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Huge variations in local camera pricing

The prices of mid-range mirrorless cameras in Australia illustrate a broad range of decisions by the various camera distributors on ‘what the market will bear’. Some distributors seem to have re-introduced the much-resented ‘Australia tax’, while others boast local prices which could see Australian retailers shipping to bargain-hunters in the US!

We have run a quick price survey. This is simply a snapshot of pricing on one day, looking at one mid-priced mirrorless camera body each from Canon (EOS R6 II); Nikon (Z7 II); Panasonic, (S1R); Fujifilm (XH2S); and Sony (A7S III). We then looked at the latest releases from OM Digital (Olympus) and Sigma.  This is neither exhaustive nor scientific, but nonetheless revealing. We found that while Canon and Nikon are charging a bit of a premium – on those models – when compared to the US Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (msrp), the other camera brands are at a discount to US prices, even when GST is added. We were surprised at how sharp local pricing is, given inflationary pressures and the relatively lacklustre Australian dollar.

If you are in the market, those inflationary pressures must still be lurking, so that and the relatively good deals from most of the local camera brands argue for buying now and buying locally.

‘I’m finding our local pricing is really very competitive now, as we are buying out of Japan in Yen.’ explained one leading photographic equipment distributor. ‘The Australian dollar is doing well against the Yen and local prices are reflecting this. A different story for importers purchasing in US dollars.’

‘We found that while Canon and Nikon are charging a considerable premium when compared to the US msrp, the other ccaamera brands are offering cameras at a discount to US prices – even with GST added..’

We looked at official local RRPs and US MSRPs rather than trying to track down the absolute, rock-bottom bargain. We make no claims that this little overview of a tiny segment of the market is representative of any of the camera brands’ other prices.

It’s worth noting at this stage that in the US, the home of free enterprise, leading consumer electronics brands impose (advertised) price fixing, at least on popular products: if retailers advertise a camera below the distributor’s recommended price (msrp), they breach the terms and conditions of the supply arrangement. This ‘Minimum Advertised Price’ condition was introduced in the early days of online retailing to get the market under control.

When it was initially introduced business pundits predicted the MAP system would either be challenged legally by a Best Buy or the like, or simply collapse due to retailer leverage. Surprisingly, many years later, it is still working for the camera companies – if not the consumer.

So here’s how it panned out:
The Canon R6 II body is priced at $4500 in Australia. In the US it is US$2500. Do a straight conversion to Australian dollars and add GST and the calculator says $4100 – so Canon is asking about $400 more for the local R6 II in addition to GST.

‘Why are we being asked to pay $1K more, and is an Australian warranty reason enough NOT to to purchase from a reputable supplier from the US?’ asked Andrew Jones on the Canon Collective Facebook page.  (Canon would point out that some of that ‘$1000 more’ is GST, and the local warranty does extend for a generous 5 years.)

The Nikon Z7 II has a local RRP of $5200 and a US MSRP of $2800. With the conversion and GST added the price is $4600, so Nikon is looking for $600 extra in Australia in addition to GST.

When we came to the Panasonic S1R, we had to do the calculations twice to be sure, to be sure. This camera has a local RRP of $5300 – that’s from the Panasonic website –  and we noticed street prices were a few hundred dollars lower. Anyways, the US price (from Adorama) is US$3700, which works out to A$6070 including GST. With the camera available widely from under $5000, this is a huge saving for Australian camera buyers.

The Sony A7S III was also an attractive buy locally. The local RRP is $5000, though once again there are quite a few retailers discounting this by $200 – 300. US price is US$3500. This works out to $5750 with GST added. So the camera is at least $750 cheaper in Australia!

Then came the Fujifilm XH2S, with a local RRP of $3900. US price is US$2500. This would be A$4100 with GST added. Given the newly-released XH2S is already being advertised around the traps for $3200, local buyers are once again enjoying irregularly low prices – grab them while they are going!

The recently-released Olympus OM-5 carries a local RRP of $1900, body only. US price is US$1200, which works out at $1994 with GST added.  There are considerably lower Australian prices out there on the virtual and concrete streets.

And if you really wanted to make your cousins in America envious you would have to look at the 61-megapixel Sigma FP L. This has a US msrp of $2499, which works out to an Australian GST-added $4450. But it can be purchased locally at an RRP of $3679 and at street price closer to $3K.







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