View Full Version : My experience buying Paul C Buff

15-10-2011, 4:07pm
Just thought I'd share my experience buying from Paul C Buff for anyone else thinking about acquiring some of their products. There isn't much specific info around for us Aussies on the subject.
This is not an endorsement or anything, just the facts and numbers of my dealings with them.

If you've looked into buying any PCB stuff before - you'll notice that there is quite a price difference between PCB USA and PCB Australian web stores. Somewhere in the vicinity of 150% mark up. There is a spiel on his USA site about why this is the case. Given that you are not allowed to purchase from the USA store without a valid US credit card - I tried to look at other options to get the best deal.

I was lucky in that I had a friend in the US and I was able to purchase from Paul C Buff USA and get it delivered to my friend, who will then forward it to me. I had to pay by wire transfer as PCB don't accept PayPal.

So I purchased from PCB USA:
1 x Einstein 640 flash unit $ 482 AUD
1x Vagabond Mini Lithium pack $ 226 AUD
1x 8.5" reflector $13 AUD
1 x Strip box and grid $164 AUD
Wire transfer fees $59 AUD
US> Oz USPS shipping $140
Total cost to me including US and Oz shipping, customs, wire transfer fees, plus the 3-4 week wait: $ 1167 AUD

While waiting for this order to come - I decided that I'd need another pack and head. I originally didn't buy two from the US as I wanted to keep the package under $1000 to avoid the extra GST costs.

This time I ordered from the Australian PCB distributor:
1 x Einstein 640 flash unit $709
1x 8.5" reflector $54
1 x Vagabond Mini lithium $401
Total cost to me inc overnight shipping: $1195 AUD.

So in the end, I still saved a fair amount by buying direct from the US. Subtracting the stripbox and grid (and its extra shipping charge for being oversize), which makes the orders identical and there is a difference/saving of $242.00 AU

It was a pain in the rear with all the phone calls, wire transfer and the inconvinience for my US friend, but yeah a saving nonetheless. Would have been a heap easier if they accepted Paypal and whatnot.

Hope this helps anyone else going down the same path.

Will post my thoughts on the actual product once I've had a chance to play with them.

15-10-2011, 6:24pm
There are several websites that supply a US address and credit card purchase facilities My US (http://www.myus.com/) <-- Link) is one of them.
They will also store items till you have enough of them and then send you them as a single package to save on postage.
I've not used them, but a mate used to have the premium account with that site above, and used them all the time, but he'd opened himself a US bank account and US credit card while he was there, and used that, he only needed the address itself. The site above have quite hefty postage rates, but it may be a better option than having to have US Mates buy things for you and get stuff via them, and there are several other companies offering the same service, and they may have cheaper postage rates. Just google up US address providers (http://www.google.com/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&=&q=US+Address+provider). <-- Link)

15-10-2011, 6:48pm
Thanks. I researched those companies but the combination of their postage rates plus their own fee kinda cancelled out the benefit.

I @ M
15-10-2011, 6:58pm
Interesting breakdown indeed. :th3:

Even with the known costs that running a business in Australia incur when importing goods as a distributor from a manufacturer overseas in so many cases the figures simply don't add up. :(

I reckon if your time isn't costing you lots of $ when searching for less expensive ways of purchasing gear, the pain in the rear is worth it.
Looking forward to your thoughts on the lighting when you have it up and running.

15-10-2011, 8:36pm
Thanks. I researched those companies but the combination of their postage rates plus their own fee kinda cancelled out the benefit.

I have a forwarder that ships for the cost of USPS as shown on their website, and also with couriers at outstanding prices. MYUS is a rip off when you compare them to some of their competitors. I use my forwarder all the time, and he saves me a fortune, and it is dead simple.
PM me if you want the details...

17-10-2011, 1:02am
Join the Einstein club! It's a great little flash and very portable with the vagabond mini, I also use an Einstein + Vagabond mini, but for modifier I have a 64" PLM and a 22" kacey beauty dish.

I mostly use it on location and its so easy and quick especially with the cybersyc. You won't be disappointed with the new toys :)

17-10-2011, 1:33pm
I'm waiting for my Kacey dish to ship and I've adapted my softboxes to the AB mount. I used my 60" softlighter brolly outside once and it just about flew away like Mary poppins. Definitely prefer dishes for that reason on anything but the calmest of days. Softboxes are a little better but still catch the wind a fair bit.

Liking my 'steins so far though :)

17-10-2011, 1:52pm
Did you also get the grid for your dish? I regret not ordering one when I got my dish shipped since it wouldn't have added any extra to the shipping cost.

18-10-2011, 8:45pm
Try this one perhaps- it's 21.5 inch though...


04-06-2012, 9:33pm
I was interested in the Vagabond mini which is a battery and inverter together and they have a 240V version. But I decided that 130Wh was too small for my laptop which needed 150 watts and probably wouldn't last long on a single charge. In the end I got a car adaptor from China and I also got a 300W inverter which I can attach to any car battery.