I don't know what they are doing in the boardrooms of cameraland in January but I hope there giving their whole business model a rethink.
A year ago when home equity was going up 30% a year dropping an extra $15,000 to upgrade to a digital back, or buying a new $7,000 dslr was an easy thought, but today is different.
Today every purchase must count and I'm not buying anything that doesn't give me a clear advantage on what I shoot, what I invoice.
$2,500 for 3 years for a value added warranty might make sense for a $30,000 item, but since p21+'s are now selling lightly used at 6 grand, 31/39mpx backs are selling for under 12k, even $700 a year seems harsh considering a MAC warranty on a new $8,000 D3x is just $300 for three years.
I find the whole professional equipment makers business model frustrating. At the end of 2008 I was going to buy $24,000 in broncolor HMI's. I called one Sinar-Bron dealer that couldn't get any information (actually couldn't even find what was currently offered) and finally called the largest Sinar-Bron NY dealer that had information and experience with the Broncolor HMI's but virtually nothing in stock. His response was it should ship in 2 to 4 weeks, but Sinar-Bron closes for the holidays and most of January so he can't promise anything anytime, so I passed. I just knew that writing the check and having a box arrive with 1/4 of the order wasn't going to do anything but require 20 phone calls chasing down the equipment.
I was also going to buy a D3x before Jan. 1 and found one locally, but at $8,000 you know that in 4 months there will be a D800x or something like that that will do the same thing (probably offer video) and go for 1/2 that price.
So I did buy a 5dII on an impulse, thinking I would make it a video camera, took it out of the box once, found out that on video mode you can't manually control anything (without 4 ND filters and an old Nikon to Canon lens convertor) so I put it back in the box. I'll either return it or sell it, because as it stands it offers very little that my current high def video cameras give me.
Deep down I'm rooting for RED. Though today there is nothing there that will actually replace my medium format and 35mm dslrs, at least they are taking in feedback and hopefully will offer something I can't do without, vs. something I sort of wish I had.
Now in reality had Canon or Nikon offered a 20mpx still camera that shot hdv with manual controls I would have spent $8,000 and never looked back. Had the Broncolors been in stock I would have done the same, but instead I'll put the money back under the mattress.
Regardless of the cost, or usability, I strongly suggest that any camera, light, grip company that sells anything, offer clarity. Nobody want's to be fooled, nobody wants to think that a stuck button could cost $1,000 to fix and rather than run that risk pay $2,500 up front for an insurance policy that only covers the manufacturers defects in the first place.
There are a lot of topics on this board that cover a lot of territory and it all comes down to costs. Carrying multiple camera systems on Air Bosnia is now a nightmare. I've had those arguments where I say it fits, they say it's overweight, I say it cost 30 grand, they say tough, I say get the manager. So when it comes down to what camera I carry on board it's usually the one that will cover the most territory.
I recently moved equipment around the world and in that process of 9 airlines my baggage overage was close to $6,000. So once again, when you put everything on the floor and start counting what you must have, vs. what you would like to take with you, which cameras go and which cameras are left behind.
Which cameras can you replace in Korea, or Iowa and which ones require a dozen phone calls trying to get a replacement.
Now maybe I'm not the normal buyer, but I don't like to rent I'd rather own and know my own equipment. Given this I went into the end of the year looking for a tax benefit thinking I'd spend around $24,000 or more and ended up with just a 5dII that I'll probably return. From 24k to 3k to 0 is a heck of a drop.
What I don't understand is I would have thought that the manufacturers would be pushing product and service like crazy. Since I own 3 Nikons, 4 canons, 1 leica and two Phase backs you'd think I would be on some kind of e-mail list of "sell that guy something in December", rather than just getting the standard e-mail blast all the makers send out.
If Phase had offered an extended warranty on my digital backs that wasn't $2,500 each, I might have gone for it, especially since all it really covers is a makers defect not some kind of damage or loss, but none of those offers graced my in box.
If Canon sent out a note saying "hey sorry, we forgot to give you manual controls on the 5d2 and we'll fix it next week", I'd probably have bought even more Canon stuff.
If Nikon had made the D3x a killer Cam rather than an almost medium format camera, as mentioned that 8 grand would have been easier to spend.
You would think with the advent of these combination cameras that eventually will shoot cinema quality video and high detailed stills, Profoto, Elinchrome, Sinar-Bron, would offer some kind of daylight balanced continuous light that a still photographer is familiar with, a system that lets us use our current modifiers, but at last check, Sinar-Bron hasn't even updated their hmi section on their website and Profoto discontinued their HMI's.
The Phase P65+ seems interesting to me, but not because of the added megapixels, but because there was talk about some kind of pixel binning to go to higher iso, but since that original photokina announcement there has been no information to explain this, so my money stays in my wallet.
Maybe business in camerland is better than I thought.