Nikon Lens Price Increases

(news & commentary)

I warned late last year that Nikon was planning to raise lens prices, specifically in Europe. It now seems that that was a premature conclusion from something that was emanating from Nikon corporate. 

The short version is this: Nikon claims that they have been absorbing raw materials price increases on their lenses and a few other items for some time, and this has gotten to the point where they can’t find other costs to cut further. Therefore something must give. What gave, starting March 1st, is the official pricing of a wide range of lenses in Japan. 

A full PDF of the Japan-based price increases is available on Nikon’s site. Probably the easiest way to deal with it is to consider what lenses aren’t getting price increases:

  • 16-80mm f/2.8-4E DX
  • 24-70mm f/2.8E VR (latest model)
  • 24mm f/1.8G
  • 200-500mm f/5.6E
  • 300mm f/4E
  • 500mm f/4E
  • 600mm f/4E

Looking at that list you can see that everything other than the latest releases is getting a price increase in Japan. It’s likely that Nikon already priced in an increase for the above models (which makes the 200-500mm f/5.6 price even more curious). 

So what’s this mean for the rest of us outside Japan? That’s much more difficult to predict. Currency fluctuations and inventory are going to have an impact on when price increases hit the US and Europe, and how much. Of course, Nikon also has declining sales levels to deal with, so price increases are counter-productive to that and might be mitigated in some way. 

I suspect what happened is that Nikon corporate sometime in the second half of last year said to the subsidiaries: prepare for lens price increases. That leaked through Nikon Europe, though the actual date and amount of the increases weren’t known at the time. They still probably aren’t known for sure. But I’m pretty sure we’ll see these increases trickle through the subsidiaries after their next inventory is completed (end of March). 

I should also point out that all teleconverter and Nikon 1 lens prices are going up, too. With Speedlights, everything but the SB-910 and SB-5000 is getting a price increase, including the Nikon 1 specific flashes. No camera prices are changing. 

You’ll notice that I haven’t specified how much of a price increase was made. That’s because it’s pretty variable. Most increases are in the single digit percentage range. Indeed, at a 5% price increase, there’s the possibility that currency fluctuation might eat that up and make it disappear here in the US. 

One thing people had asked about was why last year’s Nikon lens price decreases in the US didn’t match the currency fluctuation. It’s possible that those price changes were moderated knowing that Nikon was going to have to increase prices. In other words, it’s entirely possible that some of the price increases are already represented in the current US prices.

But with so many items being repriced, a fluctuating currency, and sales declines that vary by region, there are too many variables to even come close to predicting if and when we’ll see price increases, let alone on what and how much.

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