A simple Guide to Saving money when Buying a Small Digital Camera

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Author: Tom Hawkins

As a Professional photographer I get asked very often I want to buy a new small camera which one is the best to buy?

There is no absolute correct answer but I can outline in guide below some considerations that will help you with your choice and purchase and hopefully save you some money and indecision. Buying a camera can be an emotional experience. I believe that most of this emotion.

Step 1: What do you really Need?

This question is important to answer because many times I see people getting talking into (or talking themselves into) buying something that is more than they will need and let's face it: as the way things are going these days with new technology most people buy a new digital camera every 3 - 4 years anyway. Camera companies know and love this so if they can convince you to purchase more than you need each 3 -4 years they are making nice profits 🙂

Before even searching ask yourself this question: What do I really need out of this camera? Are all the cool features something I actually see myself using often.

Canon PowerShot ELPH 130 IS 16.0 MP Digital Camera with 8x Optical Zoom 28mm Wide-Angle Lens and 720p HD Video Recording (Gray)
Canon PowerShot ELPH 130 IS

Step 2: Set a maximum budget

Yes this sounds corny, but think about the last camera you bought, if you are like most people you probably spent more than you budgeted for.

If you set even a rough budget then try to work within it, you will most likely do more research on each camera and find the perfect fit rather than going into a camera store and get talked into an impulse buy.

Sony DSC-RX100M II Cyber-shot Digital Still Camera 20.2MP, Black
Sony DSC-RX100M II Cyber-shot

Step 3: Don't believe the hype!

Camera companies love a high cycle rate of camera purchased so they try to entice new buyers with new features. Ultimately this is a positive thing because it pushes the technology thereby allowing the consumer buy a better product for less money as time goes on.

In many cases, though the new features and whiz-bang gadgets that they promote with the cameras are not necessary in creating a good image. Do a quick research online as see if a certain feature is really going to help with your images.

Step 4: Brand names

Sadly but with some amusement many photographers both amateurs and professionals alike hold some sort of strange identity or ego in relation to which camera brand they use (and recommend to others). Most of this has to do with consumer self justification. Most working professionals may have a preference of brand, but when pressed will agree that the camera is merely a tool.

When buying professional system and investing in lenses, accessories, sticking to your chosen brand can have benefits of convenience. When buying a small camera that you will likely replace in a few years, brand loyalty is a lost cause, go with what works for you at the time.

The many iconic photos you see all around you and throughout history have been taken with all types of cameras and name brands. It's you who takes the photo, not the brand.

  • Canon
  • Casio
  • FujiFilm
  • Nikon
  • Olympus
  • Panasonic
  • Pentax
  • Ricoh
  • Samsung
  • Sony

Any of these brands will have good models and poor models in their line ups, which leads to the next point…

Panasonic Lumix ZS20 14.1 MP High Sensitivity MOS Digital Camera with 20x Optical Zoom (Black)
Panasonic Lumix ZS20

Step 5: Research

Ahhhh the internet, the up-selling camera-salesman's worst nightmare 🙂  Most of the emotion, overspending and indecision experienced while buying a small camera has to do with being uninformed on current models and features. Believe me salespeople know this and use your lack of knowledge to up-sell, trying to lead to you to believe that if you just buy the more expensive model you will take better photos.

Take your time to research a few models and get feedback from user reviews online.

I suggest websites like:

Nikon COOLPIX S3500 20.1 MP Digital Camera with 7x Zoom (Silver)
Nikon COOLPIX S3500

Step 6: Consider the internet for the purchase

If you live outside of a major city or anywhere in Europe certainly consider buying your Camera at a reputable online store (please research this if you don't know of any) or brand new from eBay. A quick search in comparison to what the local camera store is selling for will tell you if it's worth it. Sometimes it's nice to buy something at a store because you know you can get it right away and return it easily but sometimes it's just a fair amount cheaper online.

Side note, if buying form a normal store consider trying to buy a model just as it is going out (last years model) many great deals can be had from large consumer stores or larger camera stores when they are trying to liquidate last years model to make room for the new models.


In conclusion the best way to save money when buying a small digital camera is to get yourself informed, take the emotion and sales hype out of the equation and check all available sales sources. Good luck with your purchase and take lots of amazing photos!

About the Author

New York Fashion photographer Tom Hawkins specializes in Fashion, beauty and commercial photographer serving NY and international clients. For more info and full portfolio viewing please visit: http://www.hawkins-photo.com

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June 8th, 2011 at 5:00 am

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