At Calumet, it is "Customer Service First," notes Miller. "It always has been," he explains. A high-end sale comes with set-up, training, customer service and support. "Other stores sell a box, we open the box and give them the service," he adds. And if Calumet doesn't stock something, they can get it.
Miller often finds out about a hot new product through his customers, usually because they have found a solution to a problem. Many items Calumet sells came to be stocked in just this way.
Rental items include everything photographic from 35mm camera systems up to 8x10 view cameras, strobes (both portable and studio), hot lights, and digital backs. Calumet's New York City location is one of the few places in New York City that rents optical spots, wind and fog machines, and hot lights.
Many international photographers rent equipment from Calumet when in the states because they are already familiar and comfortable with the European locations.
Calumet also deals a lot with studentsthey have the patience to do so and don't mind teaching a little when dealing with thembecause they will be future customers.
Each item is cleaned and checked before it goes out of the rental department, to ensure that it is in perfect working condition when the photographer is ready to use it.
Calumet offers its customers an incentive to purchasing an item that they've rented. Miller points out that many customers demo a product, rent it to try back in their studio or on location and then decide to make a purchase. In these cases Calumet refunds 50% of a rental toward the same item if purchased within 30 days.
With regards to Calumet's trade in department, Miller explains that many of their customers are commercial photographers and not in the market for used equipment, so the company has been more selective, as of late, in regards to the items they take in.
Getting an Education
Many of Calumet's customers are moving to digital. As people have gone digital, Miller has seen more people buying instructional DVDs, which the store stocks along with a large selection of photography books.
"Our seminars are outrageous!" Miller says enthusiastically. The seminars on digital photography, for beginning, intermediate and advanced photographers, are held in a studio across the street from the store. Miller states that the purpose of the seminars is not to sell anything. They staff does, however stop in to the seminarsputting a face to the name by introducing themselves to attendeesto make it easier for people with questions to stop by the store afterwards.
Calumet's philosophy is best summed up by Lange, "We here at
Calumet will do our absolute best to help a customer. It is the
customer that makes us what we are." Ptn
Calumet is the exclusive distributor for a new hybrid camera system for the professional photographer. The Cambo Ultima 35 combines the ease of a 35mm digital SLR with the perspective control and fine adjustments of a large format camera.
The Cambo Ultima 35 works in conjunction with a 35mm digital SLR body. The Kodak Professional DCS Pro 14n and Canon EOS-1Ds are currently compatible with the Ultima 35, but eventually other models, including Nikon's DSLRs, other Canon models, and Fuji's S2 will be compatible. A variety of accessories have been designed to enhance the system, including a vertical adapter, allowing the photographer to compose vertical images as well as horizontal.
Basically, the digital SLR is the metering and capture device. The Ultima 35 is the optical system that provides the user with the swings, tilts, lateral and vertical shift, and critical focusing of a large-format camera system. The lens is mounted at the front of the Ultima 35. Cambo recommends Schneider's Digitar lenses, but other large-format (over 90mm) lenses can be used, including Hasselblad lenses, with the use of an adapter plate. Cambo suggests lenses used stay between 28mm and 150mm. Mount the SLR body on the Cambo Ultima 35 and you have a large format camera; unmount it and you have a 35mm digital SLR with all the freedom that hand-holding a small-format camera affords.