With the large selection of camera stores, choosing the best place to purchase your photography gear can be a difficult decision. When determining where to find the latest equipment and accessories you should base your selection off location, availability of stock and price.
At one point, buying your camera equipment could only be done in a physical brick and mortar storefront. As the evolution of buying and selling have changed, e-commerce has significantly shifted to take over the marketplace for purchasing goods. With this transition to internet purchasing, photography stores for camera equipment and gear have now created their own accessible and easy to use space online.
While you can still find a mixture of new and used photography stores in your local area, consulting online vendors can give you access to a wide variety of available photographic tools. If you are a digital photographer or film enthusiast, there are several options for you to buy both the latest and vintage options of equipment. To help you narrow down your available options for buying your next camera body or lens, we have compiled a list of the five best photography stores in the United States and online.
Address: 420 9th Ave., New York, NY 10001
B&H is a New York City superstore for all things pertaining to camera, video and audio. With one main location within Manhattan, B&H services a large percentage of the creative community within New York. In addition to their physical store front, B&H acts as an online retailer. By accessing B&H online, you can search for your product and order it directly to your home.
For the physical marketplace, B&H’s website describes their super store as being over 70,000 square feet and the largest retail location in the United States. They have 10,000 products on their shelves for demonstration and averages over 5,000 visitors per day. The store is located on the Lower West Side, with close proximity to Penn Station.
If you are located in New York City and the surrounding boroughs, B&H is a useful resource for purchasing your next camera equipment. As a photography store with a solid background of history, you can trust that those working at B&H are highly skilled and knowledgeable about the products they sell.
If you are based outside of New York City, you can still utilize the massive inventory of B&H and place an order online. B&H ships to all 48 contiguous states as well as Hawaii, Puerto Rico and other United States territories. Additionally, B&H offers international shipping except to the countries of Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea and Uganda. If you are placing an order from B&H to an international location, you will need to check with your country’s export and government regulations for certain products
On B&H’s online website, you can order items from the categories of photography, computers, pro videos, lighting, pro audio, mobile, TVs/entertainment, camcorders, surveillance, optics and audio visual. For camera and photography equipment, B&H sells the following types of gear:
- Digital Cameras
- Drones & Aerial Imaging
- Photography Bags & Cases
- Memory Cards and Accessories
- Batteries and Power Accessories
- Flashes & On Camera Lighting
- Lens Filters
- Lens Accessories
- Photo Accessories
- Medium and Large Format Accessories
- Film Cameras
- Mobile Photo and Video Accessories
In addition to the options listed above, B&H offers items for lighting and studio, underwater photography, darkroom equipment, photo software, scanners, printers and books/tutorials related to photography.
From this expansive selection, it’s safe to say that B&H caters to the needs of every photographer. Although they are a leader in providing and selling high quality and innovative equipment, their used department draws in a majority of their business.
From the used marketplace, customers can purchase products from the digital photography, video and film photography categories. For photography specific purchases, you can find a slew of camera bodies and lenses ranging in condition as well as those who have been refurbished for resale value. Buying used gear is often a way to lessen the upfront financial burden that comes with buying brand new gear. By choosing a used option, you can save money and receive a product that is practically good as new.
B&H also offers its customers the opportunity to sell their own gear and cash in on their used equipment. The process is done entirely online. You begin by searching the product you are looking to sell. Once you have located the item, you will rate the condition of your product and note any accessories that you have to accompany it. B&H will then offer you an instant quote, which you can then accept. Upon deciding to sell, B&H offers free shipping to send your item to their store, for those located in the 48 United States. Once your gear has been inspected and passes review, you will be paid the agreed upon quote. In all, the process is fairly simple and effective for those looking to make some cash off of their used gear.
Address: 42 W 18th Street New York, NY 10001
The second photography store on our list is Adorama. Adorama like B&H, has one physical photography store located in New York City. In addition to their in-person location, you can access all of Adorama’s inventory through their online marketplace. As a full service electronics store in New York City, Adorama offers a wide selection and prices on professional photography, video, audio gear, musical instruments and consumer electronics such as home theaters and computers.
At the Adorama store, you can shop both new and used items, test out the products available, rent gear, attend free industry events and even charge your phone while you wait for your order.
Adorama has 6 components to its business that help and guide their customers. These include:
- Purchasing products
- Renting gear
- Buying and selling used equipment
- Business Solutions
The rental component of Adorama is only available to those located in New York and Brooklyn. Yet, this service is also good to know for photographers who may be visiting and need a piece of specific equipment for a shoot.
To rent your gear, you start by browsing the available products on their website. However, you must be eighteen years or older to rent from Adorama. After you have selected your gear, you will choose a pick up and drop off date. You can pick up your gear at either the Manhattan or Brooklyn location – 50 W 17th St. New York City (btwn 5th – 6th Ave) and 370 19th St. Brooklyn (btwn 7th – 8th Ave). After you are done with the gear, you have to return it on your specified drop off date to the Manhattan location. Adorama offers free curbside drop off or you can arrange a pickup with a messenger.
Another service Adorama offers that is almost parallel to that of B&H, is the option to buy, sell and trade used gear. As with the process described above, you will use Adorama’s online quote generator to price your gear and send it off to them via an prepaid shipping label. With this process, you can choose to receive cash, store credit, direct deposit or trade up your gear for another product as a form of payment.
The fourth component of Adorama is their business solutions center. This aspect doesn’t necessarily pertain to individual creatives and artists, but is a good resource to know in the event that you work in the creative department of a corporate, educational or government institution. Adorama offers you the ability to hire them for full service consultations, installation and technical advising for the gear your company specifically needs.
The fifth pillar of Adorama lies in their printing facilities. Through AdoramaPix, you can print photo books, prints, albums, wall decor, cards and calendars. They also offer photography classes that you can register for through Creative Live. To print your work, you simply use their online uploader to add your files. Finish by customizing your preferences and then placing an order to be shipped directly to your location.
Additionally at their New York location, they hold several events per week many of which are free to the public. For example, in November they will be hosting events such as Portraits with Speedlights, Capturing Emotive Photographs and Mirrorless Monday. Lastly, Adorama offers an online learning center that highlights and features topics that pertain to the photography industry. With articles on the latest gear, learning the equipment and technological reviews, the ALC aims to be a top destination for photography learning resources. You can read more of their content through their platform here.
The third photography store on our list is Lomography. Lomography differs from our previously discussed photography stores. Although Lomography is a store, it is also a designer and producer of their very own specific line of cameras.
Founded by a group of Vietnamese students in 1992, Lomography refers to their Lomographic Society International as photography’s wild child. Upon discovering the Lomo LC-A, a popular Russian camera from the 1980s, the group quickly developed and grew with over 1 million creative members in their community.
Lomography offers lomographic cameras including the Supersampler, Lubitel +166, Horizon cameras, Fisheye Cameras, Diana F+, Diana Mini, Spinner 360, Sprocket Rocket, LC-WIde, La Sardina, Lomo Kino, Belair X 6-12, Konstruktor, LC-A 120 and Lomo’Instant. Lomography also designs and creates their own film. With formats of 35mm, 120 and 110 including color negative, slide, redscale and black and white.
They recently have introduced a Lomography Art Lens family that includes the New Petzval 85, New Petzval 58 Bokeh Control, Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64, New Jupiter 3+, New Russar+ and Lomo LC-A Minitar-1.
Through Lomography you can purchase their products of cameras, film and accessories. As Lomography is heavily focused on film photography, their range of available gear is often sought after by the creative and unique analogue enthusiasts. The film camera options by Lomography are offered in 35mm format, 120 and instant Polaroid.
If you are located in the USA and Canada, you can also use Lomography as a place for developing your film through their Lomo Lab development services. The lab offers development, scanning and prints for standard 35 mm, 110 or medium format films as well as for your panoramic pictures, Lomokino movies and for images shot on the Spinner 360.
Lastly, as Lomography is not just a camera store, but truly a photographic community; you can access their magazine, photo submissions and competitions directly on their website. The magazine features articles on photography trends, artists and famous work to be showcased through their platform. Additionally, Lomography hosts several competitions including specific entries as well as ongoing competitions. For example, the latest on going competitions include images on new perspectives, breaking boundaries in travel and documentary as well as human stories in portraiture. To read more about Lomography, you can visit their site here.
The fourth photography store on our list is a combination of two reputable online sellers, Amazon Marketplace and eBay. Although these two sites are made up of multiple sellers rather than one retailer, this is can be an advantage for the eager photography buyer. With options such as Amazon and eBay, consumers can quickly find gear and products that they are interested in purchasing either through the manufacturer, resellers or in used, pre-existing condition.
Amazon acts as third party seller of photography and video goods. Through the ability to host and sell products on Amazon, retailers have expanded their reach outside of viewers only being able to buy from their specific websites. On Amazon, you can select photography gear from Digital SLRS, lenses, mirrorless cameras, point and shoots, accessories and more. Often on Amazon, you will find some products that may have a lower price than those found on traditional retailer sites.
With Amazon, the main benefit of purchasing from them in comparison to a specific brand outlet is their fast shipping capabilities both domestic and internationally. With Amazon, you can purchase a camera from a retailer that may not ship to your location, but because they are selling from Amazon, will align with Amazon’s shipping capabilities which are wide and expansive across the globe.
If you’re looking to purchase gear from a photography store that offers a lower or discounted price, you can find them on Amazon. For each product, Amazon creates a list of sellers for you to choose from and compare based on their pricing, stock availability and shipping charges either with or without the use of Amazon Prime.
Another option for purchasing camera gear through a massive network of photography stores and individual sellers is to use eBay. As many of you are most likely familiar with the process of eBay, you know that it works as an auctioning site for purchasing goods. The platform has two ways that you can buy products from other sellers — through a bidding system that works as an auction or through a direct and instant Buy-It-Now service.
Depending on what you are buying, using either option to purchase your camera gear can be effective. While many reputable camera shops that sell their products on ebay will choose the buy it now option, individual sellers looking to get the highest value for their item will engage in auctioning off their item. If you’re looking to buy new, used or vintage camera gear, referencing eBay for a first look is a great place to start.
Due to the nature of bidding, you can often obtain photography products on eBay for less than a normal retail value. Although this does take patience and strategy, in many scenarios you could walk away with a new piece of equipment having paid significantly lower than you would have in a traditional store. Although there are many sellers that offer new or like new products, one thing you need to remember when using eBay is to read the description of the product as well as reference the seller’s rating and reviews from other customers. When buying used goods you are eliminating the warranty and even the ability to return if dissatisfied with your purchase, so be sure to buy carefully. In the event that your product is not what was described by the seller, eBay has a strong protection policy that allows you to file a claim and even receive your money back.
If you’re looking to start your photography journey with little start up cost or even scour the latest bargain on some gear, be sure to reference both Amazon and eBay when beginning the search for your next photography equipment.
Los Angeles: 431 S. Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Culver City: 4411 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230
Pasadena: 1759 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106
Santa Ana: 3309b S. Bristol St, Santa Ana, CA 92704
Santa Barbara: 614 Chapala St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
San Francisco: 1090 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Playa Vista: 12636 Beatrice St, Los Angeles, CA 90066
The final photography store on our list is Samy’s Camera. Samy’s Camera is a west-coast camera chain with seven locations servicing the state of California. They are located in Los Angeles, Culver City, Pasadena, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara, San Francisco and Playa Vista.
As with the other photography stores found on our list, Samy’s Camera offers both in-person and online ordering of their products. At Samy’s Camera you can find digital cameras, lenses, accessories, Seamless backdrops for your shoot and more. In conjunction with their online shop, you can also find Samy’s Camera on eBay, where they host their own store for customers to buy their products.
An additional component to Samy’s Camera is their photography school, Samy’s Photo School. As one of the largest photo programs on the West Coast, Samy’s Camera hosts classes for all levels of photographers from beginner to even advanced professional with classes on gear and technique. The school hosts events at each of Samy’s California locations. Some of the upcoming events for November include:
- Understanding Your Digital Camera
- Learning Adobe Classic Lightroom
- Hands On Fashion Lookbooks
- Outdoor Portrait Photography
- Wedding and Real Estate Photography
Samy’s Camera school not only hosts classes with subjects for you to learn, they also offer talks with guest speakers and photographers. These photographer talks include an immersive look into the artist’s genre and body of work, aiming to help students understand and develop their own style of photography.
If you’re based in California and looking for a new way to grow your photography skills and knowledge, you can check out Samy’s Photo School’s upcoming events on their website here.
When starting the process of buying either new or used camera gear, choosing the best photography store for you is important.
Depending on whether you are looking to purchase digital or film equipment, lighting, accessories or backdrops, there are several options for both physical and online retailers. If you prefer to purchase from a large entity with return options and warranties, consider choosing brands such as B&H, Adorama or Samy’s Camera. If you are looking for some older equipment, vintage options or gear that can be obtained at a lower than retail value, reference available products on Amazon or Ebay. Whichever route you take, always purchase gear that meets your requirements, has solid reviews and will be instrumental to your creative process.