Monday’s Money Deal: Digital Cameras

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If you're looking for a camera that's better than your cell phone but won't break the bank, here's a clear picture of some decent deals.

If there’s anything more confounding than shopping for a camera, we haven’t heard about it. More than most consumer tech products – even computers and cell phones – trying to choose the right camera at the right price is an exhausting slog through models, options, and prices.

At least with computers and cell phones, there are easy-to-grasp basics: Windows vs. Mac, iPhone iOS vs. Android, desktop vs. laptop. Decide those, and you limit the more confusing options that come next – like models, memory, and sizes. But in the realm of cameras, you have to contend not only with dozens of all-in-one varieties but also a dizzying array of pro-level and mid-level SLRs that come with interchangeable lenses – but that aren’t interchangeable with other brands.

So what to do?

Best small camera deal of the week

For most of us, it’s quite simple. Do you want to take pictures (and some limited video) of family and friends at memorable events and desire something that looks better than a cell-phone camera? Then go with what’s known as a sure-shot or pocket camera. You can buy one for as little as $50 at some retailers, but like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. If you want the right combination of price and quality, we suggest something from the Canon PowerShot series. Why? Because there are currently some very interesting deals.

For instance, you can save money if you don’t care about the color of the camera. As you’ll see on Target’s website, if you want a Canon PowerShot 12.1MP camera, it costs $180 for one in silver, brown, or pink – but only $160 for red. And it’s the same camera! So if you care about what your pictures look like more than what your camera looks like, you should be seeing red.

Best big camera of the week

SLR stands for single lens reflex, which refers to the movement of a mirror that transfers the images from the lens to the film. These days, SLRs use those mirrors to transfer the image to an SD card, but all you really need to know is this: SLRs are those big cameras that pro photographers use, the one with the lenses that can be switched out.

Most camera makers have SLR models aimed at the “prosumer” market. That’s basically the average person who wants to dabble in photography that’s a little more advanced than those sure-shots can handle. Problem is, you need to also buy lenses and external flashes, and it gets confusing and expensive from there. That’s why we recommend looking for package deals, like this Pentax K2000, which comes with an external flash. These large flashes really make a difference shooting not only at night, but also in twilight, which confuses most other cameras and leaves an orange tint to your pictures. External flashes can cost a lot, so this deal is appealing – while it lasts. As of this writing, only four models were left at $519.

And while we’re talking about pictures, check out our advice for shooting video.

Stacy Johnson

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