Buying The CameraHaving decided I wanted a new camera, and hopefully a better camera than the one I had, I now needed to figure out which one to buy, where to buy it from, and what such a camera would cost me. Now remember this was 1999, and the Internet had been around, well, the Internet had been around a few decades, but the world-wide-web was only a few years old. Heck, Netscape was still a flourishing brand and browser. It would slowly self-destruct, pushed further down into a death-spiral by a ruthless Microsoft. You did had a few internet shopping sites out there. I don't think Amazon had started selling cameras yet, but CameraWorld was out there, and as a name for an e-commerce site it was pretty self-descriptive. I had not heard of B&H. I was not keen on going to a store, a brick-and-mortar store to buy one, for reasons that I can't quite recall. I suspect one reason was that I knew next to nothing about cameras. So I would like just another Indian with money in the wallet in search of a toy. The other reason was I didn't trust salespersons to have my, a customer, best interests at heart. Also, perhaps it was the belief that online stores would offer lower prices and a larger selection. In retrospect I think these reasons were pretty valid ones and if I did in fact decide on an online channel for my purchase that was a darn good decision.
A colleague at work suggested I try out CameraWorld. He knew more about photography than I did. Heck, any person picked at random would have known more about photography than I did then. So I took his advice, browsed over to the Camera World web site. Between all the different brands out there, I knew little about the lesser-known brands, so to say, and knew I would be pretty safe if I stuck with Canon or Nikon. I checked the models and prices, and picked one. Entered my credit card information, got the confirmation, and that was it. Done. The shipment arrived less than a week later, and I was the proud owner of an "SLR" camera with a 28-80mm Canon lens. This was basically the starter kit - the camera body, a started lens, a lens cap, and a strap. The bag, the cleaning kit, the zoom lens would all come later.
Hang on a second. Didn't I do any research? Shouldn't I have done research, some research, any research? Good questions. And indeed I should have - done the research. Which should tell you I didn't. The research would indeed happen. But it would be post-purchase research. In some ways it would be meant to provide confirmation of my purchase decision. I would look for data points to confirm my purchase. In some ways, by making a strictly middle-of-the-road purchase, I knew I could not have gone wrong by much in any way. After all, I didn't really expect anyone to look at my camera and scream, "You stupid f**k!! You putz!! You went and wasted your money on a freaking Canon???!! Who buys Canon??" No, I was sure I wouldn't get that kind of a reaction. And if someone did look at my camera, smile wryly, and shake their head, as if to say, "Another one of these desis, knows squat about cameras or photography, yet wants to be seen with an SLR," that was also just fine by me. Over the next several years, I would develop a thick skin about photography. If I wanted to take photographs, I would carry my camera. If I wanted to place the camera on a tripod, I would do that. It did get me in a little spot of a bother on a couple of occasions, in the US as well as in India, but that was okay by me. "Have camera, will shoot" was what I believed in.
The next thing on my agenda was to actually use this camera.
July 27, 2012