We Paid Cash: A DSLR Camera

Guest post from Joanne

I am a stay-at-home mom of five who enjoys novice photography as a hobby. While the cost of quality photography equipment has come down in recent years, it is still a good chunk of change to purchase quality cameras, lenses, and software.

In the past two years I have been able to purchase (with cash) both a Nikon D3000 (digital SLR) and a 50mm f/1.8 lens! I used three total sources of income to save for this equipment: Swagbucks, a garage sale, and birthday/Christmas money.

I also spread out the costs over 3 years…

2010: Camera savings and purchase (approx. $450)

Early in 2010 I was introduced to Swagbucks, and established an account. I was also able to get several friends and family to join Swagbucks through my referral link, which greatly increased my earnings. Over the course of a few months I was able to spend my Swagbuck earnings on Amazon giftcards.

My second means of saving money was as a result of a garage sale in late August in which I sold, among lots of other things, my old Minolta 35mm film SLR and lenses. I had advertised the camera specifically on Craigslist and sold it at the end of my sale as a direct result of my Craigslist ad.

When I totaled my garage sale earnings and added it to my Amazon gift card stash (via Swagbucks), I had enough to purchase my camera from Amazon (with free shipping, of course).

2012: Lens savings and purchase (approx. $150)

After a year of shooting and learning on my base-level camera and “kit lens”, I learned that the results I desired required better lenses. For those familiar with the “bokeh” effect – that’s what I was after in my portrait shots, and not successfully achieving.

Upon research I realized that what I needed was a higher aperture lens, but that was going to cost more money that I didn’t have to spend. So back to my savings plan I went. I was able to purchase one of the lenses I wanted just last week via Amazon.com after combining more Amazon cards, Christmas money, and birthday money from the past year.

As a non-working (or should I say non-income earning worker?), I have been able to save to pay cash for equipment that I use frequently. Now I’m working on building up my Swagbucks account to purchase a zoom lens and then some photo editing software!

Joanne is a stay-at-home mom from Michigan. She has been married to a widower for 6 years and has five children aged 15, 13, 5, 4, and 3. She enjoys couponing, music, paper crafting, photography, and spending time with her family.

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  1. Stephanie says

    Great job and you exercised such patience and determination! My husband is an amateur photographer and he purchased a special lens this year also. We decided to use our own camera to shoot ‘professional’ pics of our 5-yr old daughter instead of hiring a photographer every year.

  2. s says

    Perhaps she can offer to take pictures of family and friends for a small fee and that can pay for more camera accessory purchases.

  3. Jennifer C. says

    I liked this post. Just a note to any teachers or homeschoolers…we were able to purchase Adobe Photoshop software at the educators price…a big discount!!! We just told them that we were homeschoolers and had to send them a copy of our letter of intent and receipt of our curriculum for the year!

    • Andrea says

      We downloaded the trial version of Photoshop Elements for free from Adobe’s website when our very old version of Photoshop became incompatible with our updated operating system. It turned out that it had all the features we needed for photo editing and some graphic design!

      I was able to purchase the full version of Elements for $40 during a great sale on Amazon. The normal price is $90 to $100. Even with the educator discount, Adobe Photoshop is $400+.

      • Sara says

        Photoshop Elements has everything the non-pro photographer would need for photo editing and is a great bargain and less than $100 (or even under $50 depending on the sale!) It’s also easier to use than the full version of Photoshop. Lightroom is a great photo editor too(and even easier and faster to use than Elements) although a little more expensive than Elements.

        I also recommend buying camera equipment used or refurbished. I have bought used and refurbished equipment directly from Canon (either from their website which sometimes has 10 and 20% off the refurbished prices or using their loyalty program where you can trade in an old, broken camera for 20% off a refurbished DSLR camera). I have also bought used equipment from reputable online stores such as Adorama or B&H for great savings.

        • Jennifer C. says

          At $400, Adobe Photoshop is still a great deal, if you need the entire Creative Suite, like my husband does. Retail is over $1500! And, even using the educators discount, the software license explicitly states that you CAN use the software for profit – not just “educating” experiences, which we were concerned about.

  4. WilliamB says

    “As a non-working (or should I say non-income earning worker?)”

    You should definitely say that! It’s common for a SAH parent to say “I don’t work” and every time I feel like adding “for pay.”

  5. Kelly says

    Good for you! I recently used my Swagbucks to buy a new digital camera (just a point-and-shoot) and have been thrilled by the quality I get for the price I paid.

    I’ve had a lot of success using GIMP for photo editing. It is free, open-source software that has most of the same features as PhotoShop or other editing programs. There are tons of tutorials and help forums online, too. I used it to do a lot of editing work on my wedding pictures and get compliments on them all the time. (Note that I had ZERO significant photo editing experience before that!) The program isn’t perfect, but I’ve found it to be amazingly powerful considering that it is FREE!

    • Susan says

      Kelly, may I ask what brand and model of camera you bought that you like so much?

      I have a Canon Rebel that I just love, but I also like to have a smaller point-and-shoot to keep in my purse and carry around with me all the time. I’ve had several in recent years, but not much luck with any of them producing good quality photos. I’d love a recommendation for a point-and-shoot from a happy customer. Thanks.

  6. Renee Anne says

    GIMP is an awesome FREE photo editing software much like Photoshop. I’ve used both GIMP and Photoshop. Both have a LOT to learn because they have tons of features. Right now I use GIMP to edit photos and do website design as a SAHM without having to spend a penny!

  7. Debbie says

    Congrats on your camera purchase! Great story. I love my DSLR (that I also paid cash for) and have been using Picasa software to do basic edits for a few years. I am a purist and cannot stand when something is photoshopped badly. Picasa is a Google product and is free to download and very user friendly. I’d recently decided to look into Photoshop as my photography turns more lucrative, but remembering the tediousness of Photoshop Elements that I previously had a few years back, I was not too excited. Someone recommended Lightroom 4 and I have read some good things about it. It’s not as complicated as Photoshop but is more capable than Elements apparently. It’s on Amazon and, like you, I’m saving my Swagbucks and other points to cash in for gift cards and will be getting it very soon. I didn’t see it mentioned here so wanted to do so.

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