This story was originally published on November 18, 2014, and is continuously updated with additional deals.
It's that time again. That season when every ad -- audio, virtual or paper -- screams DEALS, DEALS, DEALS at you.
Rule 1 of holiday shopping: You don't want to buy something just because someone tells you it's cheap; decide what you want to buy before you start looking at prices, otherwise you're more likely to be lured away by an illusory bargain.
Rule 2: Separate the store-specific deals from the regular low prices. Every outlet will try to tell you that its price is the lowest, but most of them actually have the same price because of manufacturers' overarching seasonal price reductions. Those are different from "real" deals, where one store has (usually) an extra $50 off a camera or, more commonly, tosses in an extra lens (good) or a store gift card (not so good).
Rule 3: Don't take their word for it. Just because the store tells you that a camera has a new low price doesn't make it so. In some of the "deals" that I looked at, the product was already available elsewhere at a lower price.
So here are my picks for some upcoming Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals I recommend as well already-in-place some seasonal price drops you might want to take advantage of.
I'll update a few more times as the newer deals and price drops roll out.
If you're in the market for a megazoom, this Black Friday price direct from Panasonic and Adorama is the best we expect to see, and it's for one of the best megazooms we've ever seen.
This Black Friday deal, which couples the D3200 with the 18-55mm and 55-250mm lenses, is one of my two recommendations for a $500 starter SLR kit if you're looking this season. It's slated to be available at Walmart, Target and Best Buy, at least.
The A6000 is our Editors' Choice for midrange mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras, so its seasonal price drop to $600 for the kit with the 16-50mm power zoom lens is definitely worth it if you've been contemplating an upgrade or a leap to mirrorless.
If you want something better than the typical entry-level model, the T5i equipped with the 18-55mm STM and the 75-300mm lenses is a steal at $700 from Walmart on Black Friday when you see that many other "deals" will offer the single-lens kit for $650.
The T3i, with the 18-55mm and 75-300mm lenses is my second pick for a $500 starter SLR kit, available from Best Buy and Amazon. You'll see the T5 dual-lens kit for $450 at Best Buy and Target, but the T3i is definitely worth the extra $50 over the stripped-down T5; the $400 kit that hhgregg will be offering, though, might be worth it if you're strapped for cash.
If you've been looking for a decent, inexpensive megazoom, this is a solid bargain at this Black Friday budget price. You'll be able to find it for $170 at Best Buy and Sears.
The D7000 is a past Editors' Choice Award winner -- way past -- but this former midrange champ is now priced to compete with less powerful newer models. Kitted for Black Friday with the better-than-average 18-140mm lens for $800, it makes a great deal. Available at Best Buy.
Although I never reviewed it, Sony's been churning out solid interchangeable-lens mirrorless models for a while now. At $300 for the kit with the 16-50mm power zoom lens in Best Buy on Black Friday, last year's A5000 is well-priced.
My most recent Editors' Choice, the D750 is a great midrange full-frame camera. Coupled with the very good 24-120mm lens seasonally priced at $3,000, if you've been waiting to buy, now may be the time.
Though I admit this isn't one of my favorite entry-level dSLRs, hhgregg's Black Friday price of $400 for the kit with the 18-55mm lens looks quite attractive if you're looking for a dSLR on a tight budget.
Although it's not to be confused with the droolworthy A series 50mm f1.4, this older full-frame model is still a fine choice for Nikon or Canon dSLR full-frame or APS-C shooters. And seasonally priced at $400, it's a lot less than its $950 upscale sibling.
The Lensbaby Spark, a dSLR lens that you can tilt to change the location of the out-of-focus areas, is one of my favorite picks for folks looking to play with photography rather than filters. For this season, Lensbaby has introduced a version with a much wider aperture and shaped aperture disks. (The f5.6 version is shown here.) And Adorama has them at $100 for Canon EF and Nikon F mounts, $30 off the normal price of $130 as part of its Black Friday Secret Sale -- which is on already. (Note that the rest of the camera "deals" are manufacturers' rebates that seem to be available everywhere.)
Though a few random eBay sellers seem to offer it at this price, as far as I can tell Adorama will be the only big outlet to sell this excellent compact megazoom for such a low price, starting on Black Friday.
Oddly, it's not one of Adorama's official deals, but its $500 (actually, $497) deal on this prosumer dSLR -- it cost $1,300 when it was released two years ago -- is the best price I've seen.
HTC's Re, a dead simple, waterproof camcorder that is the point-and-shootiest of point-and-shoots, gets an attractive price cut starting Black Friday and lasting through Cyber Monday -- or as long as supplies last. You can order it online from HTC; through Verizon, AT&T, Best Buy and T-Mobile’s websites and through The Underground on T-Mobile; or get it in-store at Verizon, AT&T and Best Buy.
The previous list are the best photography deals we've found so far, but we'll be updating this story periodically before Thanksgiving as we find more.
In the meantime, check out: