Nikon Moving Manufacturing To Thailand

Posted on 12/21/2020 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

I purchased my first Nikon camera in 1958 when I lived in Tokyo. At that time Nikon was the premier Japanese camera company.  Nikon has announced that they will now move all manufacturing of new equipment from Japan to Thailand. The reasons are simple:

Blue Collar workers in Japan average $18.94 per hour.  
Blue Collar workers in Thailand average $4.15 per hour.

Blue Collar workers in the USA average $16.00 per hour.

The only way they can keep the costs of new Nikon cameras competitive is to cut the costs of manufacturing. The biggest manufacturing costs are workers. It is unclear whether some of the Japanese workers will be moving to Thailand. They can probably live much less expensively in Bangkok than in Minato City near Tokyo.

What Impact Will This Have On Stock Photographers?

For photographers using Nikon equipment it will probably have very little impact. Certainly, Nikon will do everything it can to maintain its reputation for producing quality equipment.

But stock photographers need to consider the cost-of-living effect. At $16.00 per hour the average U.S. worker will earn $32,000 a year. In 2019 the adjusted gross income of 43% of those who paid income tax in the U.S. was lower than this. A huge majority of stock photographers earn much less than $32,000, but many don’t work full time at producing stock images.

On the other hand, I believe that if many of the part-timers actually counted the number of hours they work planning photo shoots, getting out and taking the pictures, doing post-production work of cleaning up and adjusting the image files, keywording and dealing with the hassles of uploading their images to stock agencies they would discover that they are earning much less than $16.00 per hour for their time.

However, given the general costs of living in the United States, $32,000 a year doesn’t provide a very good standard of living, particularly if you have a spouse and children and are the sole source of the family income.

In Thailand the same family could live equally well on only $8,300 a year.

It is important to recognize that the largest stock images production company in the world is based in Bangkok, Thailand. Rawpixel has over 1,000,000 images in the Shutterstock collection alone. Most of the same images are with all the other microstock agencies. And Rawpixel sells directly from their own site. The company is headquartered in London, but most of their work is done in Thailand.

In August 2018,  I determined that the countries with the most images in the Shutterstock collection were the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Thailand in that order. Thailand had more contributors than any other country with a total of 2551 portfolios and a total of 13,159,110 images.

Some images like a picture of the Statue of Liberty can only be produced by someone in the United States, but a very high percentage of the stock images customers want to buy can be produced anywhere. Given today’s prices to license images the future for those who hope to earn money for the time they spend producing stock images will be in finding a way to produce them at a much lower cost.

Copyright © 2020 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


  • Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg Posted Dec 21, 2020
    As you've reported, Getty has eliminated most RM.
    But there are still some remaining RM collections.
    (all RM editorial...?)
    With reduced competition, might those remaining
    RM images see increased licensing...?

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