Buying photography equipment

In 2001, I tried to purchase an Epson 1280 I found at a good price. Instead of the product, I got a “hard sell” over the phone trying for ink and a USB cable at an outrageous price—they didn’t want to ship me just the 1280. I had them cancel my order and went to MicroCenter.

That was my first exposure to the dark underbelly of Brooklyn camera dealers. After that experience, a network search told me my experience was a common modus operandi.

DigiexpoOften when buying photography and video gear the best price you see often isn’t. What goes on is you try to purchase something from them at the price listed, and they’ll try to do things like sell you parts that are supposed to be bundled with the product or other accessories that you don’t want or don’t need.

Even when you find multiple similar (but not the same) prices for the same product from different stores, it turns out the stores are actually the same store—the DNS records and web design offer a clue. Also, these places will spam the merchant review sites to artificially pump up their ratings. It takes a lot of work to winnow the good from the bad.

BoingBoing points out that there is an ongoing project to post pictures of these dealers. I love it.

I shop at Adorama and at B&H.1 You don’t get the best prices, but you can trust them. If you are local to the South Bay, you can go to Keeble & Schuchat.

Last week, however, when I ordered a 50mm f/1.8 prime lens from Adorama, they delayed my order to try to sell me a 52mm UV filter.2 The evil influences of these Brooklyn camera dealers?

1 Caitlin wants to make a pilgramage to B&H’s SuperStore next time we’re in New York.
2I didn’t purchase the filters because I borrow Caitlin’s Tiffen filters which she uses on her HDV camcorder. Thom Hogan offers a unique perspective that UV filters are actually useless—I still use them though. By the way, all Nikon manuals and primes use 52mm filters. Along with 77mm filters, it is highly likely a Nikon owner will already have a set of 52mm filters.

8 thoughts on “Buying photography equipment

  1. I also wonder if part of this is the cultural differences of haggling versus non-haggling. I used to shop at 42nd, but pretty much go with B&H nowadays.

    And, I love K&S in Palo Alto. They have always been helpful.

  2. @Jeremy: There is that. I guess the basic rule is risk is higher. I’ll note that I paid $150 less for my 18-200mm than what it sells for on eBay because instead of buying through B&H and Adorama, I bought through Roberts Imaging in Indiana.

  3. If the camera has a built in flash fire it with a fresh set of batteries and see how long it takes to recharge. If it takes more than four or five seconds it could be at an end of its life.When you buy a used item ask for a guarantee of at least 90 days. If anything is wrong with the product this gives you time to check it out thoroughly and get it fixed or replaced for free if you find a fault. This is really important when buying from a less knowledgeable source who may not have spotted any problems when the camera was traded in.

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