This past Wednesday, customs officers in China announced the bust of a gigantic camera smuggling operation and the arrest of 14 suspects connected with the illegal transportation of $63.5 million worth of camera equipment. The smuggling ring has allegedly smuggled 60,204 cameras, 13,623 lenses, 483 flashes, 1,025 video cameras, and 348 projectors. Since camera equipment is much cheaper to buy in Hong Kong — 20% to 30% less — smugglers profit by sneaking the gear into mainland China (avoiding customs taxes in the process) and selling it through the gray market. Read more…
Shocking news: Kodak, the company that invented the first digital camera back in 1975, announced today that it is pulling out of the camera market entirely. The phasing out of digital cameras, pocket video cameras, and digital picture frames will likely happen by the end of June. Instead, the company will be focusing on licensing out its patents and brand name (much like Polaroid does), and on inkjet photo printing. Although Kodak wasn’t a big player in the digital camera space, it was once a dominant camera maker in the days of film. The original Kodak Brownie helped popularize consumer photography and introduced the concept of the snapshot.
Want to see how far DSLRs have come in the past decade? Lee Morris of Fstoppers published these two photos taken at Super Bowl halftime shows. The crop on the left was captured in 2001, possibly with the Nikon D1H at 2.7 megapixels and ISO 800 (state of the art specs at the time). The slice on the right was from this past weekend, and was shot with a Nikon D3s at 12MP and ISO 12,800.
Image credits: Photographs by Lonny Krasnow/AP and FilmMagic
Reuters is reporting that US-based investment firm TPG Capital has expressed interest in pouring $1 billion into Olympus in a joint deal, and has notified other possible suitors including Sony, Canon, Fujifilm, and Panasonic.
Nearly all of Olympus’ profits are generated from its dominant 70 percent share of the global market for flexible diagnostic endoscopes. The steady cash flow from that business has allowed it to prop up its digital camera business, which is on course to lose money for a second straight year.
TPG would consider taking over the other less desirable parts of the firm to facilitate a deal. This could include the digital camera operation, which is in need of a major overhaul, including job cuts, the person said.
It’s interesting that the camera division is one of the “less desirable parts” of Olympus, since that’s what most consumers know the company for.
Smartphones are taking huge bites out of the compact camera market. A recent study by market research company NPD found that the percent of photographs taken with a smartphone has increased from 17% to 27% over the past year, while the share of photos taken with a dedicated camera has dropped from 52% to 44%. Senior imaging analyst Liz Cutting says,
There is no doubt that the smartphone is becoming ‘good enough’ much of the time; but thanks to mobile phones, more pictures are being taken than ever before. Consumers who use their mobile phones to take pictures and video were more likely to do so instead of their camera when capturing spontaneous moments, but for important events, single purpose cameras or camcorders are still largely the device of choice.
The point-and-shoot camera market is taking the brunt of the damage: during the first 11 months of 2011, the market lost 17% in units sold and 18% in revenue.
If you’re a photographer and not an architect, why settle for boring ol’ gingerbread houses this holiday season? Gingerbread cameras are where it’s at! They’re not very difficult to build — you just need to know the correct sizes and shapes to cut out. Photojojo has published a step-by-step tutorial on how you can make your own.
The George Eastman House in Rochester, NY is the world’s oldest museum dedicated to photography. A couple years ago, curator Todd Gustavson wrote a book on the history of photography featuring the museum’s gigantic collection of historical cameras. This behind-the-scenes video with Gustavson gives a glimpse into the drool-worthy warehouse and a brief tour of some legendary cameras.
A week ago we shared a photo showing Nikon’s factory in Thailand submerged due to the catastrophic flooding happening there. The latest news is that both Nikon and Sony have had their camera factories severely damaged, which may have cause delays of at least 1-2 months. 90% of Nikon’s SLR cameras — the low to mid-range ones — are produced at the company’s Thailand plant, while 100% of Sony DSLRs are made at its now-damaged factory.
Nikon was expected to announce a new DSLR by the end of this year, but it seems like that may be postponed indefinitely at this point. Sony’s new NEX-7 and A65 cameras have been pulled from Amazon due to “manufacturing concerns”.
According to Nikon Rumors, Nikon has introduced a new Unilateral Pricing Policy on DSLR gear sold in the US that will take effect on October 16th. Saying that the policy is “designed to allow customers to make purchasing decisions based on service provided and not have to worry about hunting for a better price”, Nikon plans to withhold sales to any store caught pricing equipment below “national prices” that the company will set for each product. Read more…