Black Friday Deals: Five point-and-shoot cameras

Editor’s Note: The following article is reprinted from the Today @ PC World blog at PCWorld.com.

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.

Nikon Coolpix P90

Black Friday price: $300 (listed as “After Savings” with in-store purchase) at Best Buy (see PDF)

Original MSRP: $400

Savings: $100

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.

Read full review and check MacBuy’s Best Current Price

Canon PowerShot SD780 IS

PowerShot SD780 IS

Black Friday price: $180 (instant in-store rebate) at Office Depot (see PDF)

Original MSRP: $250

Savings: $70

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.

Read full review and check MacBuy’s Best Current Price.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1

Black Friday price: $200 (instant in-store rebate) at Costco (see PDF)

Original MSRP: $300

Savings: $100

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.

Read more about the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1.

Canon PowerShot SD1200

Black Friday price: $150 (instant in-store rebate) at Office Depot (see PDF)

Original MSRP: $230

Savings: $80

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.

Read full review and check MacBuy’s Best Current Price.

Nikon Coolpix L20

Coolpix L20

Black Friday price: $80 (in-store rebate) at OfficeMax (see PDF)

Original MSRP: $130

Savings: $50

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.

Read full review and check MacBuy’s Best Current Price.

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