Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Increasing Expectations in the Mid-range D-SLR Market?

I was at my long-time professional photography retail store today,and while I was there there were two men in their 50's in,looking to buy midrange D-SLR models. On the sales counter were the Canon EOS 20D, the FujiFilm FinePix S3 Pro, and the Nikon D200. Neither buyer was swayed by the Fuji's open box price of $1799,nor the in-store retail price of $1999 on unopened box S3's. Both men REALLY wanted the Nikon D200, but of course, the store had absolutely NO D200's in stock.
FujiFilm is _still_ dicking customers around, with widely varying prices for the small buffer upgrade they are willing to perform for prices ranging from $600 US in Spain, to 250 British Pounds in England, to $349 US in the USA.A few longtime Fuji users are now venting their displeasure at this buffer upgrade debacle at this URL.
The funny thing is, S3 owners in this thread express some of the exact types of frustration,and make some of the same comments and criticisms that I made when I was on Fuji SLR Talk.It seems that now,after as much as a year of S3 ownership, even the formerly calm,composed Fuji users are finally fed up enough with the treatment they're still receiving from the company that made their cameras that they are willing to go on a public message board to complain.
In my roughly 30 minutes of observation today, I quietly listened in on sales presentations,and heard a number of objections from a couple of potential buyers of a mid-range D-SLR. The BIGGEST objection was that both men wanted a D200 to BUY and to take home! The second objection was the speed of the Fuji and its small buffer--apparently, even the two 50-somethings knew about the limited buffer and the actual-world speed of about 1.5 frames per second of the S3. The specified 2.5 frames per second firing speed of the S3 is a JOKE--it can NOT shoot that rapidly,no matter what FujiFilm says. There's no way in hell that you can tell a fellow he's going 65 miles per hour when he is travelling at a little less than HALF of 65 miles an hour. Customers are not stupid, and they expect a certain level of speed of operation from a D-SLR,and the S3 can not deliver rapid shooting NOR can it review images very quickly,nor can it move from image to image to image anywhere near as rapidly as,well, any other D-SLR on the market. Demo'ing a D200 and then an S3 is an exercise in stark contrasts. Fast,fast,fast and then slow,slow,and slow.Fuji says the S3 can shoot at 2.5 frames per second. For the first two S3 owners who can document that their S3 fires at 2.5 fps or faster, please post your results someplace,and then come here and apply to be given your free guest column of up to 8,000 words.
As an experienced,top former camera salesman, I enjoy watching younger,less-savy sales people perform demostrations. Now, the EOS 20D is a camera that's easy to demonstrate: it feels solidly-made, offers an accessory dual-battery capable power grip with trigger,is fast in operation,has a good,bright,contrasty viewfinder image,as well as basically 5 frames per second firing--not 1.5 frames per second which is called 2.5 frames per second in company literature.Lying to customers on specification sheets sets up potential customers to be sent to the competition,and Fuji seems completely unaware of what customers are "expecting" these days. And,although the 20D is a good camera, and priced several hundreds of dollars LOWER than either the Nikon D200 or the FujiFilm S3 Pro,it seems that two 50-something men looking to buy a D-SLR both know that the 20D is probably about to be replaced by Canon, and is somewhat "old hat". And although the 20D is a nice D-SLR, it was clear to me that when shown to two prospective buyers, the D200-S3-20D trio has a clear winner,and it's the D200. The D200 is so compelling that both buyers were willing to AVOID purchasing a 20D or an S3 Pro,and were willing to walk out the door and to WAIT for a D200.
I myself bought a Lensbaby 2.0 in Nikon mount, after having earlier bought a used 50mm 1.8 AF Nikkor for $29.95 from a pawnshop. My expectations today were not that high....I was glad to part with the thirty bucks for the 50 and the Nikon L37c filter on it. It's too bad that rising expectations kept two people from enjoying shooting with a brand new D-SLR this afternoon.

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