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August 25, 2011 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Name that scam: NYC high-def camera lens edition.

While visiting NYC recently, the mrs wandered off with a salesman in a store and started getting the uncomfortably hard sell put on her. The store was near Times Square and was having a going-out-of-business sale, at least allegedly. They were selling awful old dusty computer tat for weirdly expensive prices (those old angled pc-microphones for like ten dollars and so on).

Anyhow, to cut a longish story short, the guy showed the mrs a third party lens, high definition, wide angle blahblah. He did some demos with it showing how it let in more light, could take pics in lower light etc. This was using our own camera. He then offered us a special reduced price of like 800 dollars and I laughed my ass off. He then tried to sweeten the deal by, iirc, throwing in a relatively long Canon lens. So, the deal would have been a purportedly 1500 dollar lens and a 500 dollar Canon lens I think he said, for the 800 dollars.

Giving the guy the benefit of the doubt, it's a hundred buck wide-angle add-on lens and an older model Canon lens I am guessing?

So, to the tl;dr: What was the "high-definition, low light, wide angle lens" he was offering for a mere 800 smackeroos, as the results were pretty impressive and I could imagine paying 50 bucks for something that worked like that. Also is the "we have to be out of the building by friday" store a scam.
posted by Iteki to Shopping (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sometimes the goods are not new. I was using a computer terminal in one of those electronics stores and one of the guys behind the counter was reprimanding one of the other guys behind the counter for not wiping the memory on a flash drive before selling it to a customer, because the customer had figured out that it was used.
posted by Jahaza at 12:54 PM on August 25, 2011

Also is the "we have to be out of the building by friday" store a scam.

You'd know if they had to be out of the building by Friday because it would be a half-empty madhouse in there. If they have time on their hands to hang out with you and do a hard sell, it's one of those stores that never takes the GOING OUT OF BUSINESS signs out of their windows.
posted by griphus at 12:58 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

You didn't see the brand name on the lens, the focal length, the aperture range? Since the lens was right in front of you and attached to your camera, I guess I don't understand why you weren't able to get the information.

Are we talking about video cameras or photo cameras?
posted by BurntHombre at 1:01 PM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

The $1500 lens could have been a f2.8 Tamron 17-50 (wide angle, low light, ~$460 new)
posted by lucasks at 1:01 PM on August 25, 2011

Best answer: Also, if you saved any of the photos he took in the store the lens information should be in the photo's metadata. If you open it up in your favorite photo editor/browser you should be able to see what it was.
posted by lucasks at 1:03 PM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Also: if you ever decide to go with that kind of sale, make sure you handle the lenses and try them out, and then take THOSE LENSES with you. At no point let them put the merchandise back in a box, or wrap them up for you or anything. pigs, pokes, etc.
posted by dubold at 1:19 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Great call on the exif, will check that tomorrow, I believe there's some photos still there.

BurntHombre: It wasn't any brand I would recognise, the boxes in the glass display behind him looked like they were designed using WordArt. I didn't really catch the details as I was trying to get the wife outta there before she gave him her creditcard while my mental alarmbells were having a field day. He was selling the lens for our d-slr but he also attached the lens to a video camera he had for demo. He let her take it out onto the street to try it out.
posted by Iteki at 1:28 PM on August 25, 2011

If they aren't really going out of business but say they are, in Texas it violates the consumer protection/deceptive trade practices act we have here. May be different there.
posted by resurrexit at 1:45 PM on August 25, 2011

It wasn't any brand I would recognise

What brands do you recognize? Eliminating candidates here will help a lot.
posted by zippy at 1:46 PM on August 25, 2011

"Going out FOR business", perchance? Always one of my favourites.
posted by dismitree at 2:02 PM on August 25, 2011

The notion of a "high definition" lens is just taking advantage of the "HD" craze (I recently got a kick out of some HD Sunglasses I saw advertised. And what's this new HD Audio I'm hearing about?)

If the lens actually said "HD" or "High Definition" on it, you can be sure it was not any of the reputable brands. In which case, if you want it, it will probably be very, very hard to find without going back to the store and looking closer at it.
posted by reeddavid at 2:06 PM on August 25, 2011

This story about scams in Times Square electronic stores is from 1997, but it's the same thing you experienced. I daresay that store could have been "going out of business" continually since then. I know that when I was living in NYC for a couple years in the mid-90s and in Times Square three times a week, I saw many electronics stores like that in that neighborhood. The trustworthy place for cameras is known to be B&H.
posted by jocelmeow at 2:08 PM on August 25, 2011

An Adam Sandler movie came out within the past few years where he plays some sort of Israeli spy, but it's full of Jewish/Israeli jokes, and one of them was that the family all worked in a store called "Going Out of Business," and they had been working there for years, and they answered the phone "Hi, thank you for calling Going Out of Business." Those stores are all over the place. A lot of electronics, but I also see a lot of fancy-tchotchke stores, like "Tiffany" lamps and big statues of a child playing with a frog for your lawn.
posted by thebazilist at 2:27 PM on August 25, 2011

Outsider's perspective, when I was in the market for photo gear about ten years ago (and before I started dealing with B&H) there were a lot of stores in New York that offered steep discounts on Canon gear and were known to be scams. Like straight up knock offs.
posted by phaedon at 2:38 PM on August 25, 2011

In general, anyone doing a hard sell on you isn't cutting you any kind of real deal.
posted by Revvy at 4:43 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are some very nice lenses made by obscure 3rd parties. Samyang, for example, makes this beauty which I own and love. It's under 300, mostly metal, and takes surprisingly sharp pictures. But it's mostly available under various OEM names like Rokinon. The 14mm is F2.8 (not really fast) and sells for $380.

There are also some downright shitty lenses made by 3rd parties. I wouldn't worry about this too much. You got an excellent deal: free laughs.
posted by chairface at 4:48 PM on August 25, 2011

reeddavid, for what it's worth, many lens manufacturers do have higher-end and lower-end lenses. For example, L glass on Canon is their "pro" line, ED-IF on Nikon is theirs, etc. Usually this means better glass etc etc etc. HD is the wrong name for this, but there is no consistent naming across brands. I'd call them "pro" lenses, like I said.

For OP, what kind of camera do you have?
posted by joshu at 4:54 PM on August 25, 2011

There is no such thing as a "high-def" lens. Your spidey-senses served you well.
posted by DaddyNewt at 6:55 PM on August 25, 2011

You had me at "Times Square."
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:01 AM on August 26, 2011

Iteki, did you ever check the EXIF? Just curious about the model of that lens.
posted by beschizza at 8:15 PM on August 29, 2011

Response by poster: Sorry, been in bed sick, didn't intend to abandon the thread!

I am looking at the exif info now. The wife claims that she unscrewed our lens and put theirs on instead, while I vaguely remember the box size etc as being very much more add-on sorta thing.
The exif says: Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 [II] Shot at 18 mm. Quelle dissapointment!

Ftr, here's our friendly neighbourhood salesman. You can see examples of the stuff in the shelving behind him. The boxes called "digital professional lens" are the ones from which the lens came, as I say not a brand I recognise. Bower in the box beside it appears to retail on Amazon for about 26 bucks, as do any number of similar looking pieces of equipment. I guess I will never know what the lens was actually worth or would be an appropriate replacement. Am I being too charitable believing that it was better than the 25 dollar Bower it sat beside? At the same time this 12 buck lens gets great reviews so who knows. Thanks all!

thebazilist: They actually had in the store a huge instrument-playing-frog-trio statue!
posted by Iteki at 11:15 AM on August 30, 2011

bhphoto, a reputable dealer, carries Bower lenses. I'd never heard of Bower myself, but it looks like they get decent user reviews.
posted by zippy at 8:25 AM on September 2, 2011

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