Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wednesday Commentary: The Problem With Camera Accessories

If you have ever looked for accessories for your camera then you already know that they can be extremely expensive. The question on many peoples minds is, "why are these accessories so pricy?" Another question is, who do they make some of these accessories for? And finally, would you really want to use some of them if even if the price was lower?

If these add on accessories like battery grips or wireless remotes where a one time purchase I think more people could justify buying first party options. If that was the case, maybe there wouldn't be so many people looking to third party products to save money. Why? The problem is that many accessories are not one time purchases, each new generation of bodies seems to require a new grip, a new remote, or a new electronic viewfinder, because the ports get changed. Grips I understand, because camera body design changes between generations. In any case the camera companies seem to be trying to suck every penny they can from the consumer level devices. It makes sense, because more consumer level devices are sold, but then you see companies like Nikon offering special deals where they give away free accessories with some cameras. The only explanation is that some of these over priced accessories are not selling very well.

Why would these accessories not sell very well? There are numerous reasons, the obvious reason is price. Secondly, these products are not items that the average camera buyers consider necessary. You would think that the camera makers would do a little more market research before making such products, but that does not seem to be the case. Why are camera makers selling external wireless devices (GPS/WIFI) when it would make more sense to have them built into the camera? Just another reason why consumers will avoid such accessories, something else to remember to bring along when they leave home. These external accessories have another downside, they add bulk to the camera body.

Just look at the accessory on top of the D7100 in the picture above. Why would anyone want such a bulky accessory on top of their camera? If you are shooting landscapes or working in a studio such accessories might not be a problem, but if you are walking around on a busy street in a foreign country on vacation would you take that thing out of your camera bag? My guess, the answer would be no.

The camera makers have made a few key mistakes in the accessory game, first of all in the area of price, that drives many buyers to third party alternatives. The first party versions of many accessories are better, but often not worth double or triple the price. The second mistake made is that some of the accessories seem to lack a large segment of the consumer market. When a camera maker has to give away some accessories with a newer camera to move the product out of warehouses, there has got to be a problem. Finally, many of the accessories are bulky, making them even less attractive.