28 Dec

While I Wasn’t Looking: Why Price Drops Make Me Sad

Caught up in the excitement of the UAV age (intentionally not using the word drone so I don’t sound like an amateur), I searched for a long time for a deal on a solid 8-rotor platform with the hopes of flying a DSLR or possibly one of the new mirror-less cameras like the Panasonic GH4 or Sony A7s.

Craigslist afforded me a prime opportunity to score a used DJI s1000 with the A2 flight controller and Futaba 14SG radio remote – buyer asking $4500. With the s1000 alone going for almost $4,000, the A2 around $1,300 and the Futaba about $600, it seemed like a great idea, especially when he threw in a couple LiPo batteries so I could get started. Upon inspection the aircraft had some minor damage which would require about $500 in parts and the seller agreed to discount as much so I dropped the $4,000 and went home excited and ready to take off.

Once home I started looking through the documentation and discovered that whomever had this before had no clue what they were doing and probably didn’t know how to read. The wiring was totally wrong on the controller and it took me a couple weeks to get organized enough, order the necessary battery connectors and solder them on, etc.

It was about this time I happened to pop on to DJI.com and browse their store and notice that they now listed the s1000 directly, previously I had looked and was quite sure they only carried the Phantom – the s1000 had to be purchased through a dealer. Not only was it there on the site but the price was now $2,670. I was shocked to say the least and immediately searched the dealer listings I had looked over previously to see their prices were still around $4,000 for the pair (about half have since dropped as of this post).

So here I was with a broken UAV that brand new would run me around $3,400 (for my setup) and I was in at $4,000 and needing $500 in replacement parts. If I had only waited a week. Buying gear in this market is a gamble. You wait and watch that Canon C100 for a year and finally make the jump and the next week the Mark II is announced for the same price (happened to my friend).

Or you can wait and wait and wait and never shoot a thing. Such is modern filmmaking.