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What makes housings so expensive?

Discussion in 'The Canon Corner' started by col4bin, Aug 23, 2010.

  1. col4bin

    col4bin Angel Fish

    I get the part about being waterproof and not corroding from salt water but a lot of housings cost more than the camera bodies. Is it really justified or are we taken advantage of when it comes to pricing?
  2. LeeParrish

    LeeParrish Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Tulsa, OK
    First, it's like all scuba gear in general which has a high markup due to it being sold in relatively low volumes typically through small resellers that have to carry stock that may or may not turn quickly. Having shelves full of merchandise that doesn't sell quickly is a lot of money to tie up in a store, so you need to get a good rate of return on such items. Stores like Best Buy can sell consumer items at a small markup due to turning products quickly off the shelves.

    Then more specific to underwater housings and gear, this is a much smaller market than the scuba market itself since many divers don't buy this type of gear. So it wouldn't surprise me if some of the higher end housings aren't built to order, and they may only sell very small numbers of them. Cameras sell like consumer items, in fairly high volume for the lower end cameras, and decent volumes at the higher end cameras, since many more photographers do non-underwater work. Then factor in that camera models that change all the time so they have to continually re-tool the housings for the next camera. Add it all up and you are looking at a product that will cost significantly more than a typical high volume consumer product. My guess is that without modern computer based design and layout, CNC, and low cost plastic molding that housings would even be significantly higher than they are now.
  3. bvanant

    bvanant Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives:
    Location: Los Angeles (more or less)
    The reason that housings cost so much is that they are essentially hand made, one at a time. A very big very expensive CNC machine will be able to make only one at a time. There is no volume effect where is you make a bunch you can automate. Ikelite molds their housings so once the mold is made you can make the second one a lot cheaper than the first one but the first one costs a ton.

    Go find your local machine shop and ask them to quote you on a housing (and bring them an example) and you will understand that you are not being screwed but that it costs lots to make thinks that big and that complex that don't leak. Sealing is very tough to do. On the other hand, there are little bits and pieces that sometimes make you wonder but it all comes down to the fact that the metal housing guys just don't make enough of any one housing to make them cheap.

  4. Rainer

    Rainer DIR Practitioner

    Market forces. Sheesh.
  5. col4bin

    col4bin Angel Fish

    Thanks all. I would have never figured this out if Rainer did not tell me it was market forces :wink:

    I had no idea that there was so much manual labor involved in making these. Thanks for the insight.
  6. Nemrod

    Nemrod Solo Diver

    Extremely low volume, relatively high parts count, very short marketable duration because cameras change on a less than one year cycle. They have to recoup their investment quickly to make a profit.

    You either pony up and play the game or sit it out on the sidelines, some things are just expensive, race cars, boats, telescopes, underwater photography etc are just a few that come to mind that cost more than you think they should, they just do.

  7. col4bin

    col4bin Angel Fish

    I hear you on the expensive thing. My other hobby is modding my car and nothing is cheap in that space.

    I am ready to pony up on the housing. I want to get the shots. I have basically decided to go with the G11 since I already have one.
  8. scubamarketing

    scubamarketing Dive Shop

    If it makes you feel any better, the retail markup on housings is relatively low. I've purchased Ikelite and Sea & Sea housings in the past at cost and it was less than US$75 under retail.
  9. Viz'art

    Viz'art Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Montreal, Qc, Canada
    see below
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2010
  10. Viz'art

    Viz'art Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Montreal, Qc, Canada
    It is a question that I am asked quite often, and yes for the most part, they are hand crafted, we do benefit from new CNC (computer numerically controlled) machinery that help us get those slick hi tech looks that you see on housing nowadays, older version housings were casting and you needed the smelter and the foundry and where limited in shape by the process, these CNC machine are the same type you are likely to find in Mc Donnell Douglas and Lockheed Martin machine shop and we actually share a some commons points, our products are both based on pressure resistant envelope and have to be environmentally resistant, the degree of precision required are to the same military specification. As some crew cut leatherneck sergeant would likely say, failure is not an option, so an exhaustive series of test are performed all through the process, every part is hand fitted and tested again and again, it’s a lengthy process and while the final product might seem expensive in the end, but in light of the lengthy process involved and the numbers of operation I can tell you that we at least make an honest living and we are not gouging anyone, I personally think that it’s still possible in North America to come up with quality products at a competitive price while paying the employees a decent wage, all we need to do is keep grounded and fair and avoid behaving like the auto industry whose attitude theses last few years has really disgusted me, with all the corporate BS and golden parachute and other stunts that they have being pulling, it’s a wonder I still drive a North American car

    Dive Photo Guide asked me to write an essay on the making of an underwater housing, this should be on line this fall, you can check for it here: www.DivePhotoGuide.com

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