Whether you’re the occasional outdoor photographer going on a trip, or you’re attending the event of the year, top-notch equipment is a must. Here are a few ways to grab gear that you need without spending a lot of money.
Rent Some Photographic Gear
When you need top-end camera gear, but your wallet says “no,” renting gear can save you a lot of money and still get you the shots you need. There are companies and websites that offer a variety of different options such as lens rental at a fraction of the outlay of buying such gear.
For example, let’s say you need a rig for your next shoot you don’t have one. You could use your old tripod, but a Gimbal Stabilizer would do a better job. If you were to go out and purchase one, it could cost you anywhere from R5000 to R15000 or more.
Renting it costs just a fraction of that. And, if it gets you the shot you need, you won’t need to buy something you’ll only use a handful of times.
Borrowing gear from a friend is the next-best thing to buying. This is why it pays to make friends in the photography business. Here’s a tip: if you’ve never worked for a senior photographer before, do it.
Cape Town Based Photographer Amy Green says you must take up an apprenticeship with someone who has been doing this for 30 or 40 years. They’ll have almost everything you’ll need. After 6 months or a year of tutelage, not only will you be able to borrow almost anything you need from them, you’ll have made a friend in the industry and have gained invaluable insight from a master.
Wait It Out
If you don’t have contacts, don’t want to make new ones, and don’t have any money, you can always wait it out. Professional photographers are bombarded with new photography gear every year. Each new model seems like a serious upgrade from the previous year. But, in most cases, these upgrades are incremental. It’s only if you own a camera or gear that’s 5 or 10 years old that you’ll notice a substantial improvement.
That means that you can wait a year or two and buy an older model for a fraction of the price of the latest offerings. Sometimes camera bodies, for example, will sell for $50 or $100 less if you wait for a year. Sometimes, you can get steep discounts, especially from older models that are a few years old.
Shop used camera stores and shops. Check around your local area. Is there a photographer that’s about to retire? If so, can you pick up some of his or her gear? Most of the time, 30+ year veterans will want to keep a few cameras as keepsakes, but they’ll sell everything else.
You could end up snagging some excellent (new or like-new) gear for a song.
It’s no secret that brand names sell at a premium. It’s like that in any industry. But you don’t need to pay that premium for some things. For example, Nikon and Canon are some of the most recognizable names in the industry. They’ve earned a reputation. But, they’re also very pricey.
Tamron, Tokina, and Sigma, on the other hand, make lenses that are very competitive with the big names, but they sell at a lower price point.
Batteries, lens hoods, and a few other essential items can also be bought on the cheap if you’re willing to go with a lesser-known, but still high-quality, brand.
Sell Stuff, Buy New or Used
Amy Green says you may think about selling some of your existing camera gear, or sell anything that you don’t need anymore. Raise money for your new gear and either buy new or used.
Hold a yard sale, sell your stuff on eBay, or sell your stuff to a second-hand shop on consignment.
Used gear is going to be a lot cheaper than new, obviously, so your dollar will stretch further.
Whatever you do, pace yourself. You don’t have to get everything on your Wishlist right away. It’s important to set priorities. Make a list of everything you eventually want, and then rank them in order of importance.
Camera bodies and lenses should be at the top, since you can’t really do anything without them. But, somewhere between lenses and lens paper lies camera bags, lens hoods, tripods monopods, and stabilizers, lighting gear, and a bunch of other stuff.