How Do I Get New Photo Gear?
The answer to this question may seem obvious to some but it comes up a lot. And over the years, we've found a few approaches that you may find helpful to hear. This article is not about how to identify which gear you should buy but more about how to find it once you know what gear you want. And for anyone looking for free gear, sorry… that's not what this article's about either. :-)
New To Me
When we're talking about new photo gear, let's make sure to include gear that's new to you and that includes pre-owned (aka used) equipment. In this direction, I like working with KEH.com but I've also been known to buy directly from other photographers through craigslist - knowing the latter approach has a lot more risk.
When I have an opportunity to go used (like when buying a lens that's been around for a little while), I try to do that and I feel comfortable going with a company like KEH because they follow an established quality rating system that helps to make sure that I know what I'm getting. They've been in business for decades and they're well respected. My gear generally doesn't have much availability in the used market so I tend to buy more gear that's new but I mention this option because it can save you some money and keep the risk low.
I'm sure our viewers will be able to share some more of their favorite online sources for buying and selling used photo gear in the comments.
Try Before You Buy
Photo gear is very expensive and for whatever reason, picking just the right lens can be especially subjective. What works well for one person may not work well for you. So I like reading/watching reviews but in the end, I feel like I can't really tell how well a lens will work for my needs until I try it. And one very good way to try it is to rent it. This is where our favorite company to rent from Lensrentals.com comes in because they often have what we need. The cost is less than you might expect and you usually get an option to buy the item at the end of the rental period so you can keep it instead of having to return it (if you prefer). This renting approach works great for our workshop students looking for one really good lens to use during an event.
Use The Return Period
Reputable photo retailers like B&H Photo Video offer a generous return policy on their gear but that policy doesn't last forever. Within 30 days, you can return items for any reason which is very nice… but after 30 days, you won't have that option. This is where we recommend buying right before you know you'll be able to use and test your new gear - so you can take advantage of the opportunity to return during that 30 day period if it becomes necessary. This is where you can also take advantage of this return policy to make sure the gear works for your needs and that it does as well as you'd hoped.
Between renting and using the 30 day return period, we're able to head off a lot of the surprises we see where a lens (or other piece of equipment) just doesn't work as good as we'd hoped. That can be an expensive problem and taking advantage of these options can really help to minimize the risk of that happening.
We think there's some value in remaining neutral when posting reviews but our perspective on that has changed a bit over the years. First, we found which companies we liked to work with for ourselves and then for our students. Then we found over the years which companies stood the test of time and remained favorites both for ourselves and our students.
At this point, we found it just made good business sense to identify places where an affiliate relationship was a good fit. And so we now have an affiliate relationship with Lensrentals.com and B&H Photo Video where sales that come from these links result in a little revenue coming back to Night Photography Workshop. This is a common practice and it helps fund free articles like this. We just wanted to take this opportunity to be honest and forthcoming about these links and our growing relationships with these and other companies.