The day you’re finally in the market for a new camera gear is certainly an exciting one when you’re a photographer. Visions dance in your head of all the killer shots you’ll be capturing with a sleek new set-up. You get excited about finally having gear that not only meets your current needs, but that you can grow with into the future as well.
However, it goes without saying, that the buying process can be daunting to say the least. There’s a lot to choose from out there! You want to make absolutely sure that what you buy is actually worth the investment you’re about to make.
In this article I’ll go over some of the most important (and most common) mistakes to avoid when shopping for a new camera or any other piece of photography equipment.
Mistake #1. Taking advice from the wrong person
It’s normal, and wise, to ask for other people’s advice before you finalize a major buying decision. However, it’s important to get it from the right sources. It’s not enough for someone to simply sound like they know what they’re talking about.
Do they actually know what they’re talking about? Is this someone that really knows their way around a camera, and could be considered an expert when it comes to photography gear? Do they actually understand all of the features associated with the item you’re shopping for well enough to have an informed opinion? You should be able to say “yes” with assurance to all of these questions. You need to make sure the person actually understands your unique needs, and the many ways they might differ from theirs.
Avoid buying anything just because another photographer you know has one, or because all the online reviews say it’s the one to have. Definitely don’t buy on the say-so of one person, who may or may not really understand photography. Ask for advice from trusted experts and take it for what it’s worth – a great tool that can help you make a decision. Even the best advice isn’t a proper substitute for research and careful comparison shopping.
Mistake #2. Assuming quality is equal to price
Yes, good quality gear should be considered an investment. It’s most definitely a purchasing decision that should be made with care, especially if you’re a professional photographer or hope to become one. However, it’s important not to simply assume that a higher price tag automatically equals a better item.
Even if money isn’t personally an issue for you, paying more money doesn’t guarantee that your purchase will actually meet your needs. It doesn’t guarantee you the spectacular photos you’ve been dreaming about either. Even great photography equipment is only going to be as good as the person actually taking the photos.
Focus less on the price tag, and more on whether or not a given item is right for you, especially when buying a camera. Does it fit your current skill level? Are you familiar with all of the functions and tools it comes with? According to your research, is it a good fit for the type of photography you do? Lots of bells and whistles, and tons of different settings won’t do you any good if you either won’t use them, or don’t understand them.
Mistake #3. Failing to budget properly
Proper planning is the key to success when it comes to many endeavours, and shopping for a new camera or photography gear is no different. A big part of that is budgeting, and there are a number of ways people can stumble in that arena.
Many drastically overestimate what they’re likely to get in exchange for their money. An outrageously expensive camera won’t magically allow a beginner to somehow start pulling off National Geographic quality images. Nor will world class photography skills make up for a cheap camera, that’s incapable of taking professional quality pictures.
A lot of shoppers also fail to factor the full cost of all the accessories they’ll need into their budget. Okay, so you did your homework when it comes to the camera you’ll need in order to take your landscape photography to the next level. But, did you also remember to consider the lenses you’ll require? What about the batteries, tripods, memory cards, and everything else? It’s important to be thorough from the get-go.
Mistake #4. Becoming distracted by bargains and specials
So you’re finally ready to walk into the photography shop and make your purchases. You’ve done your homework. You’ve figured out which camera is right for your needs, both present and future. You’ve even picked out the accessories and other tools you’ll need to go with it. You’re sure you know exactly what you’re looking for.
Then you get inside, and see all the signs advertising special deals on this, and bargain pricing on that. Do you lose your focus, or do you remind yourself that item isn’t really what you went there for? Hopefully it’s the latter.
Never buy any piece of photography gear just because it’s displayed under a flashy sign, or a salesman insists that it’s what you really want. If something sounds way too good to be true, it probably is. Keep your eye on the prize, and make sure you walk out of that shop with what you actually need.
Mistake #5. Not being realistic enough
Most of us entertain really big dreams that we hope will come true someday, when it comes to our interest in photography. However, it’s important to ask yourself whether those dreams are realistic as far as the near future goes, before you actually sink your money into them.
Are you brand new to photography, but already picture yourself traveling the world, making big money as a travel photographer within a couple of months? Are you shopping based on a desire to jump straight into professional photography with a ton of new, expensive gear, even though you’ve never used anything more complicated than the Instagram app on your iPhone?
Make sure you’re not getting ahead of yourself when it comes to what you think you’ll accomplish, by spending lots of money on new camera gear right now. Shop according to what your needs and skill level are currently, not what you’re hoping they’ll be “someday”. You’re that much more likely to be happy with your purchases not only now, but in the years to come as well.
If you have any other gear buying tips, please share in the comments below. What is your though process?
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