The Phoblographer’s Tour of Sony’s Camera Factory: An Inside Look at How the Sony a7r II is Made

Very recently, I got a chance to visit Sony’s factory in Thailand and to tour what goes into making each camera and lens. Admittedly, so much is going on that it’s kind of confusing–with the lenses perhaps being the simplest to explain. We were allowed to shoot very specific video and photos of the process as it happened.

First off, Sony’s sensors are all made in Japan and then shipped over to the location in Thailand. But pretty much everything else is made in Thailand–the lenses, the motherboards, the bodies, etc.

Here are some tidbits that I learned during the tour:

  • Building the motherboards and chipsets for the cameras are a very interesting process. They’re put together piece by small piece in a machine that’s pretty much longer than a standard sized NYC apartment. It looks like a giant tube essentially and each board is manufactured then checked.
  • Before going into the manufacturing areas, you need to wear a clean vest of some sort in addition to slippers that Sony assigns to you.
  • As the cameras are made, they go down a pretty long production line, combining all the parts together. It requires putting the motherboards into the cameras, assembling the cameras, loading the firmware up onto each of the cameras individually, checking to ensure that they work, and packaging.
  • About 10% of each production shipment is kept for quality control checks. For the lenses: 5%. But the Sony G Master and Sony Zeiss lenses are all checked; 100% of the products that go out are specially checked by hand and by a few individuals.
  • Most of Sony’s team in the manufacturing process are women. They’re selected for many reasons, including a better sense of camaraderie amongst co-workers and their generally smaller hands which are able to accomplish their necessary tasks. Everyone employed is over the age of 18.
  • We didn’t really learn much about the processor involved.