Posted by: David Vernon | November 12, 2008

Online Purchasing – The Best IMHO

Matthiessen Table FallsA few weeks ago I mentioned I would talk about places I found online camera gear purchasing happiness. I have limited myself to just a handful of retailers whom I trust. There are way too many fly-by-night operations out there upselling you things you don’t need and worse. The small cadre of resellers I’ve used are now companies I trust. Amazingly, when I’m looking to buy something, I almost always find a similar price between my favorites or something just slightly different. Their consistency is nice – I know I’m not going to get ripped off, regardless of where I go. And they all tend to carry a lineup of goods that doesn’t overlap 100%. If you can’t find what you’re looking for at one – then almost certainly one of the other two will have it.

So who have I consistently found at the top of the heap? In alphabetical order – it comes down to A-B-C.


B&H Photo

Calumet Photo

It’s that simple. A word about Amazon. I’ve never had an issue with them either but it is possible to get other retailers selling through Amazon. Adorama certainly sells that way a bunch. My preference is just to go straight to the source but generally I have no issues with Amazon either. Another nice thing – Calumet has two stores up in the Chicago area for a much more hands-on approach. Both Adorama and B&H are based in NYC. Fellow CIPB contributor lscan trekked to B&H’s NYC store and almost didn’t make it out alive. So if you’re in New York…

And hey – one other cool thing about Adorama. They’ve had a great series of on-going tips for about a year now. Called their “100 Tips in 100 Days” series, there’s a wide variety of stuff there. I could mine it for months and months – but instead I offer you the whole shebang right here and right now. Do with it what you will:

100 in 100, Part I

100 in 100, Part II

100 in 100, Part III (and still ongoing)

And please note – this isn’t about local retailers here in Central Illinois (Peoria Camera, Rex Camera, Tallyns). This is about online purchasing only. So where else do you shop ONLINE?

Update: I should have mentioned a fourth online retailer: Midwest Photo Exchange. David Hobby has a good working relationship with them and through his website I’ve ended up purchasing through Midwest. They do pretty well too.


  1. I very much enjoyed reading your blog – and wanted to say “thank you” for your recommendation for Adorama.

    If you ever experience a problem, or have a query with an order from Adorama, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly -I’m always delighted to be able to help wherever I can.


    Helen Oster
    Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador

  2. Personally, Amazon is my site of choice. Lots of reviews, wish lists, photography books, competitive prices and more.

  3. I occasionally purchase from Amazon (but, I generally try to keep it Amazon, not a reseller going through them) and also enjoy the reviews if I’m not certain on a particular item.

    But, the site I use most is B&H. Never purchased from the other big ones.

  4. KEH is fantastic for used gear. They consistently underrate the condition of their items and they’re decently priced.

    Ed: That would be on the Tubes.

  5. Lscan here… LOVED visiting B&H! It’s an interesting way to buy gear if you are there in person. Nothing is really on the floor. If you want something they enter the order in a computer terminal (they’re everywhere in the store). There are conveyor belts near the terminal and the product zips up and they show it to you. If you’re still interested they put it back on the conveyor and it gets sent to the cash register area. When you’re done buying you go to a cash register and pay. Then go to the next line where you show them your receipt and voila! Your bag of goodies is provided to you!

    If I had known (or better yet just thought a little) that Adorama was also in the Big Apple I would have swung by there too. There’s always next time however!

    I might add that in the photography game if a product price is too good to be true… it probably isn’t worth dealing with. My boss (a native New Yorker) had to turn on his NY charm with Broadway Photo earlier this year. He’s always looking for a good deal and when he saw a point and shoot his son wanted for 25% or more less on their site he went for it. Well the “in stock” camera wasn’t and he was encouraged to call their 800 number. He did and the hard sell began. My favorite was when he told me the guy on the phone told him the battery the camera came with was only good for 20 photos before it had to be recharged but they had a battery which cost a little more but took hundreds of photos before it needed to be recharged. At that point he told the guy what he could do to himself. Hung up and canceled the order via his credit card company.

  6. Typical…. They sure you in with the good price, then, try to sell you memory cards, batteries, bags, etc… at inflated prices. If you don’t buy those, the item just ran out of stock. Imagine that!! That’s why I stick to the big names, I know I’m getting a good deal and can rely on the company to stand behind the sale.

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