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April 04, 2012

War on Consumers: Pentax USA lens price-hikes and Canon vs Canadians

This is not a flowery blog-post. Brace yourselves for impact!

Our beloved corporate overlords, blessed be their names, are pushing new radical anti-consumer agendas. Okay, that may be a bit too dramatic and too campaign-y, but perhaps by not that much!

Pentax USA Lens price hikes
We start with Pentax which is often seen as one of the more photographer-friendly companies. Not so friendly to your wallet though, as Pentax USA has spiked the prices of their lenses, some almost doubling! The PentaxForums website has a before-and-after comparison of the lens prices and Photography Banzai approaches the price hikes from the perspective of a semi-professional photographer, which is perhaps one of the biggest target audiences for Pentax.

Reactions in the PentaxForums range from calls for grassroots activism ("let's demand an answer from Pentax") to unhappiness and the newly adopted unilater pricing woes. Some photographers from Europe are pointing out that the new Pentax USA prices are similar to the European prices, but from a competitive perspective, it makes the Pentax lenses more expensive than the full frame CaNiKoN workhorse lenses in the US market.

In the dpreview Pentax forums, a photographer price-compares DSLR with workhorse lenses for Pentax APS-C vs Canon/Nikon full frame, and the new prices are not very flattering (to put it very kindly) to Pentax. Check all the posts in that thread by the OP as he posts a variety of other comparisons as well. With April 1st being the start of a new fiscal year for many companies (and also April Fools Day), there was some Fools Day joke disbelief among some photographers.

It is fascinating that in the year 2012, manufacturers have not (yet?) learned how to communicate and explain changes of this nature to their customers before they happen, or at least when they happen.

Canon trying to close US market to Canadian Photographers
Canon has to maintain its Evil Empire reputation, and this time Luke Skywalker is a Canadian photographer. It appears they have a systematic new plan to "encourage" Canadian photographers to buy locally, as they are twisting arms left and right to block/discourage US retailers from advertising or even selling/shipping to Canada. Case in point, one by one, US retailers are dropping Canadian-focused price-checking service which explains the situation on their website.

This subject is also discussed by the Toronto Photography Meet-Up group.

And while that may sound like a great idea, buy Canadian, support the local companies, it also sounds like a bailout plan. When you consider that the average camera store has annual revenue in the millions, and the average photographer has revenue in the thousands, why should hard-working photographers be sacrificing their hard-earned money to bail out the multi-million dollar companies who (presumably judging by this action) cannot stand on their own without interventionism?

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