The US won't have mirrorless? (Sans Mirror)

Started Mar 5, 2013 | Discussions thread
Bob Topp
Regular MemberPosts: 423Gear list
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Interesting observations
In reply to Revenant, Mar 6, 2013

It's informative to see observations from so many regions, and I might add, sad to see that many are the same, even at an international level.  I live in a reasonably populated area in north Alabama, but am dependent on DPReview and similar sites for any news about cameras.  From what I am reading, it does not seem to matter much whether people are in heavily populated or sparsely populated areas- we just don't see much Olympus and Panasonic presence in the chain stores.  After the stellar reviews of the OM-D when it first came out, I wanted to handle one in the worst way.  Wolf Camera (now defunct) carried the EP series cameras, but never an OM-D.  Best Buy is the biggest joke of all, and the only independent dealer in town is nearly all Canon these days.

On a lark I stopped into a large camera store (Murphy's) in Louisville, Kentucky and found the OM-D in stock, and even one on display with a charged battery!  As my wife stood by doing a slow burn, I bought the camera immediately.  Yeah, to her it looked like an impulse buy, but I had actually been shopping for it for eight months by then.  The key for me was to be able to handle the camera.  By contrast, I am very impressed by the overall capabilities of the T4i, for instance, but I cannot stand to handle any of the Rebel cameras.  By the way, Murphy's is a huge camera store, and yes, the Olympus shelves were quite small- but at least they were there!

What puzzles me most, though, is places like Best Buy, where the availability of even Olympus and Panasonic compacts has shrunk noticeably over the last ten years.  Olympus, in particular, had excellent market penetration with compacts, and Panasonic had a fair offering.   Yet, some days it is hard to find even their P&S cameras on the shelves. Unlike independent stores, the weak point for very large chains is at the corporate level, where a small number of buyers control the stock for the entire company.  These buyers are not much influenced by cameras reviews (and sometimes don't even seem to notice what's selling well in their own stores), but I suspect that they are heavily influenced by the well-financed sales staff of the large OEMs.

Tom K., in a comment above, expressed the opinion that Americans are not monolithic.  We would like to believe that, but the prevalence of large chains with tremendous buying power confines the market to a limited number of camera styles and brands.  ...or I might say, a limited number of affordable cameras.  Certainly we are all free to shop by mail order, but honestly, how many of us are going to purchase a $1,000+ camera sight-unseen?  In effect we become monolithic because we buy what is available/affordable, even though we lust for more.  Thank goodness for the internet- it feeds our dreams, if nothing else.

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Bob Topp

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