South Floridians who are passionate about photography have long known that for the finest selection of cameras and photographic accessories, superior printing services and expert technical support, all roads lead to Pitman Photo in Palmetto Bay.
Pitman Photo can trace its roots to 1928 when the family patriarch opened a small camera store in Miamis Allapattah neighborhood. Family members of the third and fourth generation still own and operate Pitman Photo, including Dr. Michael Werner, Margaret Elsea and Lauren Elsea.
Since that humble beginning, Pitman Photo has moved several times, always keeping abreast of the myriad technological advances and changes in the art and science of photography. Today Pitman Photo, one of Miami’s oldest family-owned businesses, is located at 14321 South Dixie Highway.
“What we’d like people to know is that Pitman Photo offers something for everyone with an interest in photography,” says Pitman Photo President Michael Werner. “In addition to being certified dealers of Nikon, Canon, Sony and Go Pro, the store stocks camera lenses, camera bags, memory cards, batteries, lighting equipment and film.
“What few people know is that our photo lab produces photo prints of amazing quality,” he says. “We can develop film, print pictures of almost every size in glossy or luster finishes, print on canvas and even print on metal.”
Pitman Photos lab is a beehive of activity and humming machines. There, technicians stay busy developing and printing Kodak film (yes, Kodak film still exists). Each print is color-corrected and exposure corrected to ensure the highest quality and accuracy. “We’re the only place you can have your film developed where an actual person will ensure that each print is perfect,” says Werner.
Pitman Photo can also convert old VHS videotapes, Mini DV tapes and Hi-8 tapes to DVD. Around this time of year, they are busy producing photographic holiday cards for customers.
Werner holds up a cell phone and points to its tiny camera lens. “This lens is so small and allows so little light to be captured that the quality of the photo is poor. The least expensive camera on the market would produce a picture 10 times better. Anyone who wants a truly excellent photo needs to use a real camera with a proper size lens.”
Pitman offers a huge variety of cameras from manufacturers like Canon, Sony, Nikon and Go Pro. While most cameras are digital, Pitman offers film camera models for photographers who appreciate the high-resolution quality of film. Students and those new to photography might be interested in Pitman’s selection of high-quality used and refurbished cameras.
“A huge development in photography is the online marketplace. Pitman Photo has to compete toe to toe with giant online retailers like Amazon. The reality is that because of price protection rules by the big camera companies, Pitman’s camera prices are nearly identical to those online. Yet our customers get to hold and examine the camera and speak to a knowledgeable employee, whereas the Amazon customer cannot.”
“Our staff is so good that Nikon calls us to find out what their cameras are doing,” says Werner. “Where we really shine is in customer service,” he says. “We make sure every question is answered and provide technical and warranty support after the sale. People think they’re getting a better deal buying online, but the truth is the opposite.”
In addition to cameras and printing, in the near future, Pitman Photo will offer classes for customers in subjects like “how to use your camera,” “photography 101,” and “studio lighting.”
One of the things the family is most proud of is the company’s longtime association with the Junior Orange Bowl Photo Contest.
“We sponsor the middle school photo contest at Zoo Miami with Ron Magill,” says Pitman Photo Vice President Margaret Elsea. “Nikon sends crates of cameras and lenses to us and eighth graders get to check out a camera and Ron brings them right up close to the animals for the photo. Then we give each child a voucher to print ten of their photographs for free. It’s a wonderful event and starts many kids on a new hobby of photography.”
Pitman Photo also has an outreach program for collecting and donating photographic equipment to Miami-Dade College. “Lots of people have old gear at home, whether cameras, lenses, tripods or lab equipment,” says Lauren Elsea, Pitman’s Operations Manager. “We want people to know they can donate it to Pitman Photo and we will ensure it’s delivered to the college for students to use.”
Pitman Photo is located at 14321 South Dixie Highway in Palmetto Bay. For more information, please visit www.pitmanphotosupply.com or call 305-256-9558.