OmegaBrandess, founded as Simmon Brothers of enlarger fame in 1935, has had many incarnations, including Simmon-Omega, Berkey Photo, RT/Omega, Omega International, Omega/Arkay and OmegaSatter. The privately held company located in Hampstead, Maryland, offers about 10,000 discrete products from dozens of branded lines in the imaging space. It serves upward of 600 retailers and, according to Jeffrey J. Seidel, director of Sales & Service, the company’s goal is to be a one-stop shop for everyone who needs the latest photographic accessories at attractive prices.
“Accessories are what we’re all about,” said Seidel, “and we continue to add product lines that appeal to the mobile lifestyle and are now focusing on products that change smartphones into high-performance cameras. These include ways to mount the phone on tripods, use them as monitors for digital cameras, and add lenses and filters that refine the photographic capabilities of these devices and your customers’ shooting experience.
“We’ve all heard the reports about the dropping revenues and stock valuations from traditional camera manufacturers. At the same time, announcements are aplenty from smartphone companies touting the enhancements they’ve made to their devices’ imaging capabilities. Obviously these two developments are connected, and the result for distributors and dealers in the photo channel has been declining sales of the accessories that are dependent on camera sales.
“Let’s face it,” Seidel added, “everyone is taking a high percentage of photos with smartphones, to the detriment of the camera business. The main impact our dealers have felt was in the sales of point-and-shoot cameras, but recently it’s becoming apparent that DSLR sales are feeling the adverse effects.
“Our customers don’t carry their DSLR with them all the time,” noted Seidel, “but that smartphone is always there. Yes, the image quality from these phones is getting better at the basic level. However, the limitation has been in how that image can be enhanced or modified at the point it’s actually taken. I’m not talking about what the photographer can do with the image in postproduction but how they can change the angle of view through the use of lenses, enhance the image using filters, stabilize the image with a tripod, etc.
“These accessories exist and savvy dealers are jumping on this bandwagon to replace lost revenues. This is something we at OmegaBrandess have been preaching for a few years, but it’s now more important than ever. There are very cool products in the works that will bring the joy of photography back into the experience of taking a picture that is often lost when photographing with a smartphone. Part of the fun of spending a day hiking a trail and shooting with your DSLR or mirrorless CSC is breaking out and using your collection of lenses and filters to get that perfect shot as you saw it with your naked eye, or in your mind’s eye. Imagine being able to do the same thing with a smartphone and a few well-chosen accessories. We’re happy to report that day is here.”
To that end, OmegaBrandess has partnered with Ztylus to launch a new line of smartphone products designed to change the way owners of these gadgets take pictures.
“The first round of products features innovative, ultra-thin cases for the Apple iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy S4 and Note 3 that provide a bayonet mount for the new Revolver lens turret,” explained Seidel. “With the Revolver locked in place, photographers have instant access to wide-angle, super macro and extreme fisheye lenses plus a circular polarizer! All of these are made with Ztylus ‘Z’ optics, their original precision-ground, multicoated optics designed and manufactured to the highest standards of performance that photographers expect.
“The Ztylus cases add unique features not found on most competing products, such as camera strap lugs, tripod sockets and a grip that makes it feel like you’re holding a camera, not a phone,” added Seidel. “With the Revolver lens removed, you have a slim, stylish case with KickStand for viewing movies or Skyping. The case design can even improve the audio output of some phones for enhanced sound quality for favorite tunes. Expected retail prices range from $95 to $110 for both the case and Revolver lens combination.
“This is only the first in a series of new smartphone-related products designed with the photographer in mind. It is our goal at OmegaBrandess to build this category into one that will provide our dealers with a significant source of revenue going forward, and also give them new products to attract consumers they may not currently count as their customer. Incremental business is great for all of us!” omegabrandess.com