Is the supply shortage hitting the photography industry?

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July 7, 2021

Nikon’s Z fc announcement last week was followed just four days later by what is now becoming a standard part of the product launch communications routine. ” Pre-order demand exceeded supply, so expect long delays. Sorry’.

Nikon launched the Nikon Z fc last week and then four days later informed the market that there would be a long wait for the stock. Marketing strategy or chronic supply problem?

From Nikon:

“We have received a large number of reservations for the“ Z fc ”… which is scheduled for release at the end of July 2021.

For some customers who are currently making reservations, product delivery may take some time.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused to customers who expect our products. We will do our best to deliver the product as soon as possible and appreciate your understanding. ‘

While Nikon may have underestimated the demand for a retro-styled APS-C mirrorless camera, it’s hard to accept that the initial supply sold out in less than a week, with no problem of production or distribution preventing the delivery of more cameras.

Nikon made a similar move a few weeks earlier – announcing the new 105mm Nikkor lens for the Z range, then predicting long delays due to being overwhelmed by pre-orders. (Haven’t these people heard of overtime?) The infamous “launch” of the Canon R5 was followed by a pullback as the market waited months for the stock.

These supply shortage claims are so common now that the cynic may suspect that this is an opportunistic marketing trick. “We apologize for the inconvenience, but this new camera we’ve made is so incredibly popular that we can’t keep up with the demand. You will have to jump on the waiting list with everyone ”. It’s like a nightclub bouncer creating a queue to make a place appear so fashionable that people are willing to wait to enter.

However, the evidence is mounting to suggest that this is not (always) a smart strategy by the marketing departments of Nikon or Canon, and a problem of shortage of supply can emerge in the photo industry. Keep in mind that Nikon in particular, but not exclusively, has reduced its manufacturing plant, staff, and capacity over the past 12 months or so.

However, there is no shortage of demand, at least in Australia:

“Our biggest challenge is getting stocks into the country at reasonable prices,” said Clem Kennedy, director of CR Kennedy. Interior imagery. “Transportation costs have increased dramatically, the regularity of shipments has decreased, and the cost of manufacturing has also increased in most countries. Once the stock is there, it sells well! Demand is strong in our market, and resellers are turning to wholesalers who have sufficient stocks. ‘

The question of actions is critical. Local retailers now know that if it’s not ‘in store’ they are literally competing with a world of online retailers who may be in stock.

There are a few factors as to why some products may be in short supply. As reported in December 2020, the pandemic has disrupted supply chains by slowing international shipping networks. Fewer passenger planes meant that international air freight fell behind, leading to an increase in sea freight, which in turn led to a shortage of sea containers.

There has also been a global semiconductor shortage, in part due to a factory fire in Japan at AKM Semiconductor. The semiconductor shortage has reached a critical point in the automotive and tech industries, with companies most affected being those that spend less on chips. But if even tech giants like Apple and Samsung were to delay product launches due to a chip shortage, how could camera makers avoid the impact?

At the end of last year, senior management at a major camera brand confirmed Interior imagery that disrupted supply chains and the semiconductor shortage had affected product delivery.

But camera makers have yet to publicly acknowledge that they are having difficulty sourcing components or how the supply chain has been affected. This is called “unanticipated demand”.

The closest to clarity on the matter comes from Profoto CEO Anders Hedebark, who mentioned the component and shipping issues in the Swedish Lighting Manufacturers Quarterly Report.

“Many companies experienced component and shipping issues during this quarter. I will not say that such problems did not affect us, but we were able to manage them nonetheless, even if the delivery times of some products increased slightly. ‘

CIPA expeditions …

A supply shortage of photographic equipment will eventually present itself at the end of the supply chain – the retailer. So how many new products are out of stock?

The world’s largest photo retailer, B&H, is currently awaiting new inventory from virtually all camera companies for major new and existing models. Out of a list of the 120 best-selling cameras (including some duplicates in different kits / colors), 20 were not available.

This includes many new features: Sony A1 and A7c; the Nikon Z 7II, Z50, D850, D6, D500; the Fujifilm X-T4, GFX 100S, X100V and X-S10; the Canon M50 Mk II, 5DS R, some 5D Mk IV kits and many PowerShot compact cameras; the Leica Q2; Panasonic Lumix S5, and several compact Lumix models.

It’s a similar story for lenses, with five Sony lenses spanning the focal length spectrum, from 14mm to 100-400mm, unavailable at B&H. Likewise, many Canon RF and EF lenses, Nikkor Z, Fujifilm XF and Panasonic Lumix G Vario are not available.

A surprising number of cameras and lenses are also out of stock at B&H’s main competitor, Adorama.

One of the UK’s largest independent photo retailers, Park Photos, is also struggling to keep products in stock. More than half of all camera models are unavailable. Out of 44 Canon cameras, 27 are not available (this includes duplicates for cameras sold in body only and kits); same with 25 of 38 Sony cameras; 22 of 39 Nikon cameras; and 48 out of 70 Fujifilm. Not a single Fujifilm Instax is in stock. And it’s the same story for lenses.

Based on product availability at these three photo retail giants, keeping stock fresh on the shelves appears to be a real issue.

As CR Kennedy’s Clem Kennedy noted, the lack of supply hasn’t had such a big impact in Australia.

Digital Camera Warehouse, for example, has several of the previously mentioned cameras in stock, in addition to the Sony A1, which is not available due to a “backlog”. Likewise, Camera House and DigiDirect offer many latest generation cameras.

“Things were tight and manufacturers closed some factories and consolidated production,” a senior spokesperson for the retail chain said. Interior imagery. “Some long lenses are problematic, but in some ways that has always been the case as they do limited production runs once or twice a year.

“Camera inventory is good at the moment as we are planning and committing to stocking them well in advance. However, this has become a dangerous game as Covid has eliminated ‘walk-in’ customers at various times in various state lockdowns. Sony is still the brand leader, with demand sometimes exceeding supply. ‘

It’s hard to speculate as to why Australia so far does not appear to be affected by a supply issue that has clearly affected some key overseas retailers. Perhaps state lockdowns have reduced Australian demand, or local retailers and distributors are better able to estimate demand than Nikon’s production planning department. Their survival depends on it.

Whatever the reason, now is probably the perfect time to buy a new camera and support the local industry. Prices are expected to rise soon and supply appears to be fluid at best.

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