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Black Friday 2009
With help from the extremely useful PriceTrace.com, a deal aggregator that includes PDF scans of Black Friday circulars from major retail stores, I've been on the hunt for particularly good point-and-shoot camera deals.
My requirements: The camera has to have tested well in PC World Labs evaluations and in hands-on reviews, and the Black Friday deal has to be a cut of $50 or more from the manufacturer's suggested retail price.
In some cases the deals are pretty clear-cut. Costco and Office Depot, for instance, are offering instant in-store rebates. In other cases the details are kind of cloudy: Best Buy lists its Black Friday prices as "After Savings" (it's unclear whether that's a roundabout way of saying "mail-in rebate"), while OfficeMax lists some deals in its circular as "save (amount) instantly" but others as merely "save (amount)."
Here are the in-store deals that caught my eye.
Black Friday price: $300 (listed as "After Savings" with in-store purchase) at Best Buy (see PDF)
Original MSRP: $400
Pros: Excellent zoom lens and ease of use; adjustable LCD for odd-angle shots; superb macro capabilities
Cons: Standard-definition video only; not as many fun features as competitors; plastic pop-up flash feels fragile
Bottom line: The 24X-optical-zoom Nikon Coolpix P90 concentrates on ease of use and manual controls, leaving the wow-factor extras to competitors.
Black Friday price: $180 (instant in-store rebate) at Office Depot (see PDF)
Original MSRP: $250
Pros: Great modes, flash, and low-light shots; very stylish looks
Cons: Small buttons, LCD, and zoom range; no wide-angle lens or manual settings
Bottom line: The great-looking SD780 IS isn't a superficial beauty; its performance and features are stunning, too.
Black Friday price: $200 (instant in-store rebate) at Costco (see PDF)
Original MSRP: $300
The ultra-wide-angle, 12X-optical-zoom Lumix DMC-ZS1 is a still-photo-only version of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3, which we've reviewed. The main difference between the two cameras is the ZS1's inability to shoot video. We liked the ZS3's Intelligent Auto mode and optical image stabilization, but neither the ZS1 nor the ZS3 has many manual adjustments; you'll need to rely on the camera's automatic mode and scene selections.
Black Friday price: $150 (instant in-store rebate) at Office Depot (see PDF)
Original MSRP: $230
Pros: Compact, slim design; good image quality in automatic mode
Cons: Image quality suffers above ISO 200; optical viewfinder is too small
Bottom line: The SD1200 IS has a variety of shooting modes and great image quality, but some design flaws hamper it a bit.
Black Friday price: $80 (in-store rebate) at OfficeMax (see PDF)
Original MSRP: $130
Pros: Great image quality for the price; extremely easy to use
Cons: A bit bulky; no manual ISO controls
Bottom line: For value, ease of use, looks, and image quality, the Coolpix L20 is one of the best bargain point-and-shoots we've seen.
This story, "Black Friday Camera Deals: Five Point-and-Shoot Bargains" was originally published by PCWorld.