Dec 242014

My Favorite Camera Shops & Dealers. Ever.

There are so many camera shops, store, internet sites and dealers out there ready to take our cash and send us a new fresh box of happiness. If you are like me, receiving a new package from the Fed Ex or UPS man brings  not only a smile, but a rush of energy, happiness and joy.

I love my cameras and over the last 20 years I have learned WHERE To buy from to get the most hassle free and enjoyable experience, as well as the best deals sometimes.

I always get e-mails asking me “where should I buy XXX camera”? Well, here you go. These shops are also site sponsors because I accepted them as sponsors (I turn down many every year). 

Over the years I have recommended the same dealers here. Those that I have worked with and bought from on many occasions. I have shopped from a few other sources but sometimes have had a negative experience so this is why I only recommend those who I trust and those who have really went above and beyond. I only allow advertisers and sponsors whom I trust and support back and know would never rip anyone off.

Look what the USPS man drug from Ken Hansen. The Leica Monochrom in silver chrome and the new M-P in black. 


Below is a list of whom I buy from, who I have had great experiences with and all of those that I trust and put my name behind when it comes to camera dealers and shops!

1. Ken Hansen – This guy is everything LEICA. He has been a Leica dealer forever and used to own a store in NY. He now works from his home as he is semi-retired but his Leica business is still going strong with many Leica shooters praising his name every day. Ken has become a legend..legendary. I have never in my life experienced anything like Ken from ANY shop, dealer or store, ever. He goes above and beyond and the funny thing is he does not even have a web site, a Facebook or twitter ;) He runs it all from his home via phone or e-mail. He has been with me since day one and you may have seen his ad in the sidebar before. It will be there for the life of the site because if it not for Ken (and a couple of other friends) this site may not have made it!

Ken has new Leica and often times has used items and unique items as well. Just call him at 212-879-3263 or send him an e-mail at [email protected] and let him know what you want, need or are looking for. Most likely, he will have it. Plus, mention my name and you may get a bit of a deal..maybe. I stand 100% behind Ken Hansen.

2. B&H PhotoThese guys are the king of Retail and Online sales. They do MASSIVE volume. I mean MASSIVE. I have been to the store and it is a sight to see. Hundreds of customers at any given time, long lines to check out (but they go fast) and conveyer belts that travel through the store to deliver your goods when you exit. Amazing. They have the best online experience I have encountered. First, if an item is in stock and ready to ship, it says so clearly. If it is not, it clearly states this. No guessing games. They ship same day as well if you order before a certain cut off time. So technically you could order a lens on a Monday morning and have it arrive Tuesday. They also are top notch on their returns, undo nay to Amazon. It is an online automated process, never needing to email someone or call someone for an RA number. B&H Is the king of camera retailers. You can see their site here and they sell all kinds of goodies, not just photo related. They are sort of a giant electronics megastore. I give them a 100%!

3. Amazon Who does not shop from Amazon? Myself and everyone I know shop at Amazon and they are doing amazing things..amazing. Amazon is the future of internet shopping, food shopping and everything in between. I believe in 10 years Amazon will have the most amazing services. You can get anything and everything from Amazon. I have certain household items get delivered every month using their subscribe and save feature and I also buy tons of music (LP’s) and camera accessories such as Gariz cases, caps, batteries, lights, etc. They have anything and everything. Click here for a link to Amazon and see for yourself. Never an issue with them, ever! The return policy and process is painless and simple. You even get a label to print for easy return. My score = 100%!

4.. PopFlash has been around for a long long time and Tony Rose is the man who owns and runs it. He is well-known among Leica shooters but he also sells Fuji, Olympus, Zeiss and many other brands at his online shop. I have purchased Leica lenses, cameras and Artisan and Artist bags and cases from PopFlash and Tony always comes through. They have some superb prices as well and when you see the “used/mint” pricing on some Leica items you may be super tempted to go for it. Check out the site at! 100%

5. CAMERAQUEST – Run by Stephen Gandy this long time Voigtlander dealer has just about anything you could ever want from the brand. There are a few Voigtlander lenses that stick out to me and some I like better than Leica glass! The 35 1.2 II, the 15 4.5, the 50 1.5 Nokton, all superb and all a fraction of the cost of a Leica lens. If you want a great buy and fast shipping on Voigtlander lenses then you must check out CAMERAQUEST! 100%! Check out the shopping site HERE!

So there you go, my fave dealers and vendors. When you want to buy a camera or lens or accessory or ANYTHING, check them out! They are what help to keep this site running!

Dec 222014

Nikon Coolpix A Deal now at Amazon (Prime) – $700 OFF

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 8.37.21 AM

Still in time for a great Christmas Gift (Amazon Prime Next Day Delivery) the Nikon Coolpix A is now at Amazon for the same price that it is at B&H Photo, $399. This is $700 OFF the normal price of $1099! The Nikon Coolpix A is an APS-C 28mm fixed lens pocket camera that has tremendous image quality.

It has better IQ than a Fuji X100S, better IQ than a Panasonic LX100 and Leica D-Lux and about equal to the Ricoh GR which is also an APS-C pocket camera. Of course  the Nikon Coolpix A only has a 28mm lens, so this is for those who like wide-angle shooting. Think of it this way..

Instead of buying a 28mm lens for your Nikon DSLR, you can grab this and have a 28mm with solid construction and gorgeous IQ.

At $399, this is a blowout deal and when they are gone, they are gone. This special price is only valid on the Silver model, which obviously sold less than the black. My guess is that Amazon and B&H have hundreds of these to clear out (though may be down to under 100 left).




Dec 092014

Hot Deal of the Day and Rip off of the Day!

The HOT Deal of the day…

Hey guys! It’s only around 2 weeks until Christmas (give or take a day or two) and today Amazon is having a “deal of the day’ in the camera department, and it’s a great little Olympus that can be had for a song, or $189 with a 16GB memory card! Damn, I remember when a 1GB memory card cost $399, now you can get a 16GB card with a nice Olympus compact XZ-2 camera for $189 with free shipping if you are an Amazon prime member!

Click here for this “Gold Box Deal of the Day” from Amazon, while supplies last.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 10.37.09 AM

The RIP OFF of the day…

Now for the rip off of the day. Even though B&H Photo cleared out the Hasselblad Stellar for $999, Wiloughby’s is still selling the same kit for $3,595! Yep, the same orange SE kit that I purchased (along with over 40 of you here who snagged the Orange before they sold out) for $999 can be had on Amazon for $3595! RIP OFF!! The Stellar SE is absolutely worth the $999 and I adore my Orange version. Not only is it made with better materials it is also Made in Japan unlike the Sony RX100 that is made in China, so they are made in different factories. The initial batch of RX100’s were made in Japan as well, then Sony switched it up to China which is when some people had issues with Quality Control. So the SE stellar at $999 is a great buy for a fantastic camera with unbelievable IQ for the size. Fast, gorgeous IQ, superb video, fit in you pocket design, exotic wood grip, Italian leather neck and wrist strap, real wooden storage box and of course the Hasselblad name which will be a good thing for resale.

But if you buy one, AVOID the RIP OFF at Amazon for $3595 and buy it here at B&H while they have a couple left (white or black).  I have two more I bought and will be reselling them on Amazon soon (one orange sold already) for $1500 each which will be the lowest price offered on Amazon (current lowest from a third-party is $2490 making mine the best deal on Amazon). When B&H Sells out, there will be no more of these deals to be found with shipping from the USA. When I sell the other, that will have paid for my own Stellar. Win/Win as this means I will have gotten a spectacular camera for free :) Similar to when people buy a $25k Leica special edition and sell it a few years later for $3-$5k profit. No difference. But to be clear, I love the Stellar, it is a pretty awesome little camera.

Can’t do that with the RX100 V1 as the resale is at around $240-$250.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 10.36.31 AM

Stellar SE vs RX100 V1

  • Stellar uses premium materials 
  • Stellar has unique design (better for resale)
  • Stellar has the Hasselblad name (resale)
  • Stellar has a real exotic wood grip (makes a big difference in handling)
  • Stellar is made in Japan, RX100 in China
  • Stellar comes with Italian Leather neck strap and wrists strap that matches the camera colors
  • Stellar seems to have better color (firmware? Imagination? Fluke?) 
  • Stellar has real wooden storage case/box. It’s beautiful. (not needed but nice to have)
  • Resale Value of Stellar SE will most likely be a little more than $999 within 6 months. RX100 – $250
  • Both fit in any front jeans pocket. It’s tiny. 


Of course there is the new RX100 V3 for less than the $999 Stellar, and this camera gives you a pop up EVF which is brilliant, but very small. It is thicker, and has a fold out LCD (which makes it thicker) and personally, I prefer the V1 sensor AND lens. The RX100 V3 will give you a wider lens at 24 (vs 28) but you lose out on the reach (V3 is only 70mm). Some say the V3 lens is sharper but my Stellar lens is as sharp as I could want, even in the corners. The Stellar II is on its way which will be an RX100 II souped up. Will go for $2500 in a NON SE version! Again, making this one a good buy.

All from the Stellar – 1st one at ISO 3200






To those who are uninformed and making comments about me buying a couple of stellar SE’s and reselling them for a small profit, well, I suggest you read what I wrote when I 1st announced this deal. I stated up front I would do this, and suggested others do the same..I even said “mark my words” in one post about being able to sell for more than paid. Now it appears some of you feel this was done “behind the scenes” and secretly and are attacking me for it (two of you). Well, this just shows you did not read my original post, my original intent and my suggestion that others should and could do the same as me, making the Stellar SE a WIN/WIN situation when buying it. Problem is that not many believed me and now they are mad that they look foolish after publicly stating the camera is worth $200. There are so many bitter, hateful and any people in the internet world. Those who attack and hate just for the fun of it. It’s sad.

If I find a good deal I will always pass it on to you guys, I do not hold back and always share info with you guys when it is valuable information. I do find it funny that I was attacked for even posting the deal in the 1st place with a couple of others saying “it’s worth $200” – “You are stupid for buying that” and my personal fave “how retarded are you for falling for that so called deal”? None of those comments were approved of course but goes to show how wrong they all were.

BOTTOM LINE FACT: The Stellar SE is a FABULOUS camera that offers quite a bit more than the standard RX100 V1 and for ME and many others it is well worth the $999 (especially counting resale value which can be up to $1500). I mentioned it all above as well as in my very 1st post on this blowout last week (where I stated I would buy more and resell and make some money). Nothing wrong at all with that, in fact, it’s 100% right and how life works. You either act or you do not. I act. I think MAKING money is always better than LOSING money as so many do every day in this crazy world of digital photography.

So to those bitching and moaning that I did what I originally said I would do, get over yourself and move on. No one controls what I do, this site or what I say but myself. Been like this since day one. I live life in an open way and just as I shared this deal and the benefits of the deal (reselling later for more than you paid which is a rarity) I will always tell it like it is. Two years ago I started a NO TOLERANCE policy when it comes to attacks in comments – and anyone who is attacking, degrading, name calling, or accusing will be banned. Period. Educate yourself before making any accusations or starting any conspiracy theories. (as in, read what I wrote a week ago). If you do not like the rules then do not come  here.

Thank you all! Again, this was aimed at the couple of guys who were making silly accusations without being educated on the matter before they spoke, not everyone else. I only posted it here as they failed to read the comments where I explained all of this already so it had to be placed here in hopes they would actually READ before they SPEAK. If anyone still wants a Stellar SE for $999, you can still get one in white or black HERE. Once they are gone is when the resale will spike a little. Consider that a tip :)


Jan 252013


Site Sponsors that keep this site going, I thank them all! Plus some Leica used deals…

It is no secret that in the past few months that Leica gear has been in stock at most dealers in the USA. Just about any lens or camera you want (besides the Monochrom and new M) are available right now, brand new. You guys know who the sponsors of this site are and I can highly recommend ANY of them if you want great service, great pricing and no hassles. It is because of these guys below that this site continues to rock on day after day. Without them it would really be tough so I wanted to thank them and let all of you guys know once again that these three dealers below are all TOP NOTCH, best of the best .

Ken Hansen – You can e-mail him at [email protected] and he deals in Leica new and used. I never know what he has used but in the past I have purchased all kinds of goodies from Ken including M6′s, MP’s, Contax T2, etc. If you are looking for a used item Ken might just have it and he is amazing when it comes to customer service and speed of shipping.  Ken is taking pre-orders for the new M and Monochrom so be sure to send him an e-mail if you want in.


POPFLASH – Tony Rose is no stranger to Leica fans and I can not say one bad thing about his business, service or pricing. In fact, you can find some great buys at his website when it comes to Leica gear. He always has interesting gear to browse and also sells some of the killer Artisan and Artist gear such as straps and bags. He sells Zeiss as well so take a look over at POPFLASH.COM to see what he has available today.

popflash has this SWEET Zeiss Super Wide Ikon setup on sale for $1,777 (normally $2497) – See it here!


THE PRO SHOP – The newest and last “shop” sponsor of this site the Pro Shop has all kinds of Leica gear, and a huge inventory of new stock of lenses, cameras and even the new S2-P for $19,999 brand new in box with special warranty – aBOUT $6K less than B&H Photo is selling a used one for. These guys are also great and know their stuff. If it is Leica you want, give them a call at 561-253-2606 or check out their site HERE.

Just so everyone knows, YES these are site sponsors but what you do not know is that I do not take ANYONE as a site sponsor. I have turned down 4 other stores/dealers in the past even when I needed them. Why? Because I will only recommend to YOU the best of the best, and to me, these guys are the best there is when it comes to Leica.

Other shops I HIGHLY recommend for everything and anything else

Other shops I recommend are B&H Photo, Dale Photo and of course, Amazon for just about anything you could ever need. I use Amazon every week and even have home necessities on subscription. Every months I get a case of dog food delivered, cat food, paper towels, dishwashing soap and laundry detergent and more. This cuts down on my grocery trips, saves me money and is super convenient. So while I recommend the guys above for anything Leica, I recommend B&H photo for all other photo needs and Amazon for just about anything you could ever want. Cameras, electronics, music, and everything in between. When you guys follow my links on this site to these shops and make a purchase of ANYTHING I will then get a small commission, a few cents when you buy some diapers for example. Over time it adds up and helps this site to keep expanding and going.

SO FOR THAT I THANK ALL OF YOU! Without the readers, all of you, even those who disagree with me…well, this site would not be able to go on. So thank you all.


As mentioned, Dale Photo is also an exceptional Leica dealer so be sure to check them out as well because they also have some cool used deals at times as well as pre-orders on new gear.

Of course there is one more site sponsor and I use their services quite often..LENSRENTALS.COM. They rent the coolest cameras and lenses and they make it so easy to do so. Hassle free, even including the return packaging and label, all prepaid. If you ahve been thinking of a camera but are not sure, rent it first so you know. They even rent the Leica Monochrom! 

With that, here are a few USED Leica deals on the B&H Photo used site:

Leica Noctilux F1 with slide out hood (latest before the new f/0.95) and this one comes in at a recent record low of $5995 It is softer than the 0.95 but has so much more “Character” – see some samples HERE from quite a while ago.

LEICA 90 Elmarit, latest before discontinuing. This lens is the one everyone seems to search for. B&H has one for $1499, $800 less than I sold my last one for a couple of years ago. With the new M, this lens should be a breeze to focus. $1499

How about this? A used Leica M8.2 Safari Limited Edition set with chrome 28 Elmarit. I so wanted this when it came out but just could not swing it. Looks like it is keeping its value though because at $6999 it is not cheap! Dale has it USED. 


A great find here…A Leica 35mm Summicron f/2 “King Of Bokeh” V4 with 6 bit coding. $1995 at Dale

I hope everyone here has a GREAT weekend, enjoy it!


Jan 082013

Fuji X100s and X20 Available for Pre-Order at Amazon – $1299


Amazon now has the Fuji X100s available for Pre-Order at $1299. You can check it out or pre-order HERE!

Yep, $1299 for the X100S which has the same body and style as the X100 but with the new improved X-Trans sensor, new Manual focus system, new phase detect super fast AF and more. Amazon does not charge you until the camera ships and you can cancel at anytime. By pre-ordering early you can be one of the 1st to get the camera. This is how I get all of my cameras that I am interested in, just by being early on pre-order lists. Amazon also has the best return policy around so it’s never a gamble. If you are someone who is upgrading to the X100s, I would get in now!



 Amazon has the X20 for pre-order as well HERE

B&H Photo also has the X20 up for pre-order HERE 





Dec 192012


PSA: Sony RX1 in stock now for immediate X-Mas Shipping

Hello to all! Looks like Amazon and B&H Photo has gotten some stock of the Sony RX1 and they have a few RIGHT NOW for immediate shipping which means you will get it before Christmas if you order today. Just wanted to inform everyone on this as it is your last chance to get one before Christmas. Kind of funny this post happens to be after a post on G.A.S. but I know some of you have been waiting for this to pop up as in stock instead or pre-ordering. Good luck!

You can order the RX1 at the links below:

Amazon has a few left HERE – looks like 8 of them at the time of this post

B&H Photo Has some left HERE


Sep 072012

Photokina 2012 – It may be the best ever! 


Photokina is just around the corner..the event in Cologne Germany that is a powerhouse of camera releases. Every camera manufacturer usually waits until Photokina to release their best and latest models and this year is no exception. With hot new stuff coming from just about EVERYONE I am particularly excited about the Leica news, Fuji news, Sony news and even Olympus. So what is there to look forward to?

New Sony Products..

We all know Sony is releasing new products at Photokina..with rumors of a FF NEX camera and NEX-6 floating around I wonder what they have in store? I have seen the NEX-6 on various websites so that one seems like a 100% for sure deal but I am still using my good old NEX-7 with fantastic results, even with the $199 Sigma 30 2.8 (which is a MUST buy for any NEX owner) the results are excellent. To say I am excited to see the new Sony stuff is an understatement. I believe it is Sony who pushed this whole mirrorless segment anyway with their original NEX-5, which was tiny but powerful. Sure we had the Leica X1 and Micro 4/3 but Sony took that APS-C sensor and packed into a fast and sleek body even though the lenses lacked. I am hoping for something revolutionary and some new lenses..let us see what happens..hopefully next week :)

New AMAZON Kindle!

While this is not a Photokina story I found these new products to be a pretty damn nice. Yesterday I saw The new Kindle Products from Amazon and they look amazing. The new The Kindle Paperwhite appears to destroy the latest Nook with glow light at around $119. I am a huge fan of the Kindle for reading books as I find it much better than reading on a tablet like my iPad 3 or Kindle Fire. The new Kindle Fire appears to come in three sizes, even coming in with an iPad like version at $499 for 32GB and crazy cheap 4G access and after reading the sale/press releases I am starting to really want one (though I will stick to my iPad 3).  Amazon is on the right track with these new products and I preordered a Paperwhite Wi-Fi for myself with one of  the the new snazzy cases. Looks like they ship October 1st and I am looking forward to it. Seems they just gave the Google nexus a slap in the face with their new $199 Kindle Fire HD as well.

Fuji, they are still rockin’ it!

As you saw here yesterday, Fuji has the new X-E1 on the way and I I pre-ordered one of these as well. The X-E1 looks to be THE perfect Fuji camera..finally! While I adore the X100, the X-Pro 1, for me, fell a little short even though I fell in love with the rendering and look of the 35 1.4 lens. But what does Fuji do for Photokina? They release a $700 less expensive camera called the X-E1 that has the same sensor, same build, better EVF, better video and smaller size. WOW. But what about all of those X-Pro 1 early adopters? Are they stuck with a $1699 camera that will sink down to $700 in resale? Well, no one knows but the X-Pro 1 is still the king of  the heap in the Fuji line up and to prove it Fuji is releasing a new firmware update that will bring the faster AF, faster write times and the snappy performance of the new X-E1 to the Pro 1, so fear not fellow Pro -1 owners! September 18th seems to be the day for the FW release. I may be renting an X-Pro 1 for the 1st ever Steve Huff Photo cruise next week with hopes of getting the new Firmware so I can see how it does in real world shooting. In any case, lots of cool stuff from Fuji. The new 14 2.8, new 18-55 zoom and new cameras. THIS 2012 Photokina will be the best ever IMO as Fuji is also releasing more at the event.

Speaking of Fuji, has a bunch of cool combos for Fuji cameras that consist of the Thumbs Up grip for the X100, X10 and X-Pro 1 – they are selling them together with a soft release so check out some of what they have HERE.

Leica in the house!

But what about Leica? YES, Leica will announce (only my predictions here…not 100% facts) the much talked about and rumored M10, a new compact interchangeable lens camera (Leica’s answer to the Fuji X-E1 maybe)?, the D-Lux 6 and probably a new lens or two. I got my invite from Leica (see it above) to attend their Photokina event but sadly can not go as the cruise is happening that same week. I will be on the seas with fellow passionate photographers for an entire week as we cruise the east coast in search of fun and photos :) I was hoping to bring along the new Leica Monochrome I ordered many moons ago but my camera has not come in yet so that doesn’t look like it is going to happen. I may bring something new from Sony (if they leave me with something) and maybe the Fuji or maybe an M9. Not quite sure yet. In any case, keep an eye out next week for Leica’s announcements. There will surely be some drool worthy cameras and lenses to come out for many of us to start saving our pennies for and I will be doing my best to update the site while on the ship.

Olympus..where art though Olympus?

Looks like there will be a new PEN model announced at Photokina and from what I hear, they will  be coming in different colors. Not sure if this is a good move or not as it will sort of dumb it down I think. I liked the silver, white and black but what happens when we get green, pink, red and blue PEN cameras? They will start to look like toys just like the colored Nikon J1’s. BUT it could also appeal to a wider audience as well so what do I know? I am hearing good things about the new PEN cameras in regards to IQ and speed which doesn’t surprise me as the OM-D continues to be one of the hottest cameras selling today due to everything it does RIGHT.

Nov 222011

The Kindle Fire – iPad replacement? No, but still a great buy for $199

By Steve Huff

I have been an iPad fan since day one just as I have been an iPhone fan and overall Apple guy for many many years. Ever since switching from Windows back in the 90’s I have never looked back, and never have had problems with my Macintosh computers or apple devices. No blue screen of death, no viruses, no issues. This is a good thing when you work daily for hours and hours on your computer, trust me. With that said, I will start out this little quick review by saying I am a huge fan of Apple, so I may have a little bias here, even if I try not to. Also, the Kindle Fire is not meant to be an iPad 2 replacement even though many of the reviews I have read on Amazon are saying it “destroys” the iPad 2 (which is untrue, except where price is concerned). The fact is, the iPad 2 can do much more and do it faster, smoother, and more effectively. BUT in regards to media delivery, the fire may have Apple beat for those of you who are Amazon Prime members.

The Fire Ignited

When the Kindle Fire was announced from Amazon I pre-ordered on the 1st day. The way I read it was that for $199 you get a tablet device that will do much of what an iPad does, in a similar fashion, for $300 less. Sure it is much smaller with a 7″ screen, and being an Android device I just assumed it would be buggy and problematic. Still, $199 seemed like a deal and seeing that I recently signed up for Amazon Prime I figured this may be the perfect device for movies, books, magazines, and even the occasional game. The iPad 2 has been amazing. Fast, responsive, and never a glitch or freeze up. The iPad 2 also has a fast internet browser and is overall a real speed demon in the tablet world. The apps are a plenty and you can actually get work done an on iPad using various business and work related apps. You can hook it up to your HDTV and give presentations using Keynote. You can call your Mom who is 2000 miles away and SEE her while you talk to her. I can even smoothly update this blog using my iPad. So I was a little leary of  the Fire but with the hype Amazon laid out for it, I was confident it would be a keeper even knowing it could not do everything that the iPad 2 can do.

When the Fire arrived and I opened the brown box I was pleased to see the minimalist approach to packaging. A brown cardboard box that you zip open to immediately see the Kindle Fire inside with just a note and a charger. Simple.

I powered on the device using the only button I could see. This button is on the bottom next to the headphone jack. The front face of the Fire is clean. No camera, no home button as with the iPad 2. After a moment or so I found that this Kindle was already registered to me and had my account info pre-loaded! That was pretty cool because I did not have to sit there and enter in all of this information that I may have not even remembered. After connecting to my wifi network the Fire then downloaded a software update and I was ready to roll. I checkout out the various areas of the Fire such as “Newstand” for magazine subscriptions, Books, Music, Video, Docs, Apps and Web. I will go over some of these and give my thoughts as to how it compares with the $499 16GB iPad 2 in these areas.

Overall Usability of the Fire vs the iPad 2

Swiping and scrolling with the Fire is much more laggy than it is with the iPad 2. There is a choppiness you see and feel, especially with the web browser that is just not there with the iPad 2. Sometimes the fire did not register my “touch” and I had to hit it a few times to get moving. Other times it would lag and take a few moments to open one of the apps or email. The screen is much smaller than the iPad 2 as well so when reading web sites you do not get the same enjoyment as you do when reading it on the larger Apple device. But then again, this is a $199 tablet, not $499 so we can not expect miracles. Overall, the Fire is easy to use and I LOVE the way you navigate. The home button on the bottom left will always take you back to your home screen where you can then choose what area to go to next. The settings icon is at the top where you can change your overall settings of the tablet like brightness, volume, etc.

Uh oh! The fire feels better to me in my hand then the iPad 2! Due to the rubber backing grip and the smaller size I like the way the Kindle Fire feels but my iPad 2 screen looks better and is more vivid. Both the Fire and the iPad 2 are simple to use and understand.  A no brainer really but where the Fire shines is with media content, not so much content creation or using it for business or work. If you are a member of Amazon prime, which is well worth the $79 yearly fee, you can stream thousands of movies and TV shows direct to the device. No muss, no fuss. Just click on a movie and away it goes as long as you have a wifi connection. There is no 3G on the Fire so a wifi connection is a MUST for it to work. I think Amazon should have aded 3G capability as it would have made it just that much better for those of us who do not always have a wifi connection available.

The app store on the Fire feels and looks almost identical to the Apple App store, just not as plentiful. Lots of games and fun apps, not so many productive apps but we have to remember that the Kindle is all about MEDIA delivery.

NEWSTAND and BOOKS – Books, Magazine, and Newspaper subscriptions – Viewing and page turns are smoother on the iPad 2 but the Fire feels more like a book in the hand due to its size.


With the Amazon Newstand you can download and read your fave magazines. Just like you can on the iPad, the fire lets you buy a single issue or subscribe for a year. If you have an Amazon account you just click to buy and it starts to download the current issue, no need to enter your password or anything. It will just start downloading and your e-mail will come in with the receipt and charge. Browsing a magazine on the fire is pretty straightforward and just as simple as it is on the iPad but it is a but choppy and laggy when you turn the page.  The smaller screen makes it a little harder to read but overall, I had no issues reading a magazine on the Fire. Works as advertised. Same goes with books. A little choppy when turning pages but easy to read while laying in bed, and easier to hold as the Fire is about the size of a real book unlike the iPad 2. I would guess the original Kindle would be easier to read in the sunshine as the Fire screen can glare easily (just like the iPad)


You can also play your music on the Kindle Fire but I have yet to do so as all of my music is in iTunes and on my iPad and iPhone, so I will most likely not use the Fire for my music. My iPhone is perfect for this when I am out walking, or on the go so I really do not see the need for ME to use  the Fire for music though many will. Amazon lets you preview and buy music from their music store and your songs are stored on the Amazon “Cloud” instead of the device, which is nice as the music will not hog your little bit of storage. The speakers are a but wimpy on the fire as well and I would recommend headphones when listening to music or watching a movie. In a quiet room they are OK, but get into a loud place and the speakers are almost impossible to hear.



Now this is what I am really liking with the Fire. Not only can you choose from loads of TV shows and movies to watch for FREE if you are a PRIME member, you can also download the NETFLIX and HULU apps as well, and if you have accounts with them you are now tapped into tens of thousands of movies and shows that will stream instantly to your device. For streaming video media I feel the Kindle Fire is tough to beat just due to the freebies you get as a prime member. With the iPad you can download NETFLIX and HULU as well but if you want to watch anything through Apple it will cost you per movie or show, and that can add up. Amazon also charges for the more premium movies and many shows but you do get “thousands” to choose from for free (or so Amazon says). Browsing and watching videos is as simple as a couple of touches to the screen. Video loads fast and it is clear.


The Kindle Fire has apps you can buy just like you do on the iPad but it is still in the early stages so I expect this to grow over time. I did download Angry Birds and played it side by side with the iPad 2 version. Both ran smooth and exactly the same.


The web browsing experience is the downfall of the Kindle Fire for me. When browsing the web you use Amazons own SILK web browser, the one that they touted as being blazing fast. Well, when I browse most sites it lags, and is VERY choppy. It also takes forever to load pages. In a side by side the iPad browsed and loaded pages at least 10X faster in some instances. Add to that the small size of the screen and it does not make for a very enjoyable web browsing experience. At one point I was browsing a photo website and the kindle just froze. It would not turn off, would not reset, or do anything. After 15 minutes I managed to get it to reset but it then happened again while using the web browser. This seems like a very buggy browser and the iPad is MUCH more enjoyable to use for surfing the web.


Viewing photos on the Kindle Fire is almost like viewing them on an iPad. You can load up your photos by hooking up the Fire to your computer and just dragging them into the photos folder. Once on the kindle you open the “Gallery” App and you can browse your photos, scroll through them, zoom in and out, etc. Works well. Not as full featured as the iPad where you can work on and edit photos using photoshop and other photo editing apps but a good basic photo viewer.

Overall Thoughts…

The Kindle Fire is a decent tablet device. It is NOT an iPad killer and it does not “destroy” the iPad in any way. It may be a bit more convenient due to its smaller size, and it does do the video streaming thing VERY well. I love the Fire mainly for the media streaming as I am an Amazon Prime member, and this seems to be the target audience for the Kindle. Want to read books, magazines and watch a movie or TV show? The Fire can do these things very well and in most ways I prefer doing these thing on the fire over the iPad 2. But when it comes to web surfing, e-mail and actual work, the iPad 2 easily beats the Fire. E-Mail on the fire is OK but not as intuitive as it is on the iPad though I hear there are a couple of great e-mail apps that will cost you in the App store.

The scrolling, web surfing, and other screens are a bit choppy and this is very noticeable to me as an iPad 2 user. Zooming in on a magazine page can be really choppy at times but it’s not so bad that it makes it unusable. It only bothers me because I am so used to the silky smooth iPad 2.

As for the smaller size, I enjoy the Fire for the smallness. I can sit in bed and read a magazine or book and it is comfortable to hold and about the size of a real book (though it does get pretty warm in the hand). I watched a few shows on it already and I admit the iPad is a bit more enjoyable in this area due to the larger and more brilliant screen but I really had no complaints while watching video, other than the speakers being wimpy and tinny.

Battery life seems good so far, maybe 6-7 hours is what I got out of a charge and that was with me watching shows, browsing the web (or trying to) and checking my email, playing angry birds, and reading a magazine.

At $200 the fire is worth the cost, no question about it. Just do not expect it to be as smooth, fast, or productive as the iPad 2. Think of it as a device for your media and you will be happy. You will not have iMessage (text), FaceTime (video calls), Keynote, Video Mirroring or all of the snazzy extras that you get with the iPad 2 but you will have a nifty little device that does a lot for the money.

Amazon already has a hit with the Fire when almost every other tablet manufacturer has pretty much flopped out with their creations. In the tablet world, the  iPad 2 is king but the fire is a good buy it at $300 less if  you do not what or need everything that the iPad offers. For photographers though, the iPad 2 can do so much more for you but be prepared to pay the price!

You can buy the Kindle Fire from Amazon Here!




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