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Amazon Alternatives | Better Places To Buy Cameras and Photography Equipment

Looking for alternatives to Amazon and not sure where to start? Check out these great spots to buy camera and photography equipment that are just as easy (if not easier) to use and provide better information about your purchase.

This post is part of a growing series on Amazon Alternatives: How and Why to Break Up With Amazon.

A few weeks ago, I was ready to invest in a new camera lens to replace one I broke several months ago. Last year, I definitely would have gone straight to Amazon to find new camera equipment. In hindsight, Amazon didn’t make a lot of sense for a variety of reasons.

First, I always struggle when buying expensive items like camera equipment through Amazon. If I don’t know exactly what I want and why I want it, Amazon offers limited information about the product and typically encourages me to buy from a third party retailer about whom I know nothing. It always feels a little bit risky. Nonetheless, I didn’t have any immediate ideas about better options.

Second, Amazon is not a very sustainable option, something about which you can read more in my intial Amazon Alternatives post.

In my effort to avoid Amazon for 2019, I did a quick bit of research, and found several better alternative vendors, all of which have an expertise in camera equipment. (Shocking, I know, that these would be better than a mega-retailer trying to be everything to everyone.) All of these options have better and more complete information about their products. I also appreciate supporting local businesses and other online retailers to maintain competition and variety in the market.

I ultimately decided to buy my new lens from a local camera store near my home. Not surprisingly, I appreciated that I could ask an expert a handful of questions about the product. She ultimately led me to buy a different lens than the one I had in mind after desrcibing to her the purpose and intent of my new purchase. 

Next time you’re on the hunt for new camera or camera accessories, consider one of the following alternatives to Amazon, to help you find exactly what you want to take the beautiful pictures of your dreams.

Local Camera Shops

Local businesses provide a much greater return to local community then large multinational organizations. Shopping locally also offers the opportunity to interact with and learn from shop owners who are passionate and knowledgeable about the products on which you’re spending your hard-earned dollars.

To find local shops near you, start by simply paying attention to the stores you walk or drive by on your everyday travels. I know it sounds obvious, but you might be surprised. Even though we’ve lived in our current home for nearly three years, I’m amazed by how many new places I see all the time when I’m a bit more observant. Where we live, many of the small local businesses hide out in small strip malls or on side streets, places with presumably lower rent than the large shopping centers stuffed with big box stores and retail chains. 

You can also ask friends and neighbors. We’re always inquiring about good restaurants and fun places to take the boys. Don’t forget to also ask about stores to buy the things you might otherwise be inclined to snag from Amazon. 

Of course you can always search online. Try searching for phrases like “camera shop near me” or pop in a quick search on Yelp for “camera store”, “camera repair” or “photography shop”.

Some local camera shops buy and sell used equipment, so be sure to check with your local camera store to see what they have in stock with respect to secondhand items. You may also consider searching Facebook buy and sell groups in your area or asking around in Facebook photographer groups,  letting members know the item you’re searching for to see if anyone has one with which they’re willing to part.

Rent Camera Lenses

Camera equipment and especially lenses can be very expensive. Before making a large investment in a new lens you’re not sure you will love, consider borrowing the lens for a special event or vacation or just a weekend to hang out with your camera. Depending on how often you want to use a particular lens, it may make sense to rent it when you want it and not buy it at all. BorrowLenses.com is a subsidiary of Shutterfly and offers tons of options for rentals. 

Online Photography Vendors (New & Secondhand)

Camera equipment is a great type of product to find secondhand. Professional photographers often have incredibly expensive equipment that they may no longer need as they upgrade to fancier and newer models. Camera companies release new models of cameras and lenses regularly. While the upgrades offer some enhancements in functionality and performance, they are often small, and older models work perfectly well for everyday photography needs.

B&H and Adorama sell new and used equipment. KEH specializes in secondhand camera equipment. If you’re comfortable buying camera equipment online and know what you’re looking for, these can be great options. The Tech Reviewer shared an analysis of places to buy used cameras and lenses online that is far more informative than I can offer, so check it out if you’re in the market. 

Borrow From Friends

If you have family or friends that share a passion for photography, consider if you can share or swap camera equipment with them.Maybe you are headed on a vacation and want a certain type of lens just for the week of your travels. See if you can borrow something they have! 

Cell Phones

While not a replacement for fancy, professional cameras and lenses, smart phones take pretty good photos, all things considered. If you’re not interested in learning how to really use a higher-end camera, don’t waste the money. Fancy cameras only take fancy photos if you know how to use them properly. Without an investment of time to learn how to use them, they won’t take photos all that much better than you can snap with your phone. 

Amazon is getting too big for its britches. The company doesn’t have a great track record for employee relations. And they are crowding out small businesses that help bolster local economies.

Next time you’re in the market for camera equipment, consider options other than Amazon. They are lots of alternatives that provide a better bang for your buck overall.

Check out the entire Amazon Alternatives series for more about why and how to divest your life from Amazon.

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