Plan to purchase cameras in February and early March when new models are announced, seeing price drops of 30% or more on older inventory. Additionally, popular models like DSLRs receive steep discounts of 40-60% during peak holiday shopping events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Prime Day sales. Sign up for retailer alerts and check manufacturer refurbished items for the lowest prices. Avoid buying right when new models debut.
Buying a new camera can be an exciting yet daunting task. With so many models and features to consider, it’s hard to know when the best time is to make your purchase to get the most for your money. The good news is there are certain times of the year when camera prices dip and you’re more likely to snag a good deal.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go over the ins and outs of camera buying seasons and recommend the best times to buy various camera types. You’ll learn insider tips on shopping holidays, seasons, product release cycles, and more. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to time your purchase right and stretch your camera budget further.
Key Things That Impact Camera Prices
Several factors drive fluctuations in camera and electronics pricing all through the year. Here are some key considerations when determining the best time to buy.
Shopping Holidays and Sales Events
Major retail holidays and sales events are prime times to find camera deals. These include:
– Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Late November features deep discounts on prior-year models.
– Boxing Day: The day after Christmas on December 26th often has steep savings in Canada and the UK.
– President’s Day: Late February has become a major mid-winter sale weekend in the US.
– Prime Day: Amazon’s annual July sales bonanza includes camera deals.
– Back to School: July through September sales offer some deals.
– Photography Days: Retailers like B&H have June sales for camera day and camera month.
– Wedding Season: Late winter through summer stock gets discounted.
– Fall Clearance Sales: Retailers try to clear old inventory before the holidays.
New Product Release Cycles
New camera models are usually released on an annual cycle, with higher-end cameras having the longest cycles of 12-18 months between updates. Here are the general launch timeframes by camera type:
– DSLR cameras: Usually refreshed in spring, with February to April being common months. New models hit shelves by summer.
– Mirrorless cameras: Release cycles vary more, but late summer/fall is popular ahead of the holiday season.
– Compact point and shoot cameras: Tend to follow spring and fall release cycles.
– Camera lenses: Higher end lenses updated less often, but lower cost lenses can see annual refreshes.
When the next generation comes out, previous models see instant price drops making it a good time to buy the now “old” model.
Camera manufacturing tends to ramp up toward the summer and peak during the holiday shopping season. This production cycle means the best deals on current gear tend to emerge in the spring and early summer. Retailers offer the biggest bargains and clearance pricing once demand dies down post-holiday season during January through April.
Macroeconomic trends over the course of each year also impact consumer electronics spending and availability. Factors like income tax refund season, economic stimulus actions, inflation, and oil/gas prices all trickle down to affect camera prices. Being aware of the economic climate can assist your buying decisions.
Buying Refurbished and Used Cameras
If buying the very latest gear is not a must, consider buying refurbished and used cameras. This route provides big savings with minimal compromise on quality for lightly used gear. B&H, KEH, Adorama, Amazon, and eBay all offer great refurb and used stock. Just be sure to buy from reputable sellers that provide inspection testing, sensor cleaning, any necessary repairs, and at least a 90 day to 1 year warranty.
Best Times to Buy by Camera Type
Now that we’ve covered the key drivers on camera deal availability, let’s break down the optimal purchase times for popular camera types.
DSLR Camera Deals
The best times to buy consumer DSLRs are from:
Late Winter Through Summer – Manufacturing output declines after peaking for holiday sales. As new spring product launches near, retailers begin offering discounts and promotions to move old inventory. February through June tends to have the most frequent sales on last year’s models. The longer you get from peak holiday demand the steeper discounts out of the gate. Waiting for clearance sales in April and May can net 50% or more in typical savings on discontinued models. However, color/style choices will be more limited at this late stage.
Post-Release of New Models – When the next year’s releases hit shelves, retailers start sales on the now previous models. This can occur anytime from March through late summer depending on exact camera and manufacturer timetables. The recently replaced camera will see instant price drops from 10-25% typically. Buying late in this product cycle (often September timeframe) will garner the deepest discounts up to 50% off original retails prices in many cases.
Fall Rebates and Bonus Lens/Accessory Bundles – Manufacturers will often offer rebates of $50 to $500 when buying DSLRs before the holiday shopping crush hits. Fall is also an active season for bonus lens, battery, memory card, and bag bundles that add on free gear of up to $500+ value with select DSLR models.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday – The mega sale days the day after American Thanksgiving offer some excellent DSLR deals. You’ll often find significant discounts on upper mid-range and semi-pro bodies and kits during this weekend.
Refurbished – Buying a factory certified refurbished DSLR can net 30-40% savings easily. Current or last generation cameras, with full warranties, become available year round after coming back from rental fleets. 3rd party and retailer inspected used cameras offer even more savings potential once they are 2+ years into the product lifespan.
Mirrorless and Compact Camera Deals
Savings opportunities for mirrorless and point and shoot compact cameras closely follow the same cycles as DSLRs:
Early Spring Through Summer – Purchase last year’s leftovers as retailers cut prices and run sales to clear old inventory now that new models are arriving. Discounts ranging from 25% to over 50% are common depending on how old and unwanted current stock is. Early summer can offer especially aggressive markdowns.
Post-Release of New Models – New mirrorless cameras tend to launch most often in September and October for the holiday shopping season. But cycles vary, and early spring is another active release window. Whenever the next generation hits shelves, the now previous models immediately get marked down 10-30%. Waiting 3+ months can mean 50+% if buying at the tail end of the cycle heading into peak discount seasons.
Fall Rebates and Bonus Bundles – Fall rebates ahead of the holidays run from $50 to $500 for some mirrorless models. Lens, bags, memory cards are commonly bundled for free with ILC and point and shoot model purchases September through November.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday – Old stock sees major bargain basement pricing on these mega shopping days. Compact cameras, in particular, tend to get dumped in late November with discounts up to 70% or more which is the steepest of the entire year.
Camera Lenses Deal Cycles
Quality lenses are investments, but buying at the right times can still save money:
Product Refresh Cycles – New lenses get announced throughout the year, although early spring and late summer see the most releases. Retailers will discount lenses being replaced, with savings becoming bigger the longer post-announcement you buy. Discounts of 25-50% off are not uncommon on outgoing models.
Rebate Offers – Lens rebates running from $50 up to $800+ on high-end telephotos and other specialty models peak during the back to school through holiday fall seasons. Rebate values are bigger on more expensive pro lenses.
Bundled Savings – When buying DSLR and mirrorless camera body kits, retailers frequently throw in lenses for free or at steep discounts as part of the bundle. While lens selection is limited, savings of 50% or much more over normal prices are typical during peak seasons.
Refurbished and Used – Current lenses in like new condition save 30-50% buying refurbished from official manufacturer channels and respected retailers. Buying well inspected used lenses can increase savings but comes with some tradeoffs on things like cosmetics and lack of transferable warranty.
Other Camera Accessories Deal Spotting
Keep an eye out for savings on must-have accessories too:
Peak shopping seasons – Retailers run promotions and discounts on camera bags, batteries, memory cards, filters, and more during bigger new camera launch months and into the fall season. Bundling free accessories with body or lens purchases spikes in these high sales volume months.
Clearance sales – Accessories and electronics are commonly thrown into clearance bins and see fire sale pricing once new product is flowing. Late winter into summer offers this kind of bargain hunting environment. Discounts can range from 25% all the way up to 75% or more when retailers dump unwanted store stock.
Refurbished – Steep discounts on refurbished accessories come mainly from reputable online sellers versus mainstream stores. Savings of 30-50% off retail is typical for this route with the biggest dollars saved on more expensive wireless transmitters, strobes, monitors, and battery grips.
Picking the Ideal Shopping Strategies
Now that you know all the best times of year to find camera deals, here are some further tips to lock in maximum savings:
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