Greetings, you’re listening to the Liam Photography Podcast, I’m your host Liam Douglas and this is Episode 276. So in today’s episode I wanted to share some ways to save money in photo gear especially if you are a student or hobbyist, but first I wanted to share an update on Tina’s treatment since some of you have been kind enough to send well wishes and prayers her way.
Tina went back into the hospital yesterday for a 2 day stay to start her second four week round of Chemotherapy and she will be released on Friday afternoon to finish the four weeks at home. The nurse that works for her Oncologist said this will be the last time she has to restart her treatment in the hospital, the other remaining four times she will be able to start from home, which is a load off our minds. She has been doing very well so far on the treatments and they are optimistic that she will make a full recovery, so thank you again for your well wishes and prayers for her.
Ok, onto today’s topic, areas where you can save some money in photo gear and the first one I wanted to talk about is batteries. The batteries for our camera systems are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination with many of the ones sold by our camera makers costing upwards of $100 each or more depending on your camera body and model. The good news is there are some third party battery makers that are very reputable and that I can recommend to help save you some money in this area. Now I am NOT telling you to NOT buy your camera maker’s batteries nor am I taking any responsibility for any issues that happen from not using your maker’s batteries, I am simply sharing information on some of the third party makers I have personally used and never had any issues with.
The first of these is Wasabi Power and yes their name sounds and is spelled just like the hot Japanese condiment that you can use on your sushi that is green in color. Wasabi Power had been selling batteries for pretty much any camera on the market for quite a few years now and you can find them on Amazon. They will frequently sell you two batteries and a spare charger for anywhere from $20 and up from there depending on your camera make and model. Wasabi Power batteries are made by a company called Blue Nook and they have been making batteries since 2001 so 21 years now. If you visit their official website at https://www.wasabipower.com/ you will see they offer batteries for GoPro, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm and Panasonic and their batteries look very much like the original OEM batteries only with the Wasabi Power name on them.
Now, in addition to Amazon, Wasabi Power batteries are also sold on eBay, and in Walmart stores as well so they are a fairly large battery maker with their products most everywhere and they are also stocked in many camera stores and shops around the world. I have personally been using Wasabi Power batteries in all my Canon and now Fujifilm cameras since around 2010 and I have never had any issues at all with their batteries or performance. On some of my camera models I actually got more shooting time and more frames per charge than I did with my OEM Canon batteries!
All of Wasabi Power’s batteries have a 30 day return policy, 90 day replacement policy and a 3 year warranty period and as I said before, I have never had to have one replaced in 12 years of using them in my cameras. They are headquartered here in the U.S. in Pomona, CA with both a local and toll free number.
I personally know a lot of photographers who use and recommend their batteries as an alternative to the original OEM batteries made by your camera maker and I have not found anyone in 12 years that has had anything bad to say about the Wasabi Power brand of camera batteries.
The second brand of third party batteries I have had a lot of success with is Big Mike’s batteries and you can find their website at https://bigmikeselectronics.com/collections/camera-batteries. Big Mike’s also sells on Amazon as well as their own site and I have used their batteries in some of my Canon cameras, but not in my Fujifilm as I believe from looking on their site that they only make batteries for the Big Three, Canon, Nikon and Sony. Now the only odd thing I have noticed about Big Mike’s batteries is that even though their chargers look similar to the OEM Canon ones they only seem to charge their batteries well. What I mean by that is you can charge the Big Mike’s batteries in your OEM Canon charger but when the light goes out saying the battery is at 100% and you put it in your camera and power it on, the camera will show it’s only at 60-70%. If you put it in the Big Mike’s charger, it will get to 100% no problem, but there is something odd going on there. I noticed the same in reverse so if I put my Canon batteries in the Big Mike’s charger it would charge them but again would say they were at 100% when they were only at 60-70% so keep that in mind, only charge Big Mike’s batteries in their charger and Canon’s batteries in their charger.
Now Big Mike’s batteries can be as inexpensive as Wasabi Power, but not always, I have had some Canon cameras where I could get 2 Big Mike’s Batteries and a charger for $20 and other models cost more, but that can be expected. I have had no other issues with Big Mike’s batteries and have also used theirs for around 10 years.
A third one I will share is Nitecore who is also making camera batteries as well and although I have not used them myself I know quite a few shooters who do use them and swear by their batteries. You can find them on the web at https://www.nitecorestore.com/Camera-Battery-Chargers-and-Lights-s/1929.htm
The Nitecore batteries are not as inexpensive as the other two brands I talked about today but they claim to have multiple safeguards built into their batteries to protect your camera from harm. Their batteries are a bit more expensive with the one for my X-T4 being $45 each and the charger, sold separately being priced at $35.
For the second area where you can save some money on photo gear, I want to talk about third party glass. Now as you already know your camera maker offered great glass as well as less expensive, entry level or consumer glass for your camera, but what if you want better quality glass for less money? Well there are some options for you here as well and a few that I can personally recommend from my own personal use and ownership.
Sigma is a third party lens maker that has been around since 1961 and making photography and cinematography related products and they make all of their products at their factory in Japan, the same country as many of the camera makers. Now I can share that some of the early Sigma lenses I owned for my Canon bodied were sub-par in performance and image quality, their newest stuff and especially their ART series of glass are really top notch. Sigma offers a Contemporary line, their Sport line and their ART line of lenses at various price points and of course their ART series is similar in quality to the Canon “L” series of glass or Sony G-Master line. To give you an idea, Sigma’s ART 35mm F/1.4 lens is $800 compared to Canon’s 35mm F/1.2 L at $2-3,000 dollars so quite a huge difference in price and only a small difference in the widest Aperture capability. I personally know a LOT of photographers who really LOVE their Sigma ART glass as well as quite a few that LOVE Sigma’s Sport glass as well for shooting baseball, football and soccer as well as basketball. Sigma does also make their own camera bodies as well, which you might not have know and although they have gotten pretty good reviews, I’ve always preferred to stick with a brand that has been making cameras for decades.
The second third party lens maker I wanted to tell you about is Tamron and they are another Japanese lens maker that has been in business since 1950. They make lenses like Sigma does for most any camera mount out there and I have had a really good experience with Tamron lenses over the years on my Canon bodies. I do not have any experience with their Fujifilm lenses as they just recently started making X-Mount glass, but from the posts I have read and image samples I have seen in some of the Fujifilm groups I am in Tamron makes great glass for Fujifilm now as well. Like Sigma, Tamron makes different levels of glass at different price points and with differences in performance and image quality. Tamron also offers both full frame and crop body glass as well if you are shooting Canon or Nikon so they have you covered no matter what body you own. Their latest G2 Series of lenses have very high praises and reviews from multiple reputable photography sources including DPReview TV.
To give you a comparison in price, Tamron is releasing a 150-500mm lens for the X-Mount for $1,500, where the new XF150-600mm from Fujifilm is $2,000. So, if you don’t need that extra 100mm of reach you can save $500 by getting the Tamron lens and the Tamron also has weather sealing and is an F/5 to F/6.7 where the Fujifilm lens is an F/5.6 to F/8 so you get a little more light gathering capabilities from the Tamron and the Tamron lens also has the Aperture ring that I know most Fujifilm shooters love to have on their lenses.
There are some other third party lens companies out there that are doing some really great stuff but I will wait and talk about them in another episode to make you if you haven’t already that you Subscribe to the show in your favorite Podcatcher so you don’t miss s single episode!
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