Any avid photography enthusiast knows that buying camera gear can be really expensive. Yet, if you want to take great photographs, accessories to a good DSLR are musts. Some shots require tripods, and if you plan on shooting underwater, you might have to buy waterproof casing and similar items. When you get that “lens lust” it’s easy to make a mistake and end up buying the wrong items. You could end up paying a lot more seeking branded gear, or you could under spend and end up with the wrong specs.
It’s important to plan in advance so you end up purchasing the right gear. Both overspending and underspending will cost you in more ways than one. Wrong accessories could even damage your expensive camera. So read ahead to find out tips on how to buy the right camera gear on a budget:
Ask If You Really Need the Gear
Amateur photographers make the mistake of investing in gear that they don’t actually need. If you currently use any accessories, make sure they have been used to the limit before buying new. If your camera came with a tripod, use it well. When that tripod is serious broken or out of shape, then you can buy a new one.
If you are on a budget, it’s smart to prioritize what gear you need. For example, if you need a waterproofing case and a new battery, the battery should take priority. But if you are planning on taking the camera whitewater rafting with you, then you will need that waterproofing case as well. You should certainly make a list first of the gear you hope to own, and the accessories you really need right now. Then you will be able to clearly see where you should spend money. A list will protect you from impulsive buying and spending money on useless accessories.
Set a Budget
It’s really wise to set a budget when you are shopping for gear. Instead of having a general idea of what you need to buy, set aside a budget for individual items. For example, for a new charger, you may have to spend about $100 or more depending on the model of your camera. If you need a new lens cover, you can set a budget for about $5 or so. When you have an overall budget limit, you could end up spending a lot of money on one accessory and not the other. Compare prices for individual accessories. Then you will know how much you should realistically spend on one. Then you will be able to properly allocate your resources and purchase the best product.
Know Your Buying Options
There are three options to get the camera accessories you need: buy, rent, or borrow. If you only need the accessory temporary, seriously think about either borrowing it or renting. Only buy if you plan on using the item for a long time to come. Also, do not limit your buying options to your favorite convenience store or Amazon.com. First, try local specialty camera shops that may offer you deals. Usually, buying online is the cheapest options because you can compare prices. Compare prices on different sites and not just on Amazon. There are online sites dedicated to camera gear and these may offer you better pricing and equipment options.
Try Off Brand
The biggest camera brands are Canon and Nikon. These brands sometimes offer budget accessory options, but most of the time they are very pricey. So don’t go looking for branded items alone. Most of the time you are spending money solely on the brand name, not quality. There are excellent alternative brands for camera equipment such as Tamron, Tokina, and Sigma. You make never have heard of these brands, but they sell accessories like lenses that can go toe-to-toe with top performers like Nokia. It’s highly recommended to buy camera batteries off brand. Original replacements can be unbelievably expensive. When you shop by specs and durability of products, and not by brand name alone, you will be able to find good deals.
Research Alternative Budget Options
Did you know that there are excellent budget options for camera accessories? For example, check out these recommendations for tripods under $100. Don’t be lazy and spend some time doing your research before heading off to buy a camera accessory. Blogs like the one mentioned above often list budget alternatives for gadgets. If you read photography blogs, you may find other similar lists as well. Don’t forget to visit photography forums and ask around for budget choices as well. The more you research, the better your budget choices will be.
Consider the Type of Photography You Prefer
Do you take wide, panoramic landscape shots, or macro close-ups of objects? The accessories you need and the money you need to spend will depend on what type of photographer you are as well. If you are into macro photography, you could do with a tripod for example. But if you are not, then you don’t need to spend money on one. Instead of spending money on a tripod, you should buy new zoom or wide angle lens suitable for landscape photography. If you are new to your photography niche, it can be confusing at first to understand what type of gear you need. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to read photography blogs, guides and tutorials to understand what you need better. Do not impulsively buy accessories. You would only waste your money.
Don’t Buy Professional Gear if You are Not a Pro
If you are not a professional photographer, it’s hard to justify spending a lot of money on an f/2.8 lens. Unless you really know what depth of field is, you are better off with a less expensive f/5.6 lens. Higher end accessories cost a lot of money. So don’t buy these if you don’t know what you are doing. You can achieve comparable effects with lower end gear when you only need them for everyday use.
Purchase Refurbished Accessories
Refurbished accessories are used items that have been serviced and made anew by the manufacturer. Refurbished items often cost considerably less than the original pricing, but work just like new. You can return a refurbished item if it doesn’t work as advertised. You can buy most camera accessories refurbished at bargain prices without sacrificing quality. Some items, like batteries, cannot be purchased refurbished, however.
If you stick to the above tips, you can save a lot of money when you buy camera accessories. The key here is to know what you are buying and doing your research. Don’t spend money without understanding all the budget options available to you. Hopefully, this article helps.
About the Author
Eduardo Bridges is a former software engineer who now runs his own company and spends his leisure time blogging. He provides free tips and writes tutorials about buying budget gadgets.