Favorite On-Line Resources for Photography Products and Services - Part 3 - Where I Shop For Products
When I make purchases on-line, where do I shop? Well, I shop at many different sites and I'll list them here with some notes. I'll start with the bigger and larger sites and then the smaller shops and vendors and finish off with what I call service sites like printing services, business cards, posters and such.
Check Out The Site
Before I get into the list I will give you a few last warnings. Remember to do your homework on pricing and on sites. Yes, check out the sites you are shopping at.
I am not suggesting that Broadway Camera (in New York) is bad, they are the ones that have full page ads in many Photography Magazines, but try this;
1) Do a Google search on these words "review Broadway Camera" and see what results you get! Read a few of the results.
2) Do a Google search on "Better Business Bureau Broadway Camera". The second or third result should be a link to the BBB in New York here: http://search.newyork.bbb.org/reports.aspx?id=68047
Read the different business names they use. Check out all their different Web Sites. Read their reports and then read the "Government Actions".
If you check all this out properly, you will see why I personally would NEVER EVER buy from Broadway Camera in New York, U.S.A. or any of the associated affiliate sites or stores.
You of course are free to do what you want but this was my warning to you -"Check Out The Site You Are Going To Buy From" and follow the suggestions in my previous post. Enough said, on with shopping.
Large Photography Sites
eBay (www.ebay.com) - I shop on eBay a lot. I buy many odds and ends here and often find things I cannot find in town locally. I often find small items that are in the $20 to $60 dollar range for much less that I would pay out here. I have even purchased from vendors that are in China and Japan.
With eBay you should always do two things, one, check the Persons or Vendors "Rating". How many sales have they done and how happy have people been with them. Read a few results. I have seen items where people complain about slow delivery but in every case these people got a good product at a great price. I would buy from someone like that.
If people complain about a crappy product on the other hand or about damage or NOT getting the product at all, then I would NEVER buy from that vendor.
The other thing I have always done on eBay is I have never bought something for more money that I was willing to loose. Do date, 'knock on wood", I have never been ripped off or lost anything and I have always been happy with the products I have received. If I ever get ripped off now for $50 or $70 dollars it would not be a big deal as I have saved way more money than that. And besides, eBay purchases through PayPal accounts (read previous Blog post) are Guaranteed for these smaller purchases.
But, personally, I would never risk loosing $1500.00 dollars on a lens buying it from eBay. Loosing $1500.00 hard earned and saved dollars would hurt too much. And besides, then you need to worry about warranty issues and so on and perhaps even buying stolen items.
Having said that though, I know people that have had great luck buying large items and even buying several collector Porsche Cars. But, in all those cases they did their homework which included asking the vendors many questions about the products.
Amazon (www.amazon.com and www.amazon.ca) - I have had great success with Amazon.com and .ca. I have made very large purchases from them including my Canon 50D. All my lenses except my macro and both my flash units were were purchased from Amazon.com.
Now, just like with eBay you do need to be careful just a little bit. Amazon also has other 'vendors' that sell through their site. Make sure you check out the smaller vendors to see what kind of feedback and reviews they have. Several of my lenses and many other accessories have come from Amazon via or through Adorama.
The good part of buying through other vendors through Amazon is they will get involved way more than eBay to help resolve an issue but luckily, just like eBay, I have never had a problem buying Camera equipment.
The only problem I ever had was ordering a DVD from Amazon.com only to receive a VHS tape (several years ago now). I remember thinking "Oh! this will now be a pain in the ass!". On-line I went to Amazon and found the link to Returns. A quick link to the past order and then a link to the specific item. One questions, "why was I returning the Product?" and ta-dah, done. Print the return slip and at the same time it prints a Pre-Paid Postage Slip for UPS to stick on the outside of the box. No problems at all. I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon and I have saved several thousand dollars over the years.
This is where people always ask me about Warranty stuff since I buy from the U.S.A. and I live in Canada. I'll start by saying that on three (3) lenses alone I saved over $1200.00 dollars Canadian as compared to my buying the same lenses in Canada. That was a year and so ago when the Canadian dollar was at par!
So, If a lens breaks down I could probably just throw it out as I have save way more than the cost. Of course I would not do that, but I could. What I would do is on a weekly trip into the U.S. I would ship it back to the U.S. warranty depot for Canon U.S.A where the lens is warranted. No big deal or hassle.
As far as the Amazon.com vs. Amazon.ca, again, check out the pricing. Also, Amazon.ca does not carry as much product specially when it comes to Camera equipment.
Adorama (www.adorama.com) - Adorama I must say has been great. I was introduced to them because of an Amazon.com purchase that came from Adorama. I have many times purchased from Adorama through Amazon but on several occasions I found items there that were not listed on Amazon. In those cases I purchased directly from Adorama and I have had great success. I have not needed to return any products so I do not know what that would be like.
Smaller Shops and Vendors
OK, I didn't know where to change the line from Big to Small so lets not argues about their sizes.
J&R Music (www.jr.com) - Again introduced to J&R through Amazon, I do now buy directly from them. If you check them out on BBB you'll see they are registered as members and are in great standing. An excellent company to deal with and a great place to get those hard to find photography items.
Cameta Camera (www.cameta.com) - This is another great store where you can find some good hard to find odds and ends.
B&H Photo (www.bhphotovideo.com) - This is another great Photography store and also a great Video and Electronics store. Unlike some of the others they do not have 'great' prices but they do have a great selection. They also have "THE" best printed electronics catalogues. Yes, that's catalogues in that they are so large they make one for Photography and one for Video. Getting either of these was like getting the Sears Christmas Catalogues when you were a kid!
Documounts (www.documounts.com) - They are a good source for Frames and Framing supplies. Although I have tried their Wooden Gallery Frames which are just OK, not great, I purchase better quality frames locally for less money. They have been reliable, and tend to have way better prices on Mats and other supplies than what I can get locally. They are also a good source for those clear poly bags for bagging you matted pictures. They have these poly bags in all sizes.
NOTE: I have been buying from them and they have been great. I would like to find a great place for buying Wooden Gallery Style Frames in Natural Grain and Black. If you know of such a site, please share.
Over the years I have purchased from many of the software companies directly. This includes companies like OnOne Software (www.ononesoftware.com), PhaseOne (www.phaseone.com), Digital Anarchy (www.digitalanarchy.com), Photodex (www.photodex.com), Adobe (www.adobe.com) and others. I have found them all to be great even the small companies.
A warning here though, make sure you buy from the 'actual' software manufacturer's web site. I have seen and heard about sites that sell other companies products and some of those are rip off or even scam sites.
Buying directly from these sites can be great as you can get other deals after your original purchase and you can get notifications on updates, news and such.
Note: If you have had problems with any of the sites I have posted, please let me know. Also, let me know if the problems were resolved or not. Remember that we are a community and that we are here to help each other out.
OK, this has gone a little longer than I thought so I will continue this in the next blog, Part 4, I guess.
Part 4 is available here: http://eyesonphotography.blogspot.com/2009/01/favorite-on-line-resources-for_1724.html
© 2009 Francois Cleroux
(Version 1.03 - January 2009)
Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.