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Cheap Gear, Pricey Consequences: One of the Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned



I have learned many lessons in my years as a professional photographer, but if there is one that really sticks out it is that every time I have gone for the cheaper option is has cost far more than I have saved in the long run.

Let me give you some examples:

  • Purchased generic batteries rather than Nikon originals for my D700 saving £30.
    Net result – Even though it was showing as fully charged the battery died half way through a wedding ceremony. Luckily I had spares in my bag but I lost key shots while changing it.
  • Purchased bulk Duracell AA’s for my flash from eBay saving £2-3 per pack.
    Net result – Batteries were fakes and leaked in my flash. Cost of a new SB910 £318.89. Not covered on insurance as it is ‘contamination’.
  • Purchased 3rd party grip for my D700 saving £200.
    Net Result – The cheaper grip was not properly regulated and fried my camera mid wedding. Cost of repair £400 as it invalidated my warranty.
  • Purchased a 3rd party battery pack for my SB910 saving £120.
    Net result – this ALSO wasn’t properly regulated and fried my flash. Net cost another £318.89 (although my insurance did pay for this minus my excess).
  • Purchased a D700 from a supplier that were the cheapest locally saving £50.
    Net result – Turns out it was a grey import and had no UK warranty. When it developed a fault on the hot shoe I had to cover the repair. Cost £150.

In total I am nearly £700 down through trying to save a few pennies. Sure, you could just say I was unlucky. Repeatedly. Each purchase was well researched and the items had plenty of positive reviews but as a result of these problems I now only buy Nikon original gear, I only buy direct from Amazon (NOT resellers on their site) and I don’t touch eBay with a barge pole. It turns out that I can’t afford to be cheap.

About the author: Adrian Spencer is a professional wedding photographer and enthusiastic traveller based in the North of England. He made the leap into a career in photography in 2010 after being made redundant during the downturn which turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to him. Currently living on the borders of the Peak National Park and can often be spotted at sunrise and sunset around Kinder Scout foraging for good light.

You can find more of his work on his Manchester Wedding Photography website, Facebook or Twitter. This article originally appeared here.

Image credits: Penny Pincher by theilr.