We all know that photography is not a cheap hobby. But hey, just because the gear is expensive, it doesn’t have to be that expensive. There are some tips and tricks that will save you tons of money when buying gear, and Caleb Pike of DSLR Video Shooter will show you as many as ten of them in his latest video.
1. Grey market gear
The first thing you can do is buy gear on the grey market and from overseas. The cons of buying from abroad is that the menu and user manual may not be in English and plugs may be non-standard (but you can likely find adapters). Another problem is that your gear likely won’t be under warranty in your country. Depending on where you live, shipping can also cost a fortune
But on the other hand, the gear you buy this way is a lot cheaper even when you buy new. To be honest, I bought most of my gear on the grey market and I didn’t only save a lot, but I also bought brand new stuff that works like a charm (and even has a menu in English).
2. Refurbished gear
Major companies like Nikon, Canon, and others offer refurbished gear on their websites. These are basically the items that someone returned, and the company repaired them, replaced anything that was broken, and tested them. So the gear isn’t brand new, but it’s verified to be working, and cheaper than the brand new stuff. You can also search for refurbished gear on Amazon and B&H.
3. Price checkers
Price checkers like Bokeh Market or CamelCamelCamel let you check how prices change over time, and even create alerts to notify you when the price drops under a certain level. This way you can act fast and get a piece of gear you want at a more affordable price.
4. Buying used gear
Just like you can buy refurbished gear, you can also buy used. With stuff like tripods, C-stands, light stands, and so on, you can find professional stuff at the price you’d pay for new prosumer gear. You can also buy second-hand cameras and lenses, but you need to be absolutely sure that a) they’re not broken and b) they’re not stolen. You can enter the serial number here before you decide to make the purchase, and see these tips for buying used lenses.
5. Be patient!
Patience is the key when buying new gear. I know you want it all and you want it now, but you can save a lot of money if you just wait a little bit. There may be a Valentine’s/ Black Friday/Cyber Monday/whatever day sale just around the corner, so don’t rush in!
Also, since camera companies launch new products pretty often, the prices of the older gear drop relatively quickly. If you wait for six months or a year after the launch, you’ll be able to get the piece of gear at a much lower price.
6. Stick to your list
When buying gear, buy cleverly. Don’t overspend or buy things that you don’t need. Those little purchases really add up even if it doesn’t seem that way. So instead of buying a bunch of cheap knick-knacks, focus on a larger piece of gear you really want or need, and spend your money on that.
7. Amazon tips
If you buy gear through Amazon, Caleb suggests that you take a look at all suggestions the page gives you. When you find the item you’re looking for, check the “Customers who viewed this also viewed” section. There you’ll often find the same or similar piece of gear for less money.
8. eBay tips
eBay is a great place if you want to buy used gear. Caleb loves it too, and he suggests that you do these two things when looking for the stuff you want to buy:
- a) check seller’s ratings and read some reviews to make sure they’re not a scammer
- b) Make sure that there’s a return policy; don’t ever buy a piece of gear if the seller doesn’t accept returns
You can also search for something you want to buy and check “completed listings” and “sold listings.” This way you’ll get a feeling for the price so you won’t overpay the gear. This leads us to the next tip:
BID! BID! BID!
Many people don’t want to bid, which I totally get because I’m one of them. But Caleb points out that you could score some sweet deals just by throwing in a bid. So try it out, you never know: bid on the item you need and you might get it at a very affordable price.
Again, make sure that the gear isn’t stolen, look for the shutter count if you’re buying the camera, and for all optical and technical details if buying a lens.
9. B&H tips
B&H is not only fully legit, but it’s also a great place to preorder gear if you want to get it as soon as possible. Another thing to keep in mind is B&H’s Deal Zone. There are often some really sweet deals and you can get the gear you need at as low as half of its regular price.
10. Other sites
Of course, other than the websites we mentioned, there are other places where you can buy gear (mostly used). There’s Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or a variety of forums used for buying and selling gear. If I may add, there are also flea markets where you can sometimes find real gems at a very low price.
Bonus: Google tips
Google Image search can be super-helpful when searching for gear. You can search for something you need and get a bunch of ideas for better solutions at a lower price.
So, where do you buy your gear? As I said, I got most of it on the grey market. I also ordered some knick-knacks from B&H and AliExpress or bought them on KupujemProdajem, which is kind of a Serbian version of Craigslist.