Working as a New York based photographer, I utilize most of the big name suppliers to purchase my equipment as well as some specialty suppliers for more concentrated items. Each have their ups and downs but I have categorized them perfectly for my spending needs. Whether a bulb breaks or I need a new backdrop color or I’m adding to my arsenal of lenses, I have calculated which supplier works best for my current situation. Most of my needs are met between Adorama, B&H, 49th Street Photo, Willoughby’s, and Amazon. Here’s my take on each supplier and the circumstances in which they most come in handy:
B&H Photo and Video
Calling B&H a superstore is an understatement. They seemingly have every piece of equipment, or at least its substitute, under one roof! This being it’s primary benefit, you can typically have all of your needs met in one shot, but, in my findings, they aren’t always the most cost-effective and, despite them being a bi-level superstore the length of a Manhattan avenue block, they’re typically jammed packed with slow tourists and industry busy-bodies. A first trip can also be very overwhelming even with their staff attempting to give you directions with every 10 steps you take. It’s definitely an experience worth having, more so to say you did it – like sky diving – but I would definitely foot the cost of shipping for the comfort and ease of shopping online. Miraculously they have an even wider online warehouse which allows you to skip the headache of the crowd or your item being out of stock in-store resulting in a waste of a trip. I like B&H for my studio equipment needs – bulbs, stands, soft/strip boxes, and most particularly backdrop paper.
Adorama is a boutique supplier, especially in comparison to B&H, but they also have an in-store warehouse which helps to increase the chances of your item being their when you go in to pick it up. It’s less populated but also less staffed so waiting to be assisted can be a bit of nerve-racker. Adorama is usually where I price check first for my equipment – lenses, stands, soft/strip boxes, and their attachments. I also love the quality (and price) of their large prints that are available in bulk as well as individual purchases.
Willoughby’s is another boutique supplier, but, unlike Adorama, they do not have a large onsite warehouse. They run great sales on equipment from time to time but can typically be relatively expensive.
49th Street Photo
Contrary to popular belief, 49th Street Photo does not have a physical location and only operates online. They are a good supplemental source to check for equipment as well.
Amazon.com is usually my one stop shop! Since all of the suppliers sell through amazon, I visit there first for a range of options in one location. It’s the best place to compare options to either then purchase in-store or purchase multiple items from the various suppliers at once without leaving the comfort of your home.
Have you utilized any of these suppliers? Do you utilize others? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!