10 Common Mistakes When Buying A Camera or Lens
– Posted by Melody Tan
22nd July 2019, Singapore – Buying (another) Camera or Lens is common to most photographers. Today, we are going to talk about the top 10 common mistakes that photographers (even the seasoned ones) made when buying another camera/ lens.
#01 – Friends’ Recommendation
No doubt as photographers, we are sure to have many friends sharing the same passion with us. However, friends are the worse people to go for advise for buying your next camera/lens. I mean let’s face it, your friend had probably just invested thousands of dollars on a camera system, or built up his/her collection of lenses & camera bodies – do you think your friend will recommend you to buy a brand that he is currently not using? Or will your friend admit that his system sucks? All “advice” you will get from friends will most likely be biased, so don’t! Do your own homework, google about it, go to the stores and hands-on, try it, play with it then decide for yourself!
#02 – Going for the Cheapest
We all know by now that each camera/lens has a “shelve life”. I will use my favorite example: the Canon EF 50mm F1.8 II – fondly known to the world as the “Fantastic Plastic” – this popular prime lens from Canon was well sought after being the cheapest lens in the line-up and as a great beginner’s prime lens with an aperture of F1.8 and almost the whole lens was constructed with engineering plastic. Start its life in 1991, this lens covers this product segment all the way till 2015 – that’s a whopping 25 years product lifespan! Now, you can find shops selling the same lens at varying prices.
Previously listed on Canon’s website as SGD $159, street price usually sells around SGD $125-$135 for a new lens. But there are shops selling this very same lens at SGD $60-$80! Simple – if you are lucky (or unlucky), the $60.00 New Lens you just bought, had been sitting in the store since 2001 and while you are bragging that you’ve gotten a great deal – chances is the grease inside the autofocus gearings had dried up, the connectors had turned brittle and worse, you didn’t even notice that fungus had started to grow. You may have saved that tens of dollars – but unwise if the lens dies on you and you may end up spending much more to repair or replacing the lens. Buying Cheap is not exactly a smart decision when it comes to buying Camera/Lens.
#03 – Advertisements & Influencers
In this age of digital revolution where everyone is bombarded with advertisement both online & offline, its easy to get swayed into buying the wrong equipment. One of my student once told me that she is getting X Brand for her next camera and when I asked her why, she simply replied: “Their advertisement is everywhere, must be good!” – I was shocked that her buying decision came solely based on what advertisements she saw.
Take a deep breathe and think again, advertisements are designed to sell, will they feature their camera/lens shortfall? On the other end, there’s influencers – paid to say great things about the product, can you really trust influencers’ recommendations too?
Instead of looking at ads, there’s many independent websites that reviews cameras (including this site) & do a comparison from websites to websites. If a certain feature is mentioned and not stated on any other official site – that is probably the truth about the equipment that you are intending to buy. Then again, we highly recommend you to go to a store and try it before purchasing.
#04 – Buy from Legit Stores
If you had been a photographer in Singapore long enough, you will know that there are some camera shops that locals patronized and there are some camera shops that locals shun away. Well, millions of tourists visits Singapore every year and I am sure you’ve heard of stories of tourists getting cheated or overcharged etc. Get ready for this – many locals got chopped too. Very simple – a local walks into a touristy camera store – the salesman would have guessed that you are a beginner (and didn’t know what kind of a camera shop this is) and they will try every tricks they know on you to max out your spending.
Even though many of them will know that it will be a one-time business, do you think they care? Ask around and I am sure many local legit big names will be given to you – to the likes of Cathay Photo, TK Foto, Alan Photo, SLR Revolution and so on. And in case you are wondering where are the legit shops, our members buys their gear from here.
#05 – Salesman’s Recommendations
Almost all the camera store salesman that I had spoken to and personally known will deny that they are getting commissions from the sale of equipment. However, a reality check and you will know that it is a Sales job and although some of the stores do not have individual commission, there’s group/ sharing commission etc etc. A camera salesman’s recommendations can be affected or influenced by many factors. Newer models are selling like hot cakes and these salesman will push all they can and you are likely to end up buying something that gives the salesman the max commission that they can get rather than what You really needed to buy in the first place. Some brands does gives preferential commission to the salesman if a target is achieved – that again, will influence what the salesman sells or recommends to you.
So before you stepped into a camera shop, be very sure what you are after. If you are at your regular store wanting to try or view a piece of equipment, stay focused on trying out and decides if you want to purchase based on what you had experience rather than what the salesman had told you. While some friends told me the salesman are 100% credible as they had bought gear from them for years – well, if I am a salesman and I had the same customer coming back to me for years – I will make the best out of these customers – go figure.
#06 – Buying Online
While laziness accounted for more than 50% of customers shopping online today, there is certain risks involved if you had not given this a thought. There’s many reputable online stores that offers cheaper price, faster delivery, hassle-free ordering, yet so many times, there’s photographers complaining that the lens/camera they bought online was delivered damaged, or a wrong model sent or worse, the gear never arrived. Personally I had some bad experiences too – when I ordered a new lens, the lens arrived with seals broken and full of fingerprints – how can this be new?
Some others reported receiving a new lens with fungus already growing while some reported their lens’ autofocs are faulty or some even reported the “new” camera they received had already clocked thousands of shutter count! Unless you are buying a Used unit, otherwise, a New item has to be New right? No? And buying online means you don’t have a chance to check, test before buying. Worth the risk?
#07 – The More Expensive, The Better
The most mistake that many photographers made – the more expensive the gear, the better it is. Well, No. Although in photography where You get what you paid for – there’s also overpriced gear and gear that is not worth the money. I always tell me my students – buy what you need and not what you can afford. Many of my students are pretty well-off and using the top-of-the-line cameras/ lenses and when I asked them about the functions, I am shocked that they never really explored their expensive cameras in details and just sticking to what they usually use. Then for what reasons doing an upgrade when all you need the same old functions that you always use to shoot the same subjects over and over again. So what if the megapixels had increased by 400% and so what the FPS is now faster Ferrari, you are still shooting the same shit and you skills are still very much the same right? Get the camera/lens you really need rather than what you can afford. Get this right first.
#08 – Freebies
One of the oldest marketing tricks used by camera brands – freebies. So what if you are given more memory cards (when you already have a lot by now as a seasoned shooter), another camera bag (when you already bought better bags), tripod (when you already bought a proper & better tripod), a small dry cabinet (when most of you already have a dry cabinet that is bigger than my bar fridge), or a free lens (that the brand had problem selling) but I will say the most useful thing that you will get as a free gift is none other than a Battery. Even a free workshop is a complete waste of time when most of you are eligible to be teaching basic photography, all you need to do is to learn about the functions of your gear and you are good to go. So you still want those freebies?
#09 – Paying By Installments
Never purchase a gear on Installment unless there’s an urgent need (like you broke your camera/ lens a day before your assignment and you are short of cash) – instead save for it. Camera equipment does gets replaced by newer models arriving month after month and any equipment taken out of the box starts to depreciates immediately. Its new in the box, once taken out of the box, its used. Its a harsh reality that many fails to understand. And buying on installment just made it worse.
For example, I had a student who (unfortunately) has the Gear Acquisition Syndrome – fondly knows as GAS. This guy buys gear week after week and one day I had the opportunity to chat with him. He admitted that most of the new cameras/ lenses he never use and he only take some images of the gear, post it up to FB to show off, then left sitting inside his dry cabinet – some he had never even used once till today! Then when he asked me about the resale value, he had a rude shock when I told him the market rates for used gear. Some of the cameras/ lenses that he had bought months ago, totally unused – had lost more than 40% of its purchased value. Then he admitted that most of his gear are in Installment Plan! Even if he sells some of the items now, the amount he owes is way higher than the used market value for his gear. Even if you sell, your installment plan continues – now imagine this – You are paying slower than the fast depreciating value of the equipment, how do you feel now?
#10 – Functions that You Don’t Need
With every newer model of camera/ lenses launched, there’s bound to be “improvements” compared to the previous model it replaces. Some of you may have heard about how DSLR do Bracketing – from the past era of 03 shots of Slow, Normal & Fast shutter speed to today’s 7 or 9 Bracketed shots (and some even blends automatically for you in-camera!) – how many of you had really used the 5 or 7 or 9 Bracketing in your camera? Or the classic ISO comparison, from the past ear of ISO 3200 to today’s ISO 204800, how high an ISO have you really used?
That was just some examples. OK, so you want to buy that camera because it came with more functions? Let me tell you, the next camera that they are launching has even more function then the one you are looking at right now. Don’t believe me? Just look at the all the cameras & lenses the brands had launched since the digital revolution.
So the above mistakes is what we had gathered from several sources including our peers.
Did we missed any mistake(s)? Do drop us a comment below!
Contributing Editor – Melody Tan
Loves quiet walks along beaches, has a mind of her own and decides everything in life in either black or white with nothing in between. Her priority these days revolves around her 2 lovely kids & teaching them music or photography. A lover of yoga and an avid traveler, Melody aims to visit at least 30 countries before she reach 40 years old – from what we know, she had completed 27 as of 2018.