Budget Photography: How to Get Good Gear and Save Money
A significant hold-back for many amateur photographers is the hefty price tags on quality photo equipment. We love to save money, right? Today, I want to share several ways I've learned to get the high quality photography gear without paying an arm and a leg for it.
Buy Refurbished Gear
I'm a big fan of buying refurbished gear when it is available. I got my first DSLR, a Canon 40D, refurbished from B&H Photo, who I highly recommend to anyone. The price of the refurbed body was $180 less than the brand new body. When it arrived, it was packaged like new and it looked no different than a new camera. It has functioned flawlessly since then, even under significant use and abuse. Refurbished gear isn't available every day. If it is available, sellers - B&H in particular - will list it as "used" and the condition as "refurbished". I highly recommend taking the refurbished route if it is possible.
Buy Used Gear
This is another one of my favorites. If you want to save money, buying used gear is a fantastic option. It is not very hard to find used photo gear on major sites like Amazon, B&H Photo, or Adorama. These are all reputable stores and they will give you an accurate description of the condition of the equipment before you buy it. Used equipment that is still in top, like-new condition is still significantly less expensive than brand new. If there are several nicks or dings on it, that could knock a few dozen, possibly even over a hundred more bucks off. I would rather have high quality equipment that looks second-class than second-class equipment that looks like new. Remember, how the equipment looks won't affect the quality of your photos. As long as the blemishes are exclusively aesthetic, having no effect on the functionality of the camera or lens, then go for it! If you are on a budget, you may have to give up some of your high expectations in order to save money.
This is the option that could save you the most money, but you also need to use the most caution with it. I know and have heard of many people who have gotten spectacular deals on eBay. Personally, I have never used it, but I definitely would put it out there as an option to consider. Be careful who you purchase from. It is best to only buy from people with a perfect (100%) reputation. Some serious sellers, like large stores, may have a slightly lower reputation (e.g. 99.7%), but that's probably fine. Honestly, if you have made 30,000 sales over eBay, is every single one of those sellers going to have a perfectly positive buying experience? I think it is safe to give those sellers a little bit of grace. An option I very highly recommend is the Fred Miranda Buy and Sell forum. I purchased a used mid-class Canon telephoto lens from a member there, saving me $350. It was a fantastic buying experience, and the lens arrived in like-new condition. If you keep on eye on this site for a few days for the item you want to buy, you are likely to see a good deal. I also recommend this website for selling any photo gear. If you sell your DSLR body worth $800 to a photo store, they might give you half that to take it off your hands. However, if you sell you gear over the FM Buy and Sell forum, you will get 100% of the cash from the sale!
Buy Third Party Equipment
This can save you money, but it wouldn't be my first choice. Nonetheless, it is still a valid option to consider. There are many third party manufacturers out there making equipment compatible with the OEM's equipment. Some notable third party lens manufacturers are Sigma, Tokina, and Tamron. Buying third party is tricky because some of the equipment is as good as, or even better than, the OEM's equivalent. However, other non-OEM equipment is trashy. Read reviews on the equipment before buying it. Base your decision off of what you learn from those reviews. I have a couple pieces of third-party equipment. I have a Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 Canon-compatible lens, and a Pearstone BP-511A battery substitute. The Pearstone battery has been performing excellently, and it was significantly less expensive than Canon's model. The Rokinon lens was also a good buy. I wanted to have a high-quality portrait lens, and Canon's 85mm f/1.4L model was WAY too expensive. I was considering the Canon 85mm f/1.8, but then I found the Rokinon 85mm f/1.4. It was less expensive than the Canon lens, it had favorable reviews, and it had a wider aperture (f/1.4 vs. Canon's f/1.8). The only disadvantages that the Rokinon has is that it is MF and has a manual aperture. It also doesn't electronically send the aperture information to the camera, so the camera reads the aperture as "00" all the time. But after a cost-benefit analysis, I decided to make the purchase. It has been reliable, somewhat tedious at times, but for the price I paid for it, I will not complain. The f/1.4 aperture can yield sweet results. It is a fabulous lens for bokeh-lovers on a budget.
Scam sellers will make you think you can buy new equipment without paying the full price. DON'T BELIEVE THEM!!! An acquaintance of mine purchased something from a certain store that had advertisements in many well-circulated photography magazines. He thought he was getting a fantastic deal, but they wanted to include an outrageously overpriced accessory with his order. It was a nightmare experience. To put it simply, what ensued caused him to loath that store. Remember, if it looks like it is too good to be true, it probably is.
Posted April 30, 2012 at 3:39PM by Eli Mitchell in Photography, Deals, Equipment with 0 responses