Saturday, November 24, 2007

Where To Buy Your Next Camera

My first tip for you!

This is going to be a U.S. specific tip for now. International readers can chime in in the comments if they know of reputable dealers in their part of the world.

Having been in retail for a while in my past life, I have no problem recommending making a purchase at your local store, especially if it is staffed by knowledgeable sales staff. If they don't know a thing about the cameras and lenses and can't give you good advice, then I'd certainly not feel bad about going in and looking at the camera you might be interested in and seeing how it looks and feels. Don't string the clerk along though and waste their time if you have no intention of purchasing there. I'd be willing to pay a premium to make the purchase at the local store if they
1) give good service
2) Stand behind the purchase (really a subset of the service qualifier)
3) Are willing to work with you to hold your hand for the purchase.

How much of a premium is up to you, but 10-20 percent seems fair. If you are pretty sure you want a certain model, it can't hurt to ask them to price match the price you found on the net, including the shipping. Even if they can't match the price, they may throw in some valuable extras. You've got nothing to lose...

Lets say you can't find a local shop worth a darn though. Which Internet store should you consider. Well, princess, you have to remember what your mom always told you "If it's too good to be true, it's too good to be true". I highly recommend,, and B&H Photo for new purchases. You can use to look for lower prices, but, it's very much a buyer beware world out there, especially for sites for stores in Brooklyn New York. No one seems to know why Brooklyn is a center for sleazy photography suppliers, but it's just a fact of life. I know that not all Brooklyn stores are bad, it's just a red flag....

I like the recommended sites because they have been around for a while, they have a reputation for taking decent care of most of their customers (no store is going to please every single customer) and fair prices.
They are NOT known for scams like selling you a camera then calling you "to verify the order" and trying to "sell" you things that should already be in the kit that they've stripped out. I've heard of some of the scammers actually cursing out the customers for failing to purchase the add ons, then cancelling the order if the sale doesn't include overpriced add ons. If you do some price searches and find a camera that sells for $800 at all three recommended sites on sale for only $379, that should set off some alarms. Before making the purchase, check for the company in questions reputation. Be skeptical... that $379 bargain may be a big nightmare.

What about Ebay? Ebay has some awesome bargains. It's also full of scam artists if you aren't careful. It's truly caveat emptor on Ebay. All the usual Ebay precautions are in place. Check the sellers reputation. I wouldn't buy from any store that has less than 500 or so ratings, a couple of thousand is better! If it's an individual, use good judgement, but look for a bunch of good ratings, hopefully by different buyers. Read the description. Make sure you know what's in the package, and how that compares to what's in the Amazon package. Don't forget to check shipping! $49.95 to ship by mail for a 99 cent purchase kind of kills the pleasure. In the end, you have to weigh whether the money you save buying on Ebay is worth the agitation/risk... If it's your first Ebay purchase, I think I'd stick to the recommended sites above.

I don't have any connection to any of the companies I listed above, they're just companies I know of that I can recommend.

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