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Thursday, 01 July 2010


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What's interesting is how natural the default assumption that "almost all stuff you can carry is made in China" feels. I'm especially surprised when anything I buy that isn't edible is made in my own continent (Europe).

The exceptions that prove the rule are black pudding and the scotch pie: definitely made in Europe, definitely not edible.


What I find uncool about this is the fact that Gitzo and Manfrotto are apparently owned by the same company (or one of them owns the other). Since these are two of the biggest and most well-known tripod manufacturers, this kind of thing always has a slightly unpleasant air about it. You assume that two brands are competing against each other, only to find out they are in cahoots. I don't mean to imply there is anything illegal going on, just that there is a perception of competition that doesn't exist (at least not in the form you are expecting). Imagine if Nikon and Canon were owned by the same firm, but you didn't know it. How would you feel? Imagine that the Yankees also owned the Red Sox, that Barcelona owned Real Madrid, that Microsoft owned Apple or that Ben & Jerry's owned Häagen-Dazs...

You were partially correct in your assertion that Gitzo was made in China. Benro, a Chinese company producing cloned Gitzo tripods, got their start when Gitzo attempted to open up a factory in Guangzhou. A local company was contracted, and while the factory was being built, the factory owner was secretly making a second identical manufacturing facility nearby which then turned into the Benro brand. Gitzo eventually discovered the deception, tried to sue, but it is China where patents and IP mean little, so that ended Gitzo's foray into outsourced Chinese manufacturing.

Depressing video -- it seems I've been mis-pronouncing Gitzo for 20+ years now!

Black pudding? Scotch pies (especially those fresh from Oliphants bakery in Linlithgow)? Yum! We're all entitled to have different tastes. Heck, I even like haggis... far too dangerous (allegedly) for US citizens until recently.

Meanwhile, back to the topic. Yes, I was surprised at the "made in China" speculation - especially as my Manfrotto carbon-fibre tripod was from Italy.

However, the ones that Benro makes in China are exact copies of the Gitzos and JUST AS GOOD. I'm not exaggerating.

At Laura, with a smiley here.... :)

"exact copies"?

Stolen designs, stolen factory plans, stolen everything. Why in the world would you want to buy something made in China if you can possibly find it anywhere else is beyond me. Who cares if it's just as good.

I was in the Gitzo facilities in the beginning of the eighties in the 13th district of Paris for a sale: workers had to dismantle their own plant which was to be transferred to Italy.
Manfrotto had bought the brand and didn't want to be bothered with a french production-site.
Manfrotto was bought later by Bogen (they launched the chinese adventure, whose outcome is shared by many other industrial entrepreneurs who wanted to produce cheaply in China). Now that the know-how is in China, Bogen sold Manfrotto to Vitec .

These mouvements provoked an enormous gain of productivity (less people producing more).

Gitzo produced originally tripods for military devices in France, and was famous for its speed control-unit-tripods in Europe.

I was looking at tripods in a local camera shop yesterday, and discovered that the smaller, lighter Manfrotto tripods (7nn, or 7nnn series) are made in China, while the better ones (190xxx and 055xxx) are made in Italy.

Yet the Chinese made ones were just as expensive. That makes me angry.

"...the ones that Benro makes in China are exact copies of the Gitzos and JUST AS GOOD..."

I must have gotten a bad "copy." And let's not talk about my Benro ballhead.

There is no problem with Gitzo and Manfrotto being owned by the same company. Gitzo is the Cadillac, and Manfrotto is the Chevrolet, both owned by "General Motors." If you've owned and used both brands, you know there is a quality and philosophy difference between the two brands. I don't own any Manfrotto legs anymore, but still use their heads. The Benro legs I have are better than the Manfrotto legs I've owned, but not quite as nice as the Gitzo legs they're patterned after.

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