How to Buy

Yes, it’s that week. Black Friday is coming. Cyber Monday will follow. Holiday savings will blossom. Everyone wants you to buy. 

So today’s thought is this: have a plan on how and why you want to buy. They’ll be plenty of companies dangling offers in front of you this month that are impulse tempting, but resist the impulse and go with a plan instead.

Let me outline the reasons to buy:

  • Upgrade/Replacement. What you have is old and missing key features or performance you’d like to have. If none of those things apply (old, missing features, lower performance), then you shouldn’t be in this buying category at all. You’d just be throwing money out the window to a ravenous pack of desperate dealers and camera makers. Generally, my advice has also always been that you should stay within a brand you like (upgrade) rather than switch (replacement). This isn’t like replacing a refrigerator, where the doors will still open the same and food still goes in basically the same spot. Changing brands/mounts means you’ll be spending a lot of time retraining yourself, and while you are, you’ll be missing shots. 
  • Augment/Extend. You have an existing system you like, but you haven’t yet filled it out to all the things it can do. If you have an interchangeable lens camera, you might want an additional lens or two that augments and extends what you can do with it, for instance. Lenses, Flash, Remotes, Support, Carrying, all fall into this category. Don’t just add randomly, though. Have a specific plan, like “I want to be able to shoot in lower light.” Random augmentation is basically an unnecessary mutation ;~). It’ll be rare that you discover something beneficial such as penicillin when you take a random approach.
  • Explore. Open up an entirely new type of photography you haven’t done before. Maybe it’s macro (close-up) work. Maybe it’s portraiture. Maybe it’s street photography. Maybe it’s astrophotography. Maybe its just post processing raws instead of shooting JPEGs. Specialized types of photographic work often require some very specific products, and are often best done with something you probably don’t have. If you’re a full frame DSLR user with a whopping 24-120mm sitting out front, that’s not very discrete, and thus not particularly appropriate for street photography, for instance. If so, maybe it’s time to try out that Fujifilm X100F or Ricoh GRIII and see why street photographers like them so much. Key here is to clearly define the new area you’d like to explore.

Here’s my recommendation: pick one of those things to do this holiday season, and only one. Don’t buy anything that doesn’t fit into your plan in that one area. 

My In Box shows that there are a lot of folk out there taking a random walk trying to discover nirvana, that the grass is always greener on the other side, and they always imply that they’ve gotten everything out of what they already have (they haven’t). 

You don’t get rich by spending money. You might get better at something by spending money the right way.  

Then there’s this: Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, and Sony will all be introducing new products soon, possible less than 45 days away. If you don’t go into holiday shopping with a clear plan based upon one of the three reasons to buy I outline above, you’re going to be slapping your forehead in January or February and saying “dang, I should have waited.” 

I’m not saying don’t buy. I’m saying buy responsibly.

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