I have to admit I made a huge photography purchase recently. I hesitated to share it on here because it was so expensive, and I could see how it would look like a frivolous spend to some. But, the hobby of photography is expensive once you start diving into advanced techniques. And, to achieve the techniques, you need the equipment.
I love, love, love wildlife photography. Not bird photography, although I do have some favorite photographers who take amazing bird photos, but the big animals are what I love. I dream of capturing that iconic shot of a buffalo charging me in the snow. Let's be realistic though, those bad boys are big, and they can kill a person, I really do not want to be close enough to be gored to death.
That leads me to my purchase. I bought a 100-400mm telephoto lens with a 1.4x converter. After taking it out three times now, man oh man it was a worthy investment. We have a National Park trip planed for Yellowstone Nation Park and The Grand Tetons and I am really excited to use it there.
The Good, a few good tips on camera gear...
Camera gear is EXPENSIVE! When I link to items on Amazon, I usually cannot link to items that are on sale... but, I very rarely purchase a piece of equipment that is not on sale.
Tip One... Amazon puts camera gear on sale regularly. I have several Tiffen filters that I bought at 75% off, or more. This is the time of year to begin trolling Amazon for deals.
Tip Two... B&H Photography is also another store that I shop at. They have terrific sales and ever week they have a special on some form of equipment in the deal zone.
Tip Three... Buy used, or, refurbished equipment! Always read the reviews to make sure you are not falling for a scam, or purchasing grey market gear.
If I do purchase a piece of equipment at full price, I always walk through these steps.
Is it worth the price, or, can I wait until a newer version of the equipment comes out and purchase what I want at a lower price? (Waiting can mean years, not months, in the camera market.) For example, I recently switched back to the iPhone, but I did not purchase the new 7. To me, there was not enough updates to justify the new phone and because I went with the "older" version I was able to purchase my phone for less than $200.
Will I use the equipment enough to justify the cost? My recent purchase a telephoto lens was worth the cost to me because: 1. I have wanted a telephoto for almost 5 years, 2. I have missed several wildlife shots because I did not have a telephoto lens, and 3. I knew I could use it for macro photography as well. So, while it was expensive, it was worth the price.
Do I "need" a particular lens (or piece of equipment) now, or can I use another lens (or piece of equipment) until I can find a good sale? I do want to slowly replace the Nikon lenses I use for nature and landscape for my Fuji camera. I do not own a dedicated macro lens for my Fuji yet, but by purchasing the telephoto zoom lens I am able to use it for macro shots. That means I can wait a little while longer form my macro lens.
Is this a piece of equipment that is worth the full price? Some pieces of photographic equipment never go one sale. Either, because they are a brand that never lowers their prices, or it's a specialty piece of equipment that garners the full price. Those are the pieces that I save for, and purchase, knowing my images will be better for the full price purchase.