Where to buy your camera gear online…and where NOT to..
By Steve Huff
It’s bright and early here in Phoenix, AZ and I am up with my morning coffee and staring at my Imac ready to write! Seeing that the Holiday season is upon us and Black Friday is right around the corner, I decided to write up a little post about where to buy your camera gear and where not to! There are so many camera dealers out there and only a select few are trustworthy while there are TONS out there that want to rip you off in one way or another.
Here is my personal list of who is cool…and who is not so cool and who may be totally UNCOOL when it comes to buying camera gear online. Keep in mind, these are MY opinions from MY personal experiences. Yours may differ…
The Best Of The Best for Online Camera Purchase…IMO
B&H Photo – The worlds largest camera/photo store – A+++ – Site Here
One online store that I have been buying from for 15 years is B&H Photo. B&H has NEVER EVER done me wrong even with tens of thousands of dollars spent and hundreds of orders. I have never had a late order, never had a defect or wrong item sent to me and never have been pushed to buy something else to get the deal. I have placed hundreds of orders with them and not once have I had an issue. That is not to say none of you haven’t, but from my experience B&H is the most respected online camera shop around.
B&H is tops in my book. Their web site is also very very good with real time stock status and great descriptions in an easy to navigate format. I have bought from them for what seems like forever and even toured their store last year. Great people, great service. I liked them so much I joined their affiliate program to help pay for running this site so if you follow my links anywhere on this site that leads you to B&H Photo, AND you purchase something I get a teeny amount of commission, that hopefully over time builds up enough to cover my web hosting and expenses of running and updating this site. So if you make a purchase using my links, you have supported this site. I Thank you! B&H = stress free shopping.
The only negative I have ever had with them is when you are new or using a new credit card. For security they sometimes like to verify that you are indeed the person whose card you are using. But, is that a negative? No, that is making sure no one is using a fraudulent or stolen card. A+++
Amazon – The worlds largest online superstore! – A++ – Site Here
Amazon is tried and true. Just yesterday I purchased a Ricoh GXR plus 50mm module from them for Next Day Delivery. Already shipped and will be in my hands today. They did not sell the 28 module so I ordered that elsewhere (that turned into a disapointment..more below) and now regret that decision. Amazon is probably the largest online superstore of our time and they usually come through every single time for me. I have placed orders with them for everything from socks to gadgets and gizmos to books and music. Only ONE time did I have an issue, and it was not even a real issue. My package was delivered a day later than expected. Thats it.
Amazon is another store where if you follow a link from my site, I get a small commission and that helps me tremendously! So next time you buy ANYTHING from Amazon feel free to use my search bar on the right or you can even use this link and bookmark it for future use (cant bookmark the B&H Link and still support the site)! Can’t go wrong with Amazon and I stand by that as do most of you! A++
Dale Photo – Smaller Florida Shop that Specializes in Leica – A+ – Site Here
I also enjoy Dale Photo. I have spoken with David Farkas a few times and ordered from their shop. I have bought a Leica 28 Summicron from them as well as a 50 Lux and a few other items. Never an issue, always friendly and always ships on time. You can check out their site here as they have loads of Leica gear with real time “in stock” status. I do not get commission from them but they are a site sponsor! Dale Photo says they are the worlds “premier” Leica dealer so who can argue with that? Not me. They are very well respected and loved by many. A+
Ken Hansen – Independent, legendary, and always has cool used gear as well. Leica specialist! A++ – E-Mail Him Here
Ken Hansen has been the most amazing guy when it comes to Leica products. I have bought so much Leica from Ken over the past two years it is insane. He always gets stock and usually has items the bigger shops do not have. I remember when no one had the new 50 Noctilux, he had like 10 of them! He used to own a huge store in NYC but these days he works from his home selling Leica and he also has a pretty nice inventory of used gems.
If you want to see if he has what you are looking for, email him at [email protected] and tell him I sent you! I do not make commission but Ken has helped me tremendously in the past. In the early days of this site, he would send me lenses to try out just so I could review them. Great guy and I owe him a ton, so feel free to contact him if you need anything!
The Online Shops That Are Outright Total Scams…
Even today there are still shops online that will charge your card, take your cash and never send you the merchandise OR call you to say you have to buy other gear to get that price that they advertised. I am in shock that these shops are STILL ALLOWED to do business online! There have been many articles on various blogs and websites explaining what shops to avoid when buying expensive camera gear.
Even worse, some of these shops have gotten such bad reviews they changed their names and head over to e-bay to do their business. One tip that I know ALL OF YOU have heard hundreds of times is “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” and yes, this still holds true today. Don’t fall for those magazine ads that promise you a Leica M9 for $3500, or even online ads that claim you can get a Leica M9 for $5000. All scams!
I wont be listing all of the online shops here that are total rip-offs because I do not know them all, and personally, I never bought from any of them. I know they exists though as others have shouted their complaints online many times.
What to look out for..
Any store advertising really low prices. For example, if you see a Nikon D3x for $2999 you know it is a scam as this is a $6000 camera. No shop can sell for that low, and they do not. I have heard of buyers falling for this, buying and then getting a call saying that the $2999 was for the body only. No box, no battery, no charger, no manual, no strap, nothing! Then they say the only way they can sell the item is if you buy everything as a package and that comes out to $6000! On top of that they may send you a grey market camera without a USA warranty (if buying in the USA).
Just be on the lookout and if any of these shops are in Brooklyn, BEWARE! It seems they all congregate there for some reason. B&H Photo is in Manhattan and they are A+++ in my book. Hmmmm. Here is a list of cool links to other sites that talk about camera crooks online…some of them are quite interesting!
So as you can see, Brooklyn camera shops seem to have the crappiest reviews and are the ones to really watch out for but that doesnt mean the scammers are ONLY in Brookly, nor does it mean there are not legit shops IN brooklyn. Just be smart..stick with the big boys like B&H and Amazon and you will never be ripped off. At least I haven’t. There are other shops that have stellar reps, but I have no experience with them. Adorama is one that is ranked just as highly as B&H though I find they do not have as much stock as B&H at times. I used to shop at onecall but have not in many many years. So keep those eyes peeled and be smart when shopping this holiday season!
Happy Holidays….I love the Holidays :)
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