Inside a Chinese photographic lighting factory
Where are your studio lights made? We were invited to the factory of Shenzhen Nice Photographic Equipment Co., Ltd., better known as Nicefoto, to see how their products come together.
The firm is the original manufacturer of the innovative N-Flash series of battery-powered studio lights. As well as selling products under their own name, the company also works as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) with international distributors rebranding the gear in different markets.
Based in Buji town, one of Shenzhen’s industrial districts, Nicefoto are a stone’s throw from a number of rival Chinese lighting makers. The factory spans three floors, each one more or less designated for making electronics, hardware or lights, plus offices on each level for designers, engineers, managers and so on.
The feel of the place is not quite as sterile as a high-end microchip plant like you might see in Silicon Valley, but it is far from the images of Chinese “sweatshops” used by big brands and presented in the news. In fact it probably reminded me more of the British factory where I did work experience while at school in England.
Here are some Nicefoto studio flashes being assembled and lined up neatly, ready for the next step of production.
Despite what you might expect from your own experiences with low-cost Chinese-made products, there is actually some quality control going on here! All the units on the shelves here are being tested, with flashes going off every few seconds.
Interestingly Nicefoto make their own metal cases and hardware from raw materials rather than buying ready-made ones from other companies. The man below is making brackets for photographic backdrops.
Here you can see the workers making reflectors, spigots and tilt brackets for studio lights. Notice the assembly instructions overhead.
These circuit boards are destined for the insides of flash heads. When I poked my head around the door of an engineer’s office, I could see the amount of planning that goes into creating new products. In my review of the Nice N-Flash, I praised the thoughtful design features, but now that I have seen the processes of how they are made, I appreciate it all the more.
It turns out that the brand name Nicefoto isn’t as cheesy as it sounds. It actually comes from the factory’s original Chinese name, 耐思 (Nài Sī), which does not really mean anything in English but is phonetically similar to the word “nice”. You can find out more about the company on their web site. We can hope to look out for further improvements to the N-Flash location lighting line in the future.
Thanks to Cindy Huang for making this visit possible.