Is my page of who don-nit’s and “whyfors” and just plain old bad poop-pe-do.  And unfortunately much of it is aimed at the camera industry, the battery companies and China who is estimated to win the world production of lithium based batteries in the next two decades.  If they don’t blow themselves up.

While we are shooting at the Taliban, insurgents, madmen and total crazies, the Chinese are negotiating for the best prize of Afghanistan.

To us basically offers nothing more than a huge sand trap for Donald Trumps newest Golf Course called “Play it if you Dare”, featuring unmarked hazards such as “Bouncing Betty’s, Punji Sticks in the Rough and Golf carts with dirty bombs if you go off the paths.

The gift?  Afghanistan has  because of its ancient volcano terrain, two resources which might be a gold mine, not gold but Lithium and Copper, the real golds of the future.  Forget the camera gear, we are talking Airplanes and Cars, and almost anything that doesn’t have a cord. 

Bottom line while the nit-twitting madman in the WhiteHouse tells us how wonderful he is, the Chinese are making it wonderful for the rest of the world.   Trump breaks treaties that keep the US in the forefront and will eventually “ Make America Great” will be a joke.  

So I decided to do a little more exploration on some of the items new to the market today from SONY, (you did know the other guys use SONY engineering, and recently, how they perform. I also went back to roots, more manual shooting and bigger strobes as these overpriced flea flickers really changed shooting perspectives by making the camera do more and your brain less.

Many of you know, I stopped soliciting and doing weddings, I am still coaching some new talent in the game, and will do an occasional events if they are Charity Related 501-(3)(C) with books and backgrounds. My varying attempts at retiring, has been a complete failure, I keep getting dragged back in.   

I became am a SONY fan, I carried Nikon for forty-six plus years, it had it’s benefits, fast tech service, decent employee perks, the paper had the lenses I didn’t want to mortgage the house for and we sold NIKON in the store.  Before the store went out we took on SONY.  After retiring, I sold off the NIKON heavy gear. Timing was good, digital really stepped up and I got out, selling almost 12,000 dollars worth of film gear.  Fast forward...

DRAGGED IN AGAIN - But like a moth to the flames I got dragged back.   The second retirement was again from covering if I could, the rest of sports, politicians and weddings.  The killer, was a wedding for a wedding mill customer whose own shooters didn’t want to touch this gal whose name was I believe  was Bitchtania Mephistopheles. I handled the mess they made, she turned out to be a good referral customer for me. 

Then two years ago, the election game began complete with cheating, lying, hatred, division and diversion, and a bunch of loser cretins getting into office and I got the call again.  And when it ended poorly.  My first round found me a Palin years ago, whom I thought was the bottom of the barrel. You learn a lot about character when you have access behind the stage. She really had no character.  Just a broad with a made up resume who bitched about everyone else and when we investigated her in ALASKA we found a different person. Her resume was Holy Grail of Swiss Cheese.

The second found me a TRUMP.  I know when to get out when you dream of leaving the 200 mm home and bringing my AR-15,  it was time to exit. 

THE THIRD RETIREMENT...is real.  January 1, 2018
My doc tells me so, time to take it easy. Take up fishing and shuffleboard. Shuffleboard is a geriatric answer to curling and popular here in Florida with the elder generation.

NOTE:   I will still be doing battery packs, re-building strobe units,  and manufacturing  my proprietary scanners and scanning just as before, nothing will change, this keeps me alive and active, problem solving, avoiding Alzheimers except I will be available from 8 to 12 (Noon) daily  and having fun from twelve on.  KAYAK fishing seems challenging,   

I got to play with a few of the newer SONY’s,  Carl Zeiss inspired lenses and if you can find some, you have the ability to use Minolta AF lenses and most are really top notch.  And the A77 is one of the finest movie cameras you can find. For the smaller amounts of video I need, Im not blowing twenty grand on another rig.  I have seven SONY’s using them commercially on my scanners and shooting in general from Macro to tele.

And with the SONY LA4 converter hundreds of lenses work on both my “A” and E-Series cameras. I have seven now, two sometimes three which are on my slide reproducers, cameras with two being A mounts and five E mounts.  They keep growing.  Most do not know that the  legacy Minolta lens’s of great quality were made by Minolta in their own Japanese factory and not from any of the commercial lens makers from the land of JUNKS.  ( Singular or plural) 

Also many don’t know SONY will continue the A- MOUNT for a while because the best seller in Europe and the Far East are Minolta/ SONY  “ A“ bodies. 

For twenty years I have held my prices rather than raising them and will continue to do so as long as there is the volume I’m used to. I lost another battery distributor and vendor to the economy, and some products are getting hard to find or if I can find them the pricing has gone off the planet.  I refuse to use cheaper Chinese parts of dubious quality.  So I’m working on backup distributors  and new sources which usually result in something better anyway.

NEW SCANNER PROGRAM - Digital Automated Scanning, our business model is hot, and we are shipping.  Read the digitizing section, it’s a money maker for those months when things are slow and exclusive territories are available. The winner this week did over 10,000 slides and made a chunk of money.   (He negotiated to .43 cents a slide, do the math)  My three scanner operation is set up now with a capacity of 2400 slides per hour digitized which is a net of over 1000 dollars an hour.   We go full advertising in January as I shift my work to my home, no travel, no phones, no missing meals, and so forth.

TSA HOT ON LITHIUM - Another hot item is the TSA battle and they are right on this one, over Lithium.  A reminder my packs are sealed lead acid or SLA , Ni-MH and not on the bad list.  Just make sure you have the red caps on the battery when traveling on an airline.  

Soon you might be leaving your computer laptop home.  Or if new terrorism laws fall you will have a choice of no laptop or walk.  Commercial carriers (UPS, USPS, FEDEX) are working on overnight laptop service in bomb proof containers as an alternative.   Why not just put it all on a non-battery drive and bring your data with you to you client.

So leave the flying carpets, scooters, hovercraft and anything else Lithium powered off the planes.  One jerk who got nailed, with a Samsung 7, had the phone confiscated since he gave the flight attendant a hard time and she got the first officer and he got arrested. It cost him plenty, violation of the Lithium law specifically the Samsung, interfering with the commands of the flight crew, both considered felony’s and a free ticket to the no-fly list.  Hope he likes Greyhound...

This is a Federal offense you can’t win or claim ignorance.  And refusing or arguing will only increase the trouble you might be in.  The flight crews are nervous, the airport police are nervous, the TSA people are nervous.  When I was flying charters I also had a .45 in my bag.

•  Business wise a camera store can be a financial disaster these days.  At one time Pinellas County,  FL  and Hillsboro County, FL  had eleven full line camera stores surrounding Tampa Bay.  Almost one camera store for every gun shop.  There were additional retail stores like K-Mart, and that brought the total to thirty-three.  The count according to court records was thirty-seven camera stores alone, not big box had come to Pinellas County and now gone. 

•  Today there are NO camera stores in Pinellas County, but hundreds of gun shops.  Both retail and pawn stores selling guns.  I was in my prime an active wing, skeet, trap, and competitive IPSC three gun combat shooter, but thats not what the bulk of these gun stores are selling today.  I quit due to impending TMJ if I continued.  I only shoot combat defense pistol courses now, no rifle or wing shooting from a Weaver stance not locking my jaw.

•  Due to the paranoia and the beating of the NRA misinformation drums, combined with the temperament of the country, the years of hatred and racism building and then ignited by social deviates, we have had a share of problems. Guns are not a solution, no one wins, one dies and the other goes to jail. 

•  We recorded life, I had a camera store, serviced others, many police departments retail and wholesale wise, and many of my friends had the others.  We serviced the living.  Mostly in good times, various things, weddings, birthdays, holidays, events sports and the family was always somehow involved.

•   THE KILLER - ONE - At the yearly trek to Vegas, for the PMAI trade show we met with our Nikon Representative, who became the US National sales manager.  He told us about “Big Box Stores” and the effect they would create eventually dominating and controlling the US retail market.  

For every flagship pro camera level sold, the big box stores sold a hundred newbie or entry level cameras.  He was right as the digital camera became an electronic item, use and throw away.

•   THE KILLER - TWO - Later the growth of the Web with players like B&H, and Adorama who in one year  a decade ago captured more than 3/4 of the total camera market.  Close to 787 million out of a 1.3 billion dollar market went to B&H and was big money in those days. Its more today, it destroyed the local camera store, they had the inventory and the mass purchase pricing.  And the second biggest winner was Adorama, the other biggie in NY.

 The last 20% went to hundreds of independents and small chains like WOLF and RITZ in their high cost mall operations which caused them to visit and go down the toilet.

•   THE KILLER - THREE - And then came Amazon.  Needless to say,  what I spent on gasoline, finding a parking spot  a mile from any stores front  door and mixed  shopping meaning five stops and starts, and that parking on a 95 degree day with a heat index of 105 was no fun.  The gasoline saved is enough to pay for my prime membership.  

Heatstroke avoided, thats just age.   Many stores were relegated to malls for the traffic that malls created.  It’s not any more, easier to buy on line where the competition is and the more important, pricing and with Amazon choices.  And malls traffic is severely depressed and estimates are 8400 stores will close as malls are expensive. 

•   THE KILLER - FOUR - And then the smartphone with advanced camera features sealed the fate of the small camera end of the business.  I got out of the retail end in time.  As of last November there are only two stores left on the entire West coast of Florida.  With no competition the people further look for what they want on line and surf the web. Like Tallahassee to Key West.


•   The next surge will occur when the industry giants implode.  Nikon and Canon (Read the Japanese Financials for the real stories not rumors) are in decline significantly for many reasons;  due to loss of competitiveness; 

1-Lack of Chinese customers buying SLRs in Japan;
2-Compact point and shoots replaced by cellphones with ever better cameras being built in combined with a method for sending it; 

3-A lack of retail stores to sell the higher end complex cameras.  

•   Serious enough for camera divisions to be up for sale and the selling off of prime subdivisions. Some of the smaller manufacturers have consolidated.  Some might not be there much longer.  

•  Canon stated its intention to shift more production to Japan back in November. At that time the company quoted an increase to 50 percent domestic production over time.  Canon isn’t the only company looking to increase its production in Japan. Both Panasonic and Sharp are considering increasing their domestic production, though neither have explicitly confirmed plans to do so. 

•  In an article in Fortune magazine Canon has expanded it’s theology. 2016 marks the inaugural year of Phase V. Over the next five years we will expand the ambitious reforms we have promoted to date. I want the Canon of 2020 to look completely different from how it does now, completing a transformation into an all-new Canon capable of achieving new growth.

    • Across our business operations we are strengthening and expanding the growth engines we acquired through diversification and M&A. In manufacturing, we are refocusing on Japan- based production, implementing advanced automation while maximizing our in-house production capabilities. 
    • At the same time, IoT, big data, artificial intelligence and other next- generation technologies are enabling us to develop a new production system. In R&D, we are embracing open innovation to integrate leading-edge technologies from different fields. 
    • And as we work to complete our Three Regional Headquarters management system, we are restructuring our worldwide sales network to capture the dynamism of global economic growth. Along the way, Canon remains committed to cultivating global human resources that enable us to work successfully across international borders. 
    • Canon has purchased OCE, a leader in large printing format as digital is now on a par with offset printing. Large printing is a 80 trillion dollar a year business.  The now own TOKKI  a leader in touch screen devices and production of OLEDS.
    • Another acquisition is MOLECULAR IMPRINTS, now called Canon Nanotech will be shipping its first new machines this year for the growing IC market.   They now own Milestone industries. This will place them strong in the network camera business, surveillance  production monitoring, market research and identification and last but not least TOSHIBA Medical Systems, a leader in radiology.
    • Quite an aggressive forward thinking company...

•   Convenience, many millennials so accustomed to buying and throwing away things, like their smartphone every two years, costing 600-900 dollars, the price built into the ridiculous monthly fees included in that great contract.  Thats what ate up the hobby, fun, sports, photography available cash and time.  You not only have a phone, you have a camera and the ability to transmit.  

•   Credit Managers lost jobs after NIKON and CANON took hits and had to restructure when two of the Big Boxes, Circuit City and the horribly run RITZ chain cost Nikon and Canon like 28+ millions in advances when they folded.  This big box deal backfired with those two majors and really cost the independent stores because both raised wholesale prices to further hinder, and to accommodate the losses.  

•   The few independent stores in the nation now have less reps or none at all, less deals, lower profits, less credit deals and most large dollar purchases by the retailer are due 30 days period,  and failure to pay on time means no further orders.  With fast model changes, being stuck with a dated model, in some cases quality as in the case of Canon base lenses you have problems, no you have nightmares.  Profit margins are down between Nikon and Canon, you cannot stay in business without a lab or selling ancillary higher profit junk rebranded and overpriced distributed directly from companies here and made in the land of JUNK’s. 

•   Several distributors acting as group buying advocates do a good job with rebranding and repackaging the cheap stuff, and I mean real better packaging to look expensive, and retaining a higher false profit margin.  But what they are selling is junk,  keystoned four times and discounted 40% to get you in.

•   Just like the TV ads, WAIT! Buy one and get the second free, just pay the S&H charges. HINT: S&H is what the second and first thing is really worth.  3-4 weeks delivery, thats because it comes from China. No warehousing on US property, no tariffs and so forth.

•   Killer for the little guy with a store. The margins to dealer are below 18% and that covers nothing after discounts and credit card fees.  Lets call it what it really is, the other culprit, the smartphone and connectivity has replaced addiction wise the cigarette as the nemesis of our society.  

•    Both cigarettes and texting can kill.  Actually cigarettes will kill more but texting kills younger citizens and faster.  Both are distractions. But Nikon and Canons poor management and bad business dealings killed the independent retailer.  It reflects in their positions today.

•   Nikon dropped a couple of very troubling bombshells today. The first was a “Recognition of Extraordinary Loss” due to company-wide restructuring; the second was the cancellation of the much-delayed series of Nikon DL compact cameras announced in February of 2016. They made the mistake of going against Fuji and SONY with their award winning cameras in this class and could not top them.

•   Canon will follow suit, just a matter of time.  I will be available working from 6:00 am to 12:00 (Noon) daily  by phone and email the rest of the day having fun knowing my decision to get out of retail and become a service suits me just fine.