Thursday, September 10, 2009

We actually delight in being ripped off

Its been interesting to watch the press in raptures over the imminent (and now past) Leica releases, whether that Phil Askey over at DPReview or the otherwise pretty sensible Mike Johnston at The Online Photographer. For me the most interesting thing has been watching otherwise sane people willfully, almost gleefully, looking for opportunities to be ripped off.

Any way you look at the new Leica's they are ripping you off. I mean $US7000 for a manual focus camera, capable of just 2 fps, incredibly basic metering system and massive limitations in use. To me, I can only imagine how hard the Leica engineers were laughing when they decided to put a 230k, 2.5 inch LCD on the back of this camera. Can you picture that meeting:

Engineer. "ok, we are going to charge these dolts seven grand for a camera with less features than an iPhone lets at least give them a decent screen".

Manager. "Nuh, give them nothing, wait, no, even better, lets give them a screen but make it worse than anything fitted to the cheapest DSLR on the market today".

Engineer. "But we can give them a decent screen for nothing, we wont even notice the price, surely they'll hate us if we do this to them."

Manager. "You dont get it, the users will love us for it, people who cant afford the camera will scoff, sure, but those who can will make all sorts of excuses for us. They'll even use the fact that the screen is god awful as a reason to buy the camera, they'll say shit like 'real photographers dont need the screen anyway!"

Engineer. "Your kidding right?"

Manager. "Nah, trust me - just watch".

And already we are seeing exactly this reaction in fora across the internet.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, people can be such idiots. Yesterday Mike Johnston in his piece questioning what is expensive, was saying that the camera world was generally free of Veblen goods, well today Leica proved him wrong.

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