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When it comes to buying new equipment you have to balance a number of factors including the price point, the quality of the gear and the reliability of the retailer. This means that deciding where to buy your equipment from can be tricky but there are some general rules you can bank on to help you make up your mind.
Camera or Accessories?
Are you buying a camera or lower cost accessories? If you’re looking to buy a camera then you want to ensure that it’s tip top quality and in full working order as well as coming with a guarantee; since you’re likely to be spending quite a lot of money on it. If, on the other hand, you’re buying a small item like a new camera strap, then you can afford to take a bit more of a risk and look for a super cheap deal online.
Where are the Best Places to Buy Cameras and Photography Equipment?
When it comes to buying your equipment there are a few main sources that you should be considering:
- Ecommerce websites and trusted online branded retailers.
- Local photography stores.
- Auctions (on and off line).
New, Branded Cameras and Equipment from Trusted Retailers.
There’s no doubt that you’ll get the highest quality and the most reliable results if you buy your equipment from a large branded retailer. When you shop with a trusted brand you are going to get the highest quality gear that comes with a warranty that can run anywhere from a year up to 5 years.
Buying new equipment will mean that there is much less chance that it will break down or malfunction before the warranty is up and if it does you should be entitled to free repairs. This is very useful if you are a working professional and can’t afford to have your camera malfunction while on a job.
When you buy new equipment you can access the very latest in technology and developments in the industry but on the downside you’re going to have to pay top dollar for it!
This is the main disadvantage of buying new cameras or equipment because you’re always going to have to pay more than if you bought second hand.
When you buy new and branded items you can do so online or offline; although in the modern world increasing amounts of shopping is done on the internet, with sales rising by nearly 20% year on year!
Shopping for Cameras and Equipment Online.
As more of our shopping is done online retailers have really upped their game in recent years and are providing better customer service and faster delivery times to keep their growing customer base happy. This is great news if you’re planning to buy your kit online but here are other factors to keep in mind before you decide to go online to spend your money.
The Pros of Shopping Online For Your Camera and Equipment.
- Shopping online is definitely an extremely convenient way to make a purchase. You can shop from home, while you’re commuting or while you’re on a lunch break at work!
- With the increasing levels of competition in the online space and retailers trying to stand out from the crowd you can often find better prices than you can on the high street. This is also compounded by the fact that online retailers have much lower overheads because they don’t require warehouses or retail space to operate their businesses.
- When you shop online there is no pressure to buy, as there can be in a shop with a pushy sales assistant. You can make your selection in your own time and change your mind at any time and go look somewhere else to compare prices or models.
- It’s really easy to make price comparisons when you’re shopping online with specialized websites that will give you all the information you need to make your choice of retailer.
- You get an electronic record of your purchases which makes filing your taxes and keeping your own records much easier. This is especially useful if you’re buying equipment for your own business because it saves you having to worry about maintaining paper records and holding on to old receipts.
The Cons of Shopping Online For Your Camera and Equipment.
- I once purchased a very expensive lens online from a very well known store here in the United States. The lens was not working. I thought that the store would immediately send me a replacement. But instead, they asked me to send videos to them to prove that the problem was with the lens and not my camera. I then had to ship it back to the retailer, who then shipped the camera back to the manufacturer to fix it. It took about 60 days for me to get the lens back.
- When you order equipment online there can often be quite a long delivery time which can be restrictive if you need the items immediately. You can also experience delays and other problems in the shipping process such as the equipment being damaged by a careless delivery driver.
- While you can have a more convenient experience in the online retail world you are not supporting your local economy and businesses. You also cut down on your contact with local suppliers of equipment which could otherwise be a useful asset if you’re running a small photography business.
- If you find that you’re not content with your purchase it can be complicated and time consuming to return it and to get a full refund.
- We’ve all heard of online scams and the unfortunate truth is that millions of people are scammed online each year. You’re far less likely to be scammed in a local bricks and mortar store than you are online.
Buying Your Photography Equipment at a Local Store.
This is my favorite way of buying cameras or any photography or videography gear. It is slightly more expensive that buying online or from a big box retailer, but has big advantages. You can hold the product in your hand and test it before buying it. If you have any issues with the gear you purchased, you can head over to the store and get it checked out.
My local stores also deal with used equipment. You can buy used gear and also sell your gear once you decide to upgrade.
It always feels good to support your local economy and the stores that keep it ticking over. You can build up a good relationship and rapport with the staff and they may well do you favors over the years; like holding back an item they know you are looking for or giving you a little discount here and there!
There are also positive community based aspects of shopping with and supporting local photography stores. They can often serve as hubs for the local community of photographers where adverts are posted about groups, meetups and public events. You can find information about workshops and photography walks, meet like minded people and make friends in your area through your local photography store.
A smaller, local photography store will often give you more attention than a large box store and allow you to test the equipment before you buy it, give you helpful product advice and show you how to use it effectively.
Buying Photography Equipment at an Auction.
In times gone by to shop at an auction you had to be at the auction house in person while the sales took place. The choice was usually poor and it was inconvenient for most people to attend, particularly if they had full time work and couldn’t spend a day at the auction in the hope of getting a good deal!
However, today we can all participate in auctions via online platforms that connect us to specialized auction houses as well as peer to peer auctioning services such as Ebay.
This means that you can keep an eye on what’s available as you continue to go about your daily business. There are some truly amazing deals that you can get in auctions and if you buy through a reliable auction house you’ll always get what you paid for.
You have to be a little more careful in the online space, even on platforms such as Ebay, however, to combat the potential risks of their users being defrauded they have introduced public reviews of every purchase. You can quickly check a seller’s record to see if they delivered what they claimed they would in past transactions. If you see a seller with a satisfaction rate much lower than 99% then you might want to steer clear of them!
Auctions are fun and you can get some incredible deals but at the same time you can never predict quite what will be on offer so if you’re looking for a specific piece of equipment you might be disappointed and find you’ve wasted your time.
Where Should You Be Buying Your Photography Equipment?
With more choices than ever to explore when you’re looking for new equipment it’s really a buyers market so you’re bound to find the right fit for you. When buying a high ticket item, like a new camera, then most people still prefer to buy it in person; in which case your local store might be the best bet.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to buy a small travel tripod or another relatively low cost accessory then you will usually be better off just ordering it from an online store.
Online stores, and ecommerce sites, have come a long way in the last decade and now provide excellent customer service, faster delivery times than ever and high quality items as they battle to stay afloat in the competitive online world of sales. This is great for customers and has kept prices much lower than on the high street.
Auctions are a fun and unpredictable place to look around and the chances are pretty high you might come away with something you hadn’t even thought you wanted!
Where it’s possible it’s always a good thing to support your local photography stores and get involved in the community around it but being versatile in your own buying habits will end up delivering the best overall results for you.
Which is your favorite place to buy photography equipment?