Black Friday point-and-shoot winners, losers

There are surprisingly few point-and-shoot cameras worth considering for purchase on Black Friday. Here are the ones we like and ones you should probably skip.

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Black Friday digital camera deals primarily focus on point-and-shoot cameras--and entry-level ones at that. While you will find price reductions on higher-end models, they won't have the large price slashes that'll get people in stores or clicking "add to cart." That doesn't mean there aren't some models worth considering, though, such as the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W350, which is our top holiday gift pick. It's going to be available from Target for $150, but Wal-Mart has it for even less than that.

After checking out BlackFriday.info and BFAds.net, I found a handful of other models that are very good values and assembled them in the slideshow below. And if the camera you're looking for isn't marked down, look or ask for a bundle. Stores are sometimes willing to throw in a case, minitripod, memory card, or an extra battery to get the sale. You might not get a lower price, but you'll get more for your money.


So, what should you stay away from? Of the models I've tested, I would skip the Nikon Coolpix S4000, the Sony Cyber-shot W330, and the Kodak EasyShare Z981 because their lower prices still don't make up for their issues. That Kodak will be a tough one for a lot of people to pass up, too, because it has a wide-angle lens with a 26x zoom and it's being offered for less than $200. There is a reason (several actually) that it's so cheap, though: namely, that is takes pretty bad pictures. I'm on the fence about the Fujifilm FinePix S1800, another megazoom being offered at a very low price. I tested the nearly identical S2550HD and found its photo quality and shooting performance to be just OK. However, it might be OK enough at its holiday price of $150.

As for stuff I haven't tested, well, there's really not much I can say about the quality of the cameras. What I can say is that just because a camera has a 10-, 12-, or 14-megapixel sensor does not guarantee great photo quality. Actually, the same can be said about any specification of a camera, because a lot more goes into making a good photo than specs. The fact is that the photos from most sub-$100 cameras are likely no better than what you'll get from a camera phone. The advantages are that you won't be running down your phone's battery, using up its storage, and you'll have an optical zoom.

My list is by no means definitive, so if you see a good deal please leave it in the comments, and I'll try to update if I see anything worth checking out.

 

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