Where do you purchase your equipment?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by FleurDuMal, Jun 17, 2006.

  1. FleurDuMal macrumors 68000

    FleurDuMal

    Joined:
    May 31, 2006
    Location:
    London Town
    #1
    Whilst researching prices for the D70s kit that I'm going to buy, something I've noticed is the huge discrepancy in prices - mainly between the 'traditional local high street shop' and some 'stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap' internet stores.

    I was just wondering where you seasoned pro's (or seasoned amateurs ;) ) go to get your gear? I'm in my own dilemma at the moment as the cheapest webstore is £600, whereas a local shop of mine is selling the exact same package for £200 more at £799!!! Although, to be fair, most are selling it at around the £700 mark.

    So, basically, I find it hard to justify to myself spending ~£100 more at a brick and mortar shop. What are the real advantages of doing this? How do you guys overcome this dilemma? Surely you're sometimes tempted to go for the cheap internet deal over the premium charged in high street shops?


    Edit: PS - the cheap webstore I'm talking about is amazon.co.uk - who are selling the kit for £603. In my eyes, this seems a pretty safe purchase. They're quite reputable, so the argument against internet purchasing that "you could be conned" can't really apply here, surely?
     
  2. pdpfilms macrumors 68020

    pdpfilms

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Location:
    Vermontana
    #2
    www.bhphoto.com

    Unquestionably reliable, great service, fair prices. EVERY item I buy is from there. For both photo and video.
     
  3. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2004
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #3
    For my camera (20D), I bought it at a B&M shop. The difference in price between the shop and the Internet was not sufficient for me to buy online.

    When I buy glass, though, it will be online. RRP for my next purchase (the 100-400mm EF) is $AU3500. Street price is around $3000 (if you're very lucky). Online? $2300. That's a hell of a difference, making it hard to justify buying from a local shop, especially when you know somebody who's bought a lot of stuff from the cheap online retailer without problems.

    Similarly, the battery grip (which I'll be getting in a couple of months, with my tax return cheque): RRP $AU300, street price around $AU270, online, $250 ... but it's the battery that clinches it (RRP around $120, online around $85.)

    Hm. Must see if I can source a battery/side grip for my film SLR (EOS 30, aka the Elan 7e) as well.
     
  4. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    Northern Virginia
  5. mcarnes macrumors 68000

    mcarnes

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    Mar 14, 2004
    Location:
    USA! USA!
    #5
    I've been buying from B&H for about 15 years. Always a good experience, with easy returns.
     
  6. ipacmm macrumors 65816

    ipacmm

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2003
    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    #6
    I usually buy from B&H or Amazon.com. Amazon gives me free 2-day shipping which is always nice but they don't always carry everything or have everything in stock.
     
  7. FleurDuMal thread starter macrumors 68000

    FleurDuMal

    Joined:
    May 31, 2006
    Location:
    London Town
    #7
    Well, it seems consensus that this B&H place is the best to purchase from. Unfortunately (as is often the case this side of the Atlantic) there is no such consensus in the UK for specialised photography webstores. All I can think of is Jessops.com - but given that that is just a B&M store online, its prices are practically the same.

    I know that places like Pricerunner/Pricegrabber do have ratings for different webstores, but whenever I read such reviews I always think that someone from the webstore have just written the positive reviews themselves (like some do on Ebay).
     
  8. crazydreaming macrumors 6502a

    crazydreaming

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    Salt Lake City, UT -Westminster College
    #8
    Whatever you do, try and stay away from Ritz Camera
     
  9. Angelus macrumors 6502

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    New Zealand
  10. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle
    #11
    All my current lenses from sigma4less.com or ebay
    30D body from newegg.com
    300D body from beachcamera.com

    I always buy filters and stuff from ebay, S&W branded.
     
  11. jlcharles macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wenonah, NJ
    #12
    New: B&H or I go to the Calumet Photo in Philly.

    Used: KEH.com (where I got all of my hasselblad equipment.)
     
  12. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #13
    Depends on likely you think things are to go wrong and whether it will be easier to deal with a bricks and mortar or an internet retailer.

    Several of the cheap ones in Europe (including pixmania) deal, at least partly, in European stock with the appropriate adaptor plug given to you. Grey imports can be fine but you might want to check whether you'll get a UK instruction book and the fine print on the warranty.

    I was looking to buy a Sony camcorder last year with pixmania and although they were cheapest, if anything went wrong with it, I'd have had to post it to France before they'd even consider looking at it under warranty. I got mine from Amazon in the end. Their guarantee is OK and it turned up without problems - make sure it's Amazon proper though and not the Marketplace (as some prices from there can pop up in the main page) since I'd had a couple of fakes through there, even linking through on the 'official' page.
     
  13. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #14
    Penn Camera

    I am fortunate enough to be living in the area in which Penn Camera, a full-service professional-level camera/photography equipment store, has several brick-and-mortar retail establishments. I suppose if I were out in the boonies somewhere, I'd use B&H. I usually don't buy from Ritz, which also is prevalent in my area, but as it happened, surprisingly, following a tip from someone at Nikon Cafe, I was able to locate a 28mm f/1.4 lens from Ritz. I called the 800 number and was able to arrange for a "callback" of that lens and it was shipped to me. This worked out well, and yet I normally do not frequent the local Ritz stores here, as usually they do not have the kind of equipment or lenses I am looking for. I might run into Ritz (or Wolf, as I guess it is elsewhere?) real quick in a strange town to grab an additional memory card, battery or something, but it is not my first thought when it comes to camera gear. I was really surprised that they had an inventory of the 28mm fl/1.4.

    In general when I'm looking to buy a new camera body or a new lens, I head right to Penn, and if they don't have it they can usually get it for me or pre-order for me, whatever the situation may be. We'd already tried trying to find me a 28mm f/1.4, even working with the Nikon rep, but it just happened that this other attempt with Ritz was more successful a month or so later into the search. Normally my first port of call is always Penn Camera. (Note to self: gotta run over there in the next day or so and get the 72mm UV filter for that new lens!) (Further note to Chip, Arlene and everybody else at Penn: DON'T let me even look at, much less buy a 300mm lens!! Right now I need to work more with what I've already got first!)

    I learned my lesson the hard way. Several years ago when the Nikon Coolpix 8800 was first on the market for some reason I impulsively ordered it, sight unseen, from B&H. Well.... BIG mistake! Nothing to do with B&H, they fulfilled their part of the bargain and the merchandise arrived as promised. The problem was that this particular camera really did not suit my needs or my shooting style at all and if I'd simply gone over to Penn and checked it out there first, I probably never would have bought that particular camera. At Penn I would have had the opportunity to handle it, test it out and note the issues with responsiveness, I would have talked with the sales associate(s) about the pros and cons of this particular model....and maybe not made an expensive mistake, or if I had gone ahead and bought it, once I realized that this wasn't the camera for me, it would have been no problem to return to Penn a few days later and say, "agh, this isn't for me!" Instead, that camera now sits in the cabinet, unused and sadly not loved....

    Lesson learned....

    It really does pay to have an established relationship with a brick-and-mortar store, as that way the customer is able to go in and discuss any issues, ask any questions, get help with anything as far as items purchased, and can also be assured of the store staff's willingness to go that extra mile to track down items.... Certainly it is valuable when placing prepaid pre-orders on equipment, too, to then be reassured that whenever the item(s) arrive at the store that the customer will be able to get it or them promptly. If a longtime established customer wanders in one day and says, "gee, I'd like to see xx camera or lens...." even if there may not be any chance whatsoever that he or she is going to buy it, store staff will trot it out and let them have a go at it.... I knew and Chip and Arlene and everybody else knew the day I waltzed into Penn and asked to see the 200-400mm that more than likely I wasn't going to be taking it home with me, and yet the lens was smilingly and promptly produced for my inspection..... When I asked about the 200 f/2 there was also a lot of doubt on everybody's part, including mine, about the suitability of that lens for me, yet they ordered the lens to be sent over from the warehouse and the next day when I had my hands and eyes on it and experienced instant love and actually was able to physically handle the lens, we all were kind of surprised. I know *I* was! LOL! If it had turned out that I'd hefted it and then immediately said, "Uh.... gee, this is a nice lens, but...." they would've smiled, put the lens back in inventory and that would've been that. Instead, I played with the lens, Chip shot with the lens, another sales associate played with the lens, we all talked about the lens, time went on and I shot with her some more, and while we all talked, as Chip will tell you, I stood there stroking the lens as I would a beloved cat, and eventually I handed over the plastic to buy her and bring her home with me. THIS is why I keep returning to Penn time and time again.....

    Heh, as we've both noted in posts on here, there have been times when Chip has actually tried to discourage me from buying a particular lens (Bertha [as I dubbed the 200mm f/2] included!), questioning me seriously on my proposed uses for it, etc..... Now that's pretty cool, as of course the usual approach of a sales associate on the floor in any retail establishment is to sell the merchandise, maybe even push the merchandise. He knew I already had the 70-200mm VR and the 180mm, why was I looking at the 200 f/2? At Penn the staff there are genuinely interested in what the customer really needs and what will best serve his or her needs. They aren't going to push a lens at someone who is clearly not ever going to benefit from using that lens and if, as in my case, they have a pretty good idea of the lens inventory a customer already has, they'll explore with the customer which lenses might be the best to fill in specific gaps or they'll check things out to see if the customer is unnecessarily duplicating a particular lens length or range.... I think all of us, me included, were really surprised when I hefted and shot with Bertha and found her to be quite manageable after all, fell in love with her and eventually decided to take her home..... If for any reason over the next few days if I'd decided that she wasn't going to work out for me after all, there would have been no problems with a return to the store's inventory.

    One day I was in there and out of curiosity more than anything else, I asked to have a look at the Leica D-Lux 2. Arlene and I both knew that I needed this like a hole in the head and that more than likely I wasn't a serious buyer, but she willingly brought it out for my inspection. I had a look, was satisfied with that, end of story.... It's a lovely camera but not one which I need right at the moment and there were not enough compelling features about it that I was observing just then to prompt me to buy it anyway. Arlene didn't attempt to push it at me, she just let me observe and handle it, we talked about various features and that was that.

    Of course I'm singing the praises of Penn Camera in particular here, but overall my point is that I do shop at a local (to me) brick-and-mortar store in preference to ordering something online for all the reasons mentioned above. There is just not going to be the same experience when buying anonymously from an online shop somewhere.....

    Edited to add: actually, Penn does have an online presence at http://www.penncamera.com and for those who are in states other than Maryland, Virginia or the District of Columbia, there could be a real advantage as far as state taxes, etc..... Shhh! I didn't say that, did I???

    Edited to add another note: what I've written about Penn Camera is sincere and from the heart, as I've been dealing with that establishment and staff for around 16 or 17 years.... Arlene has been there from the beginning and so has another former store employee who happened to stop in one day when I was there and we had a joyful "old-home-week" reunion..... When I discovered Chip on here when I joined MacRumors it was icing on the cake! We'd interacted before at the store but at that point hadn't known each other all that well.... Compared to some of the others at Penn, he's a relative newcomer. What is it, six, seven years now? LOL! Anyway, I was thrilled to realize he was a fellow Mac user as well as knowledgeable about camera gear.... It's so much fun when I go in there, we talk cameras, lenses and Macs! They've got a nice Mac setup at the store, since Penn is also an authorized Appple reseller.
     
  14. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #15
    Well, blush. Thanks for the kind words.

    Since then I did find out that we have other options in order to find difficult to find items. Evidently we have a community dealers that we can post equipment needs to. Live and learn.

    Just let me know which 300mm you are looking for, and I'll have it waiting for you to handle. <G>

    What i did for you is no different than for any other customer. In fact I had a customer that came in with her assistant photographer. She wanted to buy the matched set of Canon lenses (16-35, 24-70, and the 70-200IS). The original customer wanted to look at and buy the 100-400IS.

    I suggested that she look at the 2x tele-convertor instead, as an option. I was confident for her shooting that this might be the best option given the 70-200IS that she already owned. Told her to really test it out over the 14 days that we give for returns, to make sure that she would be happy with the results.

    Long story, short. It met her needs. She came back two weeks later to buy the ST-E2 wireless flash transmitter and a couple more 580EX flashes, since I had saved her money on not buying the 100-400IS.

    Well thanks again. I am still the baby in the company going in to my 7th year! :eek: :) In other companies, I would be a lifer. :) Our receptionist has been with the company for over 20 years now. They do a great job to make us want to stay around. And customers like yourself make the days easy to work.
     
  15. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #16
    Brick and mortar stores can be crap too. ;)

    Whether you buy from the net, or if you choose to buy from a physical store, you need to be careful.
     
  16. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #17
    How so? What experiences have you had to make this statement?
     
  17. FleurDuMal thread starter macrumors 68000

    FleurDuMal

    Joined:
    May 31, 2006
    Location:
    London Town
    #18
    Well, I guess some of the big chain mortar and brick stores could be crap. I can't think of any examples (Jessops maybe?), but a PC equivalent would be Dixons or PC World. Expensive prices, crap customer services, and sales assistants who know nothing and dishonestly pressure you to buy the most expensive equipment (which you might not actually need).
     
  18. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #19
    There are a lot of chain stores that sell cameras at RRP but which don't have staff that care as much as you or the rest of the team at your store do. They understand the product less than the average knowledgeable consumer. And since the majority of their customers just want to P&S, it makes little difference to them.

    Jessops, a camera chain in the UK, used to be pretty good but now I think it's a little more hit and miss depending on the branch that you go into. I've had excellent service with real questions about how I intended to use the camera and suggestions on what I might buy - both in P&S or if I wanted to move up to DLSR or a halfway house - in some branches. But in other branches, it tends to be very hit and miss with people just focused on sales. I've heard staff in the one at TCR helping a customer by pointing out how great the digital zoom feature was on one 3x zoom camera because the one with 6x zoom that she wanted wasn't in stock.:eek:

    If you're lucky enough to have a good, friendly, knowledgeable bricks and mortar store near you that specialises in anything, then patronise that over the internet/multiples. The additional advice and help that you'll get over the years in terms of making the right purchase will likely offset any cheap gains you get initially. Hmm, now just to find one!
     
  19. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #20
    Every brick and mortar store I went to before I bought my D50 online. ;) I only saved like $50 by purchasing online, but hell, I avoided getting the misinformation I was getting from some of these people. Even though I didn't even know about lenses at the time, I asked the right questions and said the right information, and generally faked my way through the entire sales situation well enough that they thought they better stop force-feeding me a bunch of b.s. You lessen the chances of this happening to you by doing lots of research by not making yourself sound like a total n00b in the store, but you don't even need that if you were to shop online. On the other hand, I like going into a physical store and buying from a person. You can say "Play it safe and buy from a real physical camera store rather than online," but this doesn't guarantee anything.

    My point was that you can have bad experiences in the physical world, as well as online, and that the best thing to do is to be careful regardless of where you shop. It doesn't matter if you're buying a camera or another item. Be careful whenever you spend large amounts of money in any form of store.
     
  20. puckhead193 macrumors G3

    puckhead193

    Joined:
    May 25, 2004
    Location:
    NY
    #21
    i bought my nikon 8800 at cameta camera (they have an online store through ebay and an actual store 20 mins way) I will never buy another camera from best buy or the like again!
     
  21. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #22

    Yes, that is a very good point. Also, I might add that something to consider is the attitude and demeanor with which one goes into a brick-and-mortar store, whether it be to simply look around and ask questions or to make a serious purchase...
     
  22. MattG macrumors 68040

    MattG

    Joined:
    May 27, 2003
    Location:
    Fletcher, NC
    #24
    B&H or Adorama, sometimes Amazon if the price is right (although some equipment they don't stock and is actually shipped through Adorama).
     
  23. cgratti macrumors 6502a

    cgratti

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2004
    Location:
    Central Pennsylvania, USA
    #25
    *


    I buy almost exclusively from B&H, but if you want to try out other stores look here first. http://www.resellerratings.com/ this will give you and idea of the stores reliability. I have had bad experiences with both online and brick and mortar, it's not necessarily the store all the time, it's the hammerheads they sometimes hire. If the salesperson knows nothing about cameras then why are they selling them?


    *
     

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