Local/offshore camera price gaps shrink

A random survey of Australian camera prices compared to those available to Australians out of the US market shows a major reduction in the price differential.

The K-mount-compatible new Pentax K-01 mirrorless interchangeable is listed at $100 less from some Australian retailers than B&H.

While local prices were often over 30 percent up on those available from US online retailers in 2011, the situation has clearly changed – though consumers perceptions may take a while to catch up with reality!

Photo Counter speculated in a story on April 4 whether the imposition of the ‘Unilateral Pricing Policy’ in the US would have a positive impact on Australian retailers, delivering relief from price differences which were putting local retailers at a disadvantage and alienating consumers:

‘Given the US wholesalers are able to enforce the UPP with heavy-hitting online retailers who sell into the Australian and New Zealand marketplace, such as B&H and Adorama,  the price differential between local retailers and the offshore marauders could be further reduced.’

Following that story on the implementation in the US of the price maintenance policy, and prompted by Canon Australia’s encouragement to make price comparisons at retail rather than via RRPs and MRSPs, we randomly chose popular camera models from leading brands and discovered that the perception than Australian retail prices are comparatively high against US prices is not so much the case as it was.

In some instances, the opposite is true!

So for what it’s worth, here’s what we found:

Pentax continues to beg questions of other suppliers claims that high local prices are all about the high cost of doing business in Australia. It’s recently released mirrorless interchangeable, the Pentax K-01 with a 40mm lens, carries a US$899 price tag from B&H while it’s a bargain at $779 from DCW (interesting to see if they catch many US buyers at that price!) and $849 from Ted’s.

Canon’s new flagship compact, the Canon G1 X is also actually $100 less from Digital Camera Warehouse ($699) than from B&H (US$799), with the same model at Ted’s for $799 with a price match invitation for online buyers.

We also looked at the Canon 60D with 18 – 135 lens. In B&H the online price was US$1178. Shipping was from $65 to $155, and the kit should incur 10 percent GST on top of that. Total delivered price would thus be a minimum of $1416. The Australian online prices we checked were $1429 and $1499.

Canon is still exposed to somewhat lower grey market prices out of Hong Kong on some of its popular DSLRs and accessories from JB Online Direct.

Moving on to Nikon, the Nikon 1 J1 with 10 – 30mm lens has a US price at B&H of US$646.95 with a $100 rebate until the end of April. The price on the local websites checked were $646 (JBs) and, with a bonus leather case and strap, $669 and $699 at two camera specialist websites. And let’s not forget that 2-Year manufacturers warranty!

And even if you wanted to ship in a Nikon from B&H, you can’t. When we get to the Checkout section we learn: ‘Due to the manufacturers restrictions, we are unable to accept orders with a shipping address in Australia for [Nikon cameras].’

The Sony NEX 5n with 18 – 55mm lens was US$698 plus shipping (US$65 min) from B&H and $799 locally.

The Olympus PEN EPL-3 with a 14 – 42mm lens from B&H is US$650 (with a $50 discount if you buy before April 21) and as low as $699 locally.

Price differences from Panasonic were slightly larger, with the GF3 and 14 – 42mm lens at US$629 from B&H and $769 locally. This becomes even more pronounced if we compare the same camera with a 14mm prime lens, which is US$468 from B&H and $769 and $799 locally.

COMMENT: OK – this is an admittedly highly unscientific exercise, and doesn’t look at HK-based eBay shops, nor the pricing of more specialised products such as high-end lenses, but on the other hand we didn’t go hunting for examples to prove a thesis – the models above were chosen at random, with a bias towards popular, new technology, higher-priced new releases. These price comparisons tell a more positive story for Australian retailers which they can convey to their staff and  customers.   


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