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Monday, 06 March 2017

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I wanted a new camera, I bought it. That was two weeks ago, and I already know it was a good decision. Things have moved on since I bought my Pentax K20, and the K3 can do so much more. I'll be seeing what I can get away with when conditions are marginal; I'd reached the limits of the K20 a while ago.

I phoned up SRS in Watford, in Herts on the Thursday. They had ten new K3s in stock, and put one by for me. I was in the shop that Saturday and there were just two or three left, including mine. No more new ones to come, as it's been replaced by the K3ii.

When I looked on the SRS site a few days later, even the two used ones they'd had were gone. Right decision, right time.

You may not know this, Mike, but the Olympus sale you just announced was triggered by my recent purchased of an Olympus OMD E-M10 Mark II. It's a fact that Olympus launches deep discounts only after I have already purchased one of their cameras at a higher price. Had I waited, everyone would still be paying more. To all of you, I say, "You're welcome."

"I know you're probably not interested, because we're "over" new cameras now."

Just like we're over new cars. Have you seen the Mazda MX-5 Miata RF? Double truck inside front cover Architectural Digest this month. Beautiful. The photographs, I mean.

[I'm actually pretty passionate about classic ragtops, even though I've never been rich enough to fool about with autos. So I'd definitely pick the plain Miata convertible (when I buy a used '16+ in about 2022 or later). But I think they did a wonderful job with the RF...they were surprised by the popularity of the RH (retractable hardtop) on the NC model (2006-2015), and designed the new Miata from the start to be a targa. They did a nice job and I think it will optimize the sales potential of the new (ND) model. --Mike]

It took me a year and a half to buy an EM5 II and a 25mm f/1.8 lens because of the rigid price controls exerted by Olympus and other manufacturers at the retail level. I was aware of occasional discounting but did not understand the cycle involved, hence the watchful waiting. It's obvious that even the biggest retailers such as B&H offer "sale" prices only when permitted by manufacturers. They parallel the discounts offered on the Olympus direct sell website to the penny and exact dates. Gear from other manufacturers is priced the same way, all in lockstep. Maybe one of your legally qualified readers can comment on the legality of this. Is restraint of trade an outdated concept echoing around in my aging brain?

I have this Olympus Pen and a nice set of lenses. I love it. It has an "old school" feel and look to it. It is the right size, the right weight and it is built like a Sherman tank.

Sorry, I just bought one five days ago. Seriously.

@Michael Matthews: In the US, the practice of Resale Price Maintenance -- manufacturers specifying minimum retail pricing of their products -- has been (generally) legal since June 28, 2007. This change stemmed from the Supreme Court ruling in the case Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc.

In addition to the fact that the bodies have much more in them than they did 30 years ago, there's also inflation to justify the prices of course.

But in 1987 when I made my first trip to Olympus-land I got two of their top-line SLRs (OM-4T), primes at 24, 35, 50, and 85, two Vivitar zooms, and an exotic 24mm shift lens all for $2700 (which is what the body and lens combo is going for on sale now).

Regarding Michael Mathews question regarding "restraint of trade": I could be wrong about the date, but I think it was in 2003 that legislation was passed in the U.S. that eliminated the prohibition against manufacturers dictating retail sale price. Prior to this, as he rightly states, the practice was considered restraint of trade, and thus an impediment to competition, and therefore illegal. Under the rubric of "deregulation", this prohibition was eliminated, and ever since then manufacturers, including those in the photo industry, have been telling retailers what price they can charge, and when.

Thanks, Jack and Doug for straightening me out on resale prices and manufacturer control. The older one gets to be, the easier it is to frame things in terms of old information.

I really like Olympus products. A while back I picked up a what's now older EP5. I still smile (on the inside anyway) when I pick up this beautiful well made camera. Not state of the art IQ wise but good enough for me. Now if I were a rich man? That Pen? Damn.

Of course, manufacturers mostly control what price their retailers can advertise. There are ways to sell for less. One retailer that I have used advertises new cameras from a certain company with two prices. There is always one copy at the mandated new price, and also used "mint" specially priced copies at 10% off, which, surprisingly, have a full warranty.

re: resale price maintenance

Jack's answer regarding the Leegin decision was exactly right. There's a complex -- and, to me, fascinating -- history of resale price maintenance law and economics in the U.S. (and elsewhere).

Won't go into the details here, but the Leegin decision was an extremely consequential event for everyday American life -- in more and more industries, companies are using it to control price competition between retailers and the extent and depth of discounting in U.S. stores. The mechanism they use, which Leegin made possible, is called "Unilateral pricing" -- a Google search will turn up plenty of stories on it. There's been a kerfuffle over it in the contact lens industry, and that story is an incredibly instructive example of how economics, competing (and typically unpretty) interest groups, and government policy interact with big consequences for us little folks.

I have to admit that I swoon every time I look at the Pen-F. I'm just happy to live in a world where they make something that beautiful. Alas, if I bought one it would likely spend most of its time on the shelf with the rest of the cameras I've bought over the years because they just looked so good. Plus, I've never gotten into the MFT ecosystem and wouldn't know how to begin to select the lens(es) I would want for it. I bought in to Fuji-X when the first generation came out, and as much as I love the looks, the lenses and the results I've gotten with the X-Pro1, I usually grab one of my Nikon DSLRs when heading out the door. When I don't grab a Nikon film SLR, that is. Habits are hard to break.

I was wrong. It wasn't legislation, and it wasn't 2003. Arguably it should have required legislation, but clearly it didn't. I remembered it wrong. Next time I'll look it up first.

Dammit.

I bought a Pen-F to replace my OM-D and keep me shooting while my M9-P goes to New Jersey for a sensor replacement.

You're my Pusherman.

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