Best Large Format store in USA

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by jesse_kramer, Jul 26, 2003.

  1. I am looking for the best place in the USA to see Large Format Gear
    in person. I can travel anywhere in the US.

    Badger in Wisconsin? Quality in Atlanta? The F Stop,etc??

    I am looking to check out linhof TK 45s, Canham, Ebony, ShenHao,
    Wista, Toyo

    I am already familiar with the web pages of these stores, I am
    interested in personal experience with visiting the stores

    Thanks in advance
  2. If it were me, I'd head to New York City! Between B & H Photo, Photo Gizzmo, Ken Hansen, Photo Habitat and Lens & Repro, you should find everything used and new in large format. I have heard various opinions about Lens & Repro, but I have had success with them....then again, I had Geoffrey help me and he is very friendly. Besides, there is so much to do in NYC, that you could make a vacation out of the trip to boot!
  3. <P>Jeff Wheeler runs a fine shop "Quality Camera Company" in Atlanta, but I would
    not say it is a "kick the tires" kind of place, but he is extremely friendly.<P>Other
    stores worth considering: Lens & Repro, Jeff Hirsch's Fotocare , & Photo Gizzmo in
    New York City are worth visiting and so is
    Photomark in Phoenix, AZ.
  4. cxc


    Badger Graphic is a mailorder-only store, not really equipped for visitors. Go to NYC.
  5. If you come to NYC and want to "kick the tires" Photo Gizzmo
    ( is the best bet. Louis Shu, has the only
    store in NYC that actually has LF cameras setup and is a "LF"
    store and is a very very nice guy. On top of that, he is the West
    Village and it is a great place for lunch and walking tours.

    I worked at Fotocare for 2 years, and Fotocare (212-741-2990) is
    more of a "Sinar" place than anything and is more studio
    oriented. Also Fotocare's used prices are out of this world- in the
    bad way. If you go, ask for Tommy or Jeff.

    Lens and Repro is great, (212-675-1900 ask for GI) but it is not a
    "tire kicker" kind of place. Also, they only keep in stock what sells-
    which is 4x5 monorails, and 8x10 deardorffs. They have stopped
    taking in "esoteric" items that sit on the shelf for 2 years.

    The other stores like Ken Hansen , Eli Kurland, etc. are more
    "Expensive" hobbiest kind of places and are actually quite
    snooty. If you dress like a dentist from CT. you will do OK, if not
    be prepared for harsh treatment.

    Avoid B&H and Adorama, they are cheap but the service reflects
    that, and their used Items are usually broken.

    Remember at all of these places, money talks and bullshit
  6. it isn't the best un the usa, but ep levines in boston tends to have a lot of used large
    format - 4x5 8x10 &C. they are pretty much one of the last dealers in boston that is
    not a chain-store, and has used and new equipment for the pro as well as enthusiast.
    they are at

    good luck

  7. Fotocare was the large format source for the NY studio pro for 30 years. They only mention Sinar and Toyo on thier new web site, but I have bought things from the by phone within the last 6 months, and have had no indication that thier commitment to everything large format has diminished much. They even had a 4x5 Granview in stock. Until recently they did not advertise thier existance and the store was on the 9th floor. It has recently moved to ground level and began dealing in digital and smaller cameras. I am sure they remain the powerhouse they always have been in studio lighting and large format is sure to be well represented in the store. They in the past were a pro only shop, so most folks never heard of them. They were direct importers of many of the more exotic LF lines. Give a call.

    Foto Care Ltd., 136 W. 21st Street, NY, NY 10011
    Phone: 212-741-2990
  8. There is no "best". There are many, all over the country.

    Besides the ones that you were given so far you can add Ken Mar, Fishkin, Photomark,
    Samys, Bear Images, Keeble 7 Shuchat, Gasser, Glasers, Helix, Jacks, Symonds, and many
  9. I actually received very good treatment in the medium format section of B&H when I went a couple years ago.

    By the way, I certainly hope you intend to buy your equipment from the store that let's you "kick the tires" and not just buy it online or elsewhere because it's cheaper there. Needless to say, it costs a lot to employ a trained staff, provide demo models, and of course, pay the rent. If we want to have a tire-kicking option in a few years we need to support these stores today.

    Okay, I'm off the soap box.
  10. Don't forget Midwest Photo ( in Columbus, Ohio. They've got a great selection of LF, new and used. Ask for Jim.
  11. I'll second Midwest Photo. Lucky for me that Columbus is 3 hours from Pittsburgh, just out side of the "quick trip" limit. It has that old hardware store feel - creaky wooden floors, narrow isles, great service. They had a good selection of LF cameras last time I was there. If you like Chinese food, I can also recommend BD's Mongolian Barbeque, about 20 minutes North of Midwest Photo...
  12. Speaking of "quick trip" I live 40 miles from NYC. I worked 14 miles from NYC. I bought my Deardorff while in Atlanta. Enuf said.
  13. If you want to compare different cameras, you might want to consider a trip to NYC,
    spending a few days going from shop to shop, although you may find that with NYC
    prices and taxes, you may end up buying elsewhere. Although I have lived in NYC
    most of my life, I have bought almost all of my used LF equipment from eBay, MPEX
    or Badger. Not only rent in NYC is expensive...

    I have bought stuff from both Adorama and B&H, but have usually found them
    overpriced (for used equipment), and the staff either rude or stupid. Of course, now
    then you get a decent salesperson, and now and then you can find a good deal, but
    not often. Photogizzmo and Photohabitat are both good stores, and the owners are
    friendly, however used equipment is very limited. Ken Hanson (where ever they are
    now) has good used equipment, although they are expensive. They have usually
    treated me quite well (and I REALLY don't look like a dentist from CT). I have never
    bought anything at Fotocare, although they are always really helpful and full of
    suggestions when I stop by. I love to hate Calumet and have never bought anything
    there if I can buy it elsewhere. Much has been said in the past about Lens and Repro,
    their used stock and knowledge is great, prices high, and staff very often rude, even
    to dentists. Beware of Camera Traders (although I have bought some good equipment
    there), and avoid Cambridge at all costs.

    So consider NYC as one giant camera store, I am sure you can have hands on
    experience with all of these cameras, and pick the one which is best for you. If you
    are buying new, it may be worth while, if you can avoid the tax (One way to do this is
    to ask them to mail the camera to your home, so you pay $25 for shipping, not $150
    for taxes). If you want to buy used there is always ebay...
  14. Add a third recommendation for Midwest Photo. Jim is a great guy and I bought
    almost all my LF gear from him. They have good prices and Jim is very
    knowledgeable. They carry Ebony, Shen Hao, Wista and Toyo and probably have
    some used TK's around. Check their website for current stock. I haven't been to their
    store, but have just experienced their service via phone and the net. Good luck!
  15. Concerning the "kick the tires" store in Atlanta, let me add a few things. First call and make sure they are open or arrange a time that you can come by, because they are not always open. Hopefully if you visit you will have better luck than I did via phone or email. I called and talked to Jeff about a LF camera and he told me of the models and prices he had and said he took trade-ins also. I emailed him a list of MF equipment I had for partial trade and it's condition and never heard from him, after a couple weeks I called back and he remembered but the LF camera price had went up and he wanted time to review the list and said he would get back with me, after a couple more weeks with no reply I called again and the price had gone up even more but he insured me he would email me a quote with trade-in. The next week the camera was on ebay for sale and I never heard from them. Maybe his business is so good that he doesn't have to do out of town sales or be considerate of potential new customers. GOOD LUCK !
    I have had by best luck on ebay. Most serious sellers and considerate people will talk to you by phone and answer all questions and send more pics and even direct you to other people for reference or info. If the seller will not do that then move on to someone else.

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