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Old February 19th, 2014, 03:44 PM   #1
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Shopping for cameras in NYC

I want to buy more cameras, but I hate buying a camera that I haven't held in my hands. And this whole "buy it on-line and return it" rinse and repeat nonsense wastes my time, and time is money (let alone the environmental impact of all those wasted shipments).

I live in Kansas City and Chicago, and nobody seems to have cameras set up any more for demo purposes. When I buy something I'm going to be touching for hours and hours, I want to be sure it's comfortable in my over-size hands. And forums of my peers are fine, but your needs are different from mine, and sometimes you make choices I'll never comprehend (like shooting video with an SLR that lacks a servo zoom).

So, if I want to compare a number of cameras, I either have to visit a trade show trying to remember features from a booth a quarter mile away, or travel to a place like B&H Photo in NYC. But having worked and lived in NYC for a while when I was in my 20s, I hated the whole "Get outta my face, yer wasting my time" attitude that frankly offended my Midwestern sensibilities.

Anyone have any suggestions for a good place to actually, you know, shop! My previous experience shopping in NYC left me wanting to slap the "sales help" with a stack of hundred dollar bills and yelling "You just screwed up, big time!"
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Old February 19th, 2014, 04:32 PM   #2
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Re: Shopping for cameras in NYC

Well, if you do find yourself in NYC, I have actually had very good experiences at the B&H showroom. They're busy, have never rushed me away. If a smaller boutique shop is more your style, Adorama and Rule in Boston are both all right, they just have a more limited selection.

But you live far from these places!
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Old February 19th, 2014, 04:37 PM   #3
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Re: Shopping for cameras in NYC

I've been to B&H many times and they have never rushed me. While the odd person has appeared distracted or disinterested, the vast majority of the staff are very helpful and patient. Almost everything I've wanted to see has been in stock and they have been happy to get it for me to touch and feel before making the final decision to buy.

Upstairs is like a big kid's playground with lots of cameras out to play with and lots of lenses on the back wall for you to touch and feel if you have there inclination.

Lots of bags, pouches, tripods, monopods, you name it, it's there.

Be warned, check the opening times before heading over there. They are closed on Friday afternoon and Saturdays!
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Old February 19th, 2014, 04:54 PM   #4
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Re: Shopping for cameras in NYC

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Originally Posted by Dave Partington View Post
I've been to B&H many times and they have never rushed me. While the odd person has appeared distracted or disinterested, the vast majority of the staff are very helpful and patient. Almost everything I've wanted to see has been in stock and they have been happy to get it for me to touch and feel before making the final decision to buy.

Upstairs is like a big kid's playground with lots of cameras out to play with and lots of lenses on the back wall for you to touch and feel if you have there inclination.

Lots of bags, pouches, tripods, monopods, you name it, it's there.
Cool, nice to know.

I get to NYC on occasion for concerts, but always seem to be there at the wrong time.

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Be warned, check the opening times before heading over there. They are closed on Friday afternoon and Saturdays!
They are Orthodox Jews, and you can't even purchase from their web sites on the Jewish Sabbath. Even at trade shows like CES and NAB, they close at sundown Friday and are closed all day Saturday with their show floor space roped off with security guards.
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Old February 19th, 2014, 05:55 PM   #5
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Re: Shopping for cameras in NYC

Travel is expensive and time is valuable.

What about making a cardboard and paper model of the camera on your short list. Get the dimensions on-line, take screen shots of the different side, top, end views, print them to scale, tape/glue them to the cardboard mockup and see how it feels. Doesn't have to be pretty. Heck, even weight the box to get an idea of feel.

If it's finger spacing that is a concern this would give a ballpark idea and be good for adjusting the short list by taking off the deal breakers.

A lot cheaper and less expensive than going to NY. And probably less stressful, too.

Want a lens on it? No problem, that's the easy part. Buy a coffee cup lens:
Amazon.com: canon coffee lens mug

Just noticed that link was for canon lens cups. This one has Nikon and others.
http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&key...l_3m25vr0nz7_b

Last edited by John Nantz; February 19th, 2014 at 05:57 PM. Reason: added a new lens cup
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Old February 19th, 2014, 06:34 PM   #6
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Re: Shopping for cameras in NYC

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Want a lens on it? No problem, that's the easy part. Buy a coffee cup lens:
Amazon.com: canon coffee lens mug
LOL

Sorry, had to laugh at that one. Someone bought me a 24-105L coffee mug for christmas. Doh! So, I got it out of the box, sat it next to the real 24-105L, said to myself, hmmm.... not bad I suppose, put it back in the box and it's sat there ever since. Guess I should ebay it really.
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Old February 19th, 2014, 10:25 PM   #7
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Re: Shopping for cameras in NYC

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Originally Posted by John Nantz View Post
Travel is expensive and time is valuable.

What about making a cardboard and paper model of the camera on your short list. Get the dimensions on-line, take screen shots of the different side, top, end views, print them to scale, tape/glue them to the cardboard mockup and see how it feels. Doesn't have to be pretty. Heck, even weight the box to get an idea of feel.
Heh...

Call me old-fashioned, but I grew up in an era when stores that sold video cameras had them hooked up to monitors, and you could aim them at things and see what the picture looked like, rather than what somebody's YouTube clip of it looked like. You could hold them in your hands and get a feel for the balance. You could zoom in and out and and make sure that the slowest part of the servo was nice and smooth. You could set it to manual focus and get a feel for how easily it works, and how easily one could turn the auto-focus for situations where it proves useful. You can hook a pair of headphones to the headphone out and hear how well the microphones work for those inevitable situations where you have to use that audio (good audio track fails, or insane bride forbids your shotgun mic because it "looks like a gun"). All sorts of things.

Also, I'm cheap. The only way I could otherwise compare a dozen cameras at once, is to order a dozen cameras and return 11. Amazon has a great return policy, but I think might annoy them enough that I either be stuck with either 11 cameras I don't need, or a lawsuit.

P.S. When I say "I am cheap", I'm not kidding. I travel back and forth between my two apartments in Kansas City and Chicago via Megabus. I'm taking the overnight bus to Chicago Friday night, and back to Kansas City Tuesday night. Pop an Ambien and wake up in Chicago. Why? Did I mention I'm cheap? My fare each way? $1. Yeah, I'm the guy who gets the $1 fare advertised on the sides and back of the Megabus. I would take it as a personal mission to get to and from New York for less than $10. I could buy a nice new tripod for the cost of air fare from Chicago to New York.

I save enough each month to pay the rent on the second apartment.

P.P.S. Are the salespeople at B&H on commission? Could I travel there and use their time and order from home without feeling terrible, or is that the default behavior?
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Old February 19th, 2014, 10:40 PM   #8
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Re: Shopping for cameras in NYC

Unfortunately there aren't many video "superstores" left and mostly on either coast. I too remember years ago when I could go into a store and touch what I was going to buy before I spent the money.
Ahh, the good old days!

Just a thought, how about Calumet in Chicago. I know their website shows a number of video cameras. I don't know if they stock all they show in their Chicago (Oak Brook) store or if any of the cameras you might be interested in would be something they carry but it could be worth a phone call.

Otherwise, I guess you might need to plan a trip to New York City!!!! and not for Salsa!
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Old February 20th, 2014, 03:24 AM   #9
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Re: Shopping for cameras in NYC

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Unfortunately there aren't many video "superstores" left and mostly on either coast. I too remember years ago when I could go into a store and touch what I was going to buy before I spent the money.
Ahh, the good old days!

Just a thought, how about Calumet in Chicago. I know their website shows a number of video cameras. I don't know if they stock all they show in their Chicago (Oak Brook) store or if any of the cameras you might be interested in would be something they carry but it could be worth a phone call.
Utterly, completely and totally useless. I have not been the the Oak Brook location, but I made a trip to the Cherry Ave location in the heart of Chicago on Goose Island. They had no cameras out of the box that I recall, and as far as I could tell, no monitor to show one on. If you want to actually touch a camera - that is a still camera - the folks at Central Camera Co in the Loop can do a fine job of showing you still cameras and letting you get the feel for a fine still camera, but they don't know from video.

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Otherwise, I guess you might need to plan a trip to New York City!!!! and not for Salsa!
There might be one out in the burbs, but I live in Chicago. And when I say "I live in Chicago", that means I can see the Sears Tower from my roof.

We're a bit like New Yorkers in one way - we don't tend to have cars. My apartment in Kansas City costs less than a parking space in Chicago, so we live an entirely car-free life. We take the L or buses or taxis everywhere we go. I know that might sound weird for people who live in the burbs, but my wife and I are a couple in our fifties, we love living in a city and our idea of fun is seeing hundreds of movies in the theater each year. That means The Gene Siskel Film Center, the Music Box and other "art house" theaters, which are in the city. And parking near those places is insane. Our weekly transit for the both of us costs are less than the cost of parking for one night in the Loop.

So making a trip to the 'burbs means a LOT of planning and Metra trains. It's like a person who lives in Brooklyn without a car making a trip to Long Island. I'd have to know what I was seeking was there first, and as far as I know, it is no better out there. Making a side trip to B&H while visiting NYC is actually easier.
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Old February 20th, 2014, 07:34 AM   #10
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Re: Shopping for cameras in NYC

Ah so you're right in the heart of the city. I understand your challenge then for getting to the burbs. I had no idea that Calumet didn't have anything out to show. That's too bad you'd think they'd have something. Hmmm, I don't think there's any Metra anywhere close to the Oak Brook Store over by the Oak Brook mall so that's a no go.

What cameras are you interested in looking at, maybe so of the folks here that are in the Chitown area have one of them and you could meet up to put it in your hands. Also there's a place although it's pretty far south called Magnamious and even though it's a rental place (their prices seems pretty) they might be will to let you put your hands on something without renting it. I'll look around and see if I can find a link.

Damn, that was too easy. Magnanimous Media - Chicago HD Video Camera Rentals
Like I say, I don't know if this will help but it might be a start!

Good luck to you!
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Old February 20th, 2014, 08:36 AM   #11
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Re: Shopping for cameras in NYC

I used to work at a store in Kansas City called "Brandsmart" that tried to have as many different models of camcorder set up to demo as possible. You could find one that fit your needs. They went bankrupt a long time ago.

Thanks for the Magnanimous Media link.

It looks good for rentals, and might be a good source of off-rental purchases. The projector in my home theater is a Sony CRT projector with 8" tubes that I bought with fewer than 700 hours on it from a rental place 10 or so years ago.They had acquired it just before all the LCD projectors started appearing. All of the sudden, nobody wanted to rent CRTs, and none of the techs wanted to perform the indescribably fiddly alignment procedure every time you moved it. I got something that cost $35,000 new for $1000.

Since rental places always have to have the newest stuff, I might be able to find some formerly top end cameras at a discount. By the standards of this board, my Canon XH-A1 is a boat anchor, but I make money with it. It helps that I'm shooting lit stages exclusively, so low-light performance isn't a top priority. And I shoot to Adobe's OnLocation, so I don't worry about tapes or wear on the mechanism.
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