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When Is the Best Time to Buy a Camera

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If you’re interested in buying a new camera, whether for yourself or for someone else, you need to know when the best time to buy a camera is.
Buying at the best time will mean a cheaper system, allowing you to spend more money on accessories and gear. Or just save money.
A display of cameras and photos in the window of a photography shop - best time to buy a camera
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Best Times of the Year

Generally speaking, there are times when anything and everything becomes a little cheaper. We know them as sales, and if we know why and how they work, we can get a pretty good idea of when items become reduced.
July and August seem to be the cheapest times to buy items, May being the most expensive. This is because, towards the last half of the year, the company selling the items have a better idea of their sales. Plus, the high summer demand has passed.
This also comes down to the season, and here, we are halfway into summer. Companies may want to release new products towards Christmas, so reducing items frees up shelf space. There are hundreds of cameras, and no physical camera shop can hold on to them all.
The biggest sales are the January sales, just after Christmas. Some items, especially electronics can have huge discounts. Also, don’t forget Black Friday (November 23, 2018) and Cyber Monday (three days later).
According to Lifehacker, digital cameras start going on sale in February. This is down to the announcement of new models at the January Consumer Electronics Show. However, if you’re looking for the best deals, you’ll find it in the second quarter of the year—as long as you’re okay with buying a slightly older model.
A screenshot from lifehacker.com showing the best month to buy certain items

How to Get a Better Deal

Shop Around

You should know by now, that the best way to get a better price is to shop around. The price for electronic goods in some countries can be pretty high. This is down to a high tax on electronic goods, and a huge lack of competition.
Some European countries don’t have Amazon, for example, so people rely on one main corporation running two stores. This is why I use Amazon.de (German version) and get them to ship it across the border.
If I find it cheaper in the UK, I buy it and send it to a family member. This works if I don’t need the item in a few days.
Some shops will have sales on at different times, so it is important to research first and do some legwork to find the best time to buy a camera.
An old mamiyaflex camera in a shop window - camera buying guide

Buy From Friends and Extended Family

Friends are a great source of help. They can keep an eye out for places you didn’t even know existed. If you have friends or extended family who study photography, maybe their school is linked or sponsored to a certain store.
Here, the students may receive a discount on gear. Also, if you find that a friend is about to buy a brand new camera model, chances are they may want to sell their old one.
Look at it for wear, tear and usability before purchasing it. They may have kept it in really good condition.
A close up shot of three people looking at A Canon DSLR

Shopping Online Vs. Physical Shops

You may also find that shopping online will beat the prices found in-store. Why? Well, it costs a lot more money to have a physical shop with staff and overheads than a website and checkout service.
You may receive a further discount when buying more items together. The shipping is cheaper too.
Every time I shop online, I do a quick search for promotional codes. Groupon.com is a great place to start, and it may save you a bit of money. Keep checking, and you’ll find the best deal.
Also, if you buy a new model online, and find a cheaper place somewhere else, you can send it back free of charge within 30 days. Some online retailers offer a price match service. Bestbuy.com is a great way to check in the USA.
Physical shops let you look, use and even borrow cameras before you buy them. Feel free to go and play with a model to get a feel for it. Then give it back and tell them you will think about it. Run home and buy it cheaper online.

Buy a Previously Owned Camera

If you feel that you don’t need the newest model or even a brand-new camera, have a look for a previously owned camera. These may be from a photographic store, online via Amazon or even using Ebay.com.
Craigslist can be helpful, yet there is no guarantee or warranty on these items. At your own risk.
Close up of a man looking through the viewfinder of a DSLR camera - best time to buy a camera

Don’t Buy the Most Expensive Option

Nothing saves you money like not spending it. Making sure you are going after the right camera for you is essential. It can be tempting to aim for the Canon 5D Mark IV, but if you aren’t going to use it professionally, it is expensive overkill.
Photographing products for your website may not require a camera that costs as much as a second-hand car. You can easily capture amazing images with a Canon EOS REBEL T7i
Photographing at nighttime will require different settings and techniques than daytime landscapes. Getting the model that is right for you is paramount to making sure you don’t overspend.
A Canon 5D Mark IV on white background - buying a new camera

New Models Vs. Old

One of the biggest ways to grab a cheaper deal on cameras is to wait until a new one is announced. This could be few and far apart, with the top five manufacturers releasing cameras throughout each year.
If you know about the appearance of a new mirrorless camera system on the market, chances are, the others will be cheaper.
This is because the camera manufacturers need to keep up the level of competition. Use this to your advantage, and grab a steal.
A black and white shot of a neon sign saying 'Click and Collect' - best time to buy a camera

Conclusion

There are many ways to get the best deal when buying a digital camera. Even trading unwanted gift cards can help reduce the price a little. The best bet is not to rush into anything immediately. Take a week or so shopping around.
Do your research online and in physical stores. It is rare, but camera shops sometimes have deals that beat online prices.
Before you buy anything though, make sure the camera is the perfect match for you, otherwise, you are just throwing money away.
For more great tips, check our article on buying used camera gear or how to sell your old camera gear without stress (or scams)!

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