So every year, students ask me about super-sale SLR cameras that they see on Black Friday. In looking for deals this year, I discovered that a lot of online merchants are selling cameras at a discount all week, so I’ve rounded up the best deals I could find, and I’ve indicated whether you can buy them now or if you have to stand outside in the cold after your Thanksgiving meal.
There are also a lot of deals on cameras that won’t really work for the multimedia journalist – in that they don’t have any good video controls or audio ability. You’ll see a lot of these DSLR deals presented in the form of a Canon Rebel T3, Sony A35, or a Nikon D3100/D3000. All are great cameras, but not appropriate for the student journalist doing multimedia work.
One caution, before you open your wallet – there are a lot of unscrupulous retailers out there, especially when it comes to cameras – and so stick to names you know and trust. If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. I stick with B&H Photo, Amazon, Newegg, Adorama, and KEH myself.
The deals – some right now, and some for Black Friday
On the Nikon side of things, the new D5100 is a great camera for stills and video – it’s got an audio input and a swiveling screen. The autofocus for video on Nikon’s current generation of cameras (D5100/D7000) is quite a bit faster than the Canon equivalents. B&H has a screamin’ deal on a refurbished D5100 for $650 with a lens. A new one from them goes for $847. That said, if you’re a BJ’s member, you can get, for the same price, the camera, a nice bag and a 55-200 zoom lens, which is a much better deal – but only on Black Friday. That one is probably worth waiting in line for – BJ’s opens at 7 a.m on Friday.
Canon runs quite a few specials on Black Friday. While I previously said the T3 wouldn’t work well for journalism, it’s older brother and upmarket sibling will. These two other Rebels are much better choices, and though they are just a bit more expensive, they’re worth it if you’re intending to commit journalism. They are:
Canon Rebel T2i – Yesterday’s model of Canon Rebel, but still a great choice for multimedia journalism. It’s better than the newer, but stripped down T3. While it lacks the modern amenities of a swivel screen and some more professional features, it has it where it counts, in that its image quality is great, you get full manual control over video, and it has an audio input. A little bit small and plastic-feeling, and the auto-focus in video is quite slow (you’ll find yourself manual focusing a lot, but that’s the way we always used to do it in the field), but worth it at these prices: ($647, with a basic lens, at Amazon.com; $649 at Target.com for the same; $589 for a refurbished model with the same lens at B&H in the city; and $578 at Sears with no lens (which I prefer, because then you can pair it with a good lens such as the Canon EF-S 18-135, which gives you more range than the basic kit lens); or $646 with the kit lens, also from Sears. Interestingly, Best Buy is selling this for $699 as a “doorbuster” deal on Black Friday – a deal at that price it is not.
Canon Rebel T3i – The current generation Rebel – all of the good manual movie controls and audio inputs of a T2i, with a swivel screen added, as well as wireless flash control (which you may or may not even need, depending on what you are doing). You can find it at B&H for $659 without a lens (pair it with the EF-S 18-135 for a good, all around kit).
A disappointing year for deals
After scouring for the better part of a day, that’s all I’ve got. I guess it’s an off year for deals – but then again, the specific needs of multimedia journalists combined with my own picky nature about cameras.
If you hear about a great deal on an SLR camera, please share it in the comments below. These deals change on an almost daily basis up until next week, so it would be good to keep this list updated for everyone.
Have a happy Thanksgiving, folks.