In an age where you can buy whatever you want online, why do we need specialist camera stores? After all, you can just type in a URL and click “buy” on the lens you like the look of without having to leave your home.
Well, for some products maybe that’s all you need. However, buying cameras and lenses isn’t like buying dishwasher tablets and coffee filters!
Sure, you might like the look of that lens, but what if it isn’t actually the best one for your camera? What if it isn’t the best one for your shooting style? What if it’s too limiting for the way you shoot, and you need a different lens? What if it’s overkill for your photography, and you’re just throwing money away?
This is exactly where specialist camera stores are so important. And it’s why Canon is supporting local retailers with its annual Camera Store Week (opens in new tab), running from March 27 to April 02, bringing seminars, workshops, and hands-on events to locations around the country.
"Our Photo Specialists partners have a wealth of knowledge to help everyone pursue their dreams and support them on their creative journeys," says Alan Harborne, Sales Manager, Photo Specialist Channel, Canon UK.
"Camera Store Week is our way of bringing focus to the exceptional service delivered by those working in these stores, whose knowledge, expertise and passion is undeniable, and whose advice and insight enables photographers of all abilities to realize their aspirations."
Shopping online is great for many things but, in our opinion, these are the reasons why you simply can’t beat heading to your local camera specialist…
An ongoing relationship
Unlike online retailers, where we tend to make one-and-done purchases, when you shop at your local camera store you are building a relationship with the staff.
They get to know you. They get to know the kind of imagery you shoot, and the kind that you would like to shoot. They get to know the kit you currently shoot on and the kit you need to get where you want to go, whether that’s taking better holiday snaps or starting to get paid for shoots.
Armed with this knowledge, they can give you the benefit of their expertise – and often their experience, as many staff are passionate photographers themselves – across a wide range of products and brands – some of which you might have overlooked, but might be perfect for you.
Avenues to grow, not just buy!
When your local store gets to know you, every time you visit becomes an opportunity to grow and develop your skills.
When the staff know that, for example, you’re an avid wildlife photographer, they can not only alert you to new products that might be of interest – they can also give you a heads-up to events where you can learn more about getting the best wildlife imagery.
During Camera Store Week (opens in new tab) a number of Canon Ambassadors and experts will be present at local retailers to give seminars, workshops and photowalks on different shooting genres.
So your store isn’t just a place to buy gear – it’s a place where you can learn and develop your skills. This valuable education helps you better understand both the technical aspects of your kit as well as artistic aspects of photography and videography.
Touch and try cameras and kit
Buying online can be brilliant, but there’s one major drawback: you don’t get the chance to physically hold or try the kit.
What if that camera doesn’t feel right in your hands? What if that lens is an inch too big for your camera bag? What if the menus just don’t make sense to your brain? There really is nothing like handling camera equipment to see if it’s right for you – and that’s where camera stores come into their own.
They offer you the chance to touch and try gear and see if it suits you. This camera feels a bit bulky in your palms? The staff can bring over a different body that might suit you better. This lens won’t fit in your bag? They can grab a different lens for you – or even a different bag!
While Camera Store Week (opens in new tab) is a Canon event, the brand is partnering with major manufacturers like Manfrotto, Lowepro and Billingham, so you get to see how different pieces of the equipment jigsaw all fit together.
Independent, unbiased advice
Chatting to your local camera store is one of the best ways to get completely unbiased opinions on products.
Sure, a new camera might arrive with a lot of hype – but does it live up to the fanfare? Everyone might be saying that a new lens is the best thing since sliced bread, but is it really that much better than that other lens you were interested in?
Staff at specialist camera stores give you their independent advice and point you toward the kit that’s right for you, not the kit with the most hype or bullet points on its spec sheet.
Now is the ideal time to head to your local store and get chatting to them about your photography, your kit, and how to get the most out of both. Find out where your nearest participating specialist is, and get involved in Camera Store Week (opens in new tab) today.