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Picture cloudy on camera supply

May 12, 2011: The devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami has hit some camera manufacturers more than others, and, because they are manufactured in Japan, DSLRs more than compacts.

Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic and Pentax have DSLRs and lenses manufactured in Japan.

But even compact cameras built in China or Korea which include components from Japan – say an LCD screen or a sensor – may be subject to supply shortages.

The factory manufacturing the Fujifilm X100 (reviewed recently with an Editors Choice award in Photo Review) is just 20 miles from Sendai City and while it’s now in operation again, supplies might be limited for a time.

Canon said it didn’t expect its production facilities to return to normal until June or July, according to an article in USA Today, while Nikon and Panasonic have also had temporary shut downs in some plants.

Locally, Canon issued a statement in early April saying it ‘expects supply shortages will start to impact from around the middle of April and will continue to be felt through the middle of the year and potentially into the third quarter of this year.’

This week it provided Photo Counter readers with an update which outlined a more positive supply situation:

‘Immediately following the earthquake, Canon Inc. launched recovery activities across the Canon Group. The operations of our Tokyo headquarters remain unaffected. Our production facilities are now back online with some issues with the supply of components and electricity restrictions in Japan.

‘Updates from Japan show that supply continues to be better than earlier expected, and we are managing our allocation of stock to customers accordingly.’

Sony Australia told Photo Counter: ‘Whilst we cannot provide detailed information at this stage, we can confirm that manufacturing operations at nine of the 10 sites affected by the Tsunami have resumed or partially resumed operations and we expect supplies to improve over the coming months.’

Nikon Australia declined to make specific comments on general availability of Nikon gear, focussing on the Coolpix S6100 which will no longer be produced, but will continue to be available in Australia while stocks last, and the Coolpix S4100 (pictured above right), which ‘will no longer be part of Nikon’s Coolpix portfolio.’

‘These changes are a result of difficulties in production and supply,’ the statement from Nikon read.

‘Nikon sincerely apologises to all those affected by this decision.’

The disaster has had little or no impact on supplies of Pentax and Olympus cameras.

‘Supply is still yet to be confirmed by all major suppliers although more information is coming to hand each week,’ said Nic Peasley, general manager, Ted’s Cameras.

‘So far we have been kept up to date by all major suppliers on a regular basis and the expectation is that supply will remain tight on some key lines heading toward the end of June, with other models not as adversely affected.

‘The suppliers have worked very hard to secure as much stock as possible, and we have also worked very hard to ensure we had adequate stock of the important products to cover our needs through to July.’

Wayne Styles, president of newly-formed buying group PhotoEdge singled out Canon as the company which has been most assiduous in keeping the industry up-to-date with supply issues.

‘Apart from that, everyone else is very silent,’ he said.

COMMENT: With camera suppliers understandably reluctant to provide a lot of specific detail on product availability, the picture is cloudy, to say the least. However, our retailer readers can perhaps assist each other by using the Readers Comment section below to share any solid information (as opposed to rumour) they might have on significant models on back order…

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