Buying cameras on Amazon

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Bill Walderman
When I see the work of a master like Glenn, I sometimes fall prey to the delusion that I too could take better photos if only I had more resolution than my Z6 affords, and from time to time I'm consumed by lust over of the Z7 or Z7 II. So far, I've succeeded in talking myself out of my folly, especially, I'm proud to say, during the recent Z7 promotion.

But I have about a $700 balance on Amazon's "Rewards" program, which is a continual temptation to do something foolish. Just out of pure curiosity, I'm wondering if anyone has experience buying an expensive camera on Amazon or any thoughts about doing so. My concern is Amazon's return policy, and more importantly, its practices. With B&H or my local camera store, I can be confident that returning and replacing defective merchandise would not be a hassle. But dealing with Amazon, which seems make it difficult for consumers to communicate with it, is a concern for me.

I have bought lenses from Amazon, but there's much more that could go wrong with a camera. (I would certainly never buy anything expensive from any of the third-party sellers on Amazon.)

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
 
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If I was in your situation, I would use the rewards money for the purchase of other products that you typically buy on a regular basis. Then buy your expensive camera gear from companies you feel better about. Your net cost of all goods purchased remains the same as if you had applied the rewards money toward the purchase of camera gear.
 

Butlerkid

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Glenn has made images like this over many, many years and with many different cameras, including the 12 MP D700. He has also spent money taking courses and workshops to fine tune his craft. He is out at sunrise and sunset to take advantage of the best light. He has traveled a great deal also.

I suggest you study his and images by others that you admire and identify WHY their images are so appealing. Then practice emulating that look and even better, evolving your own style. ;) Do as Mike suggests above and then put that $700 toward a focused learning experience.

The camera is only a tool, IMHO, to take the vision and creativity of the photographer and create an image that others can see.
 
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We did something similar to Mike's suggestion. My spouse got a 25 year employment bonus in the form of a Target gift card which we used for groceries for several months and then bought her a nice watch from a high end jewelry store with the grocery 'savings' .

I've also been know to remark that there is no lack of talent and experience that can't be made up for by spending more money on equipment . . .(y)

I have both the Z6 and Z7. Other than resolution, there is little difference between the files they produce for what I shoot. I'm waiting to see what firmware upgrades the Z7II gets and might consider that as more of an 'upgrade'.

Lenses make more of a difference in terms of bang for bucks . . .
 
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I bought my nikon d800 through Amazon years ago. Make sure you know who you are actually buying from.
I have purchased smaller cameras through amazon as well- xmas presents, etc. I have never had an issue.

Now the question also should be will a higher resolution camera change your work??
What do you do with your images?
I shoot with a high resolution bodies- presently the sony a7riv- 61mp. I am presently actually printing a 30x30" image as I am typing this. I need every pixel I can get- more would be better.
If you print this big- it will help.
Most people however do not have a piano sized printer in their studio.
If you are displaying your images online, if you are printing 11x14" or smaller, even if you are publishing images in books or magazines- the additional resolution will not change anything.
The larger resolution cameras do come with a price. File sizes get huge. Computers slow down. Backups get cumbersome.
A new camera rarely changes my work- now a new lens sometimes does.
gary
 
I would not take chances on buying an expensive camera body from Amazon, or for that matter an expensive lens. That said, I have bought a couple of inexpensive lenses from there and things were fine, but you never know.... Purchasing locally (you don't live all that far from District Camera in Burke) is a much safer bet, or ordering from B&H online if the desired item is unavailable locally. B&H usually packages their items securely and safely, which is always important with camera gear. Amazon sometimes tosses fragile items into flimsy envelopes or at other times will deliver a non-fragile item encased in good, sturdy cardboard -- needless to say it should be the other way around! One of the inexpensive lenses arrived in an envelope, and just in its original manufacturer's box, no extra protection around it at all (thankfully the lens was fine!), while a new mattress pad arrived in a box that would have protected cameras and lenses with no problem! B&H packs their orders in good sturdy boxes with plenty of bubble wrap and extra protection inside the box as well so that the lens or camera body arrives at the customer's home or business still in one piece and without damage.

As for harboring illusions that one could become an even better photographer if only one had "x" lens or "x" camera body: yeah, that's not uncommon, but it is definitely the sneaky way that a rip-roaring case of GAS gets hold of the innocent individual lusting after a new item! Instead, think about the things that the desired item could do for you that your current gear cannot, and/or the benefits of having a second (or third) camera body, whatever......

Higher resolution is definitely a "plus" in my book and that is something to be seriously considered. Back when I was contemplating making changes in my gear that was one aspect that I took into consideration and am very glad that I did. Higher resolution makes a difference in a lot of situations, especially when shooting macro or shooting something where it is going to be likely that a bit of cropping will be needed. With that in mind I pursued the idea and the pros and cons of getting a camera with significantly higher resolution than I was accustomed to using, and one of the first things I realized was that I'd need to be sure that my computer would be able to deal with the larger files. Purchase of a new camera body was briefly slowed down until after I'd first taken care of getting a faster, more powerful computer than what I had. Then I returned to contemplating a new camera......

Oh -- apparently Amazon has a new return mechanism set up now, whereby the customer goes online and states that he or she wishes to return whatever the item is, and then they are given a code (QR code?) and can take the item to a local Whole Foods store (which is owned by Amazon), no need to re-wrap the package or fool with shipping labels and all that. I haven't tried this yet but have heard from a friend about it.
 
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Just on the buying from Amazon part. While I don't think I have bought a camera from them I have no trouble returning ites within the 30 day period. I just go to the web, fill out a form, get an email, take that email and the item to my local Kohls and drop it off. Within an hour I have my refund.
 
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I would not take chances on buying an expensive camera body from Amazon, or for that matter an expensive lens. That said, I have bought a couple of inexpensive lenses from there and things were fine, but you never know.... Purchasing locally (you don't live all that far from District Camera in Burke) is a much safer bet, or ordering from B&H online if the desired item is unavailable locally. B&H usually packages their items securely and safely, which is always important with camera gear. Amazon sometimes tosses fragile items into flimsy envelopes or at other times will deliver a non-fragile item encased in good, sturdy cardboard -- needless to say it should be the other way around! One of the inexpensive lenses arrived in an envelope, and just in its original manufacturer's box, no extra protection around it at all (thankfully the lens was fine!), while a new mattress pad arrived in a box that would have protected cameras and lenses with no problem! B&H packs their orders in good sturdy boxes with plenty of bubble wrap and extra protection inside the box as well so that the lens or camera body arrives at the customer's home or business still in one piece and without damage.

As for harboring illusions that one could become an even better photographer if only one had "x" lens or "x" camera body: yeah, that's not uncommon, but it is definitely the sneaky way that a rip-roaring case of GAS gets hold of the innocent individual lusting after a new item! Instead, think about the things that the desired item could do for you that your current gear cannot, and/or the benefits of having a second (or third) camera body, whatever......

Higher resolution is definitely a "plus" in my book and that is something to be seriously considered. Back when I was contemplating making changes in my gear that was one aspect that I took into consideration and am very glad that I did. Higher resolution makes a difference in a lot of situations, especially when shooting macro or shooting something where it is going to be likely that a bit of cropping will be needed. With that in mind I pursued the idea and the pros and cons of getting a camera with significantly higher resolution than I was accustomed to using, and one of the first things I realized was that I'd need to be sure that my computer would be able to deal with the larger files. Purchase of a new camera body was briefly slowed down until after I'd first taken care of getting a faster, more powerful computer than what I had. Then I returned to contemplating a new camera......

Oh -- apparently Amazon has a new return mechanism set up now, whereby the customer goes online and states that he or she wishes to return whatever the item is, and then they are given a code (QR code?) and can take the item to a local Whole Foods store (which is owned by Amazon), no need to re-wrap the package or fool with shipping labels and all that. I haven't tried this yet but have heard from a friend about it.
They do that at UPS stores as well. They bulk up the returns and ship back to the nearest Amazon warehouse.
 

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Sometimes a new or different camera may help, but generally only if one has out grown the capabilities of their current camera. (says she who is considering a Z7 II.....:oops:) But I don't expect my images to improve due to a new camera since I will have not changed! Indeed, I hope they maintain the current image quality (meaning not content or viewer impact) I am currently getting out of my D850.

I like to think I have improved over the years. But I think that growth has more to do with "seeing" and pre-visualizing the image I want to create and then applying capture and processing techniques I have learned. YMMV.....
 
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I don't hesitate buying high dollar items from Amazon including camera equipment. As a matter of fact if I'm buying on line that would be my first stop. That said, due to the way Nikon controls pricing from their authorized distributors I try to buy locally for the same price first. I only go on line if I can't find it at the local camera shop. I will go on line rather than buy from Best Buy or similar.
 
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I note if you buy Nikon via Amazon, which is shipped by Amazon, it is via Nikon store. When there are Nikon promotions, providing the goods were purchased through Amazon and not a 3rd party Amazon reseller the promotions are valid.

Edit: a couple of screen shots from Nikon Australia regarding a current promotion.

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08C8C240-51EB-4CE0-B4D0-94E61C237A6E.jpeg
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Certain aspects really are about the gear.

As one example, when Glenn first got the D850 he raved about the distant, fine details that were revealed in his architectural scenes that would not have been revealed with such great clarity by any of his other cameras. As another example, I would love to convince my wife to allow me to upgrade at least her lens. That's because I do all of her post-processing and that would be more enjoyable for me if her images looked better upon the close inspection that is sometimes required during post-processing.
 
Agree -- one can get certain images pretty much only by using certain gear, so in that respect it IS about the gear. For instance, I purchased a wide-angle lens a couple of months ago because it was needed to fill in a gap in my overall focal range. I also purchased a fisheye which strictly speaking wasn't a necessary purchase but it's a fun lens and it's been interesting using both of these wide-angle lenses and seeing what I can do with each of them.
 
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You are getting a lot of advice, but it is your money and decision. My $.02 some of Amazon’s sellers are Adorama or other 3rd parties. Check the source. Since you are local in N. Va. I recommend Ace / Dominion Photo as Connie recommends District. I bet they may work a deal with you if you decide to buy - perhaps use those rewards somehow with them.

Besides the technique, Glenn also is highly proficient at post-processing. He sees the image and applies skill in acquisition and then final editing. Definitely worth trying with your Z6 - bracketing will bring out greater detail if its needed.

Keep shooting!
 
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Thanks to everyone who responded to my question. I think Amazon's often shoddy packaging is a disincentive to buying an expensive camera from them. B&H or District Camera in Burke (not to far from me, where I bought my Z6) are better options. Ace Camera in Sterling is about a light year away.

But after entertaining the idea for a few minutes, I've managed once again to talk myself out of getting a Z7. It's really neither necessary for, nor well-suited to, my kind of photography. Most of the time I'm walking with my dog when I snap photos -- and, yes, I know, it shows it. (I probably shouldn't be posting on this site, which has so many outstanding professional-level photographers.) I don't carry a tripod, which I think would be necessary to take advantage of the higher resolution of the Z7. And my post-processing skills are not at a level that would justify the purchase. The larger and less easily manipulated file size of the Z7 was a key consideration when I bought my Z6, and still is.

At 75, I'm too old a dog to learn new tricks, and long past the age when I might have had ambitions for raising my skills to a higher level. I know I'll never be as good a photographer as so many of you, but that doesn't mean that i don't get a lot of enjoyment out of photography, even at my rudimentary level. Meanwhile, I'll continue to enjoy looking at the wonderful images posted by other members of this group.
 
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Great thought process, Bill, that surely helps you to arrive at a happy decision. However, you're far past the rudimentary level of photography and you're far too demeaning of your excellent photography skills. I really enjoy your photography and I'm sure I'm far from alone in thinking that.
You're too kind, Mike. You're one of the photographers whose work I admire here, and you've made me appreciate your genre of photography.
 
Ace Camera is definitely worth the drive out there! It's a fun place to look around -- they have an amazing inventory -- and Mo and his staff are really helpful and willing to work with a customer to provide what is needed. Mo also owns Dominion Camera in Falls Church, a bit closer to home for a lot of us in the closer-in suburbs of Northern Virginia, but that shop is significantly smaller and inventory more limited out of necessity. I think, though, that it probably would be easy enough for a customer to arrange for a desired item to be transferred from the store in Ashburn to the one in Falls Church for more convenient pick-up. I haven't put this to the test yet, though!

We are very fortunate in the Northern Virginia area to have outstanding camera shops and as I've mentioned in the past I try to buy locally as much as possible to keep those businesses up and running for the times when I want and need to go in person to have a hands-on experience with a new camera body or lens that I am thinking of purchasing. I do use B&H for those times when an item is not available locally -- also sometimes I get impatient when the object of my desire hasn't come into inventory in a local shop and finally just go ahead and order at B&H anyway.

Bill, I hear you on your thought processes and current decision against buying and using a Z7..... I often feel much the same way when it comes to the quality of my images and the level of my skill set and technique in both photography itself and post-processing/editing. The latter adds a whole additional level of complexity into the overall process of making pictures. In the end, though, it's all worthwhile!

Like Mike, I definitely enjoy seeing your images, especially those from around the Northern Virginia/DC area -- home -- as it is fun to see sometimes familiar sights from your perspective and also to see sights which I otherwise would miss out on. Please keep shooting and sharing here!
 
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A quick note about B&H packaging. I have purchased from them for more years than I can count, but I cannot say that everything they package is well protected. I have received delicate items that have been shipped in boxes with an air pillow or two thrown in to take up some space, but this approach does not protect gear from rolling around. The last item I received from them, a handgrip cage for a small video camera, came in a padded envelope that looked like it had been driven over since it was so dirty on the outside of the envelope I thought they were tire tracks. The inside box was a bit crushed, but the item survived. Of course, YMMV, but do not assume that everything is packaged with absolute care.

Good luck,

--Ken
 

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