Black Friday conundrum: save less money on a newer camera, or more money on an older one?

"Hmm" emoji considering the Black Friday conundrum

People ask me the same question every year during Black Friday season: should I look for the best deal on the latest camera, or the best deal even if it's an old one?

It's a good question. Obviously the best Black Friday camera deals are found on bodies that are a couple of years old – so you'll be saving less money on a new camera and saving more money on an older camera. 

Is it false economy, though, to buy an older camera even if it's cheaper? 

There are two ways to approach this question. If you are looking for a specific camera for a specific reason, then clearly you want the best possible saving on it – regardless of what other bargains are on offer.

An example might be the Canon EOS R5, which you might want because you specifically want to shoot 8K. Which means it doesn't matter how much money Amazon slashes off the Panasonic S5 II or how cheap Walmart sells the Nikon Z5, because neither of them shoot 8K. 

So if you absolutely need a particular camera then, yes, you should stick to finding the best deal on it. (For reference, there's $500 off the R5 in the US and an incredible £1,000 off the R5 in the UK right now). 

However, if you just want a new camera, you can potentially save so much more money by keeping your options open.

Let's take the Sony A7R V as an example. It's new and it's amazing, but do you really need it? It's got a 61MP sensor and clever AF, but the Sony A7R IV has basically the same thing with its 60.2MP sensor and almost-as-clever AF – the only difference is, it came out in 2019 so it's far more affordable. 

We tend to think that "newer" equals "better", but that isn't always the case. My colleague Adam recently lamented this very point, noting that the GoPro Hero 12 is actually a downgrade on the Hero 11. I'd actually recommend buying the older model not just because it's cheaper, but because it's functionally better. 

So there you have it. Newer is always more expensive, but newer doesn't always mean better. And older may be cheaper, but older and cheaper don't always mean inferior. 

We all want the shiny new thing. But don't be swayed by what you want; shop for what you need. Because at the end of the day, the only false economy is saving money on something that isn't right for you.

Take a look at the best Canon Black Friday deals, along with the best Sony Black Friday deals and the best Nikon Black Friday deals to bag a bargain on a specific brand. 

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.