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Wednesday, 09 March 2011

Comments

Despite what Amazon UK say, deliveries of the X100 have already started in Britain with numbers of camera shops having received them and put them on sale. The one that I ordered has been dispatched and should arrive at my home tomorrow. Perhaps Amazon UK are getting their stock from a source other than Fuji UK - certainly their price is different (£100 lower) to the other suppliers

Things that don't surprise me: Heavy demand for the X100 and Fuji not keeping up.

Things that do surprise me: Finding out that Amazon UK lists it at £899 rather than the regular £999 retail.

I'll have to admit to being fairly ignorant of Amazon business practices, though.

James,
Yes, deliveries have started in the U.S., too. I know several people who've gotten one. But demand in the home market is likely to delay further shipments or reduce their size.

I think I'll modify the post slightly anyway, to make it a little less specific.

Mike

Fujifilm really know how to market their offerings. They can even nearly make you forget that it's a 12mp camera with a fixed wide-angle lens.

Interesting how some of the camera companys completely misread demand- Panasonic GH2 showing 2-3 month delivery. Someone is underestimating the patience of consumers and how fast today's darling becomes outdated.

As ol' Milton Friedman used to say: "When there's a line, the price is too low."

Perhaps the asking price needs adjustment up to $1500, or more. Clearly, at the current price, money is being left on the table.

"As ol' Milton Friedman used to say: "When there's a line, the price is too low."

Perhaps the asking price needs adjustment up to $1500, or more. Clearly, at the current price, money is being left on the table."

Won't they make more in numbers than if they sold it with a higher price? I always figured Leica would, but just physically can't MEET the demand/plus low prices would kill their luxury appeal. Fuji priced the GF670 high, and you don't see too many of those around.

"Fujifilm really know how to market their offerings. They can even nearly make you forget that it's a 12mp camera with a fixed wide-angle lens."

I didn't know every camera had to be a 5D Mark II. I'll go back in time and tell Avedon that his Rollei isn't good enough. Stupid fixed lenses.

I believe Nikon made this mistake with the release price of the D3X, no one could understand the price difference between it and the D3 and it's had an effect on sales to this day, not of course helped by the sony 900 having such a similar sensor for under half the price. Perhaps if they had deliberatly made the D3X body look different to the D3 they could have added apparent value!

Good point about the psychological factors involved in pricing. I recently read a story about a top-selling eBook author on Amazon - apparently after he dropped the price of his book from $2.99 to $0.99, he sold 20 times as many copies as he did at the previous price.

Who cares about shortages? I want to hear real-world hands-on experiences.

I resemble the remark about the "ideal" versus "real" self. I was quite keen on the Fujifilm x100 at first. While pricey at $1,200 it is something I can afford and it looked to have a number of features I found attractive. I even arranged to go to the product launch at a camera shop here in Sydney with at least half an intention to buy on the spot.

But then reality took hold. I looked in detail at what the camera is and does. I thought about the circumstances in which I'd actually use it (rather than one of my other cameras). And I decided it just wasn't worth $1,200 to me (it may well be just the ticket for someone else).

I have better things to do with the money. I've cancelled my attendance at the product launch and I shaln't be buying it (at least not yet: I always reserve the option of changing my mind).

I "pre-ordered" after selling off a complement
of Leica M gear. Broke my heart but I am also
moving into MF land. I cannot, economically speaking,
be a slave to two masters (three counting my spouse).

However, I still desire (not need) what Roger Hicks calls a "notebook"
camera. Hopefully, the X100 will satisfy. Obviously it is not a Red Badge
of Courage, but Fuji IS capable of producing very fine glass (go ask Hasselblad). I will report back after the X100 lands at my door and my
spouse exclaims "What the hell? Another God Damn camera? I thought WE talked about THAT!"

"Who cares about shortages? I want to hear real-world hands-on experiences."

See this for a real-world hands-on experience:

http://soundimageplus.blogspot.com/2011/03/fuji-x100-at-focus-on-imaging.html


Mike,
Your commentary regarding the ante-up that manufacturers must make is certainly true. There are some very expensive commitments involved in creating a new product, and Fuji lives in the same world as all other manufacturers.

But...

It's also grinningly obvious that there's some skillful pre-market manipulation under way, too. Fuji certainly watched the success of the early Epson R-D1, the success of the digital Leicas, the endless, monotonous sameness of the dslr parade spewing from Japan. These and many other observations represent neon-lit signs that the market is juicy-ready for something new...even if it's basically old. Nobody...nobody... at Fuji could possibly have forecast a flop for this camera. (I mean, c'mon, they've had a dedicated Web site for the thing up for months, taking names, no less!)

Perhaps Fuji really did short-order some components for the first production runs. But a better bet is that this is mainly marketing foreplay to get their market's mouth foaming, and price point swollen. They know very well that this camera is all about male fetishism and, in that regard, just about every popular cam gear porn site (yes, including yours) has posted spreads of the thing and re-reported the press releases for months.

So the public "outrage" and disappointment is all part of the ceremony here.

Speaking of supply vs. demand, my GH2 has been backordered for 10 weeks already. Sad thing is, the lens arrived two months ago, just sitting idle. The warranty on the lens will run out before the warranty on the camera does. So what does that have to do with the Fuji X100? Nothing, really. Unless people will suddenly cancel their GH2 orders and go for the X100, in which case the priority of my order could be bumped up. :)

I suspect that a lot of Leica's sales are because of the high prices , not in spite of them, hence the all the hereditary monarch jubilee special twice as expensive as regular editions.

I see that Sony had a hard time selling the NEX 3 and discontinued it , but the NEX 5 seems to be a runaway hit. I get the feeling that Sony also misjudged the market and accidentally created an mid range camera when they meant to create a low end camera. Of course I bought the 3 and promptly spent more on lens mount adapters than I did on the camera itself.

I was at the recent Focus on Imaging show in the UK on Monday and witnessed serious interest in the X100. I had several sessions with the two test cameras during the day (not with my own SD card, sadly) and was impressed by the X100's size, weight, feel in the hand and optical viewfinder. (The AF seemed quite acceptable in that brightly lit environment.) I had too little time with it to say more than that but others' reactions were instructive; photographers who'd used it were very, very positive about it, even the many who didn't know about the switch between the optical and electronic viewfinders. :-) I heard several deciding to place orders without having seen a single file of their own or an authoritative review.

Its combination of industrial design, specs and price is apparently well chosen — well done, Fujifilm. I hope it continues to do well enough to earn a safe place in the lineup and continual improvement . I'm waiting for a studied evaluation of its lens and the image quality that its raw files offer.

The current UK price for first deliveries of the X100 is £999 but the second wave of deliveries to all UK dealers will be ALLOWED to be sold at £899 and after that it will be down to aggressive sales.
I was told by a UK supplier that Fuji will not allow the £100 discount until the April set of deliveries.
David

ps
I read a peice by a well respected photographer which said he thought that the X100 was to expensive compared to his GF1 ( ad 20mm & EVF not that much in the equation) then said he also prefered the red dot against which you could buy 6 or 7 X100s.

I'm less excited by the X100 than I once was - and not because of price. I realized at some point that the way of working with an X100 didn't excite me. If it were a fixed-lens rangefinder (a true digital Canonet), I'd be on the list for two. Or one at $2000.
For an electronic viewfinder dressed up in nostalgia, eh. I'm sure it will be an amazing image maker for people who love it, but the more I reflected, the less likely I felt that I'd be one of those people.

For now, my notebook camera will remain an actual Canonet, or the GW690III I've been eyeing on KEH (it's a big notebook) or maybe my old Rolleicord still works... (and on the upside, if I get mugged carrying any of those, I'm out somewhere between $40 and $600 rather than $1200+)

Can I recommend to you Dan Ariely's book "Predictably Irrational" (Dan's a behavioural economist) which includes the topic of price and perceived value. There's a nice talk from him about this on TED

It reminds me of this post by Fake Chuck Westfall http://fakechuckwestfall.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/lube-up-for-the-canon-rebate/

With rebates the Canon 60d became the same price as the new Rebel T3i.

Here is the post about Canon's pricing the T3 series.

Warning bad language.

http://fakechuckwestfall.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/who-the-fuck-needs-a-rebel-t3i-or-a-rebel-t3/

I just got back from a Fuji launch event. Oddly enough, I ordered a camera but it wasn't because of the launch. The launch consisted of a guy from Fuji banging on about the technology, followed by a spiel from a local photographer who gave us a great slide show of images not taken with the X100.

That was followed by a hands-on session with neutered cameras that couldn't take an SD card, had near flat batteries, and appeared to have different firmware.

Other than that. it is a lovely machine. I can hardly wait to get my hands on a real one. with real firmware, that can take real pictures.

Retail pricing is full of quirks. The idea that .99 is cheaper tham $1. for example.

I think people like prices that are just under common denominations - so we have pricing that is just under a dollar, or five dollars and so on.

Unfortunately, pricing doesn't translate very well to value. A quick example: The vast majority of quartz watches uses the same movement, but the prices range from very low to very high. What you end of paying for are the intangibles like style, name or bragging rights.

Ultimately, it comes down to individual consumers who vote with their wallets. As you say, that is very hard to predict.

It's interesting that quite a few of the comments and analysis are about Fuji's ability and need to deliver, rather than about whether it's sensible to want something so badly. At the moment, I've no means of buying what looks like an interesting camera. However, and maybe I'm being a wee bit over-cautious, even if I could and I knew it was close to something I needed, I wouldn't want to put money on the table for something so expensive without a good sense of both its image quality and its handling. My guess is that the impatient/emotionally over-invested buyers will be the ones soonest posting about "How dare Fuji release this heap of cack" etc etc etc because they don't like the feel of the shutter button or you can find traces of noise at 256,000 ISO or its AF is a little on the slow side.

As to the forum comments on availability you note, it seems to me that the emotional temperature would be appropriate to a wonder-drug, but this is only a camera. Altogether odd.

The price was never announced as 1,000 Mike. "Some guy"(tm) at the fuji booth said 1k and it was repeated verbatim all over the internet as fact. They could have meant 1k euro, they could have meant "around 1k" or they could have just been misinformed or made something up. The first ever actual announcement from Fuji itself, was 1,200 dollars. Because of how vague the 1k mention was, I took it to be more of a weather vane, rather than something concrete.

Also, do you really see a downside to either situation though from Fuji or Leica's side? It doesn't seem like shortage of supply has ever really hurt a product. It makes those of us wanting the product angry and impatient, but it doesn't seem to ever actually make us cancel or change our minds. The M9 is still selling well from what I can see, Leica didn't have to ramp up production, and the price is still the original MSRP, isn't it? (I'm not sure)

From a marketing, sales, and production standpoint, doing a moderate run and just waiting till you eventually meet demand with supply doesn't actually seem to have much of a downside in my mind, but I might be overlooking something.

Ben,
The price can be anything until it's actually announced, and from what I understand it's usually one of the very last decisions to be made. If Fuji thought $1k was all it could get away with, then the price would have been $1k. It's a "whatever we think will work best" kind of thing.

You generally only find out how right you were (or weren't) after the dust has settled.

Mike

Why is there always a rush to buy something new?

I never thought of the "suggested price" as being the true price. Meaning, the "hike" to $1,200 didn't really happen

Either way its cheaper that buying the Sony CZ/Zeiss 24/2 SSM and putting that on my A700. A lot less weight too :)

Is this serious?

Are people complaining because they can't spend their money NOW?

Sorry, but I can't agree with you here, Mike. Having lived on the other side (product management) in high tech for multiple decades, I see not meeting demand as a failure. Failure to have a connection with your audience, failure to do enough pre-release surveying, failure to understand the marketplace dynamics, failure to have confidence in your product, and more. Given that Fujifilm has had over six months to see market response and work at judging it carefully, coming up short is a problem. A problem we're seeing far too often with the camera companies.

I'm betting that the failure here, though, is different. I'll wager that both the sensor production and assembly are bottlenecks. Put a different way, even if Fujifilm knew that they could sell X on day one, they couldn't produce X for day one. That's okay, even the best of companies sometimes can't meet day one demand. The real question is this: when does day one demand get completely met? To that, we have no answer, just the usual vague apology and promise to up production.

Compare that to Apple, which will put a specific "expect to ship within Y days" on their product orders and has a clear history of ramping production to demand quickly.

The danger of doing it the vague way is this: camera-of-the-day is fleeting. Other makers will announce and introduce products that become the new "gotta have" goodie, and when you're vague on when you'll catch up to demand, you give people a chance to jump ship. It's not actually the people that commit and will wait that you worry about in your ROI analysis: it's the tail, the folks that will buy it BECAUSE it's hot but will jump ship when something else is the new IT to own.

We've got quite a few interesting serious cameras coming this year (one that's known is the Leica M module from Ricoh). That makes delays and unfilled demand dangerous.

I'll note in passing that the Kodak Retina IIa, a fixed lens rangefinder (Rodenstock Heligon 50mm f/2) cost $1,427.21* in 2011 dollars, in 1951. Presumably, even modest use of the camera over ten years would equal that in film costs. From a historical perspective, the X100 looks like a good deal.

Will


$168.50, in 1951, so probably around $1,427.21, if you believe in unnecessary precision. Data courtesy of http://www.photoethnography.com/ClassicCameras/KodakRetina.html

" I see not meeting demand as a failure"

Thom,
Of course. I'm not arguing that it isn't. I'm just saying that it's easy to underestimate demand for an exceptionally popular product. Perhaps even understandable.

Mike

Apple used to be a poster-child for "pre-announce N months ahead and then not have any stock until N months after"...

An underrated aspect of Apple's current strong period over the last 10 years is the extent to which they now have an almost absolute mastery of their supply chain.

Also, to me the fact that this is a single lens camera is a FEATURE. It serves to remind me that you don't really need that extra bag full of lenses you won't use anyway. YMMV.

Here's a little anecdote, which I think bears on both pricing and delivery of product:
I ordered a Panasonic GH-2 from Amazon, stupidly not noticing the "Usually delivers within 2 or 3 months" placard. It was $1000, which is a pretty good price for that camera.
After I noticed the long delivery time, I grew increasingly uncomfortable. I thought that in 3 months, anything could happen; the price could change, Panasonic or someone else could bring out a more desirable camera for less, whatever. Anything could happen. So I cancelled the order,
What happened is that Panasonic is apparently about to announce a "G-3", so the G-2 (which is 80 to 90 percent as good as a GH-2, depending on your preferences) is being blown out for $350.
The price of an optical viewfinder from Leica.
So I bought one.
I'm happy with it and the Panasonic retail apparatus is out $650.

One of your advertisers, Rivendell, has a company policy that $99.99 pricing is deceptive and annoying, and doesn't use it.

I think he (Grant) is absolutely correct.

The problem for camera (and other technology) companies today is the feeding frenzy that the internet (and by definition sites like TOP) creates. Who can be the first to get theirs and report on its charms? Witness the inanity of the unboxing video. The x100 looks like an interesting camera but it's certain that many buying into all this will be disappointed because, despite its positive qualities, it's just not a good fit for them. If you wait a few months, get to handle one, read some reviews and reflect on whether it's $1200 well spent or not you miss all the excitement. And excitement is what it's all about, not whether the camera enables you to take pictures you couldn't with your current gear. The reflexive nature of the market today must create real headaches for predicting demand and manufacturing so I have no doubt that Fujifilm's assertion is true.

My first reaction to the X100 was indeed "I'd buy one of those in a heartbeat!" but the reality is that I won't plunk down anywhere near that kind of cash to actually get it.

The latest camera I purchased arrived this week - an Olympus Stylus Verve from 2004. I was enamored with the design from the day it was released, but had no need for a camera of its type or specification. Now, 7 years later, I was able to acquire one for under $30, about one-tenth of its price new. I will fondle it happily, admire its design and haptics, but not take many photos with it. Seeing as I likely wouldn't have taken many photos with it in 2004, I haven't lost out what is the core of the experience of it for me.

Mike, I think you are correct when you say:

Imagine if Fuji put the price of the first X100s at $1,500 and got that price for the first two months—but then lost sales for the rest of the product lifecycle because of a persisting impression that the camera was overpriced—even after the price had dropped? People don't like being manipulated, and if you manipulate them too transparently you can pay a price for it in other ways.

In fact, at a recent press conference in Taiwan a Fuji spokesperson said they planned to not reduce the camera's price and keep it level for the foreseeable future. This makes a lot of sense if Fuji plans on releasing an X100L with a longer lens. The body and innards (including sensor) will be shared with the X100, only the lens will be different. Maybe the OVF magnification will be higher, but it will essentially be the same camera with a longer lens...and priced the same as the X100. It's not an upgrade, it's a sidegrade™. Who knows, they might even decide to release a 3rd camera that's either wider than the X100 or longer than the X100L, and they should all be priced about the same so the user can decide which camera(s) to purchase based on his/her needs, not on his/her wallet.

Fuji is entering new territory here (let's ignore the Sigma and Ricoh of the World) and standard digital camera pricing techniques no longer apply.

PS: Regarding UK availability of the X100, one of my readers told me the following:

...Amazon [UK] will not be getting X100s direct from Fuji. [...] My supplier believes that Amazon are buying the cameras in from American dealers.

On the issue of pricing and availability I also wonder if Fuji is also being wary of selling every camera its going to sell in 3 months. I could be completely wrong but I sense that the X100 has generated huge excitement in a very defined group of people. These people have been saving their pennies since the X100 was announced and are poised to buy. My question is, after they've bought their camera is there a market left?

I could have bought one from a real camera shop yesterday lunchtime. I did have a play, and it's very very nice. However, the GF1 and 20mm suits my digital needs just fine for now. I did like the viewfinder and control layout, not just the shutter and aperture, but also the OVF/EVF toggle switch.

Pricing is a funny thing - we used to buy a particular (and fairly cheap) wine some years ago at $7.99 a bottle. Then the wine wasn't carried by the retailer for some time. We kept asking, and he said he wasn't sure he could shift enough of it to make it worthwhile. Some time passes, and then we see he's selling it for $13.99, so I ask what's going on, and why the big price rise. He said it was an experiment, and the wine was now selling very well - he thinks many buyers found the previous pricing too cheap (and therefore believed the wine to be rubbish). He did however sell it to us at the old price!

This has been great reading. I too have been waiting for the x100. With a trip approaching March 30 to Paris I'm hoping that this camera is my traveling companion. I have no desire to carry my Canon 1ds and L lens for two weeks of vacation.
If the x100 does not make it U.S. shores in March I would be open to some alternate recommendations around the same price point.

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