View Full Version : On the sad state of film cameras ay B&H
I went by B&H today in the hopes of fondling a Zeiss-Ikon rangefinder and checking out the finder for myself, after a number of threads on that topic here. Sad to say B&H no longer has on display any 35mm film cameras, including Leicas or ZIs. Of course, you can still buy them from the Web site, but touch them - not there, not any more. Kind of sad really. In fact, the Leica display, two large shelves, was clearly coming down to be replaced by something else. I didn't even see an M8 left among its dusty remainders. There were still medium format cameras, Mostly Hassies and Mamiyas, but I mostly saw digital backs for them, although I assume they were also selling film backs, and there were quite a few sales people dedicated to that format (4-5, maybe more).
Next I went over to the dark room departemnt to get some chemicals. In the whole 90 minutes I was in the store I was the only person to buy any chemicals there, and they service alot of pros in New York. Ditto for the media department, which is where film could be bought. Lots of people buying digital media, CDs and DVDs, but I didn't see a single buyer of film, besides myself, and I always buy it on line. I don't need to touch boxes of film before I buy them. I wonder how much longer they will be devoting any space to the film category?
Upstairs, in the used department, things were rather chaotic, since it is being remodelled. But this is where I found most of the Leicas, M7, M6, and M3. They had some very romantic looking black M3s in a glass display case whose paint was worn down to the brass so that you could actually see the shape of the fingers! I guess this won't be happening to many more film Leicas in the future.
If you want to fondle film Leicas and other film rangefinders in New York I guess PhotoVillage is the place to do it.
This report from the rear guard of the film camera movement...
did you talk to anyone to confirm that? Maybe they were moving things around?
It's possible, since they are doing alot of remodelling. But let me tell you that none of the digital camera displays were in such a state of decrepitude as the Leica non-display. It looked like a store where only the junk and dirt are left after you're gone. The sales rep I talked to was less than helpful about the ZI. He said, What do you want to know about it I'll tell you. I said, I can read about it online. I want to look through it. Well, you can't. blah blah blah. I shut him out after that. I did ask him if they were discontinuing Leicas and he said, Not as far as I know. They are just not on display.
I think it is a simple matter that most retailers do not want to devote expensive shelf space to new items that are not fast movers for their walk in customers. Even in my small town the chain stores carry little or no film. Yes, we are the rear guard of the film movement. of that there is no doubt.
Did you buy a film camera there, or did you just go to play with them?
Maybe if there were less "fondlers" and a lot more "buyers", there would be more shelf space devoted to them.
Most of the pros I know who buy darkroom supplies there have standing orders and either have the stuff shipped or don't spend much time at the counters looking at ths stuff.
Yeah, and just this afternoon I tried to order some film and related stuff from B&H online only to discover that they're closed until something like October 6th. WHAT?!? Sorry, but I don't understand an entire operation like that shutting down for a week and a half. Guess it motivates me to go to my local retailer, Keeble & Shuchat in Palo Alto (which I should probably be doing anyway if for no other reason than to support them and TRY to keep them in the film business).
P.S. Further to my comment above, and to sort of respond to some of the comments below, I hope it was clear that I meant no offense regarding anyone's religious beliefs. In this case, the notice that popped up on B&H's website made no mention of any such reason and I was unaware (ignorant may be a better word) of any orthodox holiday during this time. Still, I was bummed to have just missed the cutoff to mail me a filter they had in stock but there are things more important than our cameras, I know. (now someone else will likely point out that my last comment is itself blasphemous!... :eek: )
B&H is closed a lot...hah
The owners of B&H have strict orthodox religious beliefs, and they believe that their success is partially due to those beliefs.
So they can shut down whenever they feel like it.
I don't like stores who shut down for Christmas and Easter. How dare they close for their foolish supersitious holidays if I want to buy something?
I don't "feel sad" about the lack of shelf space devoted to film cameras in consumer retail outlets. Face it. Film users are in the minority, digital has the lions share. That will be the case - on going. I don't get upset by this. I like what I like. Thanks to the auction sites, I can buy whatever camera I want. They move a lot of cameras - thousands I'm guessing there - film cameras, on any given day. That's were you go to buy a used camera mostly. There are still new film cameras being made. If I wanted a new one it wouldn't be too hard to get one - especially an SLR.
The retail landscape has certainly changed but I can still get whatever I want, as far as the eye can see. I live in a suburb of Philly, and I can "literally" walk - 1/4 to 1/2 a mile in two directions and buy a new film SLR. I can "literally" walk to the corner 7-11 (like store) and buy a roll of 35. A couple miles from my house is a pro lab where I get my medium format developed. I have - literally, 10 options to get 35mm 1-hour prints.
I can log on to eBay and get nearly any new camera under the sun... .. if I'm not "outbid". Sometimes it's heartening to see 6,7,8,10, 12 bidders for a classic film camera. And it's not especially uncommon.
They are closed for a Holiday (religious reasons).
B & H is run by mostly observant Jews. They will be closed tomorrow for a week or so because of the Jewish Holiday Succot. It appears they put something higher than money in their business life. Not such a bad thing.
I close my office at a major state university starting on Posadas - Dec 12th and return on the first work day after the 3 Kings - Jan 6th.
B&H has been migrating more and more into the electronic realm. Frankly, I can't blame them for diversifying. My local independent camera dealer has a small cabinet for Leica and a single shelf for Mamiya - that's it for film cameras.
B&H had the notice up about the Holidays a week ago today when I last ordered from them.
The digital shelves hold little interest for me. Take me to the used section.
BTW there is a pristine Nikkor 135/3.5 screw mount at Precision Camera, $249.
BTW for true RFer's Photo Village is the place to go, hands down. But beware GAS attacks are huge. There are times I have actually avoided PV because of GAS. Not their fault, they are real good people.
A couple of local observations..
B and H is closed at this time of the year for four major Jewish holidays that coincide known as the Days of Awe. The store is owned and operated by Hasidic Jews who are very religious.
(Frankly, they do enough business the rest of the year that they can close whenever they want. )
The film dept was previously in a prime corner of the store with views out to the street. At the beginning of this summer, it was swapped with the binocular and telescopes sales area which was stuck in a congested area in the middle of the store. (I'm a frequent visitor to the film dept and needless to say the sales staff have plenty of time to talk..)
Apparently the binocular sales staff had been complaining about their space for some time and with the decline is film sales and the high volume they do in binoculars, it was only a matter of time..
As for the Leica counter, I agree, it has been in slow decline for some time now. I've wondered about the cause of this and whether Leica is not interested in promoting to the masses, or if B and H extracts a premium for a well maintained space. Nevertheless, I've seen plenty of people with M8's (and flush with Euros ;) ) in B and H buying cards, Domke bags, and so on.
The Used dept always has a good selection of M bodies, however they are way overpriced in my opinion. The cabinet with the black M3's and IIIG's with rapidwinders is an interesting look.
yes, there are a lot of non-usd holders in the store every sunday.
on film & darkroom departments, it is packed every time I go there. they ran out of Kodak E100VS 220 in store yesterday but I was able to pick up new RVP50. there are still sizable people shopping chemicals. as long as these two departments are fully stock, I am happy.
the film cameras have been disappearing slowly. they have F6 you can try. I regret I didn't buy the last 2 brand new Nikon FM3A few months ago for $550 each. now you can't find a new one for less than $800, I could have made a profit.
Seriously, most of people here have plenty of film gears already and know exactly what they want , I see no need to just "fondle".
B&H is a super store category killer. They have everyting. If they don't have it, it probably doesn't exist (as new equipment). In fact, they have a whole department in their warehouse dedicated to goverment sales and black ops. If you don't have the right security clearance, you can't buy it, and you can't look at it online or in in a catalogue either. I don't go to the store often, as I prefer to buy online. But since I was in the neighborhood yesterday, I thought I would drop in and look at the ZI rangefinder for myself. I get the fact that they cater to the wlak-in trade, but one of the things that made B&H so dominate was the availability of all their products in the store. In any case, last time I was there (admitedly two years ago), there were plenty of high end film cameras to be seen, and I even bought one of the now coveted FM3a cameras while there. Since I see all of these film products in their online store and did so also the last time I was there, I was just surprised at how much things had changed in the retail store arena in just 2 years. I didn't expect to see all of the 35mm film cameras gone. But I do understand it. Boutiques are deffinitely the way to go for what has become a niche market.
I too used to enjoy seeing the photo assistants picking up film there at lunchtime.
Many of them were attractive enough to be photographer's models. :)
Ken Hansen was truly a great shop. I remember once trading a Pentacon 6 kit I'd brought back from Eastern Europe, before such things were common in the U.S., and they knew what it was and gave me a fair value (mainly to get the 50mm Flektogon, which was the nicest of four Zeiss Jena lenses in the kit), and I bought my first studio lighting kit, and the salesman really took a lot of time on what was otherwise a modest sale in that department and gave me some good advice.
I've heard that he still sells cameras privately, and I know someone who has purchased from him that way.
Louis Shu worked in the large format for Ken Hansen and runs Photo Gizzmo, which always has a nice selection of LF gear, and usually some interesting RFs and TLRs and other unusual small and medium format items like Novoflex follow-focus setups and such. He's not very web oriented, so it's best to visit the shop.
The large format counter at B&H seems more or less unchanged in the remodeling.
Samy's cameras has lots of stuff on display, still. Anyone in the LA area that craves a fill of film stuff, go hang out there for a day. 3 floors of fun.
I prefer Freestyle...you can see example prints from every single paper they sell and they carry almost every single flavor of film in existance. My only gripe is they don't (I think) carry voigt stuff.
I was just at B&H last week, and I'm pretty sure I saw at least two Ikon RFs on display on the newly remodeled upper level. Unfortunately the used dept. seems to have been halved, but there are some film cameras out there on display...
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