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How to Upgrade Your Photography Gear on a Budget: 8 Tips

As a photographer, few things are more enjoyable than buying new equipment. However, camera gear gets expensive, and you might not be able to spend that much if you’re buying at the recommended retail price.

Fortunately, photography is now more accessible than ever. You can take pro-level photos with the phone in your pocket, and we’ve seen several websites emerge offering gear at a lower price.

Looking to save money on your new camera gear? You are in the right place. This article describes eight ways to upgrade your photography gear on a budget.

1. Buy used equipment

Photo of a person taking photos outdoors in winter

If you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a new camera or lens, you can buy used equipment for less. There are plenty of websites selling used photography gear, and your local electronics store may also have a selection for you.

The amount you pay will depend on the condition of the equipment. If the camera or lens isn’t too different from brand new versions, you’ll pay a higher price, while items with scratches will cost less. Make sure the hardware is working before finalizing the purchase, as some sites sell faulty hardware.

When you buy second-hand photographic equipment, you are also helping to promote sustainability.


2. Sell your old equipment

As we progress through the ranks of photography, we will naturally stop using cameras and lenses that no longer serve us. Whether you’re buying used photography gear or opting for something new, you can fund at least some of your purchases by selling your old gear.

Many second-hand photography websites will offer you the option to pass on your stuff and give you money or credits. In some cases, you can swap it out for another lens or camera you want.

In addition to freeing up extra funds for your next purchase, selling your old gear allows someone else to start their photography journey. As such, you can feel happy with yourself for doing a good deed.

3. Create a savings plan

Sometimes you’ll struggle to afford the camera or lens you want, even if you’re using a second-hand website or selling your old gear. Our advice: create a savings plan. Set a minimum amount for each month. Even putting away $5 or $10 is better than nothing.

Make sure you don’t spend the money you save on something else by setting up a separate bank account. Alternatively, you can make pots and vaults; many major digital banks, such as Revolut and Monzo, will allow you to do this.

4. Buy one thing at a time

Photo of Nikon camera body and lenses

Have you ever wondered how your favorite photographer YouTubers have camera setups worth thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars? In most cases, these people did not buy everything at once.

If you want to upgrade your photographic equipment, you have to do it over a long period of time. Not only is this more financially viable, but you will also have plenty of time to familiarize yourself with all the parts you buy.

You might struggle to know what to buy first, especially when your shopping list is long. Ask yourself the questions below to make a better decision:

  • What style of photography interests me the most and what lens will help me achieve it?
  • What piece of gear do I crave the most?
  • Which camera or lens is different enough from what I already have and will add more value to my work?

5. Buy your equipment in another country

Photo of various forms of travel gear

Depending on where you live, you may find that the camera equipment you want is cheaper in another country. Many countries have a sales tax on top of the retail price, which can increase costs.

If you have a big trip coming up, checking local electronics stores is a good idea. You can also try searching for your items on a website in a neighboring country; you will need to bear in mind delivery costs and any import charges.

When buying your photographic equipment in another country, remember that you may need to buy an adapter (or a new power outlet). However, you can charge some cameras from your computer’s USB port.

6. Increase your customer rates

Raising your rates is one of the easiest ways to generate additional revenue without restructuring your customer base. If you’ve worked with specific clients for a long time, let them know you’re increasing your rate based on your skill level. Make sure the jump isn’t too high so they don’t run away; 5-15% is sufficient in most cases.

Raising your rates will also help you fend off lower-paying customers who aren’t willing to give you more, paving the way for better ones to replace them.

7. Independent on the side

Silhouette of two photographers standing outdoors holding camera

If you are not independent, you can earn extra income by taking a few side gigs. Many businesses and creators need photography services, you just need to find them. Behance has several openings for creators, and you can complete most of them remotely. You might also have luck on LinkedIn and Fiverr.

When looking for freelance photography jobs, consider asking colleagues, friends, and family if they know of anyone who might need help. Photography-related jobs you can find include:

  • Weddings.
  • Company portraits.
  • Visuals and social media management.

8. Expect sales throughout the year

If you refuse to buy second-hand camera equipment, you need to be strategic. Many retailers hold sales multiple times throughout the year, and electronics are often the first items to be reduced in price.

Black Friday is a great time to shop for discount cameras and lenses, and you might find some great deals in January too. Keep your eyes open and hit the “Buy” button when the time is right.

Upgrading your photography gear doesn’t have to be expensive

Buying new photography equipment can be expensive, but you don’t have to burn a hole in your pocket. These days, you have several options to save money on cameras and lenses, whether you’re buying used or new.

Before you upgrade your gear, stop and think about why you need it and how it will benefit your career; it will save you a lot of money and disappointment in the long run.

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