Shopping for gear -- where?

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by john_ashby|2, Sep 16, 2009.

  1. I hope it's okay to post this here, I didn't see a more suitable place.
    I want to buy some accessories and I notice a huge price gap between the local (Toronto) stores and places like Adorama and B&H. For example a Hoya S-HMC polarizer s $150 here and $95 from B&H. But...the shipping prices to Canada from those places are just insane. For example Adorama wants $48 shipping for orders up to $50 and it goes up from there.
    So, can anyone recommend and good, safe online vendors with decent shipping prices to Canada or a decent brick and morter store in upstate New York, preferable as close to Canada as possible?
  2. You can check the rates at and Those stores will get charged a little less than you would be because of their volume, but that will give you an idea if their charges are legit. And take into consideration that the shipping companies charge around $30.+ just for the customs paperwork. Over $100. there is an extra charge for insurance, which is why it goes up.
  3. Honestly, or perhaps not, I just don't know, the movement of goods between the USA and Canada, in my personal experience, is more difficult and often takes longer than my getting stuff into the USA from Russia or Ukraine.It was worse when the US was gearing up for Iraq II and Canada wasn't playing along, of course. Everybody was ticked off at everybody. Took more than a month to get a Canonet to Illinois from the maritime provinces.
    There just have to be some big camera stores left in Canadian big cities that will have discounted prices.
  4. I've found B&H's shipping charges pretty reasonable. Even with big items (tower speakers) it was to my advantage. That was with Canadian dollar at par. Things aren't quite that good now. I would feed in the numbers to a spreadsheet, it varies item-to-item. Also, try loading a few extras into your cart and see what that does to the shipping charge, sometimes it's not a big increase.
    I always go with UPS Expedited, B&H's cheapest option, which works fine. You do not incur extra "brokerage charges" with this method. You will only have GST (guaranteed) and possibly PST, depending on the item. It's been a while but I believe lens (and filters) are GST only, while DSLR's are considered "electronics", and incur PST as well. And of course, don't forget the exchange rate.
    FWIW, if your local prices are close (with all the shipping and exchange factored in), say within a few ten's of dollars, I would go local, for the convenience and easier exchange if there's any problem. OTOH, I have had one exchange for defective product through B&H, and it went very well. Didn't cost me an extra dime for shipping back to them.
  5. Thank you for the replies. I do ship a lot of stuff across the boarder for my electronics design work (things that generally aren't available at all here). The $30+ fee by UPS and FedEx is a blatent rip-off which USPS does not charge -- I got burned by them once about 10 years ago and haven't used them since (so I would only buy from a vendor that ships USPS), and I have checked and USPS rates to Canada are quite inexpensive (about 50% more than domestic). I'm not overly concerned with how long it takes, and packages from China are a bit faster than from the US.
    I'm not sure what you mean by "big camera stores *left*" We do have a number of big camera stores here in Toronto, and they are all about 50% more expenisve on accessories than the big US stores and 20% more on things like bodies and lenses -- after factoring in the exchange.
  6. The big photo discount stores in the US outside of New York City are dropping like flies and have been since the latter part of the last century. Once Chicago was a center of discount cameras second only to NYC, and even LA had big mail order stores. So, I was merely pondering if all of Canada, somewhere, might not have some discount stores comparable to Ritz or Porters or.... That's what I meant by "left".
    Before I posted, I looked at some prices in Toronto on line and the prices didn't look too much more than B&H or Adorama on new stuff like the 7D with a 15-85mm, but I do know nobody's discounting those yet anyway. Why not order direct from Asia then, if you already know that works? Your response leaves me a little uncertain about what you are really asking for.
  7. We do have a number of big camera stores here in Toronto, and they are all about 50% more expenisve on accessories than the big US stores and 20% more on things like bodies and lenses -- after factoring in the exchange.​
    It's been almost 25 years since I worked in a retail camera shop, but we generally sold name brand bodies and a few iconic lenses at about the same price as the "big boys" in NYC. We didn't make any money on them. Bags, Filters, Tripods had big markup, and that's where we made money.
    This was in Phoenix. I can't comment on exchange issues.
  8. Big mail-order houses were never very common here, probably because Canada Post isn't very good, and I also don't know . About 10 years ago, one of the big chains (Henry's), bought out a bunch of the smaller local stores, so that could be an echo of what you were talking about.
    Which Toronto store did you look at on-line? If I can get it locally at reasonably comparable prices, it makes things a lot easier. Things like a new Camera body generally aren't that big a price jump though. The players I'm familiar with are Henry's, Vistek, Downtown Camera, and Aden Camera and they're all generally very close in price.
    I don't know where to get camera gear in asia. I just know people who can buy stuff in the Shenzen market and forward it to me.
  9. Todd: It is the same way now. Cameras and lenses have to be sold at a very small markup to be competitive. Since I do not sell filters and bags in my large format store, I have to work very very close. I save money by not taking credit cards and doing all the work myself. Even then my camera store is as much a hobby as a business. If it were a business only, I would have to consider either pushing the side items or shutting down. I was in Adorama yesterday. Sure enough, after buying a few lenses I had to listen to the usual stuff, "do you need any filters?". Can't blame them though, that is where the profits are.

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