Buying a new camera can be very expensive. I remember when I bought my first DSLR on a student budget, that I wanted to save as much money as possible while receiving a “real” camera for the first time. Without having much money to spend and just getting into photography, I extensively researched where I can find the best deal for a new camera. It doesn’t matter how big Your budget is, I guess it is always a good idea to look for the best opportunities instead of spending mindlessly Your money. In the following, I want to present some tips on where You can find a camera at a better price than Your local dealer.
Instead of buying a new camera, if You need a camera only for a very short time frame, then You can also rent one. One platform where You might discover the camera that You need is Fatlama.com. Since You are renting directly from other users, the cameras are also less expensive than rental shops, so that might be a good alternative for You as well.
How expensive does a Camera need to be?
Modern cameras have a very wide price range. From simple compact cameras that cost as low as $200 to a complete Leica system that can easily surpass $5.000. Does that mean, that the cameras at the lower price range are automatically of lower quality and that You won’t enjoy with them or only get lower quality images?
In my opinion, all modern cameras are already of a very high quality. Even Your smartphone camera is very suitable for taking great images. When You feel, that the images are always turning out badly, then the reason might not be the camera, but the person operating it.
When the first digital cameras were released, everyone was hyped about the quality and every additional megapixel was a huge step forward in creating images that are more realistic than ever.
Today, even the compact cameras at the lower price range have more than 16 megapixels. That is a very good basis for a good image quality, but of course, there are also other factors that influence the overall image quality. Beginning at the size of the sensor, the processor capabilities and ending at the build-quality of the lens.
If you don’t plan on photographing in difficult light conditions, for example in dark buildings, or in the night, then such a simple compact camera can already be enough, though still very limiting in Your creative process.
The RicohGR II is one of the best beginner cameras in my opinion. It isn’t too expensive at around $500 but offers a quality that is equal to their bigger DSLR counterparts. You are able to experiment with the aperture, shutter speed & ISO to create photographs the way You like them. At this small size, the APS-C sensor is also a very good fit. The built-in fixed focal lens lets You focus fully on the photography part and rather than spending too much money on lenses that You wouldn’t use anyway, You can use what You are given, which is already great.
When You are just starting out in photography, I would advise You to invest in something smaller, instead of going for an open and expensive camera system. Most of the time, buying a DSLR or Mirrorless System leads You to additional lenses that You don’t use anyway.
If You are already experienced in photography and know that You need a more advanced system, then investing more money in a system that exactly gives You what You are looking for is reasonable and even a few thousand Dollars can be justified.
My First Camera
When I was looking for my first camera in 2014, the alternatives to “classic” DSLRs were very rare. Of course, there were already mirrorless cameras on the rise, but after reading the opinions on them in different forums I refrained from buying one. There were too many negative aspects surrounding a mirrorless camera and I wanted to go with something “safe” for my first camera, so I went with a Canon 1100D (EOS Rebel T3).
Today in the same situation, I would probably do it differently. The Canon 1100D was very expensive. Including the lens, it cost me less than 500$ to purchase the camera and I have to admit, it was very fun at first. The kit Lens soon wasn’t enough and I wanted to try something different. So I bought a telelens and although I was very impressed by the quality of the pictures, I used the lens exactly once. In hindsight, I should have just asked a friend if he could borrow me a lens for a few days, so I can see if it is worth the investment or not.
After figuring out, that I want to pursue Street Photography more seriously, I found the Canon 1100D to be more an obstacle, than a tool that helps me to visualize my inner vision.
Although the camera was rather inexpensive, after purchasing the RicohGR II, I didn’t use the camera once. Now I wouldn’t call it a failed investment, the camera was still fun for the year I used it, but I believe if I had gone with the RicohGR II, or a similar smaller compact camera first, the investment would have been more worthy in long-term.
So if You want to save Yourself from spending money that You might regret in the future, then going with a compact camera is my first tip for the “best deal” in general.
Amazon Warehouse Deals
I am a huge fan of Amazon and when buying my first digital camera, I also had a look at their Warehouse Deals.
The Amazon Warehouse is a platform where they sell “used” items at a very generous discount. Now You might say that You are not a fan of used products and if You purchase a new camera, it should be brand-new. I understand that and I am totally the same.
If I am already looking to spend a few hundred or even a grand to purchase an expensive item, I don’t want it to be already looking like it had been in use for many years. I want the camera to give my personal used look after a few years and not already arrive in a bad condition.
The great thing about the Amazon Warehouse is, that the describe exactly why the camera is available at a discount and in which condition the item is. Sometimes it ranges from scratches on the display, to imperfections on the body, to missing equipment like a battery charger.
Those are damages that I am normally not fine with and wouldn’t tolerate on a new product even it is reduced by 10% or more.
Then there are also discounts for a damaged package. To be honest, I don’t care in what condition the packaging is and as long as the camera is fine, that is all that I want.
You can find many different items that are discounted because something secondary to the main product is not perfect.
As an example, we can take the Sony a7R II, which is now available at a lower rate because the new a7R III just arrived. Nonetheless, the Sony a7R II is still a great camera and doesn’t get any worse, because a new model arrives.
Normally, the Sony a7R II is available at around $2.000 which You can see in the original offer for a brand-new camera here.
In comparison, You can get a Sony a7R II with a damaged packing at a rate of around $1.850, You can see the offers here. That are savings of $150 just because the package is a little bit damaged, but the product is still in perfect shape.
If You are willing to accept some minor imperfections on the camera body, then You can also buy the Sony a7R II for about $1.750 here.
I took the risk and bought the RicohGR II at a warehouse deal with the same description and couldn’t even find the minor scratches or imperfections. Sometimes, Amazon just wants to be on the safe side and offers these cameras at a discount, although they are in a perfect shape.
When using the Amazon Warehouse deals, keep an eye on the seller. Often times, You buy the items directly from Amazon, but when You not, the item descriptions should be taken very carefully.
Buying from the Amazon Warehouse also grants You the same return policies that You have when purchasing the brand-new products.
Apart from Amazon, You can also find better deals through third party coupon websites. Coupons are usually available for special occasions like Christmas or Black Friday, but often also during normal days.
In case You are looking for a specific camera, then going for a coupon might not be Your best option as the coupons are usually limited to a very narrow product range.
One website that has a great overview of international offers for camera deals is Groupon. Groupon may be better known for their discounts affecting the service industry, but they also have a section about camera coupons and discount codes.
If You are living in the UK, then Dealslands is a good address to find the best deals & coupons for buying a new camera. On Dealslands, You can either search for Your favorite shop to buy a new camera or look up the product directly. This can be a good way to find a discount exactly for the camera that You are looking for and don’t have to admit to an alternative model.