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Don’t Buy A New Camera…Do This Instead

January 11, 2022


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Article by Colette Nichol, Solo Filmmaker and Story Strategist

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Are you wondering, “Should I buy a new camera?”

Well, maybe you should buy a new camera. But before you do, I’ve got some important insights about what really transforms you imagery. Once you’ve got this information you can make a good decision about whether it’s time to buy a new camera or to invest in something else.

It’s up to you! But first, get some good info on what really matters when it comes to the quality of your footage.

In This Article

  1. My Camera Story
  2. Two Things That Matter
  3. Is it worth it to get a new camera?
  4. Is it better to buy a camera new or used?

The first digital camera I bought cost nearly $400 and was a piece of crap.

It was a Casio digital point and shoot that took pretty ok photos and videos.

This camera went ALL over Ecuador. It’s seen the jungle the coast and many many volcanos!

I wish I could say that the power of moving images was so overwhelming that I fell in love right away despite the crappy Casio. But that’s not the case.

I used the heck out of that little point and shoot, all over Ecuador for five years (which now that I think of it is kind of hilarious…but I was for REAL on a budget!).

But I didn’t truly fall in love with filmmaking until I bought my first DSLR.

The Canon Rebel T4i with flip screen.

At the time the camera cost about $750 with a kit lens.

And that was a stretch for me. I’d never been involved in a hobby or sport or activity that cost a lot of money. So spending $750 on a camera seemed like sheer madness.

I did at least fifty hours of research, and finally the day to just buy the freaking thing arrived. I headed over to the big box store cash in hand and bought my first real camera.

Now, I still have that camera, and I still use it. It’s small. It’s light. And it carries some heavy nostalgia. Why? Because I used that $750 camera to get started with making brand videos professionally. I actually shot micro films that I charged thousands of dollars for on that little camera.

How did I get away with this? How was I able to make money with low-cost gear?

Did I hand in crappy products and have a bunch of pissed-off clients?


Most people think they need a camera that costs a few thousand bucks if they want to get started making microfilms that look awesome and create an impact.

I’d be lying if I said having a killer camera isn’t a huge bonus.

It is. I’m a huge camera lover. There are tons of cameras drool-worthy cameras I wish I owned.

This is the reality: having a decent camera is essential. But having an off-the-hook kick-ass best-thing-ever camera isn’t essential.

But there are TWO THINGS that are essential if you want to create professional-quality micro films.

Watch the video to find out what they are!

I’ll give you a hint, one has to do with GLASS and another has to do with ILLUMINATION.

I only wish I’d had these insights way earlier because it would have saved me a lot of heartache in those first couple of years!

This one thing will make your microfilms look 3x better…no joke!

Is it worth getting a new camera?

If you know that you’re going to use the camera for at least 3-5 years and you don’t want to have to worry about getting a lemon, then, yes it’s worth it. When you buy a new camera you can often buy it in a kit with other useful gear. If you buy during a sale, then you can often get a 20% discount on the new camera.

Finally, if you’re planning on earning money with your camera then the work you do will pay for the camera. If you know that this is going to be a long-term passion then the money you spend on a new camera versus buying used will be worth it.

But if you’re just testing the waters buy a good Canon Rebel in the Ti series. The Canon Rebel T6i or T7i is reasonably priced in used stores these days.

Filmmaking Camera
Is it worth it to buy a camera that’s new?

Is it better to buy a camera used or new?

If you’re going to do this professionally and you’re committed to this for the long term, buy new. If you’re just testing the waters, buy used. When it comes to lenses, it’s great to buy used as they hold their value and aren’t as easily damaged as a camera.

Also, when you buy used make sure the camera doesn’t have more than 20,000 shutter actuations. Low-cost cameras can handle about 50,000 shutter actuations (when you press the shutter to take a picture). High-end cameras can handle about 200,000 to 250,000.

How often should you buy a new camera?

If you’re a professional, then you’ll usually upgrade every couple of years. If you’re a hobbyist, then that’s not needed. Also, pros often spend more on lenses than on cameras.

Should I buy an older camera?

These days new cameras have become so much more affordable than in the past that I would not typically recommend buying an older camera. Today you can get a 4k camera for under $1000.

However, if you’re already planning on upgrading your cell phone, I might recommend that you start out by getting a really good cell phone with good video capabilities. Practice with that a lot. Then save for a good DSLR, mirrorless or Cinema Camera.

Learn Filmmaking and Get the Gear Guide

If you’re interested in learning filmmaking, check out the Solo Filmmaking Mentorship Program I created for aspiring filmmakers and video creators. It usually goes live once per year. So I recommend getting the Story Envelope Filmmaking letter which comes out a couple of times per month. That way, you can get filmmaking tips for free and find out when the filmmaking course is going live again.

Also, before you go, grab the Solo Filmmaking Gear Guide and Checklist for Beginners.

About the Author

Hi! I’m Colette Nichol. I’m a solo filmmaker and story strategist based out of rainy Vancouver, Canada. I’ve been making videos and micro films for small businesses and global brands since 2014.

Plus, I LOVE to help aspiring filmmakers pursue their dreams and start making films. This blog is designed to help you gain the knowledge you need to become a filmmaker.

If you want more, get on the waitlist for the Story Envelope Academy Solo Filmmaking Mentorship Program. It opens up one time per year and is the best way to become a filmmaking or video pro fast!

CLICK HERE to get on the solo filmmaking mentorship waitlist.


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