A man's outstretched left arm capturing a falling camera in front of a lake

6 Things to Keep in Mind When Buying New Camera Gear

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When it comes to purchasing new photography gear, whether it’s a camera, a lens, or tripod, it’s not as simple as clicking the buy button on Amazon. Sure, you could do that, but your actions might lead to a bit of buyer’s regret.

Being a photographer means making investments and with that comes time, research, and focus. So, before you decide to hand over your hard-earned cash, keep these six things in mind and you’ll rest easy knowing you purchased the best camera gear for your situation.

Bird's eye view of camera supplies organized on a hard wood floor, including camera, camera bag, memory cards, flash, tripod, lenses, and iPad.

1. Your Intention

Once you start thinking about buying a new camera or gear, you should stop and think about why.

Do you really need something or do you have gear envy? Is it something you need or something you want? If it’s just something you’ve had your eye on for a couple of days, but don’t know much about it, take some time to research the product to see if it’s something that will actually help you.

Asking yourself these kinds of questions and digging a little deeper to find out why you want to buy new gear will not only help you get clarity around which items are important, but can also save you money.

2. Your Priorities

Perhaps you know you need a certain type of gear, but you’re not sure which is the best or fits your situation. With all of the options available, it can seem like a daunting task trying to find exactly what you need, and you’ll definitely want to make sure you invest wisely. Knowing what your photography priorities are can help guide you in making a smart purchase. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What will make life easier?
  • Is there a certain kind of photography/project you want to try?
  • Will what you’re buying move you forward or make things more frustrating? (Buying an expensive piece of equipment won’t make any difference if you won’t use half the functions or don’t understand how to use most of the settings.)
  • Is it a good fit for the kind of photos you take?

3. Your Budget

There’s no doubt investing in a new piece of camera equipment can put a dent in the bank account, but if you go about purchasing gear in a practical and well-informed way, you can save your wallet some stress.

You might consider:

  • Investing in a long-term item if you know it’s something you need and will use for years to come.
  • Choosing an entry-level piece of camera gear for learning purposes and save money for a more high-level item once you know how to use it.
  • Keeping your eyes open for sales.
  • Buying the essentials/necessities now and save money for the rest later.
  • Renting specific items if it’s just for a one-off job or to get familiar with a piece of equipment.
A young mans arm from below the elbow with a tattoo of a camera on his wrist holding a camera with an extended lens and a strap.

4. Research

Because photography gear is pricey, you’ll want to take time to find the best possible items, not only in regards to affordability, but in quality as well.

To help you in your search, you can read reviews and personal opinions online or ask photographers in your area what their thoughts are. You can also watch unboxings on YouTube, comparison shop (online and in-person), and get info from trusted experts.

And don’t be afraid to browse through your local camera stores to get acquainted with the gear you’re looking at. Ask questions, handle the item, and actually use it if given permission. 

5. Focus

Buying new camera gear requires laser focus, lest you fall into the shopping rabbit hole and come out the other side confused and broke.

Simply put: buy what you intend to buy and don’t be distracted by flashy sale signs and smooth-talking sales people.

Photography gear shouldn’t be considered a last-minute purchase or impulse buy.

Over the shoulder photo of an older man with glasses adjusting the exposure of his camera that is tilted up while on a tripod to capture a river flowing over rocks.

6. Realistic Expectations

As consumers, we’re quite emotional when it comes to purchasing decisions. Will this product make me smarter/more talented/beautiful/wealthy/famous/wanted/etc.? When we shop, we often tell ourselves a story about how the item will solve all of our problems and make our dreams come true. Just knowing this about yourself can save you time, money, and buyer’s remorse.

If you’re telling yourself that such-and-such camera will take you from novice photographer to professional in a matter of weeks, you’re living in a fantasy land.

If you’re a professional photographer and you think dropping big bucks on some new gear you have no idea how to use will come in handy at some point, you’ll likely be disappointed.

The truth is, a piece of gear can definitely help you achieve your goals, but it won’t substitute for the time you put into your craft. That means you don’t have to spend lots of money or buy unnecessary equipment. Stick to buying gear that fits your current needs and skill levels.

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