So just to get this straight, I don’t buy cameras that are cheap from the outset, because they’re generally not very good. What I like is cameras that are good in themselves but were originally sold at very competitive prices or have been discounted so heavily that they become irresistible.
My latest purchase is a Panasonic Lumix G9. When that first came out in 2017 it cost $1,699/£1,499 (about AU$2,351), which was a pretty hefty price for a Micro Four Thirds camera. It was a powerful bit of kit that rivalled the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II at the time, but I wasn’t tempted.
But since then the G9 has had a series of firmware updates to make this high-speed stills and 4K shooter even better for video and at the same time prices have fallen through the floor. Last month I bought one in the UK for £899 (about $1,131/AU$1,565) and it came with a free Lumix 25mm f/1.7 lens. This is a ridiculously powerful camera at this price, and it really paid to wait.
My previous bargain buy was a Sony A7R II, bought last year when the A7R IV was already out. Old tech? For sure – but £1,199 in UK money (about $1,507/AU$2,085) for a 42MP full-frame camera was pretty insane. I wanted it mostly for stills and relatively static subjects, so being two generations old hardly mattered. You can’t really get the A7R II any more, so that was a once-in-a-decade deal in my book.
And a couple of years before that I bought a Sony A6000 when they were still being sold at ridiculous prices (they’ve crept up since then). I think I paid £399 with the 16-50mm kit lens (good camera, dreadful lens).
It’s not always easy to judge. In 2018 I bought a Fujifilm X-T20 body for £799 just because I wanted one, but now the X-T30 II with XC15-45mm power zoom is only £50 more. I also waited in vain for prices to fall on the X100V but eventually gave up and bought one at the full list price. It’s hard to get a bargain on Fujifilm gear!
But even if you can’t get an amazing deal on the camera itself, look out for bundled extras. I decided I had to have an Olympus PEN E-P7 when it first came out, but checked for promotions and got an M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 thrown in free (a lens I’ve always wanted) at the Olympus store.
My hot tip for the moment is the Panasonic Lumix S5 with 20-60mm kit lens, shooting grip, spare battery and a free 24mm lens (UK) PLUS £200 cashback. US retailers like B&H have VERY tempting discounts and deals too. Panasonic gets a bad press for its continuous video AF performance but, even so, this is silly money for a camera – and a deal – as good as this.
Have I ever regretted buying a camera launched two, three or even five years ago? No. Camera tech does not move as fast as we think, especially for stills photographers. Have I ever regretted not snapping up a great camera at an amazing price while I still had the chance? Oh boy, that's a whole other article.