Ask LH: Has The Tsunami Caused A Camera Gear Shortage?

Dear Lifehacker, I’m looking into buying a DSLR and lenses but I’m generally getting a sense that stock levels for Canon gear are pretty low because of the disasters in Japan. Do you know what the current situation is or if there is any idea of when stock levels will get back to normal? Thanks, Canon Fodder

Dear Canon Fodder,

We put that question to Canon Australia directly but its media relations department was obviously either ashamed, incompetent or overworked, as no-one ever got back to us. However, it doesn’t take much Googling to discover numerous reports of gear shortages for major camera brands. The issue at this point is not the direct impact of the tsunami itself as the ongoing power strikes and rationing, which make it difficult for factories to run at full capacity.

With that said, a quick search around a few shopping sites did reveal Canon (and other) equipment in stock, so it might be a case of having to do a bit more hunting online than usual rather than giving up altogether. Second-hand sources such as eBay or refurbished gear in camera stores are also an option, especially if prices end up staying unusually high in response to the shortage.

Any other readers had trouble getting hold of cameras and camera gear? Share your experience in the comments.


Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send an email to [email protected], and include ‘Ask Lifehacker’ in the subject line.


  • After deciding on buying a Fuji X100 I was dismayed to find my usual online camera shops all showing nil stock but to my surprise after a few phone calls a local shop in Perth received 5 into stock last Friday and I’m one happy snapper. I wouldn’t have normally gone to this shop as it’s not close to anywhere that I normally travel but it does go to show that whilst some stocks may be thin on the ground a bit of extra hunting should yield results.

  • I’ve been half-looking at the Canon 7D for a while and the grey-import prices definitely drifted up ~10% after the disaster. That said, there’s been some movement downwards again, but not much – they’re still generally at least $100 more expensive than they were 4 or 5 months ago… (and no, that’s not explained by exchange rate).

  • I was looking for a simple point and shoot (Canon Ixus 220) a couple of months ago but everywhere I went only had the silver in stock (the site lists the colours available as red, black and silver). I was after the red one, and none of the bricks and mortar stores that I went to had it. The problem with online stores is that some online shopping sites listed it as “in-stock”, but when I actually emailed/called them regarding stock availability, they didn’t have it.

    I ended up getting someone to buy a different model from overseas (Canon Ixus 310). I’d like to help out Australian businesses and all, but it’s very hard when they don’t have what I need and they charge far more for it when they do.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!