Last year's Black Friday digital camera bonanza in which quality cameras were being offered at real discounts seems to be a one-time thing. I had been pleased to see quality compact cameras from Canon (say that three times fast) mixed in among the cheap-cheap junk. But this year's circulars are a mix of non-existent models, empty prices and lackluster deals. If you're hoping to find a great camera at a deep discount this Friday, set your expectations low. You're more likely to find a "pretty good" camera at a "decent" price.
Every year, we see at least one camera for sale at several stores, with hopes that one store's deal outshines the rest. This year nothing really blew us away.
First up: Canon EOS Rebel T3 DSLR - Best Buy vs. Walmart vs. Target vs. Sears
Current price: $499.99 with kits lens
Reviews say: Recommended for beginners, the Canon EOS Rebel T3 delivers high-quality photos in a low-priced package.
Where to buy it: Walmart's got the best deal by a nose - pick up the Canon T3 there starting at 5 am on Friday.
Next, on the other end of the spectrum is a point and shoot for beginners, the Canon PowerShot A2300 - Best Buy vs. Sears
Best Buy and Sears offer the camera for the same price -- $79.99. Best Buy's is bundled with a camera case and a memory card of unknown size, while Sears doesn't hold back, listing it as an 8 GB SanDisk SD card.
Current price: $99.99 on Amazon
Reviews say: It's a decent beginner camera at a great price.
Where to buy it: Go to Sears and get this Black Friday doorbuster.
And now, store-by-store: Walmart sales starting at 10pm on Thanksgiving evening
Nikon D3000 DSLR with the 18 mm to 55 mm kit lens and a 55 mm to 200mm lens for $449.
Current price: $428 on Amazon plus $6 shipping (with kit lens only)
Reviews say: The D3000 has "very good image quality" and helpful features for beginners, but it doesn't shoot video. Read the ConsumerSearch review.
Buy it or sleep in? If you're not interested in shooting video, this is a good buy considering you get two lenses. Just be aware that this camera came out in 2009 and won't have the most up-to-date features. This deal starts at 10pm on Thursday, so you can still sleep in AND get the deal.
Nikon J1 camera for $399.
Current price: $446.95 at Amazon
Reviews say: The J1 is an interchangeable lens compact camera that offers swappable lens in a much smaller package than a DSLR. In general reviewers like the J1 - it has great image quality and snaps fast - but there are limited compatible lenses and it's a bit pricey.
Buy it or sleep in? Consider your budget - $400 might be a lot for a camera and one lens, though you'll be saving almost $50. This deal starts at 10pm on Thursday.
Canon Rebel T3i with 18-55 kit lens - $599.99
Current price: $649 at Amazon
Reviews say: The T3i is a very good camera overall, but critics generally prefer the Nikon D5100. However, it's a good buy if you already own Canon lenses. Read the ConsumerSearch review.
Buy it or sleep in? If a shopping trip on Thanksgiving evening is worth saving $50 to you, and you're a Canon loyalist, then go for it.