm f/3.5 is one of the most talk-about ultra-wide angle lens in the mirrorless world. Do google on it. If you have any information to share about Jaray/Kaxinda, please feel free to email to us at email@example.com
Image: 7artisans Photoelectric 35mm f/2 Lens
This is an interesting company. Based in Shenzhen, 7Artisans is a group of Chinese camera enthusiasts who met up for a dinner in Summer of 2015. They discussed their passions over the dinner table. Some were interested in optical design while others were more skilled at running factory production lines, and one was an avid Leica lens collector. Everyone who participated came to the same conclusion: “If we involve our skills and work together, we can create new high quality original camera lenses.” That is how the 7Artisans Project began. (Taken from 7Artisans website)
7Artisans is loosely translated into “7 Craftsmen” in mandarin, and their rise to fame is their 50mm f/1.1 lens which was targeted at Leica users.
Image: Kipon 90mm/f2.4
The KIPON brand was created in 2007 by Shanghai Transvision Photographic Equipment Co. Ltd, who are famed for their various high quality Lens Adapters. From simple functional Mechanical Adapters to Auto-Focus Adapters, Optic Adapters, Tilt & Shift Adapters, Kipon had took the world with their highly affordable offerings.
(You may scroll up and read on Handevision)
Through strategic partnerships, Kipon decided to launch their own series of lenses. Combining the expertise from the various partnerships & coupled with Kipon’s production capabilities, Kipon gave the world Kipon 90mm/f2.4 which had been making headlines in the world of portraiture photography.
One of the fastest growing China lens manufacturer, Anhui Changgeng Optics Technology Co., Ltd (also known as Venus Optics) was established in 2013. The company was formed by a group of photography enthusiasts & industry experts. The company claimed that they had previously designed lenses for Japanese and German brands (which we suspected Tamron & Leica), and as their company expanded, Venus Optics decided to create their own line of lenses bearing the Laowa brand.
Venus Optics’ HQ (along with their manufacturing facility) are located at Hefei, located at the eastern part of China near to Shanghai. However their sales and marketing head office is located in Hong Kong along with a distribution office in the United States.
Laowa currently has many great lenses especially the popular Laowa 15mm F2 Zero-D. Their lenses’ pricing are not exactly cheap, but definitely gives a bang for the money.
Hongkong Meike Digital Technology Co., Ltd was founded in 2005 in Hong Kong, Started as a company that manufactures camera accessories, the company’s biggest selling product was battery grips/ vertical grips (MK Brand, remember?) for many brands. Followed by Meike’s success with Flashes & a few other flagship products, Meike launched four Micro Four Thirds manual focusing lenses. (According to sources, those are not designed by Meike, but rather rebranded versions of existing Kaxinda lenses. Aiming at the lower budget market, the lenses are not exactly bad lenses too. Recently we reviewed the Meike 35mm F1.7 and we instantly fell in love with it. You can read our review here.
Mitakon / Zhongyi
Image: Mitakon Zhongyi 20mm f/2 4.5x Super Macro Lens
As one of the pioneering lens brand from China, Shenyang Zhongyi Optical & Electronic Co., Ltd was established in 1984 as a joint venture company with a Japanese investor. It was pretty obvious who the “Japanese Investor” was – as Mitakon started producing a lot of lenses for the Pentax Asahi Company back in the 80s. And soon after, Mitakon has lenses for every other system mounts. Although Mitakon lenses has a really bad reputation in those days – lots of quality issues, bad quality images, it was one of the few lens brand that are really affordable. As technology progressed, Mitakon too had caught up with improved quality, still affordable but great leaps ahead. Currently all their lenses are produced and are labelled as “Zhongyi”, “Mitakon” & “Zhongyi Mitakon” brands. Among the China lens brands, Mitakon has presence in more than 30 countries today.
Two of their highly popular lenses are Mitakon Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95 III & Mitakon Zhongyi 20mm f/2 4.5x Super Macro Lens.
Neewer is a lens brand from Shenzhen Neewer Technnology Co., Ltd (also known as Shenzhen Xing Ying Da Industry Co., Ltd) is a vibrant multinational company founded in 2010. Neewer entered the industry via cheap flashlights to today’s On-Camera LED lights, their latest cash cow has to be the LED Ring Light that had saturated the online market. Neewer prided itself as a company who believes in online retail, online advertising and in turn saved a lot of money from traditional media, distributorship etc and passing the savings to their consumers keeping their lenses price low and very affordable.
The Neewer 35mm F1.2 had been their most popular lens due to its sharpness when wide open and some say the image quality can match German’s little red dot.
Based in Dongguan, Guangzhou, Dongguan Sainstore E-Commerce Ltd Co, was founded in 2011. The company specializes in manufacturing 3D glasses, camera lenses and many home audio items. Among the brands, Zonlai & Kamlan had made quite a name here in Singapore with the Kamlan 50mm f/1.1 & Zonlai 22mm f/1.8 lens. A quick check on SainSonic website also shows Meike lenses – we are really confused right here.
If you have more, or correct information on SainSonic or the brands Zonlai / Kamlan, we welcome you to send us more information to firstname.lastname@example.org
Established in 2009, Viltrox is a brand by Shenzhen Jueying Technology Co., Ltd. An aggressive company that had made a name with their quality & affordable products – Camera Lenses, Mount Adapters, LED Lights, Video Monitors and Camera Cages etc.
Shenzhen Jueying Technology Co., Ltd. started to produce photographic equipment since 2007, the company designs and produces every product without a 3rd party. In Singapore, the most popular Viltrox lens is none other than the Viltrox 85mm F1.8.
If you have more, or correct information on Viltrox’s company, we welcome you to send us more information to email@example.com
Shenzhen Yong Nuo Photographic Equipment Co. Ltd. has four factories, eight direct-sale stores in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Hangzhou and Harbin, and sales company in Hong Kong (HK YONGNUO LIMITED). Started and made a name in the industry with its budget flashes, triggers/receivers, cable release, LED panels etc, Yongnuo moved into lens manufacturing in 2014. Their first lens – the Yongnuo YN 50mm F1.8 caused a storm as it was 99.9% uncannily similar to Canon’s best selling EF 50mm F1.8 but selling at a fraction of Canon’s price. Since then Yongnuo launched a few other lenses which are less controversial but still, the rest of the Japanese brands are watching Yongnuo closely.
And so, the above China-brand lenses has made waves and giving the Japs & Germans a run for their money. Since China became the “World’s Factory”, we are seeing a huge improvement on build quality and image quality from these lenses. Photography equipment are not cheap to start with, the Chinese had gotten something right – the price point – which is still relatively low as compared to the Japanese/Germany brands. And now the Chinese are capturing the market with better optic quality, offering more for less and this trend will likely to continue for the next few years.
Our Editor AL Lee which was never a fan of Chinese lenses had recently fell in love with the Meike 35mm F1.7 and he will be doing a review for a Laowa lens soon. Do stay tuned.
If you have any information on any of the brand in this article or would like to inform us to add any brand that we missed in this article, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributing Editor – Lee Shi Qing
A firm believer of Self-Sufficient living and gives no f**k to anyone getting in her way to reaching her goals in life. Kind in nature & Dangerous when provoked. Loves Mcdonald’s Fries and hates all the burgers there. While she helps out in gear reviews, Qing is currently serving as an Online Administrator for Ourshutterjourney.com Facebook Groups and Online Shop.