Skip to main content

photo & video

Camera Buyer's Guide

Lesson 14 of 16

Camera Purchasing

John Greengo

Camera Buyer's Guide

John Greengo

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

14. Camera Purchasing

Lesson Info

Camera Purchasing

Alright so we're getting into the purchasing part here. Time to make a decision and going out there and I want to start with some general camera buying advice. Now as someone who worked in the camera store and I still work in the camera stores as far as teaching classes there. I have a lot of friends who work there. I know the industry pretty well. And so here's some tips and things you might want to know about buying cameras. New models. New models are typically introduced in the February to March category at the beginning of the year. There's also a popular time kind of in the later half of the year in September to October. They try to avoid the holidays. There's an occasion where they introduce something in the middle of summer but they typically know people aren't paying attention so that's when you can expect new models to be introduced. Future models are tight secrets. Anyone who says that they know for sure what the next model is going to be is probably not fully up on it. They'...

re probably taking good guesses, educated guesses on what's going on. It's become very popular on the rumor sites to speculate what the next model is and there is information that does leak out but do not expect anyone to really just say, "Oh yeah they're gonna be introducing a camera next week but let me tell you all about it because I know everything about it." Everyone's on NDA's nondisclosure agreements that is supposed to be and so these are secrets that are kept pretty tight. Sometimes, as I say, do leak out. And the rumors seem to speculate more and more the further out you are. As you start getting in a week ahead, there might be instruction manuals that leak out on the Internet or somebody posts something on their website that they weren't supposed to until a week later. So the information in the last week or so before an announcement usually gets to be pretty accurate. One of the things is that it's really hard to get a great discount on a camera, and that's because cameras have a very low profit margin. They are relatively expensive to make. It's highly competitive when you buy a product from one company and another company. You know it's the same product. It's not any different. And so there's a very, very tight competition in sales and so what happens is most cameras are sold very near their cost. And what camera companies are doing is that they are-- well at least the camera stores--are hoping that you buy lenses and bags and other accessories there because many times they forgo all profit on the camera in order to make it up with some of the other smaller items. And so if you want to get laughed out of a camera store, go in and offer them half the listed price for a particular camera because that is just not going to work. If a camera is part of a kit with a lens and other accessories, I really separate these into two categories. One, it's put together by the manufacturer in which case it probably has the basic things like a camera, battery, batter charger, and a lens. That sounds like a pretty reasonable kit to me. When they start adding in lens cleaning cloth and a blower and a brush and a cheap tripod and a filter set and some of these other things, you really have to start asking yourself, are those things that I would want to use on my own? Would I pay money for those? I know it's a good deal, and unless you're getting that stuff for absolutely nothing, I tend to avoid that and make sure you are only getting exactly what you want to get. Next you want to be thinking about your new camera. Well what about a new camera but it's just kind of last year's model? 'Cause we don't have exactly have last year's model like they do in the car industry, but we do have previous generations. And some manufacturers, Sony and Nikon, they'll come out with model one and then come out with model two but keep model one around, and then they'll come out with model three and still have model two and model one around, and this can go on for up to five or six years. And you really wanna take a look, if you're looking at saving some money, how much difference did they make between these generational changes? Because in some cases they do extremely small changes. Sometimes it's just we're just gonna re-spiff things up a little bit and not really add anything new, and now we got a new model that sells for $100 more than the old model but they both do basically the same thing and they have the same image quality. That's a good way of saving money is kind of buying on the last version of a particular camera, but it's still brand new in a box. If you wanna think about the price levels of camera, what happens with cameras is they come in, they're generally at peak demand so they're gonna have peak price. And they're gonna extend at that until supply and demand are more at equilibrium. And then what's gonna happen is a lot of times the manufacturers use these things called instant rebates, and it's a way for them to lower the price temporarily in the camera and then it's gonna go back up to the regular price and then they might do this multiple times. And it's a way for them to, as I say, temporarily lower the price, but then take it right back up as soon as supply and demand are back in their equilibrium. And then eventually the camera will start to slide again in price, and that's probably about the time that the new version of the camera comes out. And that one's gonna come out about the same price as the old model. Sometimes they add features and it becomes more expensive or they become more efficient about the process and it actually comes in at a little bit less price than the previous model. But generally they will slide over time and so once the camera has been out of favor, you might say, after a couple years, the prices really drop quite a bit in some cases. And so the lens prices actually go up in many cases because lenses get more expensive and a lot of time they'll introduce new lenses with sharper glass and better features in order to get themselves to a higher price point of a particular lens. Now I suppose we could probably spend a long time talking about used cameras when we don't have a lot of time but let me just give you a few quick tips. I have bought a number of used cameras in my time and I know a lot of people are a little susceptible at buying a used camera 'cause there's a lot of things that could go wrong and that's understandable, but there's a lot of people who buy cameras who can't afford them and they need to pay their rent and they just didn't use their cameras very much. And so there are a lot of people who don't put a lot of heavy use on their cameras and they're selling them, and those are the ones that you wanna try to get. And so you wanna be able to test it or get a warranty on it. And I like to be able to meet somebody in person, shoot with the camera, see what it feels like. Do all the buttons work? Can I access the menus? Is everything else seem right in person? A lot of good camera stores will have used departments and they'll have a warranty on it. So if it stops working, you have some sort of recourse. Now the censors should be clean, and what I mean by this is there shouldn't be any dust on the censor. If you photograph a white wall, that wall should look white and not a bunch of black specks on it. And so that's the biggest issue with a used camera is how good is the censor. Is it clean? Does it have anything that's kind of a problem with it? That's when I would avoid a used camera. If you can, check the shutter count. There is a way, and you can go on the Internet and see how you can do this. You can hook cameras up to a computer and it'll tell you how many times the shutter has been clicked, which is a general indication of how much the camera has been used. Many cameras have a durability built in or based around the shutter count of what their camera can last. And you'll hear numbers like 100 or 200 or 400,000, so a camera with 5,000 or 10,000 clicks would be very low mileage, you could say. A camera with 100,000 clicks, well, that's seen a fair bit of use. Try to test everything that you can. Push every button, turn every dial, open every door and little rubber thing that you can get in on the camera to see what it looks like and examine it from every side in decent light very clearly. You want to check the buttons and dials so the action is smooth and proper on them so that if they got water or dust or dirt in there, they would not feel right in their springiness, you might say. And you wanna look for general wear marks, and if you really wanna look for most cameras get used, if a camera has been heavily used, it's probably been set down a lot, and the bottom gets to be very scratched up. And I generally would say that I would be very wary of heavily used digital cameras. It better be a very steep discount if you are getting into that. I think there's a lot of good, clean cameras out there for the smarter buyers to go after. As I say, be wary of anything that is heavily used in the digital realm.

Class Description

Our Camera Buyer's guide will be your guide to figuring out the best digital camera for your needs.

Gear expert John Greengo dives into the major brands and lenses that are currently on the market.

John breaks down some of the more confusing aspects of mirrorless and DSLR's from focusing systems to sensor size; you'll get a better understanding of what the gear does so you can make an informed decision.

At the end of the class, John gives his recommendations for different types of photographers from the aspiring student to the filmmaker and everyone in between. If you're looking to purchase a camera or gift one to a budding photographer in your life- this free course will be your guide in making the best purchase.

Class Materials

Free Bonus Material

Camera Buyer's Guide Download

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Denise Watson

Another outstanding class by John Greengo, my favorite Creative Live instructor. John's delivery is entertaining and his info clear and very easy to understand. If you need more explanation, well, don't worry - he's got a slide or PDF for that! I'm a working photographer and I learn something new with each of John's classes. Don't hesitate to buy any of his classes - you won't regret it.

David Reichel

Yes - there is such a thing as a free lunch - this class is it! I enjoy landscape, seascape, architecture, portrait and travel photography. I've been a Canon user for decades (film and then digital full frame with the 5D Mark II then 5D Mark IV). Recently I got a Fujifilm mirrorless medium format GFX 50R and discovered some Fujifilm features (e.g., film simulation, menu system) that resonate with me. I now have over-kill on full frame format and because I like the Fujifilm so much, I've been thinking about moving from my Canon 5D Mark IV to a Fujifilm X-T3 as my walk-around camera. This class helped me better understand the trade-offs and alleviated my concerns about a crop format sensor in the X-T3. On top of that, this is a great refresher course on camera fundamentals.

Sherry Throughmyeyes Prater

There a thousands of reviews/guides/ floating around the internet, but this one is by far the best by far. I usually watch a portion and then move on because I simply lose interest, but I watched every single lesson. John gives a very unbiased explanation of cameras, functions for every type of shooter. Not only would I recommend it, but I am going to recommend. I am a member of multiple photography groups on FB and one of the most asked questions is camera buying advice. This is excellent!