Where to buy gear?

Here is some advice for those who might be looking to purchase a camera or any gear for this class.

You can always go to a local place and buy camera gear. One of the main advantages is that you can actually put your hands on a camera or a lens and get a feel for it. You are also supporting your local economy by buying local. The disadvantages are that your choices are typically very limited, and you will pay top retail price for your gear.

The obvious alternative is buying online and having your gear shipped to you. The advantages include price and selection. You can get practically anything you want for below retail price. The disadvantage is that you have to do some research and know what you are buying beforehand.

Buying new

There are countless places to buy gear online. Probably too many places to navigate. You can always use one of the online search engines to find the lowest price. Be wary, though. There are some outfits that specialize in running scams – particularly the bait-and-switch. They will advertise a price that’s considerably below average. They will take your money and then you wait – and wait and wait – for your order to arrive. When it doesn’t arrive, you call them, and they tell you it’s on back order and will try to sell you something that’s more expensive. You may eventually get your order at the advertised price, but it will take a very long time.

Amazon.com is okay for buying gear. Search for “cameras” or “lenses” in the electronics section. Many reputable dealers make their merchandise available through Amazon.

There are two dealers I can personally vouch for, though. Adorama and B&H are two dealers based out of New York City that have excellent worldwide reputations. You are not likely to find companies that provide the combination of selection, price, and customer service anywhere else. I have personally dealt with both companies many times over the years and I have never been let down. You can complete your purchase online and have your gear in your hands within days, or overnight if you like.

Feel free to shop around, but you probably won’t do better than these two places.

Buying refurbished

Refurbished equipment might be one of the best deals for value. Sometimes, equipment is returned because of manufacturing flaws – either physically or electronically. These items are frequently returned to the manufacturer (through the retailer) and restored to the specifications required for new equipment.

By law, these items cannot be resold as new equipment, so you can purchase these items at a discounted price while still obtaining the same manufacturer warranty as new equipment.

The camera manufacturer’s website is often the best source when shopping for refurbished equipment (Nikon and Canon, for instance). Adorama, and sometimes Amazon, are good sources for refurbished gear, too. Make sure you include the word “refurbished” in your searches.

Buying used

Buying used can be a smart choice if you are just starting out but want some decent gear while you’re learning.

Many of the top dealers – including Amazon, Adorama, and B&H – have decent used gear in their inventories. I’m not sure about Amazon, but Adorama and B&H will vouch for the condition of their used gear. You can buy used gear that’s in “Like New” condition, but it will be pretty close to the price of new equipment. There are other ratings, such as excellent and good. You can also buy equipment that’s been used pretty hard and might have some dings and scratches. They are mainly cosmetic, though, and the equipment is otherwise in fine working order. Heck, it makes you look more like a pro if your gear has some wear and tear on it! Just make sure everything works fine before you purchase it.

Another dealer, KEH, specializes in used gear and is based out of Atlanta. Those of you in the Atlanta area may consider visiting them so you can actually get your hands on some of the gear before you buy. They have an excellent reputation and a detailed rating system so you know the condition of what you are buying. All used gear purchases at KEH come with a 180-day limited warrantee.

Another advantage of buying used is that you can make a purchase to participate in this class and sell it afterwards if you don’t want to keep it. It won’t depreciate much – if you take care of it – during the 4 months you use it, so you might even be able to sell it for as much as you paid for it. New equipment, on the other hand, depreciates quite a bit the second you take it out of the box.

Final word …

We’ll do the best we can with whatever camera you choose for this class. Your gear won’t earn you any grade. But a decent camera could be a smart purchase for every major that involves communication.

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5 Responses to Where to buy gear?

  1. Pingback: Which camera? | Journalism 3333: Photojournalism

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