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When is the Best Time to Buy a Digital Camera? 3 Questions to Ask

Canon-Powershot-A700-TmIf the emails that I get from readers asking for advice on Digital Cameras are anything to go by – there is currently a digital camera buying frenzy going on.

With Christmas looming and many shops having end of year sales there is obviously a lot of interest in digicams.

However is now the best time to buy a digital camera?

The answer to this question will depend upon your specific situation. Here’s three different ways of deciding if now is the best time for your purchase:

1. Do You Need a Digital Camera Now?

I’ll get the most obvious one out of the way first – do you need a digital camera now? I was in a digital camera shop recently and got chatting to a sales guy that I know and he said to me ‘ the best time to buy a digital camera is when you need one’. Sounds pretty obvious – but I think there’s something in it. You see many people in the market for a digital camera get into the ‘waiting game’. First they wait for the new models to come out, then when they are released they wait for them to come down in price, but then rumors start circulating on new models around the corner and so they wait for the new models…. you get the picture.

If you need a new digital camera now (maybe you’re going on a trip, maybe there’s a wedding coming up that you want to photograph etc) then now is probably the best time to buy. Do some shopping around, read some reviews, negotiate a good price and actually make a decision.

Buying Advice: If you need a digital camera now – buy it now.

2. Do you want ‘the latest’?

If you’re not in such a hurry for a digital camera but instead want the latest model it might be worth waiting a couple of months.

Digital camera manufacturers have an annual cycle of announcing and releasing new cameras and there are two main times of the year when they all come out.

The majority of digital cameras are announced early in the new year (January to February) and will actually make it to stores in February to March. There is a second round of announcements in September with those cameras hitting stores usually in November in the lead up to Christmas.

In my experience of covering the digicam market – there is generally less new cameras released at the end of the year and they tend to be more of a ‘tweak’ nature than real updates (although in the last year or two even many of the start of year releases are ‘tweak’ updates too).

While you could go out and get a fairly newly released camera today – it could be worth waiting a couple of months for the new range of digital cameras.

Of course when a new camera comes out you tend to pay a premium for it – which leads us onto our third question.

Buying Advice: If time and price isn’t an issue then wait for the next round of cameras to be released in February – March next year.

3. Is Price a Major Consideration?

Ok – so if the need for a camera isn’t urgent and you don’t mind if you don’t have the very very latest released camera – you might be more interested in getting a good deal.

If price is what you’re more interested in than features now could be a good time to start shopping around. This will probably vary a little from place to place but here in Australia the lead up to Christmas and the week or two after Christmas is a great time for shopping. We tend to have our biggest sales between Christmas and New Year while in the US there tends to be a lot of great sales after Thanksgiving (right now).

There are a lot of great sales online also. I’ve seen some real discounting happen around the web over the last week or two. Check out our digital camera shop which aggregates deals from a number of online sellers for a guide to prices. Amazon also has a ‘Today’s Deals Page for Digital Cameras‘ that is worth keeping an eye on.

The other reason that now is a good time to buy if price is your main consideration is that stores will be wanting to clear stock for the new releases to come out in the new year. Right up until all the new cameras hit the stores (and particularly in the days following them arriving) there can be some great deals to be had as retailers try to clear stock.

Buying Advice: Start shopping around now and watch out for sales and good deals.

Tomorrow I’ll post a few tips on how to shop for a digital camera.

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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