You may have read our news post about the 3 Legged Thing QR11 Universal L Bracket which was launched a couple of weeks ago. It’s an interesting piece of kit that we’ll be testing in the near future, but it has sparked a stream of comments questioning the price.
If you’ve ever bought an L Bracket from the likes of Kirk, Manfrotto or Really Right Stuff you’ll probably think that £49/$49 is very competitive, especially as the bracket can be used with a range of cameras. However, 3 Legged Thing CEO Danny Lenihan received lots of comments about such items being available online with sub £10 / $10 price tags.
Speaking exclusively to Camera Jabber, Danny said ‘I’m just disheartened that a community so vulnerable to plagiarism would so vociferously support a market founded on piracy, theft and counterfeiting. There are some fabulous companies in this industry, founded on innovation and progression, with great designers and engineers, who must die a little inside every time they see one of their products copied. I just had to say something.’
Danny took to Linkedin to explain the situation more widely and as we’re often asked about product prices, with Danny’s permission, we’re going to summarise his points here:
Why paying less isn’t always best: Design takes time and money
Introducing a new product takes time, lots of it. Looking at an L-Bracket for example, after identifying a potential gap in the market there needs to be an initial design using measurements from every camera it might be used with. Next the basic mechanical requirements need to be considered before the opportunities to add innovation can be considered.
These processes takes many weeks before the final design can be drawn up and the patent filed – which costs upwards of $100,000 for worldwide coverage.
Of course it’s not just the product that needs to be designed, there’s also the packaging to consider.
Why paying less isn’t always best: Testing
Once the design is complete, a small run of samples will be produced for testing. These are given to experienced photographers who can check how the product performs and feedback any shortfalls. These comments may lead to design changes which need to be tested again.
Why paying less isn’t always best: Factory Standards
A reputable brand should ensure that its products are manufactured in a factory that meets the required health and safety standards. It’s also important to be confident that your product will be produced in a consistent manner using the right grade of (legal) materials so every one sold is as reliable as the rest.
The machines used for the manufacturing are also important, a $2 drill bit won’t make a hole as clean as a $100 drill bit for instance.
A dodgy manufacturer is far more likely to go for cheaper materials and finishing, care little for the workers, nor bother with a factory inspection so they won’t know (or care) how things are made.
Why paying less isn’t always best: Intellectual Property
Disreputable companies have no regard for intellectual property and flagrantly copy designs that belong to other companies. Rather than spend time developing and testing their own products they buy a product they like the look of, scan it and reproduce it with a computer-aided design (CAD) system.
Why paying less isn’t always best: Buying counterfeit kills design
Buying cheap copies of carefully designed and developed products prevents their designers and developers from being paid for their work. Without them there can be no new products or innovation.