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.

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