I’ve always been fascinated by the small amount of hype the photo world can produce, and camera manufacturers still don’t seem to understand its value. Not long ago, we witnessed the Watch world basically turn into chaos with the Omega x Swatch collaboration. For years, this has made me wonder why the photo world couldn’t create this much hype. Apple can do it, and many other brands can too. But for some odd reason, the camera world just doesn’t understand that they can produce an affordable luxury that everyone will flock to.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s some backstory. Swatch, which owns Omega, did a collaboration product to make an Omega Speedmaster for less than $300. TheSpeedmaster came in a variety of colors and satisfied most people’s needs. Sure, it’s not a $5,000 Omega Speedmaster, but it’s close enough. For that price, it’s a complete steal. Then, Swatch only made a few pieces available at their stores. The lines across the world were insane. In the Middle East, the line was incredibly long. London had to shut down their event, and NY and Toronto’s events were nuts. In the watch world, it created an insane amount of hype for a product everyone wants.
But camera manufacturers have often failed to garner this kind of press. I sort of understand why. Watch brands have a lot of their own stores. Now, let’s run this down for NYC:
- Leica: two stores (one coming soon)
- Canon: No stores
- Nikon: No stores
- Sony: One store
- Fujifilm: No stores, but they used to have the Fujifilm Wonder Shop
- Ricoh: Not really a store
- OM-System: No stores
- Panasonic: No stores
- Hasselblad: They call DJI their “strategic partner.”
If you look at that list, the only one of the manufacturers that could possibly pull this off would be Leica. Leica could do one of the following things:
- Bring back the Leica M6 at an insanely affordable price to undercut the used market
- Bring back the 35mm f2.4 at an insanely low price
- Shove a full-frame sensor in the body of a Leica XE and mark the price down significantly
- Bring back a Leica film point and shoot at an insanely affordable price to undercut the used market
Of course, Sony could do something similar that would be available only at their store. Otherwise, they could tell the NY Photo retailers to only make the product available in-store. The lines outside would generate insane hype, get reported on by all the outlets, etc.
But the photo industry and camera manufacturers don’t get it. People would line up to buy this product and then try to flip it online for more money. More importantly, Leica could do this and make an absolute killing for a long time.
Camera manufacturers, read the room. Cameras aren’t essential pieces of our lives; they’re luxury products for most of us. Professional photographers are a small niche of camera buyers. A while lot of us care about higher-end products, to say consumers don’t care about compact cameras and lower-priced products is insane. People will flock if manufacturers make them available, give users what they want, and create hype. Consumers would create a lot of their own hype and love. And social media influencers and the press would eat it up.