Shopping for a camera deal? Here’s what to look for

Here's a few tips to getting the best camera gear on Prime Day

Whether it’s Black Friday, Amazon Prime Day, or some other obscure sale, the internet is rarely wihtout some sort of camera sale. The key to making the most of sales is to make sure you’re actually getting the best deal possible and not just getting lost in the clever copy or tricky pricing. If there’s a digital camera, lens, or photo accessory on your list, here are a few things you should consider before adding to your cart. These tips are geared towards online purchases, but also apply to any other type of deals you may find at brick-and-mortar retail.

The cameras tend to be older

nikon d5600 review 13994
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

This past year has seen the release of a slew of impressive cameras. From the Sony A7 III to the Nikon P1000, there’s been no shortage of new options available. But if you were hoping to snag one of these for yourself or as a mid-summer surprise, forget it: Most of the camera deals will be on models that are older. Camera companies might be looking to sell off old stock, but they’re not going to give everything away. That’s not to say manufacturers won’t possibly discount newer products, but our experience with previous Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday, and other sale events have told us that products tend to be older.

That’s not to suggest you can’t get yourself a great camera. If you are willing to forego the latest tech, there are some potential deals out there (more advanced users looking for the newest and greatest could score deals on accessories instead). And, some older cameras are still some of our favorites. Case in point: The Sony A7 (a good budget option for full-frame) and Canon EOS 80D (excellent video autofocusing). In general, on the high end, stick with cameras no older than five years.

Is it really a deal?

Sony Alpha A5000 front top angle

As sweet as many deals look, they can often be deceiving. Use tools like price tracker CamelCamelCamel to see if these truly are the lowest prices on cameras, lenses, and accessories. Just because it looks like a deal doesn’t mean it is one. Be an informed shopper so you’re not wasting your time and hard-earned money.

Look beyond Canon and Nikon for cameras

You’ll see specials for Canon and Nikon, which makes sense considering they’re the two biggest DSLR camera makers. As you’re looking through the deals, don’t forget about other major manufacturers like Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Ricoh Pentax, etc. Over the past few years, these companies have shown they’re capable of keeping up with (and, in some cases, even surpass) the big boys in features and image quality, particularly when it comes to mirrorless models. If you’re looking for basic cameras, Polaroid and Kodak are two familiar names to look for. (If they are products carried by major camera retailers, like B&H or Best Buy, it’s a good bet.)

Should you bother with point-and-shoot?

Canon G7x front screen

Point-and-shoot cameras are still useful for many people, but unfortunately the casual photographers who would use such cameras have moved toward smartphones. Still, they make nice gifts for kids, older folks, or anyone who still prefers to have a separate device for picture taking.

You might be tempted to spend $100 on a budget cam and call it a day, but truthfully, today’s smartphones are just as good, if not better. Try looking for a more advanced point-and-shoot that offers more features, bigger sensors, longer zooms, and manual shooting modes. Consider non-compact point-and-shoots like megazooms (bridge) or a specialty model like rugged cameras. Ultimately, the decision is up to the consumer, but if your photography revolves mainly around Instagram or Facebook, you’re better off with a phone.

Accessorize yourself

PNY 64GB SD Card

While there are plenty of hot deals on cameras, don’t forget about accessories. This could be that lens you’ve always wanted, or useful gear like tripods, camera bags, external hard drives, etc. We’ve also seen plenty of deals on memory cards in the past. While they are normally cheap to begin with, it never hurts to have plenty stocked up – especially if they’re fast, large capacity cards.

Product Review

With the Z7, Nikon gives DSLR holdouts the mirrorless wonder they've waited for

Nikon’s long awaited full-frame mirrorless cameras are here, and the Z7 is the new flagship model. But does it stand up to the company's DSLR pedigree, and, more importantly, does it have what it takes to compete with the likes of Sony?

Nikon gets serious about mirrorless with new Z7 and Z6 cameras, available now

Nikon's long-awaited mirrorless camera is finally here -- and there are two of them. The Z7 and Z6 are the first of the new Z-series, which also introduces a new lens mount that can accommodate wider apertures. Both cameras are now…

Full frame or 4K for less than $1K? These 4 older cameras still have a lot to offer

Looking for a great camera deal? Sometimes, you might be better off buying one that's a few years -- last generation's professional models may not cost much more than today's entry-level models.

Which smartphone has the best camera? We found the sharpest shooters

They say that the best camera is always the one you have with you and that makes your smartphone camera very important indeed. Join us for a closer look at the best camera phones available right now.

Premiere Pro A.I. plug-in for Adobe paints your videos in the style of van Gogh

CyberLink is bringing its suite of artificial intelligence-based video effects directly to Adobe users as a plug-in for Premiere Pro. The A.I. Style video plug-in "redraws" video in the styles of artists like Vincent van Gogh.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Photography News: Flickr keeping Creative Commons photos, ONA gets colorful

Flickr has confirmed it's saving all Creative Commons images, ONA has released a new capsule collection in partnership with Passion Passport and 7Artisans has launched a new drone-specific 35mm f/5.6 lens.

Get your Sagan on with 60 awe-inspiring photos of the final frontier

Few things instill a sense of wonder quite like the final frontier. The best space photos show off the beauty of Earth, our solar system, and the far corners of the universe. Here are our current favorites.

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Product Review

Airselfie 2 may as well be a GoPro stapled to a drunk hummingbird

On paper, the Airselfie 2 is marketed as flying photographer that fits in your pocket and snaps selfies from the sky. Unfortunately it’s more like a HandiCam controlled by a swarm of intoxicated bumblebees
Smart Home

Picture this: The Aura packs thousands of photos in a single frame (for a price)

Are you one of those people who miss the good old days of flipping through photo albums to see each and every favorite photo? If so, you might love the Aura digital photo frame. We tested the device and came away impressed.

Get up close and personal with this telephoto lens for your phone

Moment is replacing its aging 60mm telephoto lens with a new 58mm tele lens, redesigned from the ground up for the latest iPhone, Pixel, and Galaxy phones. Mount it onto the phone via a case and get closer with 2x optical zoom.

Golf ball-sized Lume Cube Air is a pocketable LED for photos and video

Off-camera lighting for smartphones and GoPros just got even smaller. Meet the Lume Cube Air, a smaller portable LED light designed for photos and videos that weighs only about two ounces.