How Not To Go Broke Buying Equipment

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Scott Fitzgerald once told Ernest Hemingway, “rich people are different from the rest of us.” “Yeah, Hemingway replied, “they have more money.”

The cameras and lenses I use to make the images you see on this blog and are, for the most part, gear that I actually bought and paid for. Any exceptions are photographs that were captured with equipment on loan from manufacturers for product reviews, such as the below image that was shot while testing the new Olympus E-M1X for Shutterbug. Click here to read my review. You may be surprised to learn that after reviewing any gear it must be sent back to the manufacturer. I don’t get to keep equipment loaned to me by camera and lens manufacturers although I suspect that’s not true of all so-called reviewers.

How I made this shot: Olympus E-M1X with M.40-150mm f/2.8 lens with MC-14 teleconverter. Exposure was 1/400 sec at f/4 and ISO 400.

Although many professionals shoot with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras made by companies such as Nikon and Canon, you don’t have to do the same thing. There are plenty of other camera brands offering interchangeable lenses and sophisticated electronics from Olympus, Pentax, Panasonic and Sony. To save a few bucks, be sure to take the time to check out their lower and mid-priced models instead of expensive top-of-the line cameras.

You might want to consider a used camera. When a new digital SLR comes out, lots of photographers who want to be the first kid on their block to have the latest camera trade their older cameras for that latest model. This is the best time to buy what was previously a “latest model” and let the other person take the depreciation hit. For more than twenty-five years, I’ve purchased used equipment from KEH Camera and Roberts Camera and they both are trusted sources for me.

There are also subsets of used cameras called demo and factory refurbished. Take the above lens for example. B&H sells it for $1,499 but Olympus will sell you a refurb for 1,124.99. Many camera stores, including the big New York and Los Angeles shops, as well as Roberts, offer demo or refurb gear so it pays to have a sales person you work on a regular basis to keep you informed of bargains. And don’t forget eBay. And while the bargains that abounded in eBay’s early years have pretty much disappeared, it remains a great place to locate and purchase hard-to-find items.

PS: And if you wonder what equipment that I shoot on a day-to-day basic, click on the GEAR page for details.