Last Saturday morning I took the lead photo for this post with my latest lens acquisition. It is made in China – a TTArtisans 40 mm f/1.2 macro. It is a manual lens, as are most macro lenses. At A$134 its capability as an affordable macro is astonishing.

TTArtisan 40 mm f/2.8 macro lens, made in China

Case study

I’m writing this post as a specialist over four decades in the law and practice of technology commercialisation and intellectual property. This post is a case study in China’s growing supply of sophisticated hardware and software for making photos and videos.

Progress of manufacturers in China

Since 2016 I’ve been measuring technological progress in China in one niche sector – photography and videography gear. Back in 2016 gear from China was cheap, but nasty, eg tungsten lights and light stands. I bought a set of lights and stands in 2016 that were workable, certainly not special, arguably quite ugly, and they never really reached a standard that I found usable. The lights made my skin appear green. Even the brand name of the lights was dumb – Cowboy Studio. “Cowboy” can also mean a dishonest, unqualified or careless person in business.

Since 2016 manufacturers in China have lifted their capability at a brisk pace. As cost-effective manufacturers of gear, the intellectual property of traders abroad seeped osmotically into China. Dumping the Cowboy Studio gear, I acquired a variety of Godox, Aputure and Falcon Eyes speciality lights. Each is controlled by a remote or clever multifunctional mobile device app.

Photo with the TTArtisans 40 mm macro lens

Last year a Sirui carbon fibre light stand arrived, a gorgeous work of industrial art with a part that is
anodized baby blue metal. The Sirui camera bag last year is a marvel of miniaturisation.

Over the last decade or more, for millions of customers worldwide, the product sectors of drones and gimbals came to be dominated by manufacturers in China.

For some years manufacturers of photo and video gear in Germany, Italy and the United States are watching their backs.

Back to today’s photo and lens we go. Perhaps my favourite saying in photography is “Date cameras, marry lenses.” Over the last 12 months I added three lenses made in China to my kit:

  • Sirui “Night Walker” 24 mm T/1.2 cine lens,
  • Viltrox 75 mm f/1.2 telephoto lens, and
  • last week, the TTArtisans 40 mm f/2.8 macro lens.

Note those three brand names, originating from China, are short, unique and memorable. Good riddance to the days of names such as Cowboy Studios. I say that as a specialist in product and services branding and trade mark law.

Photo with the TTArtisans 40 mm macro lens

A market thriving with competition

Japan still rules mass manufacture of cameras – the mothership at the centre of the photography and videography universe. Companies in Japan, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifilm and so many others dominate. But for how long? Samsung in South Korea has more market share than any of them for cameras on mobile devices, which now dominate the making photos and videos.

Full-featured cameras retain their allure. Advancements in the capability of cameras in mobile phones have plateaued over the last half-decade. With the physics of mobile phones being a hard-stop limitation, manufacturers of mobile devices turned in about 2022 to computational photography to simulate what lens optics can achieve.

What we can do together

Opportunity awaits those who have irons in the fire. With the pace of change in technology in the 2020s and after, it is best to expect the unexpected.

Call for a conversation about commercialisation of your products or services. We can supply templates to fast-track your thinking in a myriad of areas not restricted to law. Also, brainstorming is something my colleagues and I excel in.

Noric Dilanchian