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Thread: Save $

  1. #101
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    Re: Save $

    Steve,
    maybe I have used the wrong word (ripping off)-I just meant they take too much money for it.
    If it is patented (which I dont know) and if it is illegal I wont say that it is ok. It is not.
    Maybe I have less emotion in this discussion because I run a german mechenical engineering company and we have to deal with things like this.
    I can tell that even premium brands like Mercedes for example dont care if something is a copy or not as long as it is legal. They make decisions based on numbers.
    We often develop/engineer concepts while bidding for a project and our customers (german premium car brands) just take the best from each concept, transfer that to each bidder and then take the one who does offer to realize this concept for the smallest amount of money.
    If you explain a slightly higher price that you manufacture in Germany they will tell you "thats nice from you but we can not give you any credit for this)

    We hold various patents with our company but we do know that a patent is no guarantee that something gets not copied. I have learned, that as a "premium supplier" one has to be one step ahead in Know-how and Technics to be able to stay in this position.


    One more thought:
    If the "copy-cube" is as good as the original, than I would think Arca Swiss charges quite a "good" markup (good for Arc Swiss, not good for us, the customers). So in the end some competition will be good to reach a more realistic price.
    If the "copy cube" is not as good as the original Arca Swiss should not get any problem.

    I dont think a good idea gives someone the right to charge life time premium price. It should give you an advantage for some time, but not forever.
    (Good thing patents are only valid for max. 20 years)








    Quote Originally Posted by stephengilbert View Post
    "[T]he price for the cube is ripping off customers IMO?" Does that mean that you are opposed to theft, to "ripping off"? If so, how is it okay to steal AS's design?

    I find this discussion very interesting. People who think it's okay to buy the clone, that they have no obligation to avoid a copied product whether or not it violates someone else's legal rights. (I don't know whether it does; I'm just a lawyer.) Yet these same people feel okay about defending their rights vis-a-vis photos or designs they've created.

    Pick one: (1) I have no problem with buying the copy, whatever the legailty of its production, and have no problem with people taking what I've created for their own use without paying me, or (2) I don't want to be ripped off, and won't buy from someone who's ripping someone else off.

    For what it's worth, the purpose of the patent and copyright laws is to encourage people to create by offering them legal protection for a period of time, by giving them a monopoly on their creation. That's why patented drugs cost more than generics. (Now there's something you might complain about: medicine might be even more essential than a geared tripod head.)

    Steve

  2. #102
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    Re: Save $

    I dont think that we as customers should have to check if patents are violenced or not.

  3. #103
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    Re: Save $

    True, Tom, but if Arca-Swiss made a press release saying that their patent had been violated, and that they are suing the Korean company, then you would know. What would be your position then?
    Carsten - Website

  4. #104
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by stephengilbert View Post
    "(2) I don't want to be ripped off, and won't buy from someone who's ripping someone else off.

    Steve
    But I'm happy to rip all my customers off by adding an exclusivity premium.

    If I sold a 10c item for $500 once, they'd probably say my buyer was an unlucky mug.
    If I sold 1000 more of them I'd probably get called a scammer and get a jail term.

    Yet the big boys get away with this sort of thing on a daily basis...

  5. #105
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    True, Tom, but if Arca-Swiss made a press release saying that their patent had been violated, and that they are suing the Korean company, then you would know. What would be your position then?
    Is this the case?

    I personally wouldnt buy it.

    I wouldnt by a copy for 1000$ anyways ( as long as I wouldnt be sure it offered good quality).
    I also wouldnt buy a cube for 2000$ though ( It is probably a very good product, but (so far) I just can not justify that amount of money for a tripod head)

  6. #106
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    Re: Save $

    Had a play with it today(Multiflex)
    It is very well made and there no play etc in the movements.
    If only I had the Cube to compare it with.
    Maybe that's the AS problem.They compared it(Multiflex) with theirs,and realized it's as good?
    Best,
    Willem.

  7. #107
    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by t_streng View Post
    Steve,

    One more thought:
    If the "copy-cube" is as good as the original, than I would think Arca Swiss charges quite a "good" markup (good for Arc Swiss, not good for us, the customers). So in the end some competition will be good to reach a more realistic price.
    If the "copy cube" is not as good as the original Arca Swiss should not get any problem.

    I dont think a good idea gives someone the right to charge life time premium price. It should give you an advantage for some time, but not forever.
    (Good thing patents are only valid for max. 20 years)

    This makes the most sense to me. And that is what I see has happened (at least in our little GetDPI world). I know that Jack bought his Cube at a much more attractive price point. There simply was no comparable product on the market. And even at that entry level years ago, the Cube was considered expensive to most. And then like stock, the Cube price went up, up, up. It's $2400 at B&H.

    Now faced with a comparable product in the Multiflex by Photo Clam [I](regardless of any potential legal claims)[/I] the market should dictate price point based on quality, features, customer service, etc. Facing comparable products in the market is a known eventual expectation, and any company that just sits on its a** basking in the laurels of its old products is a sitting target. You either make improvements, make new products, or offer better enticements (price?) to stay competitive. (Coach Leather case/purse probably ain't gonna cut it)

    If the Photo Clam Multiflex is competitive on a quality level, the Cube has some serious competition. Arca is almost nonresponsive on the customer service front, to the point of almost complete apathy. I just emailed PhotoClam last night for information, and had a polite email waiting for me this morning. They do have a US distributor in ReallyBigCameras. Photo Clam seems to have the customer service part down....

    We need a thorough review, Willem! (with specs compared!)

    ken

  8. #108
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    Re: Save $

    You know it's funny we sit here and complain about MF prices and that they are too high and all that and that good competition will bring prices in line to what we may think is good pricing. This seems to fall on those same lines. The patent stuff is a side issue and that is between them and if this product turns out to be good than the user has a nice option. Are we not all looking for options when we purchase anything. I also agree the Cube is way overpriced and reason I have not made that purchase myself. Of course that is all relative to your belief's in what is a good value or not.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

  9. #109
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    Re: Save $

    The currency exchange rate was brought up earlier in this thread, as being responsible for the price hike of the Cube. I can't recall exactly when the price jumped, but it seems like it was not that long ago – a few years maybe? Maybe less?

    I work in a field where exchange rates can make or break the profitability of some transactions. One has to do a bit of forecasting, averaging, hedging and gambling to succeed. That being said, on this date in 2006 the U.S. dollar vs. the Euro exchanged at only a 9% difference from today. (Similar in 2005.) The dollar has certainly been weak against the Euro during the past few years, but are we to assume that the Cube was grossly underpriced at $1,300-$1,400? Or are we to assume that A-S was doing OK with it then, but found that those buying it were mostly the well-heeled, and with the recent boom in MF (prior to the economy dumping) they could "seize the moment" and raise the price drastically?

    If their number of units manufactured is super small, and if they're made in expensive facilities, one could understand a high manufacturing cost. But if they're making even a reasonable number of units their cost per unit should be somewhat controllable.

    If I were making decisions at A-S I would be looking at my real costs, and recognizing that I enjoyed a bit of a "hay day" making substantial profits without competition, but now adjust prices to stay competitive and keep customers.

    Yes, there is a question as to what is patented, what is fair, etc., but those points aside, A-S has some recalculating to do. If I were them I would be placing a higher value on my customers and what is in their best interests so that I can keep them and gain more customers.

    Cheers

  10. #110
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    Re: Save $

    No more comments on the Cube/Clone debate, but have you noticed that prices go up when the exchange rate changes, but they don't go back down when the rate goes the other way? The Euro climbed quite high versus the dollar last year, which might explain the Cube going up to $2400, but it has since fallen quite a bit. I don't recall any price drops reflecting the downward movement of the Euro.

  11. #111
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    Re: Save $

    Steve, that was sort of part of my point too.

    I want A-S to succeed. They have nice products. But companies must be agile these days, as well as offer either great support or great prices, preferably both. To me, "great prices" can simply mean "good value" and does not need to be "cheap". Customer service, attitude towards customers, etc. are worth a lot to me. Some companies get this, others don't.

    I would love to see A-S re-evaluate their pricing on the Cube. Those who want the "Clam" for less money can buy it (assuming the legal green light, etc), those who prefer the Cube at a premium can buy that one. But those patronizing A-S by buying the Cube should not be left to feel that they're paying a super-premium that isn't justified by some level of quality and customer care, corporate attitude, etc.

    Just my naive 2 cents...

  12. #112
    carbonmetrictree
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    Re: Save $

    I hate to put gasoline on the fire.

    But I have to question Arca Swiss' quality standards vs any other company making these heads. I just purchased a C1 that was a whole degree off on the longitudinal axis. It seems that the tarnished and chipped, bubble levels were not installed level. and to top it off, the quick release plate was also not level. After purchasing a $2800 head, you would think that a "precision" company would at least have everything leveled- maybe the Photoclam is more accurate than this head.

    And, to make matters even worse, I have a friend who also has the same issue. I can't return this head for a new one from B&H because of their return policy, and I doubt that Arca Swiss will replace my chipped bubble levels and correct the head for proper parallelism within an accepted time frame for servicing (I will be emailing them). The authorized repair center in the U.S. said that it would take months for the head to get back to me if I were to send it to France directly. This is surprising when Alpa, an even smaller company. can repair my camera with a one and a half week turn around time from Switzerland.

  13. #113
    ericstaud
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    Re: Save $

    I don't get all the assumptions about fair markup or value here. Should any company only be allowed to charge a 30% over cost markup on products? This is not how the world works.

    How much does it cost to mine and polish a one carrot diamond? How much do they sell it for?

    How much does it cost to make an ipod?

    Do the $400.00 jeans everyone here in L.A. wears everyday cost more to make than the $50.00 jeans people in Lincoln Nebraska wear?

    It's a little astonishing to me that here we have photographers selling fine art prints and images for advertising who have no notion about pricing, branding, value. Why should one landscape photographer here be selling prints for $200.00 while another sells them for $2,000.00. Does it cost the second photographer that much more to make the print and take the image? Is this discussion really happening?

    In the film industry you spend $500,000.00 on a set of prime lenses for your camera.

    Here is a $1300.00 lens shade: http://www.filmtools.com/arri-lmb-5-matte-box.html

    I think this is a $3000.00 quick release plate: http://www.filmtools.com/arri-338350...baseplate.html

    I found this tripod head used on the internet for $25,000.00... the same price as my Prius: http://www.arri.de/camera/accessorie...rrihead_2.html

    Would anyone like to argue how fair pricing is with so many other things in life? T-shirts? Housing prices? $130.00 a month cell phone bill for the iPhone?

  14. #114
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    Re: Save $

    I can't (and wouldn't) speak for others, but my posts did not suggest limits on profit. Not at all. My point was that a company makes choices with regards to pricing and what the market will bear. If a product is good (i.e. desirable), but appears to be priced with lots of room for competitors to enter the market and carve out some business then this will happen. It occurs in all industries.

    Sometimes the competitors make something "similar" and sometimes they simply copy directly. The latter seems to occur more often in the past decade or two, or at least it seems that way as I see the copies in southeast Asia. This is why any company must work to protect their market-share through the many means available to them, such as: quality, innovation, pricing, customer service (which builds loyalty), etc. It's not good enough to simply come up with a design nowadays and expect that people will just pay through the nose, even if the service is so-so, customer relations are feeble, delivery times are unbearable, etc. In today's world, one's product is going to get mimicked, emulated, or even directly copied.

    My rant here is not addressing what is right or wrong, as it has little to do with what will become of a company's market share if the company is not watching all of the elements of today's business world. "Right or wrong" factor-in certainly, but it's not the only tool that a company should use to protect their product line and market position.


  15. #115
    ericstaud
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    Re: Save $

    Also, aren't the idiots here Photo Clam? They should make a great web site, make more beautiful pictures, get the head in the hands of a few "name" photographers, and then sell the thing for $2,000.00 USD. Why would anyone undercut their competitor by more than 10% or 20% to get the business, especially when having good pictures, a great website, good customer service, and worldwide distribution seems entirely within their grasp? I'm sitting here with Gordon Ramsey on the TV running around yelling at the restaurant owners and chefs he's helping to fix their poorly run businesses and I think that either of the two companies being discussed here are ripe for this kind transformation. Neither seems any better run than the other.

  16. #116
    carbonmetrictree
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    Re: Save $

    I think companies and even ourselves could learn a bit from Kitchen Nightmares.

  17. #117
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    Re: Save $

    http://www.photoclam.com/

    http://www.tripodballhead.com/search...&max-results=8

    Scroll to the bottom for the Multiflex.

    At least they have a website,where's the AS one?

  18. #118
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    Re: Save $

    Gah, it just gets worse and worse. On that second page, I see a Wembley Sidekick, and Arca-Swiss B1 and the Cube. Do they do *anything* original??? Gawd, that bothers me to threads!
    Carsten - Website

  19. #119
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by kdphotography View Post
    I just emailed PhotoClam last night for information, and had a polite email waiting for me this morning. They do have a US distributor in ReallyBigCameras.
    ken
    As I wrote earlier, ReallyBigCameras does not carry the PhotoClam MultiFlex, though they do carry the ballheads.

    Pricing and competitiveness: In view cameras, A/S competes with Sinar and Linhof at the top end. Their new pancake cameras go head on with Sinar, Alpa, Cambo, Silvestri and Horseman. Ballheads and clamps, they have a zillion competitors. All of these products are priced competitively, though they're all at the high end. Does anyone know whether any of their other products saw similar price increases over the same period? Managing exchange rate fluctuations would not be anything new for A/S, given that it is basically an export oriented company.

    Cheers,
    Kumar

  20. #120
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    Re: Save $

    Well said Kumar.
    The Sinar P and the Arca Monolith are very similar in design etc.

    Anyway,now I have the Multiflex in my hand,I can't see why I have to pay another
    $1400 USD,to get the same result in my images.

    Best,

    Willem.

  21. #121
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    Re: Save $

    Willem, can you post some photos of your Multiflex? They don't need to be catalogue quality shots, just shots that show us a production sample, as opposed to product shots on a company website.

  22. #122
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    Re: Save $

    Dale,
    I'm planning on doing some shots and a review on the Multiflex.
    Jack F,did ask me for this already.

    Best,

    Willem.

  23. #123
    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by FromJapan View Post
    As I wrote earlier, ReallyBigCameras does not carry the PhotoClam MultiFlex, though they do carry the ballheads...

    Cheers,
    Kumar
    Following is the email they sent to me...probably confusion in communicating in engrish, but it sounded like Really Big Cameras woud distribute the Multiflex too....but final language looks more like a direct sale. In retrospect, I'm going to hold off from considering either product and buy other toys....

    Admin note: Ken requested I remove the Photo Clam email because he got an email from them requesting that. This is an extremely weird situation, but I have complied with the request(s)...

  24. #124
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by kdphotography View Post
    Following is the email they sent to me...probably confusion in communicating in engrish, but it sounded like Really Big Cameras woud distribute the Multiflex too....but final language looks more like a direct sale. In retrospect, I'm going to hold off from considering either product and buy other toys.... ken

    Dear Ken, * I reply your email few times but your mail box can't accept ours so i try to send the reply with this email. i hope it works this time.
    Thank you for your interest our MultiFlex head.
    We have a distributor for our ballheads and camera plate in US but he doesn't have MultiFlex in stock.

    Sukue
    He doesn't have the MultiFlex in stock, because he doesn't carry it.

    Kumar

  25. #125
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by ericstaud View Post
    I don't get all the assumptions about fair markup or value here. Should any company only be allowed to charge a 30% over cost markup on products? This is not how the world works.

    How much does it cost to mine and polish a one carrot diamond? How much do they sell it for?

    How much does it cost to make an ipod?

    Do the $400.00 jeans everyone here in L.A. wears everyday cost more to make than the $50.00 jeans people in Lincoln Nebraska wear?

    It's a little astonishing to me that here we have photographers selling fine art prints and images for advertising who have no notion about pricing, branding, value. Why should one landscape photographer here be selling prints for $200.00 while another sells them for $2,000.00. Does it cost the second photographer that much more to make the print and take the image? Is this discussion really happening?

    In the film industry you spend $500,000.00 on a set of prime lenses for your camera.

    Here is a $1300.00 lens shade: http://www.filmtools.com/arri-lmb-5-matte-box.html

    I think this is a $3000.00 quick release plate: http://www.filmtools.com/arri-338350...baseplate.html

    I found this tripod head used on the internet for $25,000.00... the same price as my Prius: http://www.arri.de/camera/accessorie...rrihead_2.html

    Would anyone like to argue how fair pricing is with so many other things in life? T-shirts? Housing prices? $130.00 a month cell phone bill for the iPhone?
    Greed, Greed, Greed.

    I'm not sure if this post is for or against my point of view...

    If you can't see what's wrong with a $400 pair of jeans, I'm obviously wasting my time in this debate.

    This is what makes me happy to be a misanthrope.

  26. #126
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by ericstaud View Post
    Actually, that's just a matte box. you need to spend a few thousand more on accessories.
    http://www.filmtools.com/arri-lmb-5-matte-boxes.html
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

  27. #127
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by kdphotography View Post
    Admin note: Ken requested I remove the Photo Clam email because he got an email from them requesting that. This is an extremely weird situation, but I have complied with the request(s)...
    It is possible that the MultiClam may only be sold in certain parts of the world, due to licensing or patent issues. In that case the offer to sell to Ken would not be something they would want public. This theory would support some comments made about this situation on LL, in an earlier Cube thread.
    Carsten - Website

  28. #128
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    Re: Save $

    Eric, IMO its not so much about "fair" markup, but about high markup. Which is fine for me, but if you have a high markup and people pay it - than you do not have to surprized if competition will appear sooner or later.
    And yes, as a customer I prefer low markup compared to high markup.
    As a busioness man I prefer high markup as long and as far as I can sell it. The bad thing is that in my business (engineering and machinery for automotive) there is not really any chance for high markup any more.

    As a user I am happy about every competition in the photo-gear world, however I am also willing to pay a fair price for a good product and a good service.


    Quote Originally Posted by ericstaud View Post
    I don't get all the assumptions about fair markup or value here. Should any company only be allowed to charge a 30% over cost markup on products? This is not how the world works.

    How much does it cost to mine and polish a one carrot diamond? How much do they sell it for?

    How much does it cost to make an ipod?

    Do the $400.00 jeans everyone here in L.A. wears everyday cost more to make than the $50.00 jeans people in Lincoln Nebraska wear?

    It's a little astonishing to me that here we have photographers selling fine art prints and images for advertising who have no notion about pricing, branding, value. Why should one landscape photographer here be selling prints for $200.00 while another sells them for $2,000.00. Does it cost the second photographer that much more to make the print and take the image? Is this discussion really happening?

    In the film industry you spend $500,000.00 on a set of prime lenses for your camera.

    Here is a $1300.00 lens shade: http://www.filmtools.com/arri-lmb-5-matte-box.html

    I think this is a $3000.00 quick release plate: http://www.filmtools.com/arri-338350...baseplate.html

    I found this tripod head used on the internet for $25,000.00... the same price as my Prius: http://www.arri.de/camera/accessorie...rrihead_2.html

    Would anyone like to argue how fair pricing is with so many other things in life? T-shirts? Housing prices? $130.00 a month cell phone bill for the iPhone?

  29. #129
    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Gah, it just gets worse and worse. On that second page, I see a Wembley Sidekick, and Arca-Swiss B1 and the Cube. Do they do *anything* original??? Gawd, that bothers me to threads!
    +1

    And did you notice that they call themselves an 'innovative' company?

    If I were a spotty 13yo kid, I would know how to take out their website and freeze their bank accounts from my bedroom with a few keystrokes, all while wearing my Superman outfit of course.

  30. #130
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by georgl View Post
    You're joking, right?

    Paying 1000$ for a COPY? I wouldn't even pay 10$ for a Rolex-copy, just because the Chinese "are very well know for their tooling and craftsmanship"... Okay, that was a bit unfair, South-Korea is not China, but it's not Switzerland, either... And this company has clearly copied 1:1 just to damage Arca-Swiss. Do we really need more (not so) cheap stuff? When I would work for Arca, I would be outrageous! The company I work for also has trouble with these copies, it lost the Swiss (and German and...) many thousand jobs of high-quality!
    Do you think that you pay 1400$ extra for the name, they invest into their huge marketing-campaigns (and website... ;-) and building up their brand name... No, Arca is not Adidas, it's pure Swiss-quality with employees who work for generations in the precision industry.

    Sorry, I work too hard for my money to spend 1000$ for a copy.
    Hi

    It would be appropriate to bring back correctness:

    Is the Arca and the Korean cubes complete identical? Nope, not on photos posted. Or - as comparison - could one rather argue that Arca-Swiss stole the idea for the ballhead from someone else???

    My ballhead is a Markins M10, see http://markins.com/. Markins makes arguably the very best ballheads available, period - MADE IN SOUTH KOREA. Look at their weights compared to Arca and others. Clamping force is rock solid.

    When recommending a friend to buy a smaller Foba ballhead the other year, in same store they had KangRinpoche. That was first time I saw them. They were just as good if not better. Kang Rinpoche is MADE IN CHINA. She bought the KangRinpoch per my recommendation.

    Quality AND price matter.

    When buying my large format camera I looked at Ebony, then compared to Shen-Hao. The Shen-Hao won hands down. Superb service at their shop in Shanghai. Ebony is not available in any shop here in Hong Kong or Shanghai where I also visit often. So... why should I buy Ebony???? - Which is more expensive also. Not to mention additional parts, or if I needed repair...

    If the Korean cube have any inspiration from the Markins it could be that it is far superb... and in fact beats the Arca hands down...

    Truth is truth. Perhaps Swiss, Japanese etc products are too expensive... and not the quality they are rumored to be... (at least that is my experience).

    Regards
    Anders

  31. #131
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    Re: Save $

    Anders,
    we finally meet!
    You know what I mean.
    Best,
    Willem.

  32. #132
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    Re: Save $

    My review will be up soon of the amazing Multiflex.
    After reading all these post and yes I'm proud that I'm #132, I think it's worth it.
    I will loose internet buddies over this,however I do believe in a fair market place.
    If the Multiflex was offered @ $ 500 USD than I would have a problem.
    The current US price for the Cube should still be $1400 to be competitive.
    Market fluctations or not.
    Best,
    Willem.

  33. #133
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: Save $

    Anders has an interesting point here - the new Ebony 6x17 model sells for 7175 pounds at Robert White. The corresponding Shen Hao sells at the same dealer for 1350 pounds. Though I really appreciate the build quality of my Ebony cameras, this price difference is too large to ignore. It's easy to dismiss the Shen Hao by assuming that the price difference is related to quality - Anders' statement about Shen Hao tells otherwise.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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    Re: Save $

    I'm with you Lars.
    I can tell you this Multiflex is as good or better than the AS Cube.
    I like the exchangeable knob,when you use gloves with the Multiflex.
    The Koreans copied it(Cbe) and made it even better for less money?
    Best,
    Willem.

  35. #135
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by Rethmeier View Post
    The Koreans copied it(Cbe) and made it even better for less money?
    In software we do this all the time it's called "shameless copy". If you can't protect your ideas they are up for grabs that's how innovation proceeds.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

  36. #136
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post
    Anders has an interesting point here - the new Ebony 6x17 model sells for 7175 pounds at Robert White. The corresponding Shen Hao sells at the same dealer for 1350 pounds. Though I really appreciate the build quality of my Ebony cameras, this price difference is too large to ignore. It's easy to dismiss the Shen Hao by assuming that the price difference is related to quality - Anders' statement about Shen Hao tells otherwise.
    You do have to remember that not everyone is an engineer and 'quality' is subjective. No offense meant Anders, your observations may be 100% accurate - I have no experience of any of the items being discussed - but not everyone sees things the same way.

    Having said that, as Lars points out there would have to be an incredible amount of difference in the Ebony's favour to warrant a 5000+ premium.

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    Re: Save $

    http://www.precisioncameraworks.com/Media/monoball.pdf

    That's a brochure from Arca, please look at the pictures closely, especially the cube and compare it to pictures from our "innovative" friend...
    Look at the details of the design - I think I know why this company doesn't enter the German/Swiss-market...

    Most of you are professional photographers, so just imagine somebody copies your pictures and sells them for half the price - not because he is working more efficient, just because he is using cheaper equipment, doens't have to think about much about lighting/framing (you already did) and selling it for half the price is just his business-concept...

    I'm a mechanical engineer and even I need some time to judge mechanical quality in detail. Putting a Swiss-technician in front of a sophisticated CNC-machining-center costs about 100/hour (wage + machine + tools...) and according to Arca it takes about 8h to machine/assemble the cube which makes 800 + material + R&D...

    Why is the Photoclam cheaper? We don't really know unless we could see the workshops in detail but we can make pretty reasonable assumptions based on thousands of those companies in the business:

    - nearly no R&D (just reverse engineering of the Arca)
    - lower enviromental standards
    - lower social standards (a Swiss "Zerspanungstechniker" is paid at least 2-3times better)
    but of course also the manufacturing itself:
    - using simpler details
    - cheaper/less strong Al- and brass-alloys (tools are cheaper)
    - higher tolerances
    - less rigid QC

    And no, most likely you're not able to see any of these things, not after using it for many, many years.

    Quality and engineering like the Arca Cube have become rare, do we really want lose even this? It's a strange company, not even having a website and it's not very communicative either - I've never claimed that - but it's engineering.

    I'm sorry that I'll have to come up with these things over and over again, but whole industries died because of things like that!
    The Swiss for example had the most advanced watch/fine-mechanical/micro-mechatronics of the world with over 70000 highly trained employees. They were crushed by "cool" Asian plastic watches. But they were lucky, people realized that the quality is worth the price and Nicholas Hayek (chief of Swatch) saved technology, suppliers and thousands of jobs against short-sighted business- and marketing-people until that happened.
    How? He was long-sighted, he believed in the Swiss (propably because he isn't born Swiss!?) and their skills instead of just comparing wages... The engineers realized that they could built also plastic-quartz-watches more efficiently (the Japanese needed 150 parts, they only 30) and within a few years they became the market leader again.

    But that's a rare case, besides superior technology we have to fight with less and less quality in consumer-electronics, clothes, cars...
    I'll stop here, I could write for hours - but who would read that ;-) But I'll hope that you get the point, a basic understanding besides your point of view. Just like your client doesn't appretiates every aspect of your work instantly and say's "that's pretty expensive for a few pictures I could have shot myself"...

    I don't know "Markin"-heads - what do they do better than Arca? Do they have an aspheric ball?

  38. #138
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    Re: Save $

    Capitalism is a wonderful concept - and a double-edged sword. You can charge ANY price you want, at any markup you see fit -- as long as the market will bear it, it's livin' good time.

    The market 'bearing it' can mean anything from you're the only game in town to you offer the best gear, best service, etc. You're not a charity, you're a business that exists to make money - the more the better. Good stuff.

    As (lets assume) a premium-price vendor it's also solely YOUR obligation to your shareholders/investors to defend (and grow) that profit stream - via ongoing innovation, legal action, service, support distribution, marketing etc.

    That said, capitalism also has a nasty tendency to come back to bite you in the ***. If, for whatever it appears as if the market will no 'bear' your pricing , it's YOUR obligation, NOT the market's, to defend it and if no longer able to do so, adjust to the new reality via your pricing, cost structure, support system, product breadth, etc., -- or diminish as a player.

    Firms copy one another's innovation all the time. The 'Flex exists solely because of the huge premium charged for the Cube. You can fight them in court (if able) for years and, if victorious, continue to sell a smattering of $2400+ Cuber/year -- until someone else comes along and you start the battle once again, and again, and again. All the while advertising, on your dime, just how much more you charge vs. other manufacturers for 'the same' product.

    Or you can admit the good times are over, lower your premium by dropping margins and/or moving production to a lower cost region. By doing so you all but decapitate the threat from the 'flex (or it's successors) -- while stimulating sales, lowering per unit costs (and thus upping margins) accordingly.
    Last edited by robmac; 17th April 2009 at 04:57.

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    Re: Save $

    georgl:
    several of us share your sentiment.

    i think this breaks down into two camps:
    1. those who would buy the knockoff because it is cheaper and quite likely adequately made (as long as it is "legal" to do so, but that issue is typically not seen as the consumer's responsibility)
    2. those who feel a direct copy knockoff is stealing from another designer, whether illegal or not, and do not want to support such a method of doing business

    with regard to the Clam/Cube specifically,
    1. we do not know enough to tell who is copying who (they do seem to be nearly identical)
    2. the clam seems to be extremely well made
    3. nothing is known about patents, legality, etc.
    4. the Asian market is notorious for making illegal copies of everything, ignoring or not enforcing copyrights and patents
    5. the Asian manufacturing community is capable of extremely well made precision products, as well as making the machines that produce them

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    Re: Save $

    Nice post, georgl. Well said.

    I think the problem most people are having is that the cube was (?) $1300 a few years ago, and is now $2400? If they can make one for $1300, or with later costs, say $1600, why the great leap in price?

    I don't think any of this would be under debate if they were charging $1600 instead of $2400.

  41. #141
    Senior Member Graham Mitchell's Avatar
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by georgl View Post
    Most of you are professional photographers, so just imagine somebody copies your pictures and sells them for half the price - not because he is working more efficient, just because he is using cheaper equipment, doens't have to think about much about lighting/framing (you already did) and selling it for half the price is just his business-concept.
    .....
    I'm sorry that I'll have to come up with these things over and over again, but whole industries died because of things like that!
    I've been saying the same thing and I'm quite sure all the photographers here would be outraged to see their photos used without permission, or prints of their work sold without license at a low price, etc. Hipocrisy.

    What's worse than that is that some people here are going out of their way to promote the 'pirate' companies. Product piracy is a huge and very serious problem which has already put long-established and innovative companies out of business.

    Please note that I am NOT objecting to fair competition which is GOOD for the consumer, I am objecting to pirate companies undercutting other companies who spend a lot on R&D. I don't think I'll post in this thread again, it's just upsetting me.

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    Re: Save $

    amen, graham

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    Re: Save $

    Willem,

    the Multiflex come with the leather bag?

    If it didn't I can sale my bag for a $100.00 maybe they come down if they find it out, the I sold it for a $100.00

    I think the price when from $1,300.00 to $2,400.00.

    because Jack, sold he's bag for $1,100.00 in arca swiss find it out. (thank you jack)

    Now we pay the price.

    My bag it's for sale.


    BlasR

  44. #144
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Save $

    I have a Gitzo head , yea a real one. LOL

    Lot's of discussion on this one but folks should not get upset on others opinions. We all have them and honestly not surprised by many modes of thought. One thing we need to remember is there is already a vast amount of reverse engineering going on and maybe another way to look at this. Look at Sigma , Tokina and Tamron for example. They would not even be in business if they did not reverse engineer off of the Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts. Obviously there are many ways to be looking at all this and I do enjoy everyones points of view even if I don't agree.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Save $

    I think its well known that for some asian cultures copying is not a bad thing, its an honor if you get copied because it says that your product is seen as a very good product.

    The other thing is to see things more global. IMO protection doesnt help.
    Yes, many things are produced in China/Asia today because of labor cost (or other reasons). However lets not forget that these companies often use European equipment and machinery, so this means we indirectly also participate a lot from them.
    As a German I could say: hey - I only buy things produced in Germany....but hey- now I realize we live from Export. And even if we buy from other countries we will participate.
    Does anybody think Arca Swiss cares when they buy a machining equipment if it is from the brand which invented such machine? They will probably see which brands offer such machines and than buy the one which offers the best value for money.

    If we do the comparison with photographs: You sell a print for a premium price and sell the same subject/print over many years and to rise the price over the years 100%? So you take those 2 or 3 very good lifetime shots and sell them over and over again and earn good money for the rest of your life?
    Would be nice.

  46. #146
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    Re: Save $

    Lots of assumptions here regarding relative pricing of the Cube vs. Multiflex, some unfairly calling AS greedy, others think that Koreans are happier with less profit, etc., etc., but what everyone is ignoring is the difference of the distribution channels. I'll bet you AS ex-factory price is less than what PhotoClam is charging for their product, selling them direct on e-bay. The Cubes $2400 retail price includes, the cost of the item + shipping and import duties to the distributor + distributor markup = new cost + shipping to dealer + dealer markup = MSRP. I bet you that Cube's ex-factory price is in the $800-$900 range and that is more than fair! At this price they probably make around $300 gross per head and how many cubes do you think that they can sell a year? AS is anything but greedy. In reality PotoClamp is the greedy party here selling their product @ $1200 a pop, a good deal would be $600-$700 considering their direct sales policy.
    Last edited by ddk; 17th April 2009 at 06:45.

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    Re: Save $

    1. Piracy isn't restricted to Asia. Eastern Europe and Russia are major centers of piracy.
    2. Piracy in western countries also exists, in different areas - I have referenced some cases regarding biopiracy. Please see my post no.55
    3. Piracy is a fact of life. All of us experience it in one form or the other.
    I have asked how, as an individual photographer, without the resources to get into a legal battle, all of you have tackled piracy. I have shown my approach, in my field. I have even managed to keep those clients who had sold my work to others at a profit. I have recovered that loss many, many times over.

    Marketing and economics.

    A/S knew about the MultiFlex a long time ago.
    What PR, marketing and legal steps have they taken to combat it?
    What economic steps has it taken?

    A/S claims IP rights over the Cube. If it has a patent, there is nothing secret about it. If the patent is pending, again no secret. A patent holder must actively defend its patent, and must prove it has done so, in court.

    I asked if anyone knew why A/S doubled the price of the Cube in three years, whether it had raised its prices on other products by similar margins, whether its competitors had raised their prices by similar margins. A/S is of course free to set its own prices, but it is also competing with other equally good manufacturers.

    There is no use shouting from the rooftops about the legality and morality of it, or simply being upset and outraged.

    Sitting on its hands, and getting photographers to whine isn't going to help
    A/S or photographers.

    Kumar
    Last edited by FromJapan; 17th April 2009 at 06:56.

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    Re: Save $

    There is a big battle here about te Cube / Mulltiflex thing ; I have personaly made my choice. I have ordered a Multiflex head. I leave in an Island in Indian Ocean, here everything is expensive and I 'm quite sure I am the only one here looking for such a device. So when I make my business, I buy in uS, GB, France or Korea...anyway the cheapest is the best because here I've got no distributor or any warranty applying or backing me. So in many case I have to buy double equipment in case of problems with one.
    I think all these High end mechanical, optical companies are bound by our occidental world laws and taxes. They should be afraid of our asian friends who are very capable people and can in a few years equal the quality of production of occidental companies. We have seen this in the astronomy and optical field : Chinese production now equal german and french one for half the price ; and the first reason of it , these occidental companies have delocalized somme of their products here.

    But please don't fool me, 1900 euros or 764 euros, some great ingeener has to explain me where is going my money. And as I do not received clear and good explanation about this, I went for the Multiflex (in fact very easy , in english and smooth ). AS should have brought aswers to their customers all I here on this thread is hypothesis , maybe R&D, maybe Patents , ...?
    Period : Photoclam 1 - Arca swizz 0

    Let everybody make it his proper way and beware of rapid judgemnt.

    Let'go back to our goal : photos , a lots of .

    ;-)
    Last edited by steflaurent974; 17th April 2009 at 07:00. Reason: not finished !!!
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    Re: Save $

    Quote Originally Posted by ddk View Post
    Lots of assumptions here regarding relative pricing of the Cube vs. Multiflex, some unfairly calling AS greedy, others think that Koreans are happier with less profit, etc., etc., but what everyone is ignoring is the difference of the distribution channels. I'll bet you AS ex-factory price is less than what PhotoClam is charging for their product, selling them direct on e-bay. The Cubes $2400 retail price includes, the cost of the item + shipping and import duties to the distributor + distributor markup = new cost + shipping to dealer + dealer markup = MSRP. I bet you that Cube's ex-factory price is in the $800-$900 range and that is more than fair! At this price they probably make around $300 gross per head and how many cubes do you think that they can sell a year? AS is anything but greedy.
    Unless each Cube was flying from France to the US and other countries in its own, individual first-class seat on Air France or SwissAir, I doubt it would add up to that much

    And $2,400 isn't MSRP. It's the selling price at B&H
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...ared_Head.html

    And who's stopping A/S from selling on eBay?? At least then they might get a web presence!!

    Cheers,
    Kumar

  50. #150
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    Re: Save $

    My final two cents: whatever AS is charging is irrelevant to the issue of whether there's an ethical problem with copying or piracy. I guess you can justify buying the clone (many here have, in what seem to me to be legalistic arguments, something we hate in lawyers but seem willing to use ourselves), but don't blame AS's lack of business sense or "greed." I was taught that two wrongs don't make a right.

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