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Shopping for a camera can be quite a harrowing ordeal. With so many different brands and models to choose from, it can easy to feel with options. And once you find a camera that you like, there are many options in terms of places to purchase your camera. I'll go through some of the pros and cons of the various ways you can purchase your camera. Hopefully this can help you out when it comes down to deciding where you'll buy your camera.

Brick & Mortar Store
The traditional way of purchasing a camera is to go to a store, hand over some money, and walk out with the item. The obvious benefit of going to a store is that you are able to try out the camera in your hand. Now, there are two types of brick and mortar stores: actual camera stores and big electronics stores. The benefit of going to an actual camera store is that you have people who actually use cameras who can answer any questions you may have. The representatives at the large electronics stores will most likely not be photographers and will only be able to answer some basic questions. However, generally the large electronics store will sell the camera at a lower price than the camera store.

Summary: Camera stores have helpful people but usually higher prices.

Buying Online
More and more people are choosing to buy their equipment online. The main benefit to purchasing online is that the price is usually quite a bit cheaper than if you were to purchase the same thing at a physical store. Also, depending on which state you live in, you most likely will not have to pay taxes on your purchase. The downside, of course, is that you will have to wait a few days for your camera to come in the mail. Another possible issue is that if anything is wrong with the camera, you may have to either ship it back or even ship it to the manufacturer and wait.

Buying online is pretty safe, provided that you stick to trusted websites. There are a number of scam websites out there that will heavily mark down the price of the camera, but what they don't tell you is that their "kit" doesn't come with most of the standard components (such as the battery, lens, etc). These websites will then call you and try to upsell these items that should have been standard components for ridiciulous prices. If you see a deal that is too good to be true, it probably is. If you have doubts, check out the website you are buying from with ResellerRatings.

List of Trusted Websites:
B&H Photo Video

Summary: Buying online is cheaper, but stick to trusted websites.

Purchasing a Used Camera
Some people have a problem using something that someone else has already used. However, once you buy a new camera and use it, it becomes "used" anyway. I love buying used because there are always great bargains to be had. Sure, you may not get the newest camera with the newest features, but photography is more about the photographer than the camera. A great photographer can take amazing photos with a cell phone camera. My favorite place to buy a camera used is Craigslist. Remember to meet people in a well-lit, public place when making a transaction. Another place to find okay deals on used equipment is eBay, but be wary of bidding too much on something just because you want to "win". Always have a maximum price in mind and stick to it. Most people take very good care of their equipment and in my many years of buying used equipment, I have never had any problems. Of course, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't thoroughly inspect your item before purchasing.

Summary: Used equipment is cheap and usually in good condition.

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