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Old March 17th, 2011, 01:01 AM   #1
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if you need some camera gear, BUY IT FAST (Adorama report of Japanese quake damage)

UPDATED: Japan Photo Industry Affected by Earthquake and Tsunami from Adorama Learning Center

The Japanese earthquake, resulting tsunami, and resulting power issues have pretty much brought a lot of Japan's camera gear and presumably other factories to a halt. Some factories have been damaged, and most can't open even if not because of power issues and rolling blackouts, or even personnel issues. If you were planning to make some near-term camera gear purchases, especially DSLR, better buy it FAST if you want it new because inventory is gonna run out sooner or later.

If you were planning to SELL some used gear, hold on for a bit. Wait until inventory in stores runs out or goes on backorder and then people who really need stuff will be more open to used gear, and I have a feeling used prices will surge a bit making it a great time for sellers.

And I think it goes without saying but just wanted to say it anyways, God Bless the poor people of Japan. What a tragedy, and the nuke crisis just makes it
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Old March 17th, 2011, 01:11 AM   #2
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See also: Nikon prices going up | Nikon Rumors

Already reports of Nikon prices either going up, or back to original MSRP.

Edit for more:

henryp @ B&H explains

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/990589/2#9404791

Apparently the prices are being adjusted by Canon/Nikon/whatever USA and NOT by the retailers, so don't blame the retailers.
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Old April 16th, 2011, 04:06 PM   #3
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Thom Hogan's recent take on the issue, from Thom Hogan's Nikon Field Guide and Nikon Flash Guide

Quote:
Apr 16 (commentary)--It's been more than a month since the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, and some of you have asked for more about what's happening there. The news isn't particularly good. The news from the region continues to be be mostly bad.

Japan is still being hit by aftershocks, many of them significant (two 6+ magnitude quakes this past week), some of them now on the plate itself (often meaning inland, not offshore). This stopped both Nikon plants (as well as other camera company plants in the area) at least briefly, as additional damage was sustained and needed to be cleaned up. There's also evidence that stress has now built up on the neighboring plate, which could generate a quake close in to Tokyo itself. In short, this was a highly destructive event that has not yet wound down.

But the big news is power. I see several different estimates from various sources within Japan, but in no case does the Northern Japan power grid (which includes Tokyo itself) look like it will be anywhere near handling the demand this summer. There could be 50% shortfalls some days, and the average shortfall in July and August could reach 30%. That means frequent and long power blackouts, which is bad news for the camera industry. Sensor fabs, for instance, of which several are in the area, need continuous power (on top of the temperature issues in many critical processes, you've got to maintain continuous air filtration to avoid contamination). High quality glass factories can't be turned on and off easily with rolling blackouts. It appears that the deeper into the supply chain you go (e.g., back to chemicals and raw materials), the worse the problem gets: those plants can't be toggled on and off at whim. Many need long warm-up periods or continuous power to operate.

The auto companies are already talking about rotating their production (e.g., only one maker's plant open at any given time) to try to deal with the need to have continuous operation while painting/assembling yet still be down enough of the time to contribute to lower power demand. In other words, if it's Tuesday or Wednesday it must be Toyota, Thursday or Friday Honda, and so on. I'd say there's a strong chance that the camera industry might come up with something similar.

Between the March quake and early winter when things even up a bit in the power realm, I'm guessing that the output of the plants in the affected area could be less than 50% of normal. That could mean nearly nine months of significantly reduced production of everything from Nikon FX bodies, to Nikon/Canon/Panasonic lenses, to Sony CMOS sensors, to all those proprietary lithium batteries, and more. (In a few cases in the tech industry, for instance Sony HDCAM SR tape, production is completely stopped with no news of when it might resume, as the only plant in the world where it is produced is one in Sendai that was flooded by the tsunami.)

Frankly, the quake couldn't have come at a more critical time for the camera industry. Instead of moving forward into the next generation of cameras needed to hold off the cellphone camera craze, the camera companies are spending a lot of management and resource time just trying to stay operational at anything near "normal" levels. Critical paths no longer are held up by engineering missing a deadline, they're full of red flags as parts, resources, and plant time get scarce. 2011 is going to be a rough year for the camera companies, and their stocks already. On March 10th, for instance, Nikon holdings were trading at about 16 on the Berlin exchange, and immediately dropped to below 13 after the quake, which is about where they've remained. The same pattern is repeated for virtually all the Japanese electronics industry companies. In short, the world's financial markets are betting that all these companies will show significantly lower sales and earnings for the foreseeable future.

What's that mean for you? Well, at the consumer end (Coolpix, D3100, D5100, D7000, consumer DX lenses) I don't expect a lot of disruption. These products are made overseas (Thailand or China for the most part). While they still have some Japan-produced parts in them, so far we're not hearing of any critical shortages that should greatly impact those products. At the pro end, though, there's almost complete disruption occuring. The Sendai plant that makes the FX bodies has been closed several times since the earthquake, and many of the parts those cameras require are made in that plant, including chassis, lens mount, and more. Likewise, the pro lens plant has been slow to get back up to speed and disrupted by the frequent quakes and power outages. Nikon has not made a specific statement about availability of pro products, but I'm betting they'll be scarce for the next few months.

I'm going to again comment on one of Nikon's policies: the serialization of product by region and the way Nikon distributes and services globally is going to once again come into play in ways that are negative to the company's fortunes. Inventories of pro gear cannot be easily shifted from where they are to where they're needed due to Nikon's "global subsidiary" policies. Thus, when your local subsidiary runs out of something and can't get more from the factories in Japan, Nikon can't shift inventory easily from places that might have excess. Canon is looser in this regard, and I'll bet that's going to shift some pro sales to Canon during this period.

Nikon thinks their current global policies work to their advantage. They do not and never have. They arbitrarily limit sales in unusual ways that are not efficient. Markets aren't perfectly efficient, but Nikon's methods are less efficient, as anyone seeking an exotic Nikkor telephoto lens lately has discovered. It's time to change, Nikon.
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Old April 16th, 2011, 04:24 PM   #4
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even Honda has scheduled shut down of factories and parts that aren't made here in America will be difficult to source, or longer to arrive.
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Old April 16th, 2011, 05:33 PM   #5
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Yeah it's the same thing with Toyota, and I assume Nissan. In the news a week or so ago it was announced that Toyota would be idling their U.S. factories for several days over the next few months. Even though a lot of the parts are sourced in the U.S., some still come from Japan, and those apparently are the bottleneck now. So they're slowing up production a bit so that they don't run out of stuff.

Kinda sucks, because my folks are just about ready to buy a new car (probably a Toyota Avalon). Might make it tougher to get a good deal on one.
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Old April 28th, 2011, 12:13 PM   #6
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Sony could benefit from shortages of Canon, Nikon SLRs - USATODAY.com

Thom Hogan commented on this article on his site today. Apparently he thinks Nikon might take a major hit to their overall market share this year because they were already running way to lean of a manufacturing and inventory operation resulting in availability issues even before the earthquake disaster. He also reported that Canon USA has stated that they're not anticipating any drop in sales this year, and that Canon has historically had far better availability of things, suggesting that they build up a lot more inventory and don't run as lean of an operation. So Sony probably could steal some market share away, but probably mostly from Nikon.

Nikon's D700 is pretty much impossible to get new now. Used prices are going through the roof. Already read of one story this morning about one with 20k shots on it going for the $2500 asking price on CL. Damn....
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