The Latest May Not Be the Greatest (Value)

No doubt about it: there are some great deals for photographers this time of year.

Long before black Friday and cyber Monday, I typically made an equipment purchase in November or December. Prices came down as retailers try to thin out inventory anticipating new models on the horizon. I could take advantage of substantial savings and improve my toolset at the same time.

I still have this practice, but with a lot more fanfare. And quite honestly, a lot more help too. Online browsing is efficient, plus there are a plethora of blogs pointing out their favorite deals. And since I don't mind purchasing a model that will be discontinued, I can take full advantage of this consumer friendly time of year.

Which leads me to my real point. How new does your gear need to be? In other words, is state of the art always the best way to go?

In the early stages of the innovation, I would say yes. Take mirrorless cameras for example. When they first burst on to the scene, improvements came fast. We saw better low light performance, faster autofocusing, better resolution, and added features from one month to the next. Having the latest model was important.

Now that mirrorless cameras are settling in, their refinements are more subtle. The litmus test I currently use is: if it has built-in WiFi, it's probably new enough for me. The great deals on the first generation OM-D E-M10 are a perfect example of a high value device at a low price. The Panasonic GM5 is another.

In some ways, cameras are like new cars. You pay a premium for the latest model. But to be honest, the better value is often with a 2013 or 2014 version.

You've probably been waiting for me to bash the commercialism surrounding the Thanksgiving holidays. I'm not going to. My advice: Just don't get sucked in to the hype. The end of the year has always been a great time to invest in new gear...

Especially if it's last year's model.