The best time to buy a camera: buy smart and save

When is the best time to buy a camera? In reality, there is no “best time”, but if you want to save money (and who doesn’t?), there are certainly great sales and events to watch throughout the year. Due to the current cost of living crisis, our budgets are tighter than ever and we are unsurprisingly less inclined to part with our money.

Fuel and energy prices are constantly rising, and for many novice and amateur photographers, now is not a good time to justify spending thousands of dollars on a new camera. Here we’ll discuss when you can expect to find the best camera discounts, seasonal sales and photography events to watch out for, and which websites to check and compare.

We’ll discuss when camera brands typically cut prices and how to get the most out of the photography community. Finally, we will consider whether it is better to buy on the second-hand market.

When to find the best discounts

A woman and a dog are browsing the internet on a laptop at the table

(Image credit: Getty)

Knowing when the best sales occur throughout the year can be very helpful when looking to buy a camera. There’s nothing worse than making a big purchase only to find it’s on sale a few days after buying it. If you’re new to photography, you might not want to spend the money right away. Waiting for sales is a great way to get gear for less than the recommended retail price. The most important sales events to be aware of throughout the year are:

  • Post-Christmas/January sales – this also often includes Blue Monday. Retailers are often looking to eliminate any excess inventory at this time of year.
  • Easter sales (March/April)
  • Amazon Prime Day (June July)
  • Black Friday/Cyber ​​Monday (November)
  • Most national holidays. Brands take every opportunity to try to share your money with you.

Be sure to check out offer center for the best discounts on cameras. We’ve rounded up the best camera deals from Amazon, Walmart, Adorama, and more. We also have dedicated pages during the biggest sales where our editors post what they think are the best deals of the day. See this example where we saw a huge $500 off the Canon A7R IV or this where we found a cheaper than Amazon Prime day deal from $600 off the Canon 6D Mk II.

Photography shows and conventions are another great time and place to buy cameras, lenses, and other accessories at discount prices. You can often try out any gear you want to add to your kit during these events. There are many different camera retailers under one roof, and they all want to sell you something. Typically, retailers offer competitive pricing to entice you to spend your money with them.

If you are in the United States, see the ClickCon (opens in a new tab) photography conference. If you are a UK reader, consider buying tickets for The photography fair (opens in a new tab)held annually in Birmingham.

Timing is everything

Couple being shown camera in camera store

change (Image credit: Getty)

Being smart when looking to save money on your camera purchase goes a little further than just knowing when the best retail sales are. While this helps, you also need to be aware of what time of year your chosen brand will be launching new models.

New camera releases often mean that older models can drop dramatically, both in new and used markets. Some older stock may even be discontinued, meaning even greater savings are likely. Other brands may even reduce their stock in conjunction with another brand’s release date in an effort to build customer loyalty.

The January consumer electronics show is usually where new camera releases are first announced, with release dates being in February. Keep your eyes open around this time, because chances are you’ll find a bargain with older models that are priced down. The second-hand market will also likely reflect this price drop when new models come out.

Shop for the best deals

A screenshot of the Adorama homepage showing a warehouse sale

An example of a limited time offer for warehouse clearance at Adorama (opens in a new tab). (Image credit: Adorama)

You may not have to wait for the sales to get a good deal. Many big websites run regular deals throughout the year, so be sure to always keep an eye out for those. Although Amazon has Prime Day and other major annual sales events, their prices continually fluctuate each week. In fact, many sellers inflate their prices just before a big sale to give the illusion of a bargain. You can adjust your settings to get notified when the price of items on your watchlist changes, meaning you won’t miss out on the best deal.

You can also use a web browser extension such as camelcamelcamel (opens in a new tab)which records product prices over time so you can see if it has been cheaper or if it is a genuine offer.


money in the wallet

(Image credit: Getty)

If the retailer has a “Live Chat” feature on their website, ask if there are any discount codes available. Sometimes they may offer a percentage discount as a token of goodwill. It’s okay to ask.

Other major retailers to watch are B&H Photography (opens in a new tab), Wex (opens in a new tab), Adorama (opens in a new tab)and walmart (opens in a new tab). With flash sales, warehouse clearances and deals of the day, you’ll often find better prices than Amazon (opens in a new tab). Comparing prices from many retailers before adding a new camera to your cart is worth the extra few minutes of checking and could literally save you hundreds of dollars.

By signing up for newsletters and mailing lists of companies that interest you, they will keep you informed of their sales. Sometimes flash sale discount codes are distributed only on brands’ social media platforms to encourage more engagement, so it’s worth tracking them if you’re on the hunt for a new kit.

Use your connections

Group of photographers with cameras on a sunny hill

(Image credit: Getty)

Talking to your local community photography groups can be another great way to find discounts. If you know any photographers, or if your friends and family are also photography enthusiasts, not only can you ask them for kit recommendations and where they find discounts, but if they’re considering upgrading their own cameras, they may want to sell your current equipment to them at an attractive price.

You may know photographers who have Brand Ambassador discount codes for specific brands, you may also already follow someone on Instagram or Facebook who is associated with a brand. These people get a commission every time someone uses their unique discount code, so they’re usually more than happy to share. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. A 10% Ambassador discount might not seem like much, but when you’re maybe going to spend over $1,500 on a camera, that’s a huge savings.

When looking for camera discounts, check out discount and coupon websites. Although they’re often littered with expired codes and fake offers, sometimes you can get lucky, although we don’t recommend spending too much time on them. Cashback websites like Quidco and Top Cashback are more genuine, they refund you X amount of your purchase total once you ‘click through’ and purchase from the retailer. You will have to wait a bit for the cashback to be credited, usually after the fairly common 30 day return period, but you still save money.

Choose wisely and look for pre-likes

Older mirrorless camera set up on a tripod in front of trees

(Image credit: Getty)

Sometimes the best way to save money on new cameras and photography gear is to shop on the second-hand market, no matter what time of year. When asked, “What’s your best money-saving tip?” most seasoned photographers will say to buy used equipment.

There are, however, a few caveats to this. It goes without saying that you should make sure that all components of the camera are in good condition and in full working order. If you’re buying directly from someone else on an auction site like eBay or Facebook Marketplace, ask to see pictures of the camera working and how it writes to disk, etc. The risk of buying from a private seller is that there is no warranty in place in case the camera malfunctions, which could cost you your pocket.

Websites like We have a dedicated used section (opens in a new tab) where second-hand products are rigorously checked before sale, and benefit from a 12-month guarantee. In the same way, B&H Photography (opens in a new tab) offers 90-day warranties on parts and labor on used items. We always recommend using them over private sellers.

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