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Are digicam sellers pricing their items too high?

by Gaby Agbulos

Recently updated on January 14, 2024 02:26 pm

AT present, what’s trendy is anything and everything old. Vinyl players, CDs, cassette tapes, and of course, digital cameras. 

Compact digital cameras – those popular in the 90s and the 2000s, in particular – have started to grow in popularity once again since they bring a certain style to photos that you just can’t get on a phone or a DSLR. 

When it comes to products brought back into popularity by nostalgia, oftentimes they’re sold at higher prices depending on their quality, because many of them are no longer produced today. Either that, or they’re just really hard to come by. Hence why oftentimes people don’t bat an eye when items such as these are sold for a price higher than they used to be. 

Some argue, however, that there are sellers who have started to abuse the power of repricing – that it has become all too much. This has become widely debated on social media platforms such as X and Instagram, with Instagram digital camera (digicam) resellers being the topic of debate.

The issue arose when one particular seller was called out due to some of the prices of their items ranging from 10, 000 to 13, 000 PHP. Some pointed out that some of the cameras this seller was posting were still available for sale online, and were priced much lower.

The seller later on posted that the reason behind their high markups is because they source their items from other countries like Japan and Thailand, and that the items that they’re selling are highly in demand. 

They then argue that people are free to buy what they can afford and that other shops sell the items for more affordable prices. The post has since been deleted.

This then raises the question: are these prices justified? And if not, how much should these sellers actually be pricing their cameras, as per the opinions of the general public? 

From the point of view of the public

As a photographer, 21-year-old Kristian Mendoza has had a long history with cameras, both of the compact and DSLR variety.

He started his journey in 2013 by using digicams his dad would give him, buying them for 2 to 3, 000 PHP at the time. He was shocked to find that there were resellers online pricing some of their items at as much as 15, 000 PHP despite them being secondhand. 

“As much as they’re ‘vintage,’ this doesn’t justify the price point,” he commented.

“For a price point of 15, 000 for a digicam, you could buy yourself an entry-level DLSR that would produce better results – though I’m aware people don’t buy digicams for their quality.” 

He likens the situation to the resurgence of film cameras – how the prices of film cameras and film stocks quickly rose after their popularity grew once more – and how the rising prices made it much more difficult for people to either start or maintain the hobby.

“This barrier of entry further makes what’s supposedly a cheaper alternative and counter-culture approach to the ever-increasing resolution and megapixel count of new cameras an equally expensive option, thereby being counterintuitive to its appeal in the first place,” he explained.

21-year-old freelance photographer Rosby Reign Berhay, on the other hand, has long since been following the market of digicam and used cam sellers. She understands the rarity of these cameras being sold, as well as them being valuable due to their condition, but finds that many sellers on Instagram do overprice their cameras. 

She notes it would be better to look for resellers on different social media platforms with more reasonable prices instead.

Kung sasabihin mong hindi mo target market ang mga hindi kayang bumili ng mga bentables mo, edi good for you yun,” she said.

Ngunit nasa integridad mo bilang seller kung tama at makatarungan ang pricing ng iyong produckto, kahit ito ay galing sa ibang bansa.” 

Meanwhile, 22-year-old fresh graduate Christopher Musngi feels that a price point such as this would be reasonable if the digicam had a suggested retail price for around that much when it was first launched, and if the item were still in pristine condition and unopened.

For a secondhand item, however, it would be hard to justify such a price, even if it were sourced from other countries.

“Even if it came from a different country, it’s highly unlikely that a secondhand digicam like this would be sold for a price near its original suggested retail price (SRP); other more retro secondhand tech sell for much less than their original SRP in a lot of secondhand places there,” he shared. 

“Unless they bought it for around that price in another country as well, increasing the price drastically for resell makes it look like scalping, which is highly frowned upon.”

Rey Ventura, a teacher of Journalism currently living in Japan, also adds that digicams such as these are often sold for only 1 to 2, 000 PHP there.

He further explained: “Sa batas ng pangangalakal, kapag dinoble ang presyo, medyo mag-aalangan na ang bibili. Pero kapag 10 times sa original, ito ay pagsasamantala rin.

With regard to pricing cameras at 11 to 15, 000 PHP, he stated: “Ito ay labis na pagsasamantala sa mga mamimili.” 

For Mendoza, a reasonable price for these digicams would be around 5, 000 PHP. For Musngi, an appropriate price point would be 8 to 10, 000 PHP, depending on the condition and quality of the camera. And for Berhay, she feels that an appropriate price range would be anything above 1, 000 but below 10, 000 PHP. 

Bilang isang photographer, pipillin ko ang produkto na talagang sulit sa halaga ng pera ko, kahit secondhand – basta magagamit ko pa ‘to ng matagalan,” she explained.

From the point of view of digicam sellers

Many people online have since started to search for digicam shops online with more affordable prices. Does a lower price mean that quality has to be sacrificed? Are the secondhand digicams sourced from the Philippines of a lower quality than those in other countries? 

As seen with these sellers, the answer is: absolutely not.

23-year-olds Czyrell and Vryle are the owners of the online digicam store, DigiDiaries by Lel. The prices for their cameras range from 3 to 5, 000 PHP; this is for units without or with minimal issues only. 

Their interest in digicams first started as a hobby, but after selling their first camera in 2022, they’ve continued ever since.

When it comes to pricing their items, Czyrell and Vryle base this on the condition and rarity of the item, as well as the market prices of the cameras themselves. 

Unlike other digicam sellers, Czyrell and Vryle simply buy and sell.

“It’s hard to start a collection posting when we just buy secondhand units from each person; we don’t buy in bulk, we don’t have a supplier, [and] there are no available Japan surpluses in Pampanga, so work depends on how many cameras we can avail on a decent price in a certain week,” they explained.

At the same time, they juggle their business with their academic workload, since they’re both still students. Posting collections alone takes them three to four hours – what more of time they put into looking for their products? 

When the issue concerning digicam pricing started to arise, the pair was thankfully unaffected, receiving a large number of positive reviews, support, and vouches from past buyers, even gaining almost 2, 000 followers soon after. 

“We think that pricing too high just because it is in demand is unfair; we were threatened when these big shops started to rise, but still continuously get sold out,” they shared.

“We were tempted to mark up our price, but brushed off the idea, as we hate capitalism. We believe this should be an eye-opener for everyone: we shouldn’t enable free-market capitalism.” 

As per these sellers, just because you can take advantage of someone doesn’t mean you should. 

21-year-old Andrei, the owner of Digi Club MNL, shares the same sentiments. At present, their items are priced at 3 to 7, 000 PHP. Like the former, they base the price of a camera on its condition, quality, and ‘rare value.’

As someone who likes to take pictures, Andrei found that he didn’t like using his phone, but also saw DSLRs as rather big, while film and vlogging cameras were too expensive. 

When he stumbled upon an old digicam at his house, he saw it as the perfect camera, as it was compact and had a unique output, distinct from what you’d take on a phone or a more modern camera.

He started selling cameras on Facebook Marketplace in 2021 to 2022, before they gained popularity, and found the response to be rather overwhelming. 

He realized that there was a growing demand for these cameras, hence why he later started his business Digi Club MNL, and raised his prices moving forward.

In procuring his cameras, Andrei goes through three stages. First is sourcing, wherein he searches both online and offline through different shops for digicams, which he notes has become harder due to the saturation of the market, with more and more sellers coming in each day.

Second is the quality check, wherein he spends a week or more using the cameras he finds, identifying any potential issues with them. 

He explained: “This process not only ensures the quality of the product but also plays a significant role in determining the pricing, which may vary based on the identified issues.” 

He notes that this is the most tiring process since during this, he has to go from place to place just so he can get sample photos and videos using his products.

Finally, he goes through the post-processing and posting stage, where he uses a ready-made template for his posts then uploads them to social media.  Like the former, he’s also still a student, so aside from his academic workload, he spends about five hours a week tending to his business.

All this hard work – as well as the camera, of course – is what you pay for when you shop at Digi Club MNL.

Despite raising his prices, though, Andrei still feels that selling a digicam for 10 to 20, 000 PHP is much too high.

“I acknowledge the effort and perhaps added freebies that sellers incorporate, but it is really off for me; it appears to be driven more by greed rather than fair pricing,” he shared. 

“I worry that the overpriced pricing set by some sellers might set a benchmark or ceiling price, influencing others to follow and impacting the overall pricing in the market.”

Stay safe out there

At the end of the day, your opinion about the digicam matter is yours and yours alone. If you are planning on buying a digicam, there are two things to keep in mind. 

First: do your research. 

Musngi suggests joining different online communities so that you’ll have a better grasp of what you’re looking for, what to look out for, as well as how much you should be paying for the unit you’re after. 

If you have one that you’re eyeing online, make sure you’re getting what you pay for, and make sure that whoever you’re buying from is a trusted seller to avoid getting scammed.

Second: try to do it on your own. 

When it comes to sourcing from thrift shops, Andrei reminds buyers that most cameras are untested, so it’s a risky game to be playing. However, if you’re someone who does enjoy risks, he urges you to explore these shops.

“Success in finding a working camera largely depends on luck,” he explained.

“It’s like leaving it to the thrift gods. If fortune favors you, then congratulations, and welcome to the digiclub.”

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