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Who isn’t looking for deals on photography gear these days? Given the fact that cameras and lenses can easily cost you thousands of dollars, it makes sense to do some bargain shopping.
While you may need to forego the newest camera gear for the sake of your budget, this doesn’t mean you can’t find impressive deals on new-ish photography gear.
In fact, if you talk to any of your photographer friends, they all probably have a process on how to buy used camera gear that they swear by.
This one is mine.
I always take to Craigslist first when I’m looking for deals on photography gear for one reason: Craigslist is the go-to dumping grounds for old photography gear people are desperately trying to get rid of.
While this isn’t necessarily a good thing because a lot of this photography gear is damaged (and strangers aren’t exactly the most honest subsection of the population), it does give me a really good idea of baseline prices for the specific camera gear I’m shopping around for.
I’m personally on Craigslist at least a few times a week, just in case someone does drop a really fantastic deal that I need. But, I understand that’s a lot of work. If I accounted for my time searching through Craigslist posts, I am probably not saving money at all in the long run. But at this point, it’s kind of like a game.
Besides, literally every time I use Craigslist to sell an item, I get bombarded with scammers. And when you buy from Craigslist, there's no guarantee that the seller isn't a scammer, either. There's just a TON of risk involved.
If you aren’t as obsessive as me, you should still be checking Craigslist to figure out what you can expect to pay for your specific photography gear elsewhere. Then, move on to a better, more secure option.
Recommended Photography Reading
Stay Connected on Photography Blogs and Pages
photo by NickyLloyd via iStock
Another great source of information is photography forums and Facebook pages. I’m personally on several dozen (remember, I’m obsessive).
PhotographyTalk has one, but we definitely aren’t the only ones. These forums allow photographers to ask an endless amount of questions and connect photographers who may live in remote areas, but most importantly they’re a great resource for those of us looking for photography deals.
If you need help finding great photography forums, Photography & Tech Update created a list a few years ago that you can find above.
Then, once you think you’ve found a great deal on camera gear, you can ask a forum if the deal is as good as you think it is.
The same can be said of Facebook groups, although you need to make sure you’re part of a group that is large and active.
Format has a great list of Facebook groups for photographers here as well.
But, just like Craigslist, there are a lot of risks involved with scams in forums.
I can't speak to the behind-the-scenes work other sites do to block scammers, but it's an issue we deal with every single day with the PhotographyTalk forums.
We are constantly blocking people that spam the forum with too-good-to-be-true deals, and while many are stopped before they are published, some still get through.
Again, forums can provide a wealth of information, but buying gear from a person in a forum is still high-risk.
Use Amazon’s “Wish List” Feature
photo by stockfour via iStock
Out of all the tips about photography deals here, this is the one I think people forget about first.
Amazon has something called “wish lists,” which essentially allow you to build a shopping cart that you always have available.
They’re great to use for your kids around the holidays, but they’re also phenomenal at keeping track of all of your photography gear needs in one place so that you can track pricing on the photography gear.
If you need help learning how to build a wish list on Amazon, this video by Support a Teacher with Courtney Jones is a great resource.
This works because when you add camera gear to a wish list on Amazon the wish list tracks every version of that gear from every seller. So, if an individual seller adds a ridiculously low priced camera, you’ll see that price reflected in your wish list.
But, the key to using this tip to find deals on photography gear is also time, just like with Craigslist. There is currently no way to have Amazon notify you when the price drops below a certain point, so you need to be constantly checking your wish list.
The other issue is gray market gear.
Some sellers on Amazon deal in gray market stuff that was intended for sale in another country, which can be fine, but can also present difficulties with things like warranties and being able to read the instruction manual. Though this option offers less risk than the first two options discussed above, it's still a risky move.
Purchase Gear on Gear Focus
Once you have your baseline price set, the best deals on photography gear I’ve been able to find (without the immense time it takes to check websites for weeks on end) is Gear Focus.
Gear Focus acts as a used camera marketplace for photographers, and it’s run by professional photographers who are constantly checking to make sure every camera deal listed on their site is legit. In other words, the risk of buying used gear is vastly minimized, that way you're sure you're getting the item you want as described. And with the Gear Focus Protection Plan, you benefit from multiple layers of safety to ensure your buying and selling experiences are positive ones.
Importantly, Gear Focus uses some of the lowest percentages for their sellers, so more sellers are drawn to their site over others. All this means is more choices for you. Also, now through April 10, 2020, Gear Focus is ZERO seller fees. With so much uncertainty right now due to the coronavirus pandemic, having more money in your pocket is definitely a good thing. It's a nice gesture from Gear Focus to help people out during this difficult time.
Plus, when I say they have the best deals on photography gear, I mean every single aspect of photography gear. They have the basics like used cameras and lenses, but they also have used drones, tripods, vintage cameras and more.
Head on over to Gear Focus and figure out why they’re the best stop for great deals on photography gear.