Thank You Helen Oster and Adorama, My Canon 5D, Mark II Arrives

I just spent a few minutes unboxing my new Canon 5D Mark II digital SLR that I bought from the good folks at Adorama.

I’m charging the battery on the puppy and will take it out this afternoon to play with it a bit.

I had a heck of a time getting my hands on one of these hot new cameras and while it’s probably too late for any serious review, I’m sure I’ll be posting my thoughts and reflections on the camera over the next few months here and various other places.

I wanted to especially say thanks to Adorama who was finally able to get me a camera after Wolf Camera pretty seriously botched my pre-order in my opinion. I initially wrote sort of a mean post about Adorama when I thought my camera wasn’t going to come through, but they really stepped up and got the camera for me as advertised. Wolf not only didn’t handle my pre-order well in my opinion, but they also botched up other pre-orders pretty badly as well. I’m not going to get into the details here yet, but I’ve heard from other people that their experience in getting Mark II’s from Wolf were problematic as well.

More than just getting the camera for me though, once Adorama was aware that I thought I had a problem with my order, within hours they contacted me and gave it immediate attention. This sort of customer support is refreshing and shows that Adorama takes social media and their brand very seriously. Specifically, Helen Oster does a great job for Adorama in monitoring their brand reputation on the internet. Helen contacted me personally on my order both by phone and email. Helen also has a good reputation of focusing on various online forums and other places online looking for ways to offer customer service for Adorama. Other companies would do well to have a Helen Oster on their staff who so carefully looks after Adorama’s reputation.

I’m excited to finally have the Canon 5D Mark II in my hands and am looking forward to what it can do — especially given that my old 5D is completely dead at this point. I’m going to be sending my old 5D into who I bought a 3-year warranty from on the camera in the next few days and then once it is repaired I’m planning on using it as a back up camera for my new 5D Mark II.

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  1. Boz says:

    So, what you’re saying is that because you have a presence on the internet Adorama stepped up for you and gave you special treatment. That’s terrific — for you. I always love when bloggers get preferential treatment then rave about it on their blogs. But it’s always because of their blogs that they got that special treatment. Call me crazy, but I think EVERYONE should get good service, not just those in the public eye. THAT would truly be praise worthy.

  2. Ted.Stark says:

    Congrats Thomas!

    I hope your experience with the 5D Mark II is as positive as my experience has been. Valid there are some issues Canon is working on addressing but all in all, for what it’s worth, I am very satisfied.

    Looking forward to your thoughts and comments.


  3. Thomas Hawk says:

    Boz, Adorama blamed the original problem on a glitch with their computer system that showed my camera as being backordered when it was not. They told me that it was actually already on the shipping dock when they sent me out an erroneous email stating that it was not in stock as advertised.

    Maybe I did get special treatment though. But I will say that Helen Oster spends a lot of time on other places besides blogs. These days it’s not just about having a high profile blog. Anyone can present their opinion in so many places on the internet. Twitter. FriendFeed. Flickr. Zooomr. Blogs. Camera forums. The list goes on and on. Helen spends a lot of time in these various places looking for ways that she can help. That’s just smart. It’s not just bloggers that have standing these days to get customer service problems fixed. Everyone really has a voice. And especially with tools like digg and reddit and slashdot and other larger blogs to amplify a message, it doesn’t take much to get an opinion in circulation even for someone who is not a big blogger. I find that a positive thing for consumers, all consumers, and think it makes things better for all of us.

    The fact of the matter is that both Canon and Wolf Camera offered no assistance whatsover in terms of problems that arose with my order while Adorama stepped up within hours. I’m bet that other online mentions of their brand and product as well as simple emails are handled with similar care.

  4. Plug1 says:

    this is great news!

    after you get comfortable w/ it, let’s do a photowalk in the near future. i received the lenses you suggested and in another week or so, should be ready for some serious shooting.

  5. Tom Harrison says:

    @Boz On the contrary Adorama provides this level of service to most people who have issues with them and discuss the topic online. Go find some Flickr group message board threads that mention problems with Adorama, and you will see that in most cases Helen shows up within hours to address the situation and help make things right. She seems to monitor the online photography community constantly, and really does do an impressive job.

  6. Rob-L says:


    I don’t have any kind of pull at all and I can say that as a regular, “Joe Public” kind of customer Adorama has always gone out of their way to be friendly and helpful on the rare occasion when I have an issue. I’ve ordered dozens of things from Adorama and their great customer service and attitude is what keeps be coming back.

    In this case, I don’t think they’ve treated Thomas any differently from anyone else. Blog or no blog.

  7. Cool! I’m looking forward to your reviews. I think this year is going to see a camera upgrade for me.

  8. Boz says:

    Hey Thomas, I think that it is great that Adorama did step up. I guess my main point was that they didn’t step up UNTIL they read your blog. I commend their action, but I still think it was more of a damage control issue than anything else.

    Anyhow, I’m looking forward to the new 5D imagery and mini-review coming from you soon. Have fun!

  9. JeffH says:

    Thomas, Glad to hear you Finally got your camera! I shot a bunch with mine over in Santa Cruz this weekend which included shooting surfers, beach and ocean scenes and also the Tubes at the Catalyst on Saturday night. This camera is amazing in low light/high ISO compared to the original 5D. I shot the Tubes at ISO 1600 & 3200 and was amazed at the amount of detail retained and the low noise. I also notices more detail in the shadows when shooting surfers in the harsh mid day sunlight. I will try to post some of my images tonight when I get a chance to finish processing them.

  10. Brad says:

    Looking forward to your comments and review. I’m considering one for street shooting…

  11. Helen Oster says:


    My job as the Customer Service Ambassador for Adorama, is to actively seek out problems, concerns or queries related to Adorama customers. It doesn’t matter who they are, or where they post. I currently have a presence on something like 400 Internet forums, blogs, websites and phot-sharing sites.
    However, I couldn’t do my job without the amazing support from the entire staff based at Adorama’s Head Office – including the used department, the sales team, our buyers, the shipping facility, the marketing department, the customer service team – and of course the Adorama management team who developed and support the idea of my position.
    I am also available at, for anyone who needs to contact me directly.

    Helen Oster
    Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador

  12. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like a good camera from a good dealer. Found your site when researching a Brooklyn dealer. You’ll be happy to know that I spoke to Steve Phillips this morning. He is now managing and doing exactly the same thing he was doing three years ago when the NYT article came out. Have a look at resellerratings for Soniccameras…I may be out $600

  13. macstash says:

    Thomas, congrats on the recent acquisition and solid customer service. I always like to hear about stores who are seeking information about there company, trying to improve their brand image. It is rare to find people/companies like Helen/adorama who actually care about what is being said and are proactive in managing their brand identity online. Keep up the commentary as it will help to demonstrate what real customer service is about.

    On another note, I have been following your blog and pics for a while and would love to know what custom functions if any you use on the new canon (as I also was fortunate to acquire as well) and beyond the use of prime lenses what are you doing to enhance the sharpness in your pics. I know you use photoshop, however I would love some insight into how you are processing your shots.

    Thanks in advance,

  14. ravis says:

    Great to know that you’ve received your camera Thomas.Looking forward to your views on the 5DMkII and your shots as well!!

  15. JeffH says:

    I just posted a few photos I took of the Tubes Show at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz on Saturday night. The images were shot at ISO 1600 with my Canon 5D Mark II.

  16. David says:

    Sorry, I can’t get on the Helen Oster, Adorama love-fest bandwagon with you all.

    Helen Oster was of no help to me when Adorama did not fulfill their promises. She gave me the run around and stalled — even after I supplied her with written support documentation. I guess I should have a blog and be an outspoken person like you, Tom, in order to get service from Adorama.

    Personally, I wouldn’t recommend doing business with Adorama if they were the last camera shop on earth.

  17. James Heights says:

    I just got off the phone with ADORAMA after am entire week of trying to get my item I paid them $1240.00 for. I still did not get the item. They initially sent me the wrong item with Euro power plugs. It was similar, but about $400.00 cheaper. I guess they thought i would be happy with it and let them keep the $400. 00 as a tip. I ranted about it and they sent me a shipping label. I took it to the UPS store and shipped it. I get home the next day, the box is back at my house. I call them ranting again. They send me another label. I go to the UPS store again and ship. asked ADORAMA to do sum good customer courtesy thing and ship me the correct order. They said we have it in stock and will get it to you as soon as the wrong item is back in stock. The rep said she would contact me as to expediting the shipment of the correct item. She never contacted me and the next day I tried to contact her they said she took the day off. I spoke to a manager and she said they will refund my money in 8 DAYS because the do not have the item in stock.I have already been trying to get my item for 5 days. I am going onto every blog I can and let people know to go anyplace else to get your items because you will eventually, unnecessarily go through such a vendor nightmare such as mine if you go through ADORAMA. They caused me much loss of time, money and clients. I will boycott them all over the internet and hope you all will shop elsewhere. Sorry for the rant, but because of them I think i’m actually getting good at it.