State of the SLR Market – 2009

Like many people, I was both thrilled and dismayed last month. That’s when Canon announced their Spring Lens Rebates. But it had barely been a week into the rebates when retailers like B&H and Adorama decided to boost the prices of lenses across the board. That meant a lens like the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM which was about $1700 prior to the rebate, and $1500 after a $200 rebate immediately jumped up to $1600, effectively cutting the $200 rebate in half to $100. That doesn’t make it a complete wash, but it definitely diminishes the utility of a $200 rebate.

So I was interested to read the commentary by Roger Ciala, President of In it, he shares a few really good points and observations:

  • The markup on a lens is really quite tiny, maybe 3-5% (about $30-$50 on a $1000 lens).
  • SLR lens sales only account for about 2.7% of Canon’s overall revenue. Considering Canon is the largest player in the dSLR space, that’s pretty miniscule. Apparently, their business machine (copiers?) division is significantly larger.
  • We may lose a few players in the SLR market as a result of this economic downturn. He names Olympus, Panasonic, and Pentax as possiblities. (Note, these companies make most of their money in other businesses, so as companies, they’re not going anwhere. It’s just that they may no longer decide to participate in SLR manufacturing.)
  • The “Department Store Bad Christmas” concept does not apply. He details what this means in his article, but the gist of it is that lenses don’t have high markups, and they’ll still be just as valuable in a few months (unlike clothing), so retailers can afford to hold onto them without serious consequences.

Great commentary, and worth the read, especially if you were in the market for a new lens like I was. For the time being, I think I’ll sit this one out.

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