Student’s Budget Pro Camera Gear

14Jul09

My very first DSLR camera was the Canon 20D.  I received the camera from my parents as a college graduation present.  They took me to the camera store where the three of us expected to purchase the 20D for $1600, but we found it on sale for $1300.  As I look back now, the 20D was absolutely the poorest photo purchase that I have ever made.

Many photographers that peruse some of the lenses and gear that I own, that inquire as to how I can afford these expensive lenses.  My biggest trick to affording these high end lenses has to do with me purchasing them off of Craigslist.com.  If you are a person that has the money to purchase your camera equipment new, I am afraid that this article will not be of any use for you.  For those of you who are struggling, and who are on a tight budget, please continue reading, as I will share with you some of my tips of finding the best deals around.

Students budget pro camera gear

One very important item I would like to share with the reader is that I keep a detailed log pertaining to all of my camera equipment transactions.  The log assists me and reminds me how much that I have spent on my camera “hobby.”  Setting up a log is quite easy, as I keep my records in a simple MS Excel file.  When I had sales and purchases to my log, I am immediately able to see how much money that I have received and how much that I have spent.

In my camera log, I have spent $3,575 on camera equipment that I currently own.  If I decided to sell all of my equipment at reasonable prices, according to my Excel file, I will have spent only a meager total of $400 to $550 since I began with my 20D back in 2005.  The main reason as to why I am at this large of a net loss is that I, like a lot of people, have made poor decisions and choices while purchasing my equipment.  If I had written this article back in 2005 before I first bought the 20D, I would have ended up ahead if I would follow the following advice.

One key point to remember is when a certain item is purchased off of Craigslist; you need to become aware as to how much it is worth.  When you come across multiple listings of a desired piece of equipment where the sales price is within the same ball park as each other, this would typically be the general street value of the merchandise.

Once you find out what the street value of the item you wish to buy, do not purchase it.  If you do purchase the item at street value, you will end up having to sell the item lower than what you initially paid for down the road.  The majority of the time when I sell an item, it will either be for the original price I paid or higher.  I have used camera bodies or lenses for extended periods of time, and many times I have sold them for an amount higher than what I have initially paid.

Another key point is to purchase items in a package deal and sell them off individually for profit.  I have several times, purchased a flash and lens combo where I paid $750 for both.  The next weekend, I turned around and successfully sold them separately:  I sold the flash for $450, and I sold the lens for $600.  In less than a week, I made $300 profit.  Not too bad for a recently unemployed college graduate.

Another tip I can give you regarding frugally purchasing camera equipment is this:  buy older models of the item that you need or want.  For example, lenses manufactured for the Nikon F and Canon EF lens mounts are completely interchangeable and also can be used on the camera bodies as far back as 1959 and 1987 (respectively of course) as well as more newer and recent models.  The lens features and quality don’t improve as quickly as the camera bodies that they are used on.  Therefore, it is feasible to use a professional lens for several years without losing its street value.  Just remember to take good care of your gear so you can get several years of good, steady use from them.

A few years ago, I sold a 70-300mm.  I included a B&W filter with it, because I felt that I no longer needed it.  B&W is a high end brand regarding their filters.  I found out later when I needed the filter later on a completely different lens, I remembered I sold it.  My point is to be sure not to include items like, additional memory cards, additional batteries, or filters when you decide to sell off some of your gear.  You can keep those items for future use, so it makes no sense to get rid of them UNLESS you decide to get out of the photography hobby altogether.  If you follow these basic guidelines I have laid out in this article, you too can become more of a budget conscious shopper when purchasing your camera gear.  Remember, there are a lot of dangers and risks that I have come across in my camera hobby, but I have also learned a lot from them.  My next post, I will share with all of you when it is smart to purchase the item or smarter to turn it down completely.  Please bookmark my blog for my next segment.



8 Responses to “Student’s Budget Pro Camera Gear”

  1. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your weblog?
    My blog site is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my users would really benefit from some
    of the information you present here. Please let me know if this okay with you.
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  2. Having read this I thought it was very informative. I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this article together.
    I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and posting comments.
    But so what, it was still worth it!


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