1 April 2005
Premium Cameras(HKTDC Gifts, Premium & Stationery, Vol 02,2005)
Premium cameras also bring good business opportunities to Hong Kong manufacturers such as Sunpet Industries Ltd. Starting life as Sunny Industries Ltd in 1972, Sunpet is typical of firms making optical goods such as cameras, binoculars and telescopes.
"We have been producing these lines for some time," says product development and engineering director Joseph Ko. "While digital cameras have definite market appeal, our best-selling premium camera uses regular film, comes with a manual, 35-50mm zoom lens and incorporates a built-in flash unit."
To help bring these and other technically demanding products to market at the low-end of the price range, the company designs, develops and produces everything in-house, including the ABS camera housings.
"Our lenses are the simplest type of zoom lenses available in the world, and are perfect for disposable cameras," Ko asserts. "We make the zoom mechanism at low cost, and employ a precision aspherical lens rather than a plain, round type."
The lenses are made from PMMA, which is a colourless and transparent methacrylate resin with good weather-resistant features in addition to excellent optical properties. "Our spherical lenses can also correct reflective aberrations," Ko adds.
"While low prices mean many of our cameras sell as premiums, they also sell in retail stores, frequently packaged with film and a battery. We also produce models for places such as theme parks in the shape of popular cartoon characters," says Ko.
He explains that the firm's 100,000 and 300,000 pixel digital cameras are not disposable models and that minimum orders of 3,000 pieces per model are delivered to the US, the UK and Europe under the Precision and Sunpet brand names 45-60 days after order confirmation.
Production takes place at a 20,000-square-foot, ISO 9001-certified plant in Zhongshan on the Chinese mainland that employs 1,500-2,000 workers depending on orders received. "As a specialist producer of aspherical plastics we can also supply zoom lenses to other makers," Ko informs.
A company with its own lines that also welcomes OEMs, Sky Light Industrial Ltd started out manufacturing single use and regular cameras. The 1997-established firm subsequently added digital/Web cameras and MP3 players to its line-up.
"We offer our range of products under our NEXT brand name, manufacture according to customers' specific design requirements or over-print our models with their names," advises marketing manager Florence Tse.
Sky Light offers a full range of flash cameras including 35mm recyclable, single-use models preloaded with film and battery. There is also a "no flash" range for outdoor activities, including underwater use. In general, plastic fascias may be coloured and transparent or silver/champagne gold sprayed.
"Our 4-in-1 digital camera (model TDC300) can also handle voice recording and has a 3.1M pixel CMOS image sensor and 16MB built-in flash memory. There is a comprehensive range on offer, including camera sets for the beach, cars and camping," says Tse.
Sky Light manufactures at a 1,000-employee, ISO 9001-certified, 3,800-square-metre factory in Shenzhen on the mainland, which produces a monthly output in excess of 1.5 million cameras. Minimum order is 100 pieces for digital cameras and 1,000 pieces for single-use models, with exports going mainly to Europe, the US, Australia and Asia.
Meanwhile, 1986-established Goodfit Products Co Ltd offers a further example of Hong Kong's ability to produce fine camera products in addition to MP3 players and optical mice.
"Under our CyClops brand name, we have a good range of premium cameras," says sales executive Kau Law. "At the high-end is model DR-100, which sells for US$18.20 FOB Hong Kong. It comes with a 1.3M-pixel CMOS sensor and has 8MB of SD-RAM memory. This camera holds 22 pictures at its highest resolution and 65 at the 640x480 VGA level."
Other examples are models DC-181B and DA-100, with FOB unit prices of US$10.50 and US$9.50 respectively. The former has a 350,000 pixels sensor and 8MB of memory, while the latter has the same-size sensor and 16MB of memory.
"These cameras are based on what we term a new solution, which is an approach that allows us to produce at much lower cost than before. With very attractive prices, these new products came to market in mid-March in good time for the Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair 2005," says Law.
Goodfit accepts minimum orders for 1,000 cameras for delivery in 30 days. Exports go worldwide from a 75,000-square-metre, ISO 9001-certified factory in Panyu on the mainland.
Established in 1995, Banaba Industrial Co Ltd offers single use, underwater and manual cameras. "We have new products under development for the Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair, but our most popular camera is the underwater model," says marketing executive Connie Wong.
The underwater camera can withstand pressure up to three metres, is re-loadable - which means it is re-usable - and comes in two models: one with a flash unit and one without. "We also offer a 35mm motorized camera, waterproof up to 15 metres, a 35mm manual-wind camera with flash and 35mm single-use camera with or without flash," says Wong.
"Our cameras sell as promotional items and premiums, besides being sold through wholesalers and other distribution channels," adds Wong. "The underwater camera without flash sells for about US$1 and up FOB Hong Kong, while the version with flash that is waterproof to a depth of five metres costs US$4-5."
Production under the Ooma brand name takes place at a plant in Shenzhen on the mainland. Minimum order is 3,000 pieces per item and delivery time after order confirmation is 20-40 days. Main markets are Europe, the US, Japan, South Korea and Australia.
Clearly demonstrating that for snap-happy premium cameras, Hong Kong is the place to focus your interest.
WRITTEN BY TONY HENDERSON
Ricomax (HK) Ltd
Kwong Sang Hong Centre
151-153 Hoi Bun Rd
Kwun Tong, Kowloon
Sunpet Industries Ltd