Something to keep in mind re: Japan electronics – buy now while supplies last…

I wanted to share a quick observation with readers of this blog that I think is relevant to most of us in the film/photo industry:

First – there is absolutely no need to panic.  That being said,  it should be noted that almost every single company (and more to the interests of this blog:  every high tech manufacturer) in Japan has been affected by the Tsunami – regardless of whether or not they were directly hit by it.

Why? In the weeks following the Tsunami – Japan was forced to impose rolling blackouts across the country. This means that companies such as Sony, Toshiba, Toyota, Nissan, Honda – and pretty much every technology company in Japan – were forced to shut down assembly lines for weeks on end.    That of course means that Canon, Nikon, Panasonic etc. were affected as well – no one was spared.

So what does this mean for filmmakers and photographers?

Well if you’re debating the purchase of a lens, camera body (film or still),  or computer monitor  - don’t debate too long.   To be clear – this aftermath will also affect Televisions, Blu-Ray players, Playstations, automobiles, air conditioners – you name it.   So if you NEED something for an upcoming shoot or production: make sure you get one while you still can for four reasons: 

1. The inventory has been dwindling for weeks now.

2.  Many factory production lines have been shut down for weeks now and not producing anything.

3. You don’t just simply switch the machines back on and “voila!” … for most high tech companies, you have to recalibrate the entire assembly line which can take quite some time.

4. Keep in mind as well – that while your product may be built in Europe – almost everything these days has a microchip of sorts in it… and many of those micro chips come from Japan of course.   One company has been shut down since the Tsunami and plans on getting back to JUST 5% of normal capacity by this June. Many corporations are stating they don’t expect to be back in full swing until December.

Some of you may already have noticed that it is difficult to pay less than retail for some camera/lenses these days – that is due to the fact that retailers themselves are bracing for the possibility of a tough few months.   If they don’t have anything to fill their empty shelves with, they can’t sell you anything and or course they can’t make their commissions…

Many of you have probably heard of the near panic that’s been taking place for anyone that relies on HDCAM-SR tapes (productions/studios/post hourses.)   All of Sony’s HD tapes were produced in Miyagi and that plant was severely damaged.   As a result, prices of tape have gone from $280 to $1,000 or more (I remember hearing that Director/Producer Robert Rodriguez went on a buying binge immediately after the shortage became public.)

One person I know even told me to buy whatever electronic toy I might want for my kids for this coming XMAS season NOW – which I hope is a bit on the extreme side!

Point being, for the advanced amateur:  if you’re debating whether to buy lens X or Z – don’t debate too long.   For those in charge of larger productions:  if you’re debating making big purchases for an upcoming production or need to ensure something will be available in time:  make sure you plan accordingly.   Borrowing equipment will also become much more difficult in the short term.  Don’t be surprised if that loaner gets called back in either…

One bit of good news for some:  if you’re looking to sell used gear – well the value of that gear is probably going to go up.

So whenever someone asks me what camera they should buy these days, or that they’re saving up for “x” camera – I tell them to keep this in mind.  (On a separate but related note:  if you have any questions about what gear to buy, whether  a 5D MKII or 7D is right for you and why – feel free to check out the gear section on my blog which should make your choice easier.)