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

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 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+.

Some Older Comments

  • tan December 10, 2012 12:08 pm

    How about a site for those that have never used a camera but want good quality shot, (up close and distant), or want to be able to enlargen or crop without pic looking odd?

  • Haroon September 3, 2011 10:59 am

    Well written! I think I'll be referring to a couple more articles on this site.
    The ads are just a bit annoying though. But no biggie!

    All the best!

  • Steve January 23, 2011 06:03 pm

    I'm wondering if Canon is going to come out with a new T?i

    I'm hoping a new model will cime out soon and the price will drop on the T2i. What do you think?

  • Yucel November 27, 2010 03:36 am

    Ron, you are so right. I am thinking of getting a Nikon D7000 and using a Nikon D90, see samples of shots here.

    I am thinking the D7000 will give me a bit more reach for blow ups and cropping, plus several other better features. Had been thinking to buy after xmas as I think there will be sales.

    Also, must allow time to get familiar with the camera... I had to buy a D90 book to figure out how to use it...

  • ron September 24, 2010 08:42 pm

    Great article, but i'd like to point these out:
    1. "buy a camera now if you need one now" - this is true for point and shoot cameras. for more sophisticated cameras (DSLRs or semi-pros like my Canon S5) - you do NOT want to buy a camera, and go straight to the trip/wedding with it just to find that you're not familiar with it's little tweaks, and get held back because you have to mess around with the camera, until you got the settings right (you might even lose the shot if you're held back too long). In that case I'd buy it a few months earlier
    2. You keep saying in some cases it's worth waiting for the prices to come down. Why not just buy an earlier model (which has it's price already down)? After all, it's a never ending race, the second you bought your camera - you'll find newer models that just came to the market, dimming your camera's new shine. so there's no point in waiting.

  • code reduction March 13, 2010 03:25 am

    Thanks very much for taking your time to create this very useful infos

  • Roy Ross January 14, 2009 03:12 am

    Very handsome new sight, guys. I'm in line for the new Canon 5D Mark ll, and excited. Full frame is thrilling, and, I have most of the "L" lenses already. Really looking forward to using your classes of instruction. Works around my retirement sched. just fine. Thanks again!

  • Rodrian Roadeye December 8, 2006 05:33 pm

    I waited and waited to get a good deal on a Sony DSC-R1. About nine months ago I nabbed one for $750 on EBay...by luck! That was when this camera was selling for $950 to $1100 new. Now I've noticed that since the new Sony SLR is out...anyone can go to Ebay and pay what I paid back then for that same camera. I still like mine better than a SLR...no lenses to change. I refuse to think about another camera until Hi Def is out. By then I will need a new computer and storage media anyway for large RAW or whatever images replace it. After that...Super HD...Blue Ray images...it's nuts I tell ya...can Holographic 3D be too far off?

  • YPB December 8, 2006 12:51 pm

    Fantastic advice (again!!).
    Happy holidays - for the first time as a father :-)

  • Tommy Ruggs December 8, 2006 10:09 am

    Great infomatiom on digital cameras. Keep up the good work.

  • PAM BUZZELL December 8, 2006 09:51 am