We have all heard the old adage: buy cheap and buy twice. Here are five things you shouldn’t skimp on.
Photography can quickly become an expensive game. Cameras can be a major investment, so it is easy to try to cut corners elsewhere. Certain items can certainly be bought cheap and work just as well as their more expensive counterparts. These items should certainly not be skimped on.
When I started out, I purchased a few cheap lenses. The optics were poor, the build was poor, and I eventually either broke them or sold them at a loss to buy better optics. If you have the budget, spring for some pro-level glass; it will easily last you a decade of heavy use, if not more.
If its holding onto an expensive item, don’t skimp. The first light stand that I purchased was from Manfrotto, and it was the only one I could find. At the time, it seemed extortionate for what was basically a metal stick, but I still have it today; it only holds flags and reflectors now, but by cost per use, it has been ace. About six years in, I started to invest in really heavy duty stands and century stands. These bad boys may cost a lot more, but I expect them to outlast me.
Like light stands, tripods shouldn't be skimped on. You have the choice of cheap, light, or strong. You can only have two of those qualities. If it is cheap and light, it certainly wont be strong. I ended up buying some very strong tripods for the work I do; one of them was a 10-year-old Manfrotto Salon Stand and the other was brand new. I put a few grand into my tripods, and I wont be buying anymore in my career, barring any major incidents. The ones I purchased at the start that cost £150 or less all disintegrated or ended up being too flimsy for the job.
Hard Drives and Memory Cards
This sounds obvious, but I fell victim to Kingston memory cards when I started out as they were so affordable. I shot a festival one weekend and lost 2x 16 GB cards of data in a corruption. I was gutted. Since then, I have only used premium cards and when I order them online, I have them validated by the company to make sure that they are legitimate cards so that I know that the will work 100 percent of the time.
Six or seven years ago (my memory is hazy), I purchased a Think Tank Airport Security for what I thought was a ludicrous sum of money. I still have it today; I also purchased a Billingham shoulder satchel at the same time that I have used pretty much every day since. The cost per use of these items is amazingly cheap. Other photographers I know purchased cheaper bags and have replaced them several times over.
What are your items that you would never skimp on in photography?