After completing my first photo course at the FIT (read more here), I have been in and out the photography stores of New York. I thought it would be a good time to share for other passionate (amateur) photographers visiting this city where to get the best stuff at a good price.
B&H, located on 34th St and 9th Avenue:
The store started out as a photo and video shop in the Lower East Side, where it was owned by a Hasidic Jew called Herman Schreiber. I am mentioning his religious orientation for two reasons: 1) I don’t want visitors from other countries to be freaked out by the Hasidic dress code and hair style dominating the store 2) due to Jewish Sabbath the store closes at 1 PM every Friday and remains closed until Sunday morning. If you are planning on shopping here on a Saturday, you will find yourself in front of locked doors.
The store in Midtown has developed from being solely a photography shop to offering many other products of the technologized world. Aside from camera and video gear, you can buy computers and other accessories here. In fact, when my laptop crashed in 2011 this store was my first option to go to.
I also happened to buy my first DSLR camera here less than a year back and am still flabbergasted at the low price I spent and the quality of images I am getting. I highly recommend their used/refurbished corner if you are looking to gain some experience in the photography industry and are still unsure on how many times you will use your gear. I have so far bought a few camera bags and also aforementioned camera here and have had no reason to return the items.
Over in the “new” section, the lens collection is extensive and there is always a helpful employee next to your side as soon as he sees the desperate look in your eyes. If you want to try out a few lenses before buying them, just stand in line for the lens section and have your camera ready. In case you don’t have a camera yet or forgot it, you can borrow one of theirs and shoot a few snapshots. I really like this feature of the store: You have so many options to try out different cameras, different equipment, but you can still exit the store without having to buy a single thing. B&H is a bustling hub at times and its fun just to walk from product to product without the slightest intention of purchasing anything. It offers a great array of point-and-shoots, so don’t feel obliged to become a DSLR addict.
Another great feature of B&H is that they offer free photography workshops throughout the week. Unfortunately, these have coincided with my working hours, but for
tourists people who are more flexible these lectures and showings are a great way to take an extra step into the field.
Adorama, located on 18th Street between 6th and 5th Avenue
It opened up in 1979, just 6 years after B&H, and is more focused on photography and video than anything else. As a heads up, it is owned by Orthodox Jews, so it would also be closed during Sabbath and Jewish Holidays. While I prefer buying my actual equipment at B&H I greatly appreciate the rental option Adorama offers. Last weekend I rented out a 100mm macrolens from Canon from Thursday evening to early Monday morning for as little as 25 dollars (tax included). Now if this is a not a deal for a lens that usually runs around a 1000 dollars, then I don’t know what is.
The only possible downside is that you need the equivalent of the lens’ worth on your bank account because it will be deducted for the time your lens is being rented. Since I heard the money can be put on a hold for up to 4 weeks, depending on which bank you have, I just gave them a cashier’s check for those three days I had the lens. If you pay with credit or debit card, be aware of the charge that may be taken out of it but if nothing goes wrong, you will certainly have it back.
Customer service varies in this store. I so far had only charming experiences except for one time when I was served by a rather saucy girl who didn’t want to deal with my questions on how to use the lens. I guess it’s not a good time to ask them in times of stress but I still prefer the B&H way of going about.
Both stores have proven to be excellent sources for photography-interested crowds and I highly recommend checking them out when you are in the City and have some free time on your hands!
[For more pictures on macro photography go to:
A Picture Every Day: Save My Little Cupcake!
A Picture Every Day: Botanical Garden in Brooklyn: The Shakespeare Garden
A Picture Every Day: Botanical Garden in Brooklyn: Life on the Pond ]