The cost of creating Rig parts

This post is a reaction to SBG comment about my budget rig article. SBG said :

$1500 pretty much only gets you a rig – definitely not a rig AND a quality lens. The pricing of shoulder rigs and accessories is laughable. $107 for a straight grip?? Over $1000 for a matte box? puh-leese!

I am sure a lot of people agree with him. I do too which is why I am working on the budget gear article series. The thing is, I am also working on putting on the market a very specialized piece of gear for HDSLR users. Old time readers probably remember me talking about this about a year ago.

My idea is original and solves a real problem for HDSLR shooters. Everyone who saw it loved it and wondered why no one ever thought about it. Seeing all these interested people, my question to them was: how much are you willing to pay for it? I was hoping to hear 30-50$ so I could make enough profit to make it worth the investment, especially since alternatives are twice more expensive. I have to admit that the part in question looks deceptively simple but people where suggesting me to sell it at a price point under my manufacturing cost! Outch!

Unless you worked in the field, it is hard to guess how much it cost to CNC a piece of metal. I know because I was surprised too! Trust me, it is more than what you think! As soon as you put the words precision and steel in the same sentence, you know it will cost a lot. It is like adding Italian after design.  At least, in my case, it should not go out of style the next month.

And, to make things worst, you can’t have these puppies build on order (unless you are RRM and stack orders), most shops will ask for orders to be at least X big if you don’t want to be charged prototype pricing for each unit (which is the equivalent of adding unique to Italian design).

So, you end up investing a massive amount of money without knowing if the product will sell or not. Not a very comfortable situation.

On one hand, if you badly evaluated the market you will end up losing money because you can’t sell your products. On the other hand, if you were right and the market loves your product, some people (from China/Korea/India) will build replicas and sell them at half the price and destroy your market. And just to prove my point, here is a cheap knock off of the Z-finder!

Of course, if you can put yourself in a position where your product can’t be replicated for some technical/economical reasons, it is like hitting the jack pot like David did with the D-Focus.

I am currently at this crossroad. Having to make a decision if I am willing to risk nearly a month worth of earnings on a single deal or not.

What would you do?

About Tommy

Photography allows me to be what I want to be, to be where I want to be, and to do what I want to do ... I'm not professional photographer and I don't need a title, I love to take photographs and that is what I do, I love to learn and I always try to do it better ...

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