Tamron, the large lens manufacturer that has been on a design tear for new cheap-but-excellent mirrorless lens offerings, is cutting 2 out of every 5 Japanese factory workers through a voluntary retirement program. The cuts come from two plants in Aomori prefecture that concentrate precisely on those interchangeable lenses.

Japanese labor law works a bit differently than many countries, allowing Tamron to concentrate recruitment for the early retirement offer to those workers over the age of 45, as well as part-time and other lower status positions.

Tamron is expecting revenues to decline by 58 percent for the calendar year. The plants involved have been partially closed since the pandemic caused a sharp drop in lens demand in May. The stock price this morning popped up more than 5 percent.

Tamron has been a critical success in 2020 with the further release of its cheap-and-cheerful line-up of f/2.8 full frame zooms, very popular in Sony E-mount, where equivalent quality lenses frequently cost several times as much.

Sony patents also indicate that the camera maker appears to be planning more of its own lens manufacturing, which may significantly cut into Tamron’s white-label manufacturing services, which has already been hit by other manufacturers reducing outsourcing.

“Designed in Japan,” but perhaps to be manufactured elsewhere…