Deals Are Ramping Back Up

(commentary)

We’re coming up into the second biggest purchase season for cameras (Father’s Day/Graduation plus purchasing for summer vacations), and inventories are still high and slow moving virtually across the board here in the US. That means that deals can’t be far behind.

Sony seems to be in the “discount everything” mode at the moment. Even the A7 models (except for the A7s) and the A6000 are already seeing significant discounts (US$50 for the A6000 up to US$200 for the A7), but now we’re also seeing discounts on a lot of the E-mount lenses, too. The one thing that Sony has been doing consistently right is driving costs out of their products, and now we’re seeing them be aggressive about exploiting that in a slow market.

Olympus is ramping up their discounting, too. The recent E-M1 is already seeing a US$100 discount and the older E-M5 is now at a US$300 discount. A wide variety of lenses are also seeing discounts from Olympus, as well. Given that Olympus stated that they had almost a half year’s worth of camera inventory at the end of March, I expect them to stay aggressive for awhile. Meanwhile, Panasonic is mostly discounting older cameras right now; the GM1 and GH4 are selling well enough that they aren’t seeing significant discounts yet.

Fujifilm has relatively low production rates and their cameras have sold well to the production rate, so at the moment we only see minor adjustments for things that are older and have been replaced, such as the X-E1.

The odd-ball is Nikon, which at least here in the US seems to have gone from the “we brought way too many products into inventory” position to the “we didn’t bring any products into inventory” position. NikonUSA is still dealing with J1, J2, J3, and S1 inventory from as much as three years ago. So for those cameras there was way too much supply for the demand. Meanwhile, the AW1 and V3 are rare sightings at Nikon dealers here in the US. Now there’s more demand than supply. Someone is jerking the wheel around while trying to drive a straight line ;~).

So Sony and m4/3 fans are seeing the initial benefits, and that’s just going to drive a few more folk away from the Canon/Nikon duopoly in interchangeable lens cameras. Which means there willbe a response. Okay, perhaps that’s too strong a word: there shouldbe a response.

In the lens maker realm, one very interesting and big deal just announced is on the Zeiss Touit lenses. The 35mm f/1.8 and 12mm f/1.8 lenses for the Sony E-mount and Fujifilm X-mount are US$200 off, and even more when purchased together (click here [Advertiser link]). Ironically, this put the 12mm versions out of stock almost immediately, at least temporarily (B&H has since restocked). Still, these are great lenses now at pretty good prices. B&H also has a two-for-one deal, where both lenses together sell for US$920 (click here [Advertiser link]). That’s a very good deal for two very good lenses, by the way.

Personally, I think the deals will heat up in June. As the fiscal quarter for all these companies comes to an end, most of them are going to be desperate to show some signs of life in their camera sales. For most, it’s the first quarter of their fiscal year, too, and many will be showing year-to-year declines in sales.

I also expect more August product launches this year than usual. Yes, Photokina is in September, but the problem is going to be this: if you wait to announce in September and ship in October, you’ve missed the second fiscal quarter, thus you’re relaying on products already launched to carry you through that quarter and risk yet another down quarter on the books. Thus, I expect to see some "announce in August, show at Photokina and ship in September" types of launches.

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