Releases offer clearer images, greater durability and convenient features.
China suppliers of optics are ramping up R&D efforts and upgrading manufacturing systems to provide easy-to-use models with better optical specifications and rugged constructions. Through these, makers hope to widen market reach, with several targeting a larger share of the outdoor recreational sector and others the premiums segment.
|Dandong Xunlei offers the XL-HT750-OD model with twist-up or fold-down eyecups.|
Image clarity is one of the concerns being addressed. Many companies are adopting lenses made from grade A optical glass for a sharper and clearer view. Multiple layers of antireflective coating are applied on the components to improve light transmission.
Lenses and housings are constructed to withstand harsh outdoor conditions, including weather changes and high temperatures. A number of releases are water-resistant up to 5m.
In the midrange and high end, manufacturers continue to incorporate extra functions such as compasses and thermometers for greater user convenience. Twist-up eyecups are also being fitted onto several binoculars for the comfort of people wearing eyeglasses.
Some makers have released units with digital functions. Such products remain limited in number, however, since the ICs typically need to be sourced from Taiwan or farther overseas.
To ensure monoculars and binoculars remain easy to carry even with several add-ons, a number of enterprises are opting for magnesium alloy as housing material. The metal results in designs that are 30 percent lighter than aluminum alloy versions.
Jaxy Optical Instrument Co. Ltd is among the manufacturers already offering such products. The maker’s recent releases include magnesium alloy binoculars that can float on water.
China suppliers communicate with both buyers and raw material providers regularly to keep up-to-date with the latest trends. A number also participate in trade shows.
Makers see export sales remaining on an upward track this year, despite recent events in Japan, the Middle East and other markets. Nonetheless, the outlook is cautious, with several companies keeping growth projections to 10 percent. This is in contrast to 2010, when the industry posted an increase of more than 20 percent in overseas revenue
China suppliers offer a variety of optics for leisure, astronomical and military purposes.
Binoculars dominate the line, accounting for about 90 percent of output, because of its many applications. The selection includes models for tours, sports and other public events, hunting, bird watching and sailing.
Prices start at $2 and increase depending on the housing material, prisms and lenses used.
For the first, rubber, PVC, ABS, aluminum and magnesium alloy are the main options, with the last two typical in high-end models.
Lenses come in acrylic or grade A to C optical glass. These have a ruby, blue or green sheen in basic and midrange versions, while upscale types are multicoated.
For prisms, BK-7, BK-9 and BAK-4 constructions are employed. The third is said to deliver clearer and brighter images as it is able to transmit light better.
China-made binoculars are capable of 3 to 40x magnification. The best-sellers, however, are those with 7, 8, 9 and 10x specifications.
Upscale releases are also typically resistant to water, fog, dust and other elements.
Export-bound designs comply with international standards such as ASTM F963, EN 71 and CE.
Binoculars, telescopes and other optics can be sourced from more than 100 companies in China. Most suppliers are engaged in mixed production, offering related lines such as microscopes and cameras.
Small and midsize operations constitute the majority of the industry. Companies belonging to the first group have fewer than 100 workers and generate less than $3 million in annual sales. Midsize enterprises, which employ as many as 500 people, post revenue ranging from $3 million to $15 million each year.
Manufacturers with a larger workforce account for roughly 10 percent of the supplier base. Several are state-invested.
Most optics suppliers are located in Chongqing municipality, and the provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan, Shanxi and Jiangxi. Some companies also cluster in Zhejiang province.
Note: This article "New optics boast better performance" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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