Camera Buying: Unknown Vs Branded

Everyone has heard of the brands, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Sony and Panasonic, but step away from the major camera brands that dominate the majority of the marketplace and you will discover a whole host of other brands, most of which are produced and sold by companies located in Asia. The big differences between the top brands, like Canon and Nikon, compared to the widely unknown brands is the price (much cheaper), build quality and the cheaper components that are used in each product.

That doesn't necessarily mean there aren't some good digital cameras for sale offered by the unknown brands. There are quite a few that offer good image quality and fairly decent overall value for money. One example is some of the replica (knock-off) GoPro style video cameras (yes, they can take pictures too) that are offered much cheaper in price by companies operating from China. If you do some research, or get the chance to test a few of the best ones, you'll find that there are more than a few of these "GoPro" alternatives that are excellent little performers.


However, with the largely unheard of brands you do have to be more careful. First off, their track record for consistently making reliable, long lasting products is questionable. Because with the big majority of these brands there isn't really much back history available online in order to be able to research them thoroughly. Other than the reviews on websites like Amazon and eBay, and a small handful of video reviews, there isn't really much else to look at. And most of us know by now that on many of the major online shopping outlets, including Amazon, there is a big problem with fake reviews being posted.

That goes for all reviews, including both verified and unverified "purchases". So, trusting these reviews has now become much harder than it was previously. Also adding to the risk of buying unknown brands is the potentially less stringent quality control compared to the more renown brand names. This, combined with cheaper electrical components being used in each product, gives them a higher tendency for developing problems.


And then what happens if you are unfortunate enough to be sent a faulty camera and need to return it. Unless the company you are returning the item to have a premises based in your country, or offer a free return in the case of a problem arising (very unlikely from an unknown brand if they are based abroad), it can be a real pain sending it back. It's also very off putting once a customer who purchases an unknown branded camera that's developed a fault discovers that they have to send the item back to say China. And they (the purchaser) are the one who has to pay the shipping costs. Sending items abroad isn't cheap, especially if you want or need to send it as a traceable, signed for package.

Depending on the price paid for the camera, which is usually pretty low compared to a brand new camera from one of the high-end brands, most people just cut their losses and can't be bothered to deal with the hassle of sending it back. It's then usually put it down to experience, and looked back on as a "never again" moment. If you bought the camera unknowingly through a drop-shipper, returning it will generally be the same long winded procedure as well, because they will have to send it back to the supplier, who is more than likely located abroad.

Unknown brands Vs second-hand known brand. To be totally honest, I would much rather buy a second hand camera that is made by a reputable brand rather than take the risk on a much more cheaply made brand new "no namer". If we do a quick price comparison and say you have £40 to spend on a camera, you could buy a new Stoga Dfun SC001 for around that price, which is a largely unknown brand is the USA and UK. Or you can, like I did a few weeks ago, take a look on eBay and pick up something like a Samsung Digimax 530 (5 megapixel) camera in the box with accessories for literally £5. That fiver is including postage, which was free.

You can also find older bridge cameras for sale, like the Fujifilm FinePix S Series S5600 for around £25. Or even an old but reliable Panasonic Lumix point and shoot for £10 - £25. As well as a Samsung WB500 (Talked about here) There are literally hundreds of different used models to choose from that fall within the same price range as something like the Stoga Dfun. Of course, if you have a bigger budget at your disposal you could always buy something much newer which has many more features to take advantage of, such as an entry level DSLR. You can pick up a used but in excellent condition Sony Alpha A100, A200 or A230 DSLR complete with a starter lens for under £100 on eBay. Brand new unknown branded Vs a second hand well known brand, I know which one I would feel more confident spending my money on.

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