Here are More Ways You Can Save Money in Photography

Skyrocketing costs are hitting photographers hard. Here are more ways to save money and do photography on a budget.

I occasionally receive messages from readers. Most of them are kind and complimentary, and one article has generated several sympathetic emails. In May, I wrote a relatively popular article about photographers saving money. Photographers are still being hit hard by the effects of war in Ukraine, the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, and here in the UK, the added financial costs and restrictions imposed on us after leaving the EU.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your expenses. Sometimes that can mean abandoning what some believe are the best options and looking for alternatives instead. Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or just getting started in this fabulous art, there are ways to cut costs and just think of them as a different way to operate. Being different can bring uniqueness to your photography.

Let’s face it; photography is not a cheap hobby or an inexpensive business to run. Cameras are expensive, and so are their lenses. Auxiliary equipment and software are not always affordable either. However, there are ways to significantly reduce costs.

Let me repudiate three common beliefs by reinforcing what I have said many times before. First of all, years ago, top photographers used cameras that were once bee knees, but are now widely considered obsolete. As a result, the used camera market is flooded with cheap old cameras that can still take great pictures.

Some may argue that every serious photographer needs the latest camera and older cameras are no longer good. They are wrong. You do not believe me ? Go to the Flickr photo hosting site, and type 2012 in the search field. Flickr was still popular back then. There are some great photos taken with what would now be a 10 year old camera. You can now buy these cameras for a song. B&H and others have great deals on used cameras. A quick Google search will give you used dealers elsewhere in the world.

Because these cameras are older, they’ve had more time to show their common flaws. For example, the Canon 5D Marks I and II regularly lose their mirrors. Some of their other models tend to display error codes. Other brands also have duff models. So do your research before you buy. Also check the number of shutters on older cameras. Many are limited to less than 100,000, which isn’t a lot.

Then search for photos taken with any brand of smaller camera on Flickr, and you’ll see great photos again. You don’t have to own a Canon, Sony or Nikon; other brands can also take great photos. It’s worth checking out as they can be more affordable than more mainstream brands. Also, if you’re looking for a style all your own, it comes a little closer if you’re not using the same camera and lens as every other photographer. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy a particular brand. Just consider other options.

I repeatedly refute a false claim that you must have an expensive full-frame camera. They tend to be more expensive. Most of the cameras used to take those fabulous photos you just saw were taken using crop devices. You don’t need a full-frame camera to get good photos. Like everything in photography, no matter what format you choose, there will be compromises.

Also, I make my living using crop sensor cameras. None of my clients complain, some of which are internationally renowned companies. A fabulous wildlife photographer near me also uses the same system, and an award-winning wedding photographer I know too. It will be the same for the other formats; they can all take great pictures if held in the right hands.

Another way to save money is to play around with legacy lenses. The look they give to a photo is totally different from modern glass. Here in the UK there is a phenomenon called the garage sale. It’s boot as in the British word for trunk. People arrive with cars full of things they want to sell. I found lots of old cameras and lenses there that I bought for the equivalent of $5-10. Garage sales, flea markets, charity shops, and online auctions are all worth seeking out.

In my previous post, I pointed out that you don’t have to use Lightroom and Photoshop. Still popular with students, many photographers have cut their teeth in editing using The Gimp, which has a look and many tools similar to Photoshop. This often associates UFRaw for raw editing. Alternatively, if you have an older version of a photo editing program, like one of the CS versions of Photoshop, you can download Adobe DNG Converter for free. This will change the raw files from your new camera into a format readable by earlier versions of the Adobe Camera Raw plugin.

Speaking of plugins, a few years ago the excellent NIK collection was purchased by Google, and they made it available for free. They then stopped supporting the program, and it was picked up by DXO, which now sells an updated version. However, the free suite, which included Silver Efex Pro, a personal favorite, is still available for download from third-party sites. I downloaded them from and scanned the files with Norton, which showed no infection. This version is for Windows, and this one is for Mac.

There are also many free phone apps. Snapseed is one of the most popular editing apps. Here it’s for Android, and here it’s for iPhones. Again, it was first developed by NIK and taken over by Google. They dropped the desktop version and introduced the Android version. Lightroom (Android and iPhone) and ON1 (Android and iPhone) also offer free mobile apps.

Also for Android and iPhone, The Photographers Companion is particularly good, and ad-free versions are also available for a nominal fee. If you don’t mind paying a few extra bucks, then Photopills is also fine. They both have an array of tools, including an ephemeris to calculate the directions of the sun and the moon, as well as a depth of field calculator.

One tool I use a lot on my PC when planning a shoot is the desktop version of Google Earth Pro. It used to be a premium app, but now it’s free. Like the ephemeris apps we just mentioned, you can use it to see the direction of the sun, moon, and other celestial bodies relative to any location in the world. I also use it to plan shoots while remotely exploring new locations, so I have an idea of ​​what I’m looking for before I get there.

There are ways to operate that can save money. Fuel costs are even higher than when I first wrote about saving money in May. You don’t need to travel to take great photos. No matter where you live in the world, there are photography opportunities near you. Of course, if you live in Arizona, Wyoming, or any of the other 25 landlocked states in America, you won’t be able to film seascapes on your doorstep. Likewise, I cannot photograph deserts or towering mountains from here. Wherever you are, you will have unique photographic subjects and backgrounds. Unless you live just downstairs from me, what might seem mundane to you will be exotic to me.

Most outdoor spaces are freely accessible. I have organized hundreds of photography workshops and only had to pay admission a handful of times in specialized places.

Finally, if you want to learn more about photography, there’s no better place to start than here on Fstopp rs. Writers scour the internet for exciting training and informational videos, and they also write great original content. Much of it is completely free, although there are some great premium online training courses from top photographers that are worth the investment.

Do you have any advice for people that will help them reduce their photography budget? Do you need to learn about other ways to reduce your costs? Please let us know in the comments.

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