B&H Photo, A Great Place to Buy a Camera

A photo I took last night with my brand new Canon EOS 5D camera purchased from B&H; Photo

Well the inevitable finally happened. The EOS 5D dropped below $3,000 at B&H; Photo. So after my fiasco with PriceRitePhoto trying to buy my 5D I learned a valuable lesson. You should take more care in who you deal with online. One name that came up again and again as a reputable dealer was B&H; Photo out of New York. So after watching B&H;’s price on the 5D and waiting for it to drop below $3,000 it finally did. Thanks to Sam Bloomberg-Rissman for the heads up when it dropped. So I went online and placed an order with them for the camera, a 4 gig Sandisk memory card, as well as a 135mm L series lens.

The results? I suppose about as good as could be expected. B&H; says that if you order before 3:30pm they can get you the camera out the same day. I ordered it on Friday and received an email from B&H; on Sunday saying that they could not process my order. They said that they were unable to verify some billing info on my credit card. I called on Monday a.m. and spoke with Ivan. Ivan said that American Express could not verify the phone number that I had given them with my order. (When I called American Express later to inquire about this they told me that they did not have a business phone number on file for me so I updated my records with them).

Ivan agreed to phone me back at my work number to verify it, the number that I provided in my order, and then when I answered he agreed to ship the camera that day. I found Ivan to be a very polite and helpful sales clerk. Ivan did in fact send it Fed Ex on Monday but I didn’t actually get it until Wednesday. Fed Ex claimed that the public transit strike in New York held it up a day. And then yesterday (Wednesday) it was here. I did not mention to Ivan that I was a blogger or would be writing about my experience.

The camera is really pretty amazing and I feel pretty lucky to be able to have the luxury of buying it. I take photos every day and it is a passion of mine so part of my justifying the amount spent was that it will have a good home and get lots and lots of use. I’m going to write a review on the camera later but I took it out for a spin late last night and it truly is a fine piece of equipment. I took the photo above with the camera last night.

All in all I have to say I was pretty pleased with B&H.; As my order was a larger order I could understand where they’d want to double check and verify my info and work/shipping phone number and I can’t really blame Fed Ex on the one day delay due to the transit strike. There was no hard sell to buy extra accessories at B&H; and I received the camera that I orderd in excellent condition, well packed, for a great price. I will definitely be buying more things from B&H; Photo in the future and am very happy about my experience with them.

Although my entire fiasco of trying to buy my 5D through PriceRitePhoto left a bad taste in my mouth, I think it was a good learning experience in the end for me. And my subsequent positive experience with B&H; goes to show you that not all online retailers are bad guys and that you just need to do your homework and be warry of a company’s online reputation when ordering. Certainly one of the reasons that B&H; is as succesful as they are is because they do in fact care about their reputation — no other camera dealer received more positive praise when I started blogging my woes regarding PriceRitePhoto. This in part is why I chose them to buy from them and why I’m sure I will buy more from them in the future.

Thanks B&H; for a great camera and a great online buying experience.

Update: Joe Wilcox: Miracle on 34th Street Well I have to say that I really do love my Canon 5D and again want to thank the folks at B&H; Photo for providing me a very positive buying experience. The camera is fantastic and I’m really enjoying it. I feel like I got a great deal from B&H; as well.

Joe Wilcox also has a post out praising B&H; Photo and recounts a story where when they were out of stock on an item they actually referred a friend of Joe’s to a competitor, Adorma, who had the item in stock. It’s this kind of service that will keep the repeat business coming back again and again.

I also received a note today from one of my Flickr contacts, DCVoyager, who wrote in part, “After reading your story about B&H; and DPR’s review of the 5D, I moved on it. Considered buying it at full price at Penn Camera because they are local and very reliable — and because I could have the camera today. Then I thought about the sales tax vs. shipping and called B&H.; Great to deal with. Very straightforward and professional. Didn’t try to sell me anything I hadn’t asked for.

It arrives Friday.”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m happy that things worked out for you and that your experience with pricerite helped me to become a better online customer.

  2. I’ve always been very happy with B&H; too – enough so that I continued to buy from them after I moved into NY state and had to pay the sales tax.

    For what it’s worth, I first bought from them because of Philip Greenspun’s recomendations over at photo.net.

  3. dror says:

    Happy To hear.
    The camera is really amazing!
    great photo

  4. Anonymous says:

    I bought a Canon PowerShot S70 (refurb) from Adorama a couple weeks ago and I’m extremely pleased with their service. I’ve bought supplies for my company’s dye-sub printer through them but this is the first equipment purchase.

    The camera was a factory refurb and except for not listing that it doesn’t come with the 32 meg CF card (who cares anyhow?) I got exactly what I ordered in brand new condition!

    They held up my order because I had given my cell number in my billing info instead of my home number that was attached to my card. As soon as I gave them my home number the order went through.

    I’m a bit jealous of your DSLR though 🙂 I wish my S70 would perform better in low light but I already knew the limitations of the camera from imaging-resource.com’s review.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If you had ordered the lens and memory card from PriceRitePhoto when you ordered your camera you maybe could have avoided that whole situation. Congrats!

  6. JeffH says:

    I have been buying from B&H; on a regular basis for the past 4+ years. I’ve purchased all of my Canon gear as well as print consumables such as photo paper, ink, etc. I have probably placed over 30 orders with them in that period of time. Not once have I had any problems. I receive what I order, when they say it will arrive, in excellent condition.

    On one particularly large purchase two years ago, I placed my order in the early afternoon and received my order the next morning, in less than 24 hrs!! I was floored!

    BTY, Excellent coverage of your ‘experience’ with the bait & switch NY/NJ photo dealers. I had a run in with Royal Camera several years ago. They fit the mold almost exactly. Too good to be true prices, rude salesmen, call to confirm order, very high shipping prices, cryptic non itemized sales receipt, hard to contact by phone/e-mail etc. I did receive my order though, but they shipped me gray market instead of US equipment, even after I double verified that I was ordering US equipment. I believe the only reason I got my order was that I ordered a body, flash, 2 lens, and filters, so there wasn’t much they could try to up sell me.

    Jeff H.

  7. Mervin T. says:

    You take very nice pictures. I like them. Cheers!

  8. Biomagnetism says:

    Yeah… B&H; is no-nonsense.

  9. Thomas Hawk says:

    Anonymous, the difference with the accesories was that B&H; offered me a really good price and deal on the accesories as well whereas PriceRitePhoto was trying to sell me inflated priced accesories. Also, B&H; would have sold me the camera hassle free even if I didn’t buy the accesories from them. A much better place to shop.

  10. Daniel says:

    congrats on the new camera TH..looks like an amazing weapon to shoot with..

    and yes I got my D70 and B&H; and always have had success with them.

  11. Tom says:

    I’ve been shopping at the B&H; retail store for about 15 years now (first down on 17th and now up on 34th.) They’re not the warmest but they have competent, knowledgeable salespeople and good prices. If you’re in NYC the retail store is worth a visit for any photographer — they’re even smart enough to subtly segregate the more “tourist” shoppers looking at compact cameras, etc from the more serious hobbyists and professionals, and a lot of the stuff you’d want to look at physically, like bags and tripods, is out on the store floor. Even with online shopping still the only store I buy gear from — even within NYC I’ll order to save on a trip there. Returns are okay too, the few times I’ve had to do one.

  12. btezra says:

    ~great to see you got the 5D and that B&H; turned out to be the well-respected retailer that they are~

  13. Anonymous says:

    B&H; Photo Video is a TERRIBLE company to do business with. Avoid them at ALL COSTS! This company sold me a tv and then contacted me the next day asking for an additional $1000!!! They said their sales associate made a mistake. Unfortunately for them this same “mistake” was apparently made in their catalog, web site and the invoice I recieved. They’re theives just trying to jack up the price of an item *after* the sale is made.

  14. Paul says:

    B&H; is the best. I order most of my “typical” gear from them, especially large orders.

    I also fell for the cheaper prices when first shopping for camera gear online (from another online company). Fortunately I figured that out really fast and had my credit card cancelled before the scammer had a chance to charge me. That was the only option my card company allowed. The online seller then called me back (with heated anger) and said “what gives? We can’t run your card”. Sorry – I don’t deal with hard sales nor cheap tactics.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Yes, B&H; is generally the best online store. Their website is excellent, they have more information about some accessories than anywhere else, including the manufacturer.

    They are not saints though, I have had them swear at me on the phone. Fortunately, with the net, I don’t have to talk to them very often.

  16. henryp says:

    Thanks for your kind words. We’re very glad you had such a good experience here.

    Henry Posner
    B&H; Photo-Video

  17. Anonymous says:

    I’m in the middle of a nightmare with B&H.; Not all their business is good….I won’t order from them again! B&H;, either send me my refund or send me back my camera!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Beware! B&H; charges your credit card immediately upon receiving your order whether or not they can ship. I waited over 3 months for my purchase, only to be told that it wasn’t available. I then had to ASK for a refund. I got a refund for the cost of the item only. They kept the handling charge. I paid the interest. Nuts to that!