If you were considering getting a camera bag in Malaysia, and have looked at some on Lowyat with some unknown name brand, as compared to buying an established brand like Crumpler, Lowepro, Manfrotto, Think Tank Photo or the likes, you may be buying yourself an inferior product.
Now, we are not saying that all other camera bags which aren’t of these brands are inferior, but Lowyat, Sungai Wang Plaza and Digital Mall (Section 13) shops tend to sell much more inferior camera bags at premium prices. And don’t be surprised that some big box camera retailers are doing the same, in the midst of the slowing down of the camera market and high fixed costs.
Has the camera market recovered since its meltdown in 2011? Sadly, no. With an uncertain economy and a market hit by mirror-less cameras led by Sony A7 and Olympus OM-D, many local retailers are doubting if they could survive, with some downsizing, while others ignore their bad debts owed to others, including us.
Choosing a Camera Bag in Malaysia : Don’t get conned
Amidst all these, would these shops prefer to sell you some rebranded low grade camera bag for a high margin? Absolutely. Just like we wrote about fake power banks, back in February 2014, unscrupulous camera shop owners do the same thing. While it is uncommon to find fake camera bags, you can. There are imitation Crumpler and Lowepro Camera Bags going around since 2011. Oh wait, we even wrote a guide on what NOT to do when buying camera accessories, here.
Most of the time, shops would sell unknown brands camera bags, which you could not find much information about online, except that it populates Lowyat, and some low-end online camera shops, out to make a quick buck. After all, let’s look below
- Low quality camera bag – Sold at RM 200. Cost Price at RM 70
- Branded camera bag (e.g. : Lowepro, ThinkTankPhoto, Manfrotto) – Sold at RM 220. Cost Price at RM 150-170
Now, if you were the camera shop owner, faced with a slowing market, but yet still facing a fixed cost due to your rent, staff salaries and such, wouldn’t you try selling more of the Low quality camera bag? It gives you a 300% margin, as compared to the branded camera bag, which the shop might have to further discount to match the prices online.
But yet, most camera enthusiasts do NOT know this, and many of our friends end up with low quality camera bags, just because the fly by night camera stall in Lowyat / Sungai Wang Plaza / Digital Mall / Some shopping mall, told them it is as good, but only slightly cheaper. Or that it is made in the same factory, but under a different name. Or they bait the customers, and then tell them to switch over to a cheaper camera bag (the cheap costing camera bag, which gives them high margin) Or some other reason. And people still buy them, and then suffer the consequences when they start getting a back ache or when the bag starts tearing apart at the seams at the wrong time.
I have seen a well established camera shop (which I could not name, for legal purposes), in a posh shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, putting these cheap costing camera bags next to some original Lowepro. And then they mark up these cheap bags to be about RM 300 to 450, and make them seem like premium bags, except they tried pushing me towards these bags instead of the Lowepro, when I enquired. And as the few salesmen were very pushy, I then had to tell them that I am in the same industry as well, and I do know the cost price of the bags they were selling, which was akin to selling cheap filters (which cost them RM5), at RM 200 or above. Only then did they whispered that they had to do this for a living. But what a con job!
Choosing a Camera Bag in Malaysia: Buy them from reputable shops
Is the camera shop you are buying from reputable? If you are in a small town in Malaysia, perhaps not. Though they may be the largest and has been there for long. How about chained outlets, as in camera shops with many branches? The same, as their salesmen do not know how to sell the features and differences of a quality camera bag, it’s so much easier to sell a cheap one on the expensive side.
So then, what is a reputable shop? Well, if they stock up on quality brands like Manfrotto, Lowepro, Think Tank Photo, Kata, Kelly Moore, Fstopgear and such. And if they don’t sell you camera bags with no websites, or a Chinese language dominant website for a premium price. After all, there is nothing wrong with selling cheap camera bags, but to push it at premium prices is a ripoff.
Shops like YL Camera in Pudu Plaza, Kuala Lumpur, Click N Snap in Penang, and our online store are prime examples of shops staying away from cheap china products. Or we sell them at a much lower price, due to its low-cost, instead of burdening the customers with the price.
Choosing a Camera Bag in Malaysia : Why buy quality, premium camera bags?
- They last longer – My Airport Airstream has travelled the world with me, and is still going strong. While my Crumpler sees daily use for the last 5 years. No cheap, low-end but high-priced camera bags can claim the same
- They give you warranty – Not one month nor three months, but 1 year, 5 years or in some cases, lifetime.
- They give you comfort and protect your body physically – A good backpack is worth your spine. It is true. Without a good camera backpack, you would get hurt easily, or get a slipped disc from carrying such heavy loads. Why save or buy lousy brands, when you can invest in something good?
- They protect your camera and lenses and all other accessories – Imagine if you are travelling, and because of your cheap / fake camera bag, all the sudden when you alight the bus, your bag falls, smashing against the hard and hot tarred road. And there goes your lenses, smashed and broken. Or you can invest in a good camera bag that lasts for years.
I guess you need to be careful where and what you buy. If in doubt, buy from shops like ours, TechGarage.my. We are here to serve you. Read up our story on why we sell camera bags in Malaysia, here. And yes, please avoid the examples above 🙂
p/s : We wrote some conventional camera bags guide as below, some time back. Do check out the links.