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You are hereHome > Articles > OEM

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.

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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 OEMs.

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.

Value Added

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 no.

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; etc.

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 store.

Though the feature set may look similar on paper, these digital cameras will mostly disappoint you with poor image quality and performance.

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:

- Sanyo Electric Co.

- Premier Image Technology Corp.

- Altek Corp. [scroll down and click 'English']

Related articles:

- Digitimes
- Funai Corp.
- EMSNow, 2
- InvestInTaiwan
- Reuters, 2
- Chicony
- AsianCanadian
- MarketWatch, 2
- ReferenceForBusiness

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