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Editorial: March 1

We’ve run the Nokia 41-megapixel smartphone story as our lead this week because – judging by the marketing literature – it seems like a landmark product in imaging technology.

While Panasonic and Sony have announced lots of new digital compacts over the past couple of weeks, most in the increasingly crowded ‘superzoom’ category, it’s taken a phone company to do something a little more innovative. Check out the story and you’ll be impressed with the picture-taking features of the Nokia 808 – beyond the big sensor. And the rumour is the forthcoming Apple iPhone 5 is beefed up in the camera department as well. (By the way, is the Apple iPhone 4S ‘camera’ ad the only piece of promotion for picture-taking on free-to-air television at the moment, or am I not paying close enough attention?)

The good news is that It would appear the new generation of smartphone-toting picture takers love to accessorise – surely an opportunity for photo retailers.

We’ve been disappointed in comparing local prices of the newly-announced compacts from Panasonic and Sony with their US equivalents. While there’s been a reduction in the premium some distributors are asking consumers to pay to buy local, for these two top brands it’s still around the 25 -30 percent mark – after the GST is subtracted. Panasonic at least changes the designation of some of its models in the local market so that direct comparisons are more difficult, but savvy consumers can work through that easily enough.

On the other hand, other distributors are responding more directly to the online/offshore challenge, as tough as that may be. For instance, local Pentax camera prices from CR Kennedy are consistently on par with US pricing, sometimes even a tad better, and this was the case with the new Pentax K-01 interchangeable covered last week. TheLensbaby Edge 80 tilt-shift effect accessory lens also announced last week by Maxwell likewise gives local consumers no incentive to place an order with some offshore business.

Retailers need to be aware of the various distributors’ policies regarding local pricing, as it’s surely a factor in the purchase equation. That is, all things being equal, it should be easier to sell a product locally when it can’t be bought online from an offshore retailer at a considerably lower price.

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