If you’re thinking about buying a new piece of equipment the easiest solution is to scour the local stores and websites trying to find the cheapest deal, but what if the item you’re looking at is more than you want to pay? My first trip is usually to camerapricebuster.co.uk, a site which monitors the best prices on specific camera items and charts the price over time, so you can see when you're getting a good deal.
But what if new is too dear? This of course leads us to the second-hand market, most people will start with eBay. Of course there’s one sure-fire way to win an eBay auction, and that’s to pay over the odds, but if time is not of the essence you can play the waiting game. The best place to start with eBay is to look at the sold listings, here you can see what the item you're looking for has actually sold for in the past which should therefore give you a good indication of how much you should expect to spend.
It's also worth trawling through some photography forums, many of these have for-sale sections, often with bargains to be had.
Recently I’ve been looking at either the Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8 or Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 as a general walk-around lens but both of them are fairly pricey. On launch they were both priced at nearly £1,000, but recently the second-hand prices have been hovering around the £400-£500 mark.
I randomly spotted someone selling the Panasonic version on a camera forum for £350 and was tempted but left it; days went by and the price dropped, and then dropped again... when it reached £300 I could resist no longer and contacted the seller but alas was pipped to the post by someone else... disappointed I looked elsewhere but could not find anything close, until a couple of weeks later the seller contacted me; the original buyer had dropped out and the lens was back on the market, was I still interested... yes I was!
So the moral of the story is, know the value of what you want, then you can bag yourself a bargain!