Sure you can wait for a sale on camera gear, but there are better ways. Even those better ways have better ways.
I recently read an article on another photography blog that was similar, but I had some concerns about it, so I figured I would write my take on the subject.
If you want to save money on camera equipment, whether once off or regularly, then this is the article for you. Enjoy these tips to save money on your gear!
This is just what I mentioned above. Every store offers a sale here and there. Sometimes those sales are dictated by the manufacturers and sometimes by the stores. For example, Sony trade-in events are quite popular. You trade in your existing camera and lenses for new Sony gear, with a discounted price.
Sometimes memory cards go on sale. OK, actually, they go on sale quite often. Sometimes companies like Think Tank Photo offer a gift with purchase of a new bag.
Sales are great, but you have to keep an eye out for them.
Camera and lens manufacturers tend to follow strict release timings. You can pretty much guarantee new camera bodies and lenses coming out or being announced in October around PhotoPlus Expo, like these deals from B&H last year. There are other notable dates as well. However, if you pay attention to the brand you want, you will likely be able to get pre-order deals.
Typically the original manufacturers of the cameras will make the best lenses for their systems. But they’re not always the most economical. Many time companies like Tamron and Sigma make such amazing lenses, with a price that beats Nikon or Canon. You could even go with a Promaster lens, which in the past has been made by Tamron, save even more money and get an even better warranty.
So if you need a new telephoto lens or prime lens, considering checking out a third-party brand and see if there is a good deal worth scooping up.
Many times the best gems are the ones previously owned or repaired. You can save hundreds of dollars by buying equipment uses or refurbished. Refurbed equipment is almost no risk when it’s been repaired and certified by the original manufacturer. But be cautious and make sure you read up on the used rankings if buying online. If you can, go to the store and see the equipment in person.
When I was learning the photography business and art during college, I assisted two fantastic portrait photographers. One of which owned a bunch of quality Canon L lenses. But he didn’t own a camera body.
His reasoning was that lenses don’t change much. If you have good glass, it’s worth holding on to. But cameras change once, sometimes twice, a year.
So instead of owning a camera body, he rented one for every session he had. That meant he didn’t have to continually buy new bodies to keep up with the changes or higher megapixels and better sensors and focusing systems, etc. Instead, he could rent whatever worked best for the specific session and any given moment.
Additionally, it meant he could bill the rental to the client!
Dare I say debt …
This is where I had the biggest problem with the article I read originally, which inspired this. You see, there are two popular credit card and store options that photographers flock to because of ease and price.
I get it. Amazon and B&H Photo have low prices, ship fast, and have a vast selection of camera products.
Amazon has had their Prime credit card for years, and it has excellent rewards which can help save you money via statement credit. Heck, a 5% statement credit is no joke. That’s amazing. The credit card my wife and I use for day to day things has 2%, and it’s nice when the time comes to cash out for statement credit. But 5% is only on products purchased at Amazon — it offers 2% on purchases at select locations and then 1% everywhere else.
Is that credit card worth the added debt and 24.49% APR?
Then there is B&H’s Payboo credit card. It’s brilliant; I can’t deny that. B&H made it possible for every photographer to get their tax back as a statement credit. If you’re in New York, then the statement credit is New York tax. If you’re in Texas, then the statement credit is Texas tax.
But here’s the thing. It’s yet again another credit card, with extremely high APR of 29.9% and the credit card can only be used at the store.
Between those two credit card options, is the risk of debt worth the savings? You have to be the judge.
What I can say is significant kudos for B&H for tackling the tax thing. Payboo is extremely attractive for so many photographers.
Now, this is where my opinion gets a little biased. Following college, I worked at a local camera store. To this day it remains a family owned and operated business.
I’m a big fan of independent, family-run companies, and try to purchase from them as often as possible even if it means spending slightly more for better service and friendly experience.
It’s a myth that smaller camera stores cannot compete with the big stores. A majority of the time, the small stores pay the same as the others. The difference is volume and flexibility. The big stores are more comfortable losing a dollar here and there for the immense profits they make form customers over time and through accessories which have huge margins.
But what if you could save money, sometimes less than tax, sometimes more than tax, on various products and services? To do so, all you would need is a virtual ID card for a membership.
That’s why I started Photo Idō, a movement to get photographers back into smaller camera stores. The family-run companies that are the heart and soul of the photography business. The ones who have supported photographers for decades and continue to do so.
Photo Idō has a small annual fee, and with it, you get access to discounts on prints, equipment, classes and so much more.
It’s still new, so the list of participating stores is growing, but I’m excited to see the list expanding. The more photographers showing interest, the more stores will join in, and the more you can save on your equipment.
I hope that you consider learning more about Photo Idō and joining in on the movement to support local businesses (and save money at the same time).
Let’s close this thing out
Is there a cost saving tip you want to share with us? Comment with your thoughts so others can learn too.