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Original Equipment Manufacturer
Many of the major camera manufacturers
do not actually manufacture some of their
models but outsource the manufacture to
low-cost third-party manufacturers. [How
many 'manufacture' word can you get into
one phrase?] Should you be worried? We hope
this article will put your fears to rest.
After all, Nike do not make shoes -- they
only design them. Some car 'manufacturers'
only design and assemble their cars made
by others. The shirt on your back bearing
a Canada or US label is probably made by
a third-party manufacturer and relabeled.
So, it's not surprising that digital cameras
are also made by a low-cost manufacturer
other than the company with its name and
logo on the cameras. We say that these cameras
are private labelled.
Since the low-cost manufacturer is simply
building equipments for someone else, that
someone else is known in the industry as
the Original Equipment Manufacturer.
So, an "OEM digital camera manufacturer"
is therefore a company that makes digital
cameras for an OEM and is usually a high-tech
firm with the required expertise to make
a quality product.
Similar Feature Sets
Now you know why some of these digital
cameras have very similar features set and
why they even look suspiciously the same,
minus some cosmetic changes.
That is one reason we ask readers not to
get so hung up with comparing digital cameras,
especially the entry-level models, with
a magnifying glass mentality.
That is why some sites do not even bother
reviewing the entry-level digital cameras
-- once you review one from one manufacturer,
you've more or less reviewed it from all
The image sensor is usually purchased
by these OEM digital camera manufacturers
from one of a handful of companies that
specialize in making image sensors, so once
the latter make a new 'more megapixels'
image sensor available, you can be sure
that this new image sensor is quickly incorporated
into all the 'new' digital camera models.
Does this mean then that there is no added
value at all, that you can simply buy the
cheapest of the bunch?
The answer is sometimes yes and sometimes
Thankfully, the major OEMs often add value
to these generic models in the form of better
lenses and firmware. Since a major camera
manufacturer has a stake in preserving its
reputation, it will replace a cheap plastic
lens with its own branded glass lens, and
load its own image processing firmware into
the camera's internal processor unit.
The cameras may look the same, but
they may perform differently: the
menus may look different, the operations
faster, the image quality better, noise
suppressed, and different image quality
and image size combinations offered. It's
all in the software (firmware).
There might also be different levels of
construction quality offered by the OEM
digital camera manufacturer: image sensor
brand and quality; all plastic body (with
different grades of quality) or a combination
of plastic and metal, better button mechanisms;
Stick With Name Brands
So, as you can see, I don't think there
is anything to worry about this.
While we can never be certain how much
value added is in a private labelled digital
camera [and the OEMs ain't telling us],
what we recommend is that you be very careful
with the cheap generic models being offered
on late-night television infomercials, some
well-known 'technology' magazines which
should know better than to accept those
ads, and even sold in some well-known electronics
Though the feature set may look similar
on paper, these digital cameras will mostly
disappoint you with poor image quality and
So it's safer to stick with the major digital
camera brand names. They offer better lenses,
better firmware, and better customer support.
Which brands? Check out the best digital cameras you can buy!
Links to some OEM digital camera manufacturers:
Image Technology Corp.
Corp. [scroll down and click 'English']
- Funai Corp.
- EMSNow, 2
- Reuters, 2
- MarketWatch, 2
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