Buying at a Local Store or Online?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by michael_w|7, Jan 30, 2010.

  1. Hi Everyone,

    So I am going to start purchasing some nicer lens and a this question came to mind. Should I get the lens from a local store or an online retailer? These were the things going through my head. I will be buying some high quality, high precision L series lens and as everyone knows they aren't cheap. Should I buy it at a local store and pay MSRP(or very close to that) or get it at a discount usually on a reputable online retailer like B&H, Adorama or Amazon. At first I was thinking I would surely go with the one with the better price, but then it dawned on me that my lens would be delivered from the online retailer and that it would be subject to unknown handling by the carrier. If the carrier is not careful, my lens might be subject to very bad things and I would not know it. But can I really expect the lens that the local store gets to be delivered to them and handled with the utmost care? Please chime in and tell me if my concerns are legitimate and which route you would go with and why?

    Thanks everyone, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Michael
     
  2. It all depends on what your comfort level is and how much you want to support your local camera stores. If the price is relatively close, I like to support the local guys. Unfortunately there is usually a substantial difference in price so I usually buy online and have many times with no issues. If I was spending over $1000 on a new lens, my need to handle it before I plopped down that much cash would probably out weigh my eternal need for the best deal. That said, I rarely buy new. If you are careful who you buy from there are outstanding deals to be had on basically mint glass, to the point where sometimes you find yourself having to chose between two, buy them used and get them both. If warrantees are important to you, make sure you check before you buy online. I have never had an issue with a poorly packed lens(although I am sure someone has). In the end it basically comes down to saving substantial money versus the security of a warranty and a local person to go to if something is wrong, only you can choose what is right for you.
     
  3. Michael, I have purchased L series lenses online from two retailers that gave me good service. Lensrentals.com and Usedcameras.com. The lenses from both retailers were in better condition than their online description. Any flaws were just as described (all cosmetic). The packaging from both was excellent. Lensrentals.com also has a no questions 3 day return policy and they provided a free return label complete with a return tracking number in the package with my lens purchase.
    It seems you have some concerns regarding carriers. FedEx and UPS are great, USPS is sloooooow. DHL has crappy tracking and once a package gets to the US border it transfers to USPS. Regardless of the carrier, INSURE the package. BTW....Lenrentals.com will require a signature delivery!
    If money is not a concern it does not matter where you purchase. I wanted quality at a reduced price and I have found these two online dealers to be reputable. I have also dealt with all of the retailers that you mentioned above plus Calumet without complaints. There are many more safe online dealers and I am sure that other people will respond with suggestions for your upcoming purchases. Good luck.
     
  4. My closest store sells their gear that I have already purchased for about 20% more. I have had good luck with online retailers. But if something went wrong it would be nice to take locally. But I think I can take my canon gear to any authorized canon dealer. They might not be able to fix it onsite but they will set up the RMA and all that.
     
  5. I have ordered 1 camera, 5 lenses (most are L lenses), and a number of accessories from B&H and everything was in working order when I got it. Even the damaged box with the camera and 2 lenses(one side of the box was only filled with padding and that was the side that was damaged). Furthermore if you go to a local store and place an order with them for an item they don't have in stock, they might order it from a major retailer (like B&H). In that case there is little difference in handling.
    but then it dawned on me that my lens would be delivered from the on line retailer and that it would be subject to unknown handling by the carrier.​
    This concern should also apply to your local camera store. The companies used by a quality retailer to deliver you purchase are generally the same ones that delivered the lens to your local store. Furthermore camera manufactures carefully package the lens or cameras at the factory to protect it from any handling occurring during the delivery. The primary factors I think you should consider are:
    • How important it is to you to test the lens before you buy?
    • Reputation of the seller.
    • Return and warranty service after the sale.
    • customer support.
    • Price.
     
  6. I've purchased the majority of my "L's" from a local retailer. In most cases, they are a bit higher, but I like ability to be able to put the lens on my camera and try it out before I buy it. There are bad copies of all lenses (but it's not a prevalent as some believe) so putting it on my camera is a big plus for me. The local retailer I use is not a big chain, but they do a good volume, have a very knowledgeable staff, a really good selection of all types of lenses, bodies, flashes, peripherals and most of the professionals in the area go there. I'm also a bit impatient, but would not pay big bucks for speedy delivery. When I decide I want something and have researched it, I want it now!
    I'm also not afraid to buy used lenses from Craig's List. Again, I can put the lens on my camera before I fork out major bucks.
    I've also had very good experiences on-line. I purchased my 2nd DSLR (XTi) from Ebay (which turned out to be a New York store). About two minutes after I pushed the "buy it now" button, I realized I had chosen the package with a kit lens I didn't want. I called the retailer and explained what lens I wanted. They were happy to cancel the original order and send me that package I really wanted. It came two days later and everything was perfect. I saved quite a bit of money over what I could have purchased that package for locally.
    That's my $.02 worth.......M. Scott Clay
     
  7. One thing I forgot to say. I have been know to change my mind from time to time.
    I purchased a XSi from a local retailer, took it back the next week and upgraded to a 40d (man, am I glad I did). I'm not sure I could have done that with an on-line store. M. Scott Clay
     
  8. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    I'm not sure I could have done that with an on-line store.​
    I'm not sure that you could have done that with most local stores either. I can just imagine the look on a Jessop's assistant's face if I tried that one. Whereas under most country's distance selling regulations you have the right to return something you've bought by phone or internet for a short time.
    Seriously I virtually never set foot in a camera store, local or otherwise. I get better service, better stockholding, more help, and much better prices online. Unless and until retailers come up with some way to add value to compensate for all of that I see little hope for them. I don't expect "internet" handling and packaging to be poor or that retailers have any meaningful, advantage in this area, and it isn't something I worry about. I imagine that my equipment suffers more trauma in a week in the back of my car than it ever does packed in foam in a truck. You might also want to consider how many journeys the kit has made before you buy it, because not all store branches will be supplied direct from the importer.
     
  9. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    I'm not sure I could have done that with an on-line store.​
    I'm not sure that you could have done that with most local stores either. I can just imagine the look on a Jessop's assistant's face if I tried that one. Whereas under most country's distance selling regulations you have the right to return something you've bought by phone or internet for a short time.
    Seriously I virtually never set foot in a camera store, local or otherwise. I get better service, better stockholding, more help, and much better prices online. Unless and until retailers come up with some way to add value to compensate for all of that I see little hope for them. I don't expect "internet" handling and packaging to be poor or that retailers have any meaningful, advantage in this area, and it isn't something I worry about. I imagine that my equipment suffers more trauma in a week in the back of my car than it ever does packed in foam in a truck. You might also want to consider how many journeys the kit has made before you buy it, because not all store branches will be supplied direct from the importer.
     
  10. Go online, use the bing.com search and save some serious money.
     
  11. Another vote for on-line. All my current gear was purchased from Adorama (xxD bodies, L-lenses, etc.). No problems at all. FWIW, packaging is excellent. I just got a 70-200mm f/2.8 IS and it came wrapped in a heavy plastic bag, with tons of air-pillows around it. Remember that your local retailer probably gets high-end stuff delivered by the same carriers, in small orders, and packed very similarly.
     
  12. One other thing to consider is taxes.
    Online gives you the “advantage” (generally) of “saving” money by not paying taxes.
    But many (most?) cities, counties, and even states are getting hit with a double whammy. Not only is the economy down in general, suppressing buying and therefore reducing sales tax revenue, but more people are buying online and not paying taxes at all. Tempe, the city where I live, is likely going to have to lay off workers for the first time in its history, including beat cops and firemen. The transit system may have to be cut, quite literally, in half. That’s entirely due to shortfalls in sales tax revenue in just the past couple years (at a time when the population itself has been growing).
    I’ve been trying to convince people that we should switch from sales taxes to property taxes, since they’re both less prone to economic fluctuations and better track demand for services (as well as less regressive), but I don’t have a whole lot of hope that anybody will pay any attention to me.
    But, in the mean time, I buy locally whenever it’s available locally and the price is within shouting distance of what Amazon is charging.
    Cheers,
    b&
     
  13. As much as I'd like to support my local camera store, the price difference to Adorama or B&H is generally too large (even before taxes), e.g. $ 280 on a $ 2120 Canon lens. The difference can be larger for accessories although currently no difference for an EOS 7D body. I also get more product information on an internet sales site than from a store clerk.
     
  14. I'm fortunate to have a great camera shop locally, and it's a pleasure to do business there. I do not mind so much paying them more than online (it's sometimes v close), plus the sales tax: when a faulty circuit breaker started a wiring blaze it was the quick response of firemen that saved the day...and my house! Spending money here in town has its benefits...
    ...and its limits: when a local motorcycle shop wants $50 OVER official msrp for an Arai helmet and will turn down my cash-in-hand offer of msrp because "someone who wants the best would be willing to pay more for it" then such a frontal assault on my intelligence trumps any good nature...
     
  15. Before buying online (I've had great experiences wiht J&R) see if your local retailer will match or come close online prices.
    Hunts Photo and Video, for example, will do this even though they mark their items higher.

    I think it is great to support local as long as it's not too costly.
     
  16. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    My local retailer is Penn Camera, a DC/VA/Maryland chain, and their prices and return policies match B&H and KEH. B&H's in store service might be better, but I'm quite pleased with not having to pay return shipping costs. I order things from B&H and KEH that they don't have. I can drive to three different Penn stores in less than a half hour and to the more pro oriented store in DC in less than an hour (probably less than a half hour, but I have to pay for parking there). Penn also has its used stock inventory on line and can transfer merchandise and rental gear between stores (E Street had 36 rolls of Kodachrome that someone ordered and didn't pick up, and four of those are now in my refrigerator).
     
  17. I just ordered the four L lenses and some other stuff and my local camera store couldnt come near online. I wanted to shop local but the difference was shipping, a 2X teleconverter and a battery. Not even in the ballpark.
     
  18. I usually order from Abes because the prices seem to be the best, but even better is NO SALES TAX
     
  19. RE
    "One other thing to consider is taxes.
    Online gives you the “advantage” (generally) of “saving” money by not paying taxes."

    Here in California the law *requires* one to pay tax on out of state purchases.
    Most lay folks do not pay.

    If you are a small fry you can "get away" with this infraction; you tend to be under the state's radar.

    If you are actually a business; then the chance of getting audited rises.
    The state (Calif) and many others are is running a huge deficts. In Calif. 85 Percent of the state employees are unionized. Many can retire at 50 and get 90 percent of their pay. This money has to come from somewhere;' thus you the tax cheater ar a fair game to catch; snare; and be made to "pay up" your illegal ways.

    The lay and dumb may think this is a petty matter; ie tax envasion.
    Having been caught myself In California; today I just pay the darn taxes. When caught you have to pay the back sales taxes on all the out of state crap you bought where you are the *end user*; ie not reselling, Then they add a penality; then they add interest. They may pop you 3 years down the road and that 11 percent tax you did not pay becomes double; when one included penalities and interest.

    One of your ex-employees; or a customer; or just a general audit may snare your tax evasion.
    You may brag about tax evasion on the internet; or a local store gets tired of you looking at gadgets; then you buy it on line; then you want the local store to show you how it works; or to handle warranty issues.

    ***Weight the savings of not paying sales taxes versus being raped; racked over the coals; lost time with an audit; paying back taxes, interest and penalties.

    With the sorry state of the economy and states running in the red; reviewing old state sales tax laws and auditing folks is a decent source of state income.

    Publicly stating that one is going to evade sales taxes; or drive 120 MPH at noon on I-5 at mile marker ABC above Acme, California gives the crafty folks "clues" of where to harvest some fines.
    It really is NOT up to the out of state retailer to collect your states sales taxes. A state auditor does not care if you are ignorant of basic sales tax laws. You as a tax cheat are to be harvested; you get caught; whine. They are a dry lot of folks. Each infraction gets them excited; they dig for more taxes to be paid. If you want to bew really dumb; send a letter to the tax folks and say you are avoiding sales taxes!
     
  20. I used to buy locally even if it cost more. Years ago, there were 4 large photo stores. Now, even if I want to buy locally, there are no store stocking Nikon.
     
  21. I used to buy locally even if it cost more. Years ago, there were 4 large photo stores. Now, even if I want to buy locally, there are no store stocking Nikon.
     
  22. I try to by local whenever I can but I do recognize the sometimes large price difference. When I buy and I know exactly what I want without help from anyone at a local store, I will buy online. If I am not sure and I want to try out and compare different items, then the local store is invaluable and will get the sale because of the service they provide. If use a local store to help make your decision and then buy online, to me that is very low.
    Phil
     
  23. I personally buy mostly online, from KEH, B&H and occasionally Adorama (no connection to any of them). They ship quickly and my packages are packed professionally. B&H always sends my stuff in as small boxes as possible with air-filled plastic insulation. KEH bubble wraps like nobody's business, and I don't remember about Adorama.
    Also, I contract for a large air freight company, and I see every night how packages are handled. Let me explicitly say I'm not recommended for or against any freight company, and I ship all of my stuff through the company to which I'm referring in this text. However. "Fragile" packages aren't treated any differently when they are tossed in the hold of a plane. I've seen handlers drop packages, toss them on the belt loader, etc. Plus they're all jammed up every which way inside the freight cans too.
    Your best insurance is to thoroughly check your lenses when you get them and call right away if anything is wrong.
     
  24. Save a few bucks and let the local real camera store die a slow death, but hey you saved a couple of bucks!
    Never mind they stock those accessories you can try out before you buy or they can handle your warranty repair for you.
    Big boxes and on-line stores can't give you personal service.
     
  25. I've done both and there are advantages and disadvantages to both, as others have mentioned, but there's something I can add to the soup:
    I purchased my last lens from a local shop for two reasons. First, they have some really great Photoshop and Lightroom classes and I wanted to support them and, second, we opened the box, put the lens on my camera, shot a bunch of pictures and then looked at them on the shop's computer to make sure the lens was a good copy. You can't do that online.
    Also, my state tries to charge tax if you buy online. I don't know how many people pay it, but it's on the tax form.
     
  26. Well I have little to no choice now. The only decent shop in my area does not handle many Olympus E-410 accessories and no lenses. I called another shop and asked if they carried any off brand flashes ie Vivitar, Promaster or Metz he informed me that there wasn't any made. Of course I had allready done my internet browsing and knew there were several choices. So be glad if you have a great store. I try to use them for a lot of my incidental purchases but sometimes as a semi- professional the bottom line is money.
     
  27. About 5 years ago I felt sorry for my local camera shop so I decided to go there and help them out a little by spending some money. I wanted a 17-55 2.8 IS and when I notices the 1399.00 BEFORE taxes, I did an immediate about face and walked right out. The closed some 6 months later. B&H is awesome. I just returned my backup 7D for a complete replacement AND next day shipping along with a FREE battery and 8 GOG CF card. AGAIN, buy on-line from a known company. v/r Buffdr
     
  28. Michael, i thought you were contemplating helping your local economy, which you should, but worrying about lens damage while shipping should be no worry for you. even if UPS plays soccer with the box at every distribution center, it doesn't come close to a 2 hour ride on a buss in an underdeveloped country. and many of us photogs have taken 40 + hour rides many times with no lens damage whatsoever. if your lens arrives broken it's the lens not the UPS.
     
  29. Michael, I just went through the same dilemna in purchasing a couple of nice Tamron lenses and a Nikon D90. I asked some of the same questions in this post. I ended up buying locally. Some of the responses may be of interest to you, especially in regards to sales/use tax.
     
  30. Let the public entities take some cash out of the bank and pay their bills. Pick your public entity and google it along with "Comprehenisve Annual Financial Report" and you'll see they are all crying wolf . . .
    Tempe, Arizona for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2009: $2.162 billion in assets, $917 million liabilities. Total Net assets $1.244 billion.
    State of California for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2008 (take your time why don't you): Total Net assets $34.969 billion.
    Let them sell some lenses like the rest of us to help balance their budget.
     
  31. I live in LA so there are a number of large camera stores that stock just about everything one can imagine (except for darkroom items; for that Freestyle is the place to go). When I decided to purchase a second Nikon F2 body, I checked all the stores in LA including the monthly camera swap meet in Pasadena. All of the bodies I looked at looked like they were dragged behind a truck. The lowest price I saw for one of these bodies was $200. The highest was just over $300. One of the $200 bodies I looked at even had a broken self timer. I pointed this out and offered $100 but the seller countered back with $175. I thanked him and went on my way. I ordered a bargain graded F2 body from KEH for $99.00 plus $12.00 shipping. When the body arrived, I was floored! Except for a very small dent along the bottom edge, the camera was in mint condition. Nary a scuff or scratch, the foam looked new. I shot a few test rolls, no light leaks, exposures seemed consistent and correct. I don't know if the local stores are just arrogant or ignorant in their refusal to price their used products competitively, but I don't care. I've found this to be the case on many items non photography related. Despite the efforts of our current president and congress, the USA is still a free market country and the internet is simply another player on the field that offers competition which allows consumers more choices in how they wish to spend their money.
     
  32. Here in California the law *requires* one to pay tax on out of state purchases.​
    Kelly, here in IL, sales tax is collected from the vendor, not the purchaser. I'm certain that Amazon didn't find aspecial loophole in tax laws. *Everybody* pays sales tax. It's just not an itemized line item on some invoices, being built into the item price instead. (Knowing this, I'm a little galled when I order things from Amazon that they've chosen to pay CA's special use or disposal surcharges on whatever is it was I ordered.) TANSTAAFL. Everybody pays. If you don't have local taxes, you're helping subsidize somebody else who does.
     
  33. I have bought virtually every piece of equipment, (over $100 value), on-line. Your concerns are valid, but you must know the retailers reputation and return policy. I use BizRate to shop for price and only buy from top rated stores. I have returned items with no problems except a few extra hoops to jump through, (RA numbers, etc.), and return shipping. The reason to buy online is cost; saving hundreds on a purchase isn't uncommon. I can recommend Beach Camera; they have gotten the majority of my business with no problems whatsoever.
     
  34. My position is pretty simple, assuming that you have a good local store nearby.
    If you need personal advice and/or need to hold or try the equipment before buying, you obviously have need for a real "brick and mortar" store. It is in your interest to have such a store available to you, both now and in the long run. If I need to hold the gear or ask questions I always go to the local shop and ask my questions and try the gear... and then I make my purchase from them even if it costs a bit more. By getting advice and by being able to see and hold the stock that they keep on hand I have received additional value that is well worth the extra cost.
    On the other hand, if I know exactly what I am going to purchase and have no intention of playing with the gear or asking questions before purchase, I buy from one or the other of the well-known online retailers.
    Dan
     
  35. I should point out that both the high-end camera stores in my city have prices fairly close to B&H, at least on the things I've purchased, which makes the decision easier. I must admit, however, that I love B&H's brick-and-mortar store in New York. I don't live in New York, but I visit often and spend a lot of time cruising the aisles. And since I shop there, I don't feel guilty about buying there in addition to my local stores.
     
  36. With me it all boils down to selection and availability. The closest camera store to me is 35 miles from my home. It is a good store and I like shopping there. Lots of good used stuff. The next closest place is near work which is about 70 miles from home, they only deal in used stuff. The other stores local to work think everything is made of solid gold.10% to 50% higher than I can get on line. I have learned not want something right now. I buy all my film on line not one local dealer has bulk B&W film forget large format film.
    Joe
     
  37. In my case I always buy my photo stuff online because in my country going to the local stores is extremly expensive. Currently have buyed my body and a couple of lenses from amazon and adorama, and did not have any trouble or inconvinient and I also saved a huge amount of money. So I would say buy online.
     
  38. I have recently purchased from Amazon. They have a wonderful return policy on lenses. Just take care with the try out period..no beach no water no rain and you should be good to go. They even pay for shipping . Great company!
     
  39. unfortunately we only have one premier retail photography store in town. They are great. Have know owners for 25 years and done business there. THe problem though is about prices. The are always closer to full retail and they don't do much dealing. I am one that has pruchased , with grteat success, from Amazon and B&H. I also buy from Calumet photography. All done over the internet. SO far it has been a good way to buy for me .. Good service and much better prices. I couldn't have afforded some of the products I have purchased if purchased at our local store.
    Jim D
     
  40. I bought both my recent DSLR bodies from a local store. I've bought every L lens on-line from either the US or Alberta (I'm in Ontario).
    I'd love to help out my local stores but when I can save hundreds of dollars on buying a lens ( I just saved $700 on buying a 24L II from J&R over my local price, shipped to my in-laws in Florida and on it's way up at March break!), I'll take the cheap route.

    Keeping the money in my pocket to spend on other things than on my local camera retailers overheads makes personal financial sense to me.
    It's sad but it's an economic hard fact, you can save a lot of money by buying on line. Saving my cash is my bottom line. Lenses are expensive enough, I want the best deal there is.
     
  41. I buy from B&H because the local stores are about 30% higher in price.
     

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