Interesting interview with Viltrox

Photowebexpo published an interesting interview with Viltrox - here is the translation (text and pictures used with permission):

Tell me about the history of your company, when and how did you start your journey?

Viltrox: Established in 2009, Shenzhen Jueying Technology Co., Ltd. is a comprehensive photographic equipment enterprise which integrates product development, design manufacturing, and sales. Our main brand is VILTROX and our business originally started with flashlights, flash triggers, shutter remotes, etc and later we specialized in mount adapters, video monitors, photographic lights then covered camera lenses since 2018. Now Viltrox product line mainly consists of Lenses, Lens adapters, Photographic lights, and Camera monitors.

Through continuous efforts for more than a decade of years, Viltrox has become one of the most competitive and influential companies in the camera equipment industry. During the development, we always implement the mission to provide the best quality, diversified, and technical leading products to our customers.

What does Viltrox company represent now, what are your main products and how many of them are in production?

Viltrox: We would like to say we are an enterprise in the photographic equipment industry that keeps advancing with the times and surpasses ourselves at the same time. As mentioned above our main products are Lenses, Lens adapters, Photographic lights and Camera monitors. 

How has the company's development strategy changed since 2018-2019, when you first released your manual focus lens and then an autofocus lens?

Viltrox: Never before that had Viltrox attached importance to its brand building. Since 2018 Viltrox officially established a marketing department and started to focus on building Viltrox brand awareness and promoting Viltrox products in various domestic and overseas channels.

Remind me, how many lenses do you currently have in your lineup (with different mounts)?

Viltrox: For now we have carried out 38 still photo lenses in total including 16 E-mount, 10 Z-mount, 6 X-mount, 3 EF-M mount, 3 MFT(M43) mount and 1 L-mount lenses; while the anamorphic cine lens line-up covers 3 lenses of 3 focal lengths at the moment. You can check more lens details via Viltrox website:

Tell me more about how you came to produce lenses?

Viltrox: Definitely this decision was not a one-time decision nor a sudden thought. It was made after we did a lot of research of the market and then combined it with the actual situation our company is confronted with and our future planning as well.

At the beginning of your journey into the world of autofocus optics, many publications claimed that Viltrox and Tokina used a third-party manufacturer who produced OEM products for Chinese and Japanese companies. How would you comment on this?

Viltrox: Well we can never stop such kind of comments emerging on the market and we will not be able to take measures to prove that “our products are just developed and manufactured by ourselves”, which seems to be a superfluous move. What we have to do is to make more quality products and offer good services to the users and to the market.

So you confirm that all optics are designed and manufactured by your team?

Viltrox: YES. We have our own independent R&D team for the design and manufacture of the lenses, however it does mean that includes the optical glasses. The materials or optical glasses come from Japan HOYA or some Chinese suppliers.

Lens production is a significant undertaking in terms of R&D and requires complex manufacturing equipment. How do you manage to release so many different lenses in such a short time?

Viltrox: Actually none of the lenses was developed in a short time. Some were already on the planning schedule for years and the reason sometimes we release several ones in a short time is that some of them do belong to one line-up just of different focal lengths or mounts. But more significantly is that our R&D teams are becoming stronger and stronger with more young technical and knowledgeable talents and the experienced ones become more professional and efficient on each link.

Is it true that some lenses (such as the 85mm F1.8) borrow the optical design from other lenses (maybe Zeiss)? 

Viltrox: The 85mm f1.8 lens was the first lens we developed at that time, and it took us more than 2 years to develop this lens. We used Zeiss 85mm f1.8 and Sony 85mm f1.8 for reference when we developed it. We redesigned our own optical structure and developed portrait lenses with higher cost-effective and excellent optical quality.

Tell me more about the story with Canon's copyrights and the discontinuation of the Viltrox 85mm F1.8 RF. Am I correct in understanding that you will not make any further attempts to launch lenses with the RF mount until Canon changes its position? I'm sure you know more about Meike and Yongnuo's experience in production and even selling their versions of lenses. Would you like to share?

Viltrox: YES we will not launch any RF mount lenses or mount adapters with the RF mount until Canon changes its position. For Meike’s and Yongnuo’s experience on that part we actually have less information about that, so sorry we’re afraid we may not be able to share anything about that. 

Back in 2021, we saw your plans for developing the current series of lenses for MFT and L-mount. What is the status of these plans now?

Viltrox: For the MFT and L-mount lens, both of them are cinema lenses. We think there is a part of users in the market based on MFT or L-mount system camera models that need some budget but reliable normal cinema lenses for their video creation. And that’s also a step to enrich Viltrox lens series to meet the more various shooting demands in the market.

And what about next 1-2 year roadmap? Can you show us something?

Viltrox: I am sorry that we do yet have a final roadmap for that. Plans are changing this year…

Which systems and specific lenses are currently the most popular in terms of sales?

Viltrox: Quite a few Viltrox lenses are achieving good sales these years but if I had to mention the most popular one, the X-mount series would be well deserved. 

Your company already has quite a few prime lenses. Do you have plans to produce zoom lenses as well? At one time, such lenses became the main focus for Japanese brand Tamron. Will you try?

Viltrox: Yes we do have plans on zoom lenses both for the photography line-up and cinema line-up as well ! So just stay tuned.

You recently launched the F1.2 PRO lens series (with your Viltrox 75mm AF F1.2 XF). How high is the demand for these already quite expensive lenses?

Viltrox: For this first lens of Viltrox Pro series, they gained really good feedback from the market no matter for the product itself or the sales!  It enjoys relatively higher demand in the European regions while it's also good in the United States and some other regions.   

On which mounts are you currently focusing your main attention when launching the PRO series? Can we expect them for Nikon Z soon?

Viltrox: For the Pro Series, we are more focused on the development of E and X mounts, and we also have a continuous development plan for the Nikon Z mount. 

Are you considering expanding the PRO lineup to include 85mm/50mm lenses with F1.2 or F1.4? 

Viltrox: Our Pro series will not focus on the scale of the aperture. The standard of our Pro series is excellent workmanship and excellent image quality. We will continue to improve our Pro series product line. And we have plans to develop a full-frame 85mm f1.4, but this has not yet been further determined.

Does your company have any plans to make its own camera, similar to what Yongnuo is doing in that direction?

Viltrox: Probably not. We will just focus on the lenses themselves.

We know that you have already upgraded the 85mm F1.8 lens to the second generation. Do you plan to continue to update the lineup? And what exactly can be improved in them?

Viltrox: For the current 85mm lenses we will not upgrade them anymore but we will make larger aperture ones in the future.

But what about second generation for another lenses? Like 13mm, 23mm, 33mm, 24mm, 50mm and others? Do you want to add an LCD-display like on 16mm F1.8?

Viltrox: We will not upgrade the existing lenses into second generation anymore but we will have different new ones based on some focal lengths with larger aperture like F1.4. Some of them may have LCD-display like 16mm F1.8.

What are your relationships like with camera brand manufacturers? Is there any dialogue, and do you coordinate your new lenses with them? Please tell me how it happens.

Viltrox: We don't have any close relationship with those camera brand manufacturers even if we hope so. We are quite independent on the R&D of all lenses but we have been trying to apply for some basic specification of the lens mounts like from Sony as it’s available for application publicly.

And have you already got any reply from Sony? By the way, do you want to join L-mount Alliance next?

Viltrox: We are still in the process for some reason of documents required. Maybe next year it will turn out to move forward. Let’s stay tuned.

Many camera manufacturers actively monitor their market share and take pride in this indicator. Do you track your market share among lenses? In which regions are your positions stronger or weaker? How are things outside of China? In other parts of Asia, Europe, North and South America, Russia?

Viltrox: Yes we have our data of that. Generally speaking, our market share mainly covers North America, Europe, Southeastern Asia, and China. The weaker regions will be South America, Africa.

Do you plan to expand your official service and possibly establish full-fledged representations outside of China? Currently, this responsibility lies solely with the distributors.

Viltrox: YES we are also already doing so in the United States. And in the future we will cover some European countries but that will take some years of course.

Which accessories will be a priority for Viltrox? What new lenses do you plan to introduce in the next 3 years? What can you tell or promise to your customers?

Viltrox: Thank you for all of your support of Viltrox products. In the next 3 years, we will continue to develop high-quality photography lenses, and we are also developing professional cinema lenses. We hope that in the field of professional cine lenses, we can bring professional, ultra-high-quality lenses to users, so that the creative team can experience different styles of cine lenses, and bring more presentation methods to artistic creation. 

You have recently released 3 cine lenses. How successful are they and what do you plan to bring to the cine lens market in the future? In this segment, Chinese companies have imposed good competition in recent years.

Viltrox: The EPIC series 35/50/75mmT2.0 1.33X full-frame anamorphic lenses launched at the very beginning of 2023 is our first step to enter the film industry. This series comes with PL-mount and E-mount, L-mount and Z-mount are coming soon on the way. In the future we will also 25mm 40mm 100mm 135mm to join this EPIC series. What’s more, we will also have spherical zoom cine lenses and macro ones. And of course we are also planning to cover S35 format cine lenses in the near future!

Via Photowebexpo

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