Happy Friday to everyone, and I’m sure we are all aware that next week is Thanksgiving and we are one week away from Black Friday. This is a good time to save money on everything out there, photography related items included. I’m am not the type to wait in lines for days to get those sales, but I will say, I am extremely cheap and always looking for a good deal. I’m sure there will be many good deals on Black Friday, but I thought I’d give some advice on where to find photography deals and save money that you can use year round.
Where to Find Photography Deals and Save Money?
Let’s start by looking at holidays since we are so close to Black Friday. In general, there are sales out there for most major holidays. Sometimes it seems companies are just looking for a reason to have a sale.
One of the first things to consider when you see these sales is whether or not it really is a good deal. A strategy businesses use (and one photographers should use as well) is to make people think they are saving money. When people think they are getting a deal, they are more likely to buy.
Imagine you’re looking at two items for $50. One use to be $100, but is now marked down 50% and the other is just $50. Which one would you buy? They might be the exact same thing, but people will buy the one that looks like a deal. Don’t fall into that trap. Do some research and see if you are really saving that much.
It’s impossible to know about every deal out there, but when holidays are approaching, start stalking the products you really want. Join an email list or follow them on Instagram or Facebook. This way, you’re more likely to see information about their sale. Just today, I saw a photography educator make an announcement on a Facebook group about a Black Friday sale.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday
These two days are supposed to be the biggest days for deals out there. All the same rules I mentioned with holidays apply, but there are some other things to consider or that might be of help.
Many of these sales have limitations, so find out beforehand. Are there a limited number of items available? If so, how hard will it be to get it? Will you have to wait in line for 3 hours? Unless I’m saving $300 or more, that’s just not worth it to me. Also, is the sale only during certain times? Do you have to buy anything else to get it? If you have to jump through a bunch of hoops or spend extra money, it might not be worth it.
For most of the big companies and sales, there are websites that have gathered all of the sale information in one place. You can go to those places and compare and see what’s available. There aren’t as many of these sites for photography-related products, but I did find a few. Photography Bay and Digital Camera World were very similar. The deals are organized into brands, it lists original and sale price, and there are links to the products. You could, of course, look on Amazon, but I found that there are too many random items, so unless you know exactly what you want, I'd stick to the other sources.
Lastly, make sure you don’t get caught up in the excitement and emotion of these sales. Just because there are a lot of people buying something and it’s on sale doesn’t mean you really need it. Try to stay rational and think through all of your purchases.
Save Money Year Round
Holidays are fun and it’s nice to save money while celebrating, but what do you do the rest of the year? I’ve gathered some other places that I use consistently to save money on all my photography needs.
App Sumo is a company that provides software at a very heavily discounted rate, usually $40 to $80. Some of the deals are a one-time payment, but most of them are a yearly rate. The good news is that you can almost always lock in the original price for life.
Most of the software has just been released, so you’re getting it before everyone else and helping build it up. The only issue with this is there might still be some bugs in the software or all the features might not be ready yet. From my experience, I’ve found that the creators are responsive and genuinely interested in helping fix any problems.
The majority of the software is not directly aimed at photographers, but I’ve seen several that would be helpful in running a photography business. I’ve seen apps related to finding leads, Search Engine Optimization, social media management, business management, and messaging clients.
Daily, Weekly, or Monthly Deals
There are several companies that have either a daily, weekly, or monthly deal. Many of these I get in emails, but others I have to go and check myself. A large portion of them are rebates offered by the manufacturer, and they aren’t anything to get too excited over. You might save $100 on a $1500 lens.
I’ve found the best deals on B & H on their Deal Zone. It varies, but usually, the deal is for 24 hours and is 1 to 3 items and the items can be anywhere from 30% to 80% off. I just recently purchased a 3 light system for $450 when the regular price is $799.
One warning, the discounts can be a bit misleading. The items they choose are usually already on sale, but they have added an additional discount. The item I bought is now on sale for $550, so I did save an additional $100, but it doesn’t seem like as big of a deal when you know you could get it on sale already.
Google can help you find anything, including deals on photography equipment. After doing a Google search, I found several places offering photography equipment cheaper than the big companies. For example, most places are selling a Nikon D750 for around $1400, but I just found a site offering it for $1100. This sounded great, but how could they afford to do that? Is it real?
If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Do some research before buying. Some of these sites are complete scams and are trying to gain your personal information. Others are selling damaged or gray market items. Then, another trick is the upsell. These companies offer the product at a lower cost, but then force you to talk to a salesperson on the phone. At this point, they hard sell you on extra batteries or a memory card for a high rate.
In general, I stick to well-known companies. I’d rather not deal with all the risk and hassle to try to save $100.
Buying Used or Refurbished
Another way to save some money is to buy either used or refurbished photography equipment. I’ve done this for years in multiple places, and I’ve had really good experiences.
One option is to buy used from individuals. Facebook has exploded in this area. There is Facebook Market Place, but also, there are hundreds of different groups for buying and selling. There’s a giant Nikon buy and sell group, but I’m also part of a local equipment group. In general, I don’t buy from these groups. From what I’ve seen, the prices aren’t amazing and there are too many scammers on Facebook.
Another way to buy from individuals is to use eBay. I’ve bought and sold several things through eBay, and I’ve found that I prefer this to Facebook. People have to pay money and register to be on eBay, so that will eliminate most of the scams. There is also protection through eBay, so if something crazy happens, I should get my money back.
The main issue with eBay, though, is the quality of each item can be drastically different. One item might be like new and the next might be about to fall apart. Most users will try to accurately describe the product, but still, what you think is like new and what someone else thinks is like new might be very different. Make sure to look at the photos closely, ask detailed questions, and look at the seller’s rating before buying.
If you want to buy used but don’t want to deal with individuals, check out some of the big companies like B & H and Adorama. Both sites offer used equipment and you can trust the descriptions and quality. In the end, you might pay more, but you can feel safer about your purchase.
Is buying used too scary for you? A step above buying used is refurbished. A refurbished item means it is used but it has been tested and fixed to where it is like a new item. These items might have been a display item or returns.
You can find refurbished items at all the places we’ve already mentioned, but I stick to the big companies or even the manufacturer. Nikon frequently has 10% off of refurbished items, saving you hundreds of dollars over buying new. I’ve bought two camera bodies this way, and both came with less than 1000 on the shutter count.
I like finding deals and trying to save money, but it’s not for everyone. For some, it might be too stressful searching and worrying about scams. As long as you use common sense, buy from a reputable dealer, and pay with a protected source like PayPal, you should be fine. In the end, you have to decide if saving a few hundred dollars is worth it to you or not.