My post about my one night stand with the Tamron 150-600mm generated a lot of comments. A lot of people bemoaned the fact that they couldn’t get one because it was backordered at B&H, Adorama and the like. In 10 days, I’m departing on an exciting 18-day raft trip down the Grand Canyon and didn’t want to lug my expensive 500mm down the river in the raft. Nevertheless, I really wanted to shoot the wildlife down there and felt the more compact Tamron would be ideal. So yesterday, while out shooting ospreys, I ordered one and will have it in a couple days.
Before you think I’m getting special treatment for writing a gushy review of that lens, I’m not. All I did was phone my local camera store (local being relative – for some reason Flagstaff, gateway to the Grand Canyon, can’t support a camera store, so my “local store”, Tempe Camera, is 150 miles away). Voila, they had one in stock and it’s making its way up the hill to Flagstaff as I write this. Unfortunately it was the only one they had that wasn’t spoken for – I inquired for the sake of my fellow PL readers, even the Canon shooters ;)
Why I’m writing this, is because I feel that supporting our local camera shops is important. They’re a dying breed. It’s hard to compete with the online outlets and box stores. I’m sure I’m not the only photographer who has gone into their local store to handle a new lens or body, then gone back home and ordered it online to save on sales tax. In fact, I remember doing just that at Tempe Camera with the Nikkor 80-400mm to see if the AF on the new version seemed fast enough. I left the store without the lens, but with some lens tissue and cleaner. A month or two later, I bought the 80-400mm from B&H. Well I never found the 80-400mm to be that good with birds-in-flight, but I did like it for stationary stuff. However most of my subjects are beautiful and quick. Fortunately, I found a sucker to take it off my hands (some dude who shoots slow ugly things like people for an undersized magazine with yellow borders). He gets a lens to replace his 80-400mm that was stolen (the thief did him a favor stealing the old version) and I got a lens better suited to my subjects, plus an extra grand to go play with.
Bye Bye 80-400, we’ll miss you Nan (yes, I give my telephotos pet names and yes, I’ll probably be hugely unoriginal and call the new one Tammy. What can I say, if I had a pet Barn Owl it would be named Barney).
Back to the importance of local stores. When you need an item and you can’t wait, they’re there for you. When you want to feel the camera in your hands and judge it’s ergonomics, they’re there for you. They’re likely the guys that sponsor the demo day when manufacturers reps come to your town and let you try out the latest goodies. They host local how-to workshops, provide rentals and facilitate repairs. They provide a lot of things the online retailers aren’t in a position to do. They are there for us when we need them, but they might not be much longer. So if you’re Jonesing for that 150-600mm or other item you just can’t seem to find online, give your local store a call. They just might come to your rescue.