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06-20-2014, 04:55 AM   #1
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The latest I've heard about 645Z availability in U.S.

Had a conversation with my friend yesterday, a Pentax rep. I was trying to get more info about the potential supply of these cameras. What I was told was that they are basically sold out through the summer---i.e., that the coming supply will only cover the pre-orders (and quite possibly not all of them). It sounds like if you got in the pre-order queue early you may get your camera, but if you have been waiting (like me, for reasons beyond the scope of this discussion, but it has to do with trying to place an order where my friend needs it...), you may be SOL until the fall. Dealers are being told they must pre-sell even in order to get any units.

I do not know how this applies to the big boys, B&H, Adorama, Amazon---they are in totally different categories. Do not know how this applies to second tier outfits like Midwest or Samy's.

I'll be happy to field any questions if I can.

06-20-2014, 05:50 AM   #2
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I've just five minutes ago preordered mine from SRS in the UK who advised me that if I preordered I would get mine in the first batch which are due to arrive next Friday. This is obviously UK only but does suggest that Pentax's strategy seems to be a limited first run. I was originally going to wait until I get to Japan in October, but as UK price is more reasonable than the D was, and with the issues I had with the sensor with the D, warranty issues will be less painful and with UK selling regulations about items being of satisfactory quality for a 'reasonable period of time' and with items like this it is generally held to be 6 years, this will be better in the long run I believe. That, and the fact that I rarely wait for anything for too long! Will probably sell some Canon glass to cushion the blow!
06-20-2014, 07:32 AM   #3
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Last I heard was that the Canadian allotments of 645Z's for July and August deliveries were already pre-ordered. There is no pre-sell requirement up here (at least the rep I talked to doesn't know of one), but shops won't get them on shelves until September, unless they pre-ordered and pre-paid for one to use as their own demo (The Camera Store in Calgary does this).
06-20-2014, 10:28 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by panoguy Quote
Last I heard was that the Canadian allotments of 645Z's for July and August deliveries were already pre-ordered. There is no pre-sell requirement up here (at least the rep I talked to doesn't know of one), but shops won't get them on shelves until September, unless they pre-ordered and pre-paid for one to use as their own demo (The Camera Store in Calgary does this).
Do you know if TCS is getting a demo in the next couple of weeks? I haven't called them yet since they still list it as 7-14 days out. I wanted to bring in my legacy glass and see how not-$5000-digitally-sharp it would be, as it may affect my purchase timeline.

06-20-2014, 10:48 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by noser Quote
Do you know if TCS is getting a demo in the next couple of weeks? I haven't called them yet since they still list it as 7-14 days out. I wanted to bring in my legacy glass and see how not-$5000-digitally-sharp it would be, as it may affect my purchase timeline.
I have no idea. The Pentax rep I was talking to (here in Toronto) just mentioned TCS when I asked if Henry's was going to have a demo unit any time soon. It would be unusual if TCS didn't take a 645Z out of the first shipment and make one of their awesome review videos with it, though. Give 'em a call!
06-20-2014, 01:48 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
Had a conversation with my friend yesterday, a Pentax rep. I was trying to get more info about the potential supply of these cameras. What I was told was that they are basically sold out through the summer---i.e., that the coming supply will only cover the pre-orders (and quite possibly not all of them). It sounds like if you got in the pre-order queue early you may get your camera, but if you have been waiting (like me, for reasons beyond the scope of this discussion, but it has to do with trying to place an order where my friend needs it...), you may be SOL until the fall. Dealers are being told they must pre-sell even in order to get any units.

I do not know how this applies to the big boys, B&H, Adorama, Amazon---they are in totally different categories. Do not know how this applies to second tier outfits like Midwest or Samy's.

I'll be happy to field any questions if I can.
Considering that even the 1.4x teleconverter sold out through pre-orders, I really wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happened with the 645Z. Pros interested in having the camera early should definitely place a pre-order ASAP.

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06-22-2014, 10:24 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by panoguy Quote
I have no idea. The Pentax rep I was talking to (here in Toronto) just mentioned TCS when I asked if Henry's was going to have a demo unit any time soon. It would be unusual if TCS didn't take a 645Z out of the first shipment and make one of their awesome review videos with it, though. Give 'em a call!
I'll probably pack up my 645 kit, K5 battery, and an SD card, and get over there sometime this week when time allows. If I do get a chance to shoot a few frames with the older glass I'll post some samples; I only have the A's of the 150mm 3.5, 135mm 4.0 LS, and 55mm 2.8.

Santa never did drop off the 35mm I ordered ...
06-23-2014, 04:39 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
Dealers are being told they must pre-sell even in order to get any units.


Is this a short-term thing until the market saturates a little or at least satisfies the early adopters?


I wonder if this applies to the lenses that heretofore have been unavailable in the USA? Not having been a previous MF shooter, I have no lenses to begin with. My plan was to wait until all lenses in the MF product line were in stock in this country before purchasing the 645Z, but if lenses follow the same protocol i.e. pre-order, then it would make it harder to coordinate the purchase of the camera and the lenses desired at the same time.


I'm thinking the 35, 55 & 75 would be a decent enough spread for me to start with. At this time, B&H has the 35 & 75 labeled as New Item available as a pre-order. At the very least assuming I can't coordinate the purchase of everything at the same time, I would be willing to purchase the desired lenses (even just the 35 & 55), then pre-order the camera.

06-23-2014, 09:45 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by rfkiii Quote
Is this a short-term thing until the market saturates a little or at least satisfies the early adopters?
I believe it's through the summer---no word yet on 4th quarter. I am guessing that what is going on here is a combination of several factors:
  • the popularity of Pentax in Japan and Asia, specifically the popularity of this camera---this apparently sort of happened with the 645D, and is why the U.S. only got 2 FA-D (D-FA?) lenses that time around. Japan alone sucked up a lot of the D's...and the lenses.
  • the residual effects of the Hoya to Ricoh hand-off, and the problems from the Hoya days.
  • apparently some residual issues from the old days of Pentax/Honeywell in the U.S. (see speculative comments in another thread)
  • current, general problems with warehousing in the U.S. Lots of Pentax stuff is backordered.
  • Ricoh/Pentax strongly underestimating interest and demand. This happened to Sony with both the NEX7 and the A7/A7R cameras, and some lenses.


QuoteQuote:
I wonder if this applies to the lenses that heretofore have been unavailable in the USA? Not having been a previous MF shooter, I have no lenses to begin with. My plan was to wait until all lenses in the MF product line were in stock in this country before purchasing the 645Z, but if lenses follow the same protocol i.e. pre-order, then it would make it harder to coordinate the purchase of the camera and the lenses desired at the same time.
My friend and I were only talking about the 645Z bodies, noy the lenses at all. I'll ask. But I know that this person has opened up some new dealers, and they can't get lots of things---APSC and WG series stuff. On edealer could sell all he could get his hands on, but can't get it.



QuoteQuote:
I'm thinking the 35, 55 & 75 would be a decent enough spread for me to start with. At this time, B&H has the 35 & 75 labeled as New Item available as a pre-order. At the very least assuming I can't coordinate the purchase of everything at the same time, I would be willing to purchase the desired lenses (even just the 35 & 55), then pre-order the camera.
It's sounding like your best bet is with the big boys----which is a bit unfortunate, imo. There are lots of decent dealers around---not as many as before, but still a good number. Things like this don't help.

I also have heard that there is a query going upp the chain of command to see if new dealers can just carry the 645Z stuff-----which in many cases would make a ton of sense. But I understand that someone from Pentax USA has to actually fly to Japan to get an answer for this! Just sounds like a lot of shooting going on, with the feet the main targets....
06-23-2014, 12:49 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
also have heard that there is a query going upp the chain of command to see if new dealers can just carry the 645Z stuff-----which in many cases would make a ton of sense. But I understand that someone from Pentax USA has to actually fly to Japan to get an answer for this! Just sounds like a lot of shooting going on, with the feet the main targets....
Please note that Tokyo is +14 hours from Denver. When it is 8:00 am in Tokyo it is 6:00 pm in Denver. When it is 5:00 pm in Tokyo it is 7:00 am in Denver.

While I'm hard-pressed to accept that a Division Vice President must fly to Tokyo for just this one product-stocking decision, the time zone issue has been a problem for decades.
06-23-2014, 04:12 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
Please note that Tokyo is +14 hours from Denver. When it is 8:00 am in Tokyo it is 6:00 pm in Denver. When it is 5:00 pm in Tokyo it is 7:00 am in Denver.

While I'm hard-pressed to accept that a Division Vice President must fly to Tokyo for just this one product-stocking decision, the time zone issue has been a problem for decades.
I hear you. I have a similar problem---I help run the LightZone Project, and our chief developer right now is in Osaka. So, I have a Tokyo time clock on my desktop. But it is an awkward time difference. I used to work for an English firm, and I'd be on the phone with them at 5am my time to get phone time with the home office.

My hope, an earnest one, is that the perhaps surprising, to Ricoh/Pentax, demand for this camera/system is leading to some positive re-thinking about things at headquarters. I would love to see them succeed and hit a blockbuster home run here.

I know that Sony had some "minimums" for dealers, but after hearing from a bunch of us at the last PDN in NYC (and having hordes of people in their booth...all day the day I was there...similar but even more intense than the year before) and some dealers, they relaxed that a bit, at least temporarily. I think it can be a wrenching decision to make (for reasons that are beyond me, but whatever...).
06-23-2014, 04:14 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
I'm hard-pressed to accept that a Division Vice President must fly to Tokyo for just this one product-stocking decision
If I read texandrews last post correctly, the decision would be to move up new dealers in the queue for the 645Z, even if they don't intend to carry any other products from Ricoh. Only in the U.S.A. would retailers have the expectation that the manufacturer is going to piss off their existing distribution for no net gain. Even if Ricoh wants to use that as a hammer to bring existing distribution into line, it will be done in select markets only and only after the existing distribution in that market (assuming there is any) has been given one last chance to redeem themselves. With the Internet, everyone and anyone can be a player in any market. We have seen lots of examples here where the target market is willing to switch their loyalty to other retailers in order to get the products they want. Most photographic equipment customers have far more loyalty to the manufacturer than to the retailer. This is all assuming that Ricoh has experienced, intelligent people managing the Imaging division in Tokyo, but their decision to release Mr. Ned and put PRIAC on lockdown suggests they have a pretty good understanding of the U.S. marketplace. When you compare the capital investment of a manufacturer to a distributor, it becomes obvious when the tail is trying to wag the dog.

Last edited by RGlasel; 06-23-2014 at 04:19 PM.
06-23-2014, 05:19 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by RGlasel Quote
If I read texandrews last post correctly, the decision would be to move up new dealers in the queue for the 645Z, even if they don't intend to carry any other products from Ricoh. Only in the U.S.A. would retailers have the expectation that the manufacturer is going to piss off their existing distribution for no net gain. Even if Ricoh wants to use that as a hammer to bring existing distribution into line, it will be done in select markets only and only after the existing distribution in that market (assuming there is any) has been given one last chance to redeem themselves. With the Internet, everyone and anyone can be a player in any market. We have seen lots of examples here where the target market is willing to switch their loyalty to other retailers in order to get the products they want. Most photographic equipment customers have far more loyalty to the manufacturer than to the retailer. This is all assuming that Ricoh has experienced, intelligent people managing the Imaging division in Tokyo, but their decision to release Mr. Ned and put PRIAC on lockdown suggests they have a pretty good understanding of the U.S. marketplace. When you compare the capital investment of a manufacturer to a distributor, it becomes obvious when the tail is trying to wag the dog.
I don't claim any more to have ANY idea what is going on in Denver but I'm pretty certain that under Hoya Pentax ruined for probably ever whatever was left of the Dealer network.
06-23-2014, 08:10 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
Hoya Pentax ruined for probably ever whatever was left of the Dealer network.
Other than a third hand connection to a Pentax rep in Canada, I don't have any special knowledge of what going on at PRIAC, but to sell a hands on sophisticated product to hobbyists, enthusiasts and the self-employed, you need a consistent and positive presence at physical points of sale. That means brick and mortar dealers who stock most of your product line year round, year after year. That is the only successful long term strategy for dealers, distributors and manufacturers, but the temptation to go for the quick sale when the stars align favorably is very strong when you don't have much skin in the game. So you pursue and support only dealers who commit to providing the right kind of showcase for your products, and you don't let distributors whore your products, either. Whether you are upgrading your current Pentax MF system or looking at getting into it for the first time, it is not exactly an impulse purchase. Ricoh has time to leverage this high level of interest in the 645Z to develop a stronger dealer network globally. And it's a high margin product, that required a relatively modest capital investment to develop. There has to be a few product managers in Tokyo with big grins on their faces right now.
06-24-2014, 05:04 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by RGlasel Quote
If I read texandrews last post correctly, the decision would be to move up new dealers in the queue for the 645Z, even if they don't intend to carry any other products from Ricoh. Only in the U.S.A. would retailers have the expectation that the manufacturer is going to piss off their existing distribution for no net gain. Even if Ricoh wants to use that as a hammer to bring existing distribution into line, it will be done in select markets only and only after the existing distribution in that market (assuming there is any) has been given one last chance to redeem themselves. With the Internet, everyone and anyone can be a player in any market. We have seen lots of examples here where the target market is willing to switch their loyalty to other retailers in order to get the products they want. Most photographic equipment customers have far more loyalty to the manufacturer than to the retailer. This is all assuming that Ricoh has experienced, intelligent people managing the Imaging division in Tokyo, but their decision to release Mr. Ned and put PRIAC on lockdown suggests they have a pretty good understanding of the U.S. marketplace. When you compare the capital investment of a manufacturer to a distributor, it becomes obvious when the tail is trying to wag the dog.
Well, It's difficult for me to say how this all makes sense at the "suits" level, but I would make the following observations (speaking as a former sales guy with multi national territories, although no distributor network, which definitely changes things a bit...)
  • One thing that is pertinent is that we are now firmly in the 21st century, and the ubiquitous (in developed nations) internet age. I would very much think this would have some ramifications for dealer/distributor networks, and thinking thereof. And re-thinking thereof.
  • In this particular case, it seems like the Pentax dealer/distrib network is not so healthy in the U.S. It needs a jump start badly, and the U.S. doesn't seem to me like a market that shouldn't be exploited to the fullest, in whatever way possible.
  • Hard to convince new dealers to come on board at any level w/o product to give them (see "backordered" above)
  • Med Format is sufficiently different in so many ways that it could be used as a way for Pentax/Ricoh to re-develop and/or strengthen and/or expand their sales network---and possibly w/o irritating existing dealers who are actually in it for APSC and compacts.
ANd I think there are other aspects to this that could argue for flexibility on the part of Pentax/Ricoh. And I agree with your other post about some Japanese suits with smiles on their faces.
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