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I have been working as a professional digital photographer since 2001, and in that time I have had to buy lots of photographic items in order to ensure that my customers get the benefit of all that the latest technology has to offer.

But, because this is a business, I also need to ensure that I keep the costs down to a minimum. Combining these two facts together means that I have had to do a lot of searching for the best value products. It would not make any sense to simply buy the most expensive item available if it would not noticeably improve the quality, versatility, range, convenience or speed of my work. Of course, I have to maintain professional standards so by the same token I can't just buy the cheapest products if they had the potential to interfere with or downgrade any of my results.

One of the first things I noticed in searching for "best value" products is the vast difference in price you can pay for what is essentially (in some cases, exactly) the same item. There are three things that affect the cost of all photographic equipment; the specifications, the brand and the retail outlet. Between them you can save sometimes 75% or more, or spend four times as much (depending on the way you look at it) on equivalent products.

 

Specifications

 

All products have them. Cameras obviously have things like megapixels and zoom ranges, but even photo-paper has weight and different coatings. Memory cards not only have a capacity but also a speed. You will pay more for a faster memory card but, will you notice the difference in speed? That's the most important thing to bear in mind with all specifications. You need to check them when comparing prices to make sure that you are comparing like with like, but you also need to make sure that you are not paying more for higher-spec items that will not actually bring you any practical benefit.

 

Brand

 

Once you have decided on the specifications of whatever it is you require the next thing to consider is the brand name. In the case of things like batteries, memory cards, ink cartridges etc. you will usually have the option of buying your own camera (or printer) maker's brand. You will normally pay quite a premium for these "branded" products compared with generic or unbranded versions. You need to decide for yourself how much value you place on using only branded products.

 

The issue of branding is very important to the cost conscious photographer. Unfortunately, the situation varies a lot, depending on the product and maker concerned. In some cases, branded products are made by the manufacturer to the highest standards, designed to be perfectly compatible with their other products and worth every penny of their price. In other cases, however, they are simply bought in from independent makers and labelled.

 

These independent manufacturers may also sell the exact same product under their own name or to anyone else who wanted to put another name on it. There was a time when a certain memory card was only made in two factories on the planet and both factories turned out equally high quality products at roughly the same price. So, no matter what the label on your card said, it could only have come from one of two sources, both equally good.

 

This meant that, for all cards of a given size, the only difference between them was the price you paid for them, no matter what it said on the label. Some did offer a longer guarantee for the extra money, but this is not usually much of an issue with solid state devices. If they work perfectly well straight out of the box, they are likely to carry on doing so for as long as you need them to. In any case, a guarantee is not much use to you if you are in the middle of a shoot, what you need then is a spare.

 

In some cases, the cost of the name on the label can be quite high. What is happening here is that some companies are trading on the perceived increase in value that their name alone brings. They are all perfectly entitled to do this, but some do perceive their value as extremely high, and charge accordingly. In the case of memory cards, for example, the choice you have is often between buying one card with a long guarantee and a name you “trust” or four cards with no guarantee at all.

 

Retail outlets

 

At least here you can get a lot of help in finding out which shop has the best price for any given product. Simply typing the make and model of what you require into any search engine will bring up a host of different companies offering this item for sale. Price comparison sites, like Kelkoo, go one better by sorting these by price so you can instantly see who has the best deal.

 

One thing to note when doing this however, is the delivery charge. This can vary between nothing and over £10. It is quite common for one site to offer a good price but make up any difference with a very high delivery charge. It is especially important when buying small items like ink cartridges, batteries or memory cards that you always compare the price including delivery.

 

These three factors above apply to cameras, batteries, memory cards, software, printing supplies; in fact everything you might need for digital photography. I have created a website where I explore in detail the cost versus quality pros and cons of these areas. The site is called, believe it or not, "Save money on digital photography", and can be found at:-

 

www.save.lovethepictures.co.uk

 

As well as information, the website also contains links to recommended retail outlets for buying products. These are all UK based and places I have used in the past and continue to use because they consistently have provided the best prices and customer service. If you use any of the links and go on to purchase anything, I will be paid a commission but you will not be charged any extra for anything you buy. With luck, that will help to keep this site free forever for all.

 

Another way to save money (and not just on photography) is by using discount vouchers, but where do you find them?

 

ukoffer.com provides fresh, continuously updated electronics discount vouchers and special offers together with offers in all major retail categories, some of which are exclusive. The star ratings system allows users to rate individual offers and to sort offers by the ratings that others have selected. Click on the link below to see their current offers in electronics.

 

electronics discount codes

 

 

Saving money on digital photography