There is no end to the online discussions about delivery of the new Nikon & Canon SLR cameras. So I’m weighing in with my thoughts on the subject, which will hopefully shed a little light on the entire process and maybe answer the questions of some photographers.
New SLR camera introductions are great – but they also cause stress for manufacturers, camera dealers, & photographers alike because the demand usually far outweighs the initial supply of cameras. Add an unexpected twist, like a battery or light leak issue, and the delays only cause added angst for all parties involved. The internet is a great source of information, but it means that photographers & camera dealers often learn about new camera products simultaneously. This makes for a huge volume of pre-orders received in the first few days after a new product announcement. Hesitate even a few days, and you’ll be waiting many weeks longer for your camera than the photographer who committed immediately. It may not seem fair, but that’s life.
When pre-ordering a new professional SLR camera, photographers make interesting choices. NPS members have it easy – they send an email to Nikon requesting a camera to be delivered to their favorite Nikon dealer. They get priority and a high level of customer service – it’s a great deal for NPS pros. Everyone else must weigh their options. Many photographers assume that huge online sources get the most cameras, and will therefore offer them the best opportunity to get a new camera quickly. That seems logical, but think about this: If you were a camera manufacturer, who would you want to supply photographers with your high-end products? Many photographers are learning that local professional camera dealers, otherwise known as specialty camera stores, offer them the best opportunity to get a new camera quickly. Specialty stores have smaller & more manageable waiting lists, many get favorable allocations from camera manufacturers, and they have a trained staff that is knowledgeable about photography. Sure, many large online resources are trustworthy & reliable – but they are still impersonal, and unexpected issues can make for serious complications. The right specialty camera dealer is your best bet to get a camera quickly, and take great care of you after the sale.
Leaving a deposit can be tricky for new camera intros. Some dealers ask for deposits when accepting your camera pre-order, and some do not. Others require a credit card pre-authorization for the full amount of the camera, without actually charging your card. This can tie up your credit line, so be informed before you give any camera seller your information. Some camera dealers feel the need to require a deposit or pre-authorization, so that they can get a better handle on their serious orders. I understand the reasons for this, but I take the exact opposite approach – no deposit is necessary for the Service Photo camera waiting lists. We’re realistic – we know that many photographers are on several different lists, and we don’t want to tie up their money, only to refund it later. I take the opportunity to communicate with photographers on our lists, and try to update them with accurate delivery information on a regular basis. I can’t always tell photographers what they want to hear, but I think that many appreciate our effort to communicate honestly. We win new customers with our approach – which works out well for all parties involved.
Want information about your camera pre-order? Have fun getting it from an online mega supplier. In their defense, no camera dealers should divulge how many photographers are on their list, or the exact placement of any photographer on that list. Dealers should also refrain from talking about how many cameras they’ve already delivered – and how many that they have on order, etc. Due to the viral nature of the internet, comments can be misunderstood, exaggerated, or otherwise miscommunicated – and that can create huge problems. But, communication with photographers is important. I’ve tried to email candid & personal messages to each photographer on our various waiting lists, whenever updated information is available. Sure, it takes time – but it’s worth it.
Of course I’m biased, but I think that photographers who buy pro SLR’s from mega dealers, big box stores, and e-commerce sites that sell anything & everything, are making a bad decision. Do you really want to spend $3k+ with a place that really has no vested interest in your happiness & long term business? Are you doing it just to save the sales tax? I think that this is a short-sighted error. Internet suppliers cannot offer you any guidance, instruction, or support for the life of your pro DLSR camera . And, local dealers simply do not have the time to support products that were purchased elsewhere – they’re too busy helping photographers who actually bought from them locally. If you’re the least bit serious about photography, I think that you should investigate purchasing from a local source – especially for new products & larger items.
At Service Photo, we love new camera introductions. We’re never able to get enough cameras, as quickly as we’d like – but manufacturers take great care of us. These days, we get products to our customers faster than our mega competitors – making our current customers happy & making us lots of new friends. The entire process gains us the trust & respect of our customers, which translates into loyal customers & countless referrals. That’s why we’re still here, and why we plan to be around for a long time.