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
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: $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.