With all of the odd camera news that's come floating across my desk in the last few days, it's felt a bit like "cameras in strange places" week at DCR. Here are my podium picks from among the pile of news item this week that left me saying "what?".
Runner Up: Fuji launches yet another networking site for Z-camera users
If you're a "Fujifan" who loves spending time at offzhook.com, you'll soon have another online location to connect with other like-minded Z20fd users. Fujfilm has launched the second social networking website in support of its Finepix Z cameras: zspotnow.com.
I have no idea how Fuji's first such site has done in terms of attracting visitors (clearly well enough to earn a sequel, though the world of big-budget action movies teaches us that this can be a pretty low bar to clear). But the company's repeated attempts to synthesize hipster culture around the Z models still seems like an odd use of marketing resources to us.
Want to make some new friends? Apparently buying a Z20fd's the way to do it. As before, the primary focus of the latest site appears to be the promotion of events that have nothing to do with taking pictures (reminder: the purpose of a camera is, in fact, to take pictures).
Forgive me for sounding old-fashion, but social arrangements predicated on the ownership of a particular camera strike me as something from a bizarre alternate universe. If Fuji were building websites about how to take better pictures with your Z20fd, I wouldn't get it a second thought, but advertising concerts and fashion shows targeted to FinePix owners? I don't get it.
For all its fresh tribal pattern backgrounds, the latest site feels a lot like the old site: like something envisioned by people who use verbs like "synergize" and "leverage." We thought the painfully forced concept that was offzhook.com would lose momentum pretty quickly, but apparently here we go again.
Winner: Home Depot now selling digital cameras for no apparent reason
I'm not sure if this is a recent development, but NotebookReview.com editor and DCR regular Jerry Jackson stumbled our new favorite online digital camera retailer yesterday: The Home Depot.
That's right – the home improvement giant is now selling DSLRs and a handful of point-and-shoots alongside circular saws and nailguns in its online store. Again, it's not clear if this is a new development, but it's the first time Home Depot has popped up in our online pricing searches.
In Home Depot's defense, they also sell a range of more home-focused (naturally...) electronics on the web, and I'm sure that moving into the lucrative camera market seemed like the logical outgrowth of this business.
But you have to admit that the potential shopping lists that could be built from this inventory decision have the potential to be pretty bizarre: one (1) Makita belt sander; one (1) large box, 1.5-inch zinc coated self-tapping screws; one (1) Nikon D300. As they say on Sesame Street, one (1) of these things is not like the others.
In truth, Home Depot's not exactly plying uncharted waters here. The "we sell it all" retailers – Wal-Mart, Target, and the like – infringed on the territory of home improvement stores first by branching out into power tools. The decision to offer consumer electronics at the same place you buy your lumber is really nothing more than retaliation in kind.
Look for integrated cellphone-style cameras coming to a cordless drill near you in the near term...