Black Friday: Hot deals on top-rated cameras

We would recommend buying these top-rated cameras, but their Black Friday bargain prices sweeten the deal significantly.

There are quite a few bargain-hunting strategies for Black Friday. For instance, earlier this week, Ian Paul rounded up some of the best Black Friday camera deals available, based on net savings. For the present list, however, I took a products-first approach: I made a list of some of PCWorld Labs' highest-rated cameras from the past couple of years, and then I tried to find the best deals being offered on them on Black Friday.

Result: jackpot.

I used the excellent BFAds.net Website to scrounge up all of these bargains. Frequently, the best deals come in bundles: Many highly-rated DSLRs are being sold as package deals with multiple lenses, a memory card, carrying bags, and other accessories, and the price for the whole package will save you quite a bit in the long run.

Here are some of the sweetest deals around the Web and in stores on some of our top-rated DSLRs, interchangeable-lens compacts, pocket megazooms, and compact point-and-shoots. As always, read the fine print and call the store to ask for details before you camp out in line at the store. Sometimes, what looks like a terrific deal turns out to be a turkey.

Olympus PEN E-PL1 | Full review

The merchant: Staples

The Black Friday deal: $500 as a kit with a 14-42mm zoom lens, a backpack, a Corel editing suite, a $25 gift card, and $250 in coupons for Olympus accessories.

Price when released: $600 as a kit with a 14-42mm zoom lens.

Quite simply, the Olympus PEN E-PL1 is one of the best interchangeable-lens cameras we've seen for beginners. In addition to standard controls for aperture, shutter, and exposure settings, it offers on-screen guides in iAuto mode that teach you the ropes of using manual controls. The E-PL1's Diorama Mode art filter is especially fun to use, as it simulates the effects of a tilt-shift lens and make full-size buildings look like scale models.

Nikon D90 | Full review

The merchant: Best Buy

The Black Friday deal: $1400 as a kit with an 18-105mm VR stabilized zoom lens, a 55-300mm VR stabilized zoom lens, and a camera bag.

Price when released: $1250 as a kit with an 18-105mm VR stabilized zoom lens.

The Nikon D90 was the first true DSLR to record video (720p at 24 frames per second), and it sat atop our Top 10 DSLR Cameras chart for quite some time. The 12.3-megapixel D90 offers stunning image quality, fast autofocus, and an easy-to-use interface. The big draw of this deal is the second lens included with the camera body, a 55-300mm (f/4.5 to f/5.6) stabilized zoom lens that costs $300-plus by itself.

Nikon D3000 [deal #1] | Full review

The merchant: Best Buy

The Black Friday deal: $630 as a kit with an 18-55mm VR stabilized zoom lens, a 55-200mm zoom lens, an 8GB SDHC card, a camera bag, and a tripod.

Price when released: $600 as a kit with an 18-55mm VR stabilized zoom lens.

This deal offers some serious bang for the buck: you get Nikon's light-but-powerful D3000 DSLR, two lenses that combine to cover a zoom range from 27mm wide-angle to 300mm telephoto, an 8GB SDHC card, a camera bag, and a tripod for just $30 more than the D3000 cost as a kit when it debuted. If you don't need the tripod or the full-on camera bag, check out the next deal.

Nikon D3000 [deal #2] | Full review

The merchant: HHGregg

The Black Friday deal: $600 as a kit with an 18-55mm VR stabilized zoom lens, a 55-200mm zoom lens, an 8GB SDHC card, and a lens holster.

Price when released: $600 as a kit with 18-55mm VR stabilized zoom lens.

This looks like another great deal on the entry-level Nikon D3000 DSLR with the same two kit lenses, but this time without the tripod and with a lens holster instead of a camera bag.

Canon EOS Rebel T2i | Full review

The merchant: HHGregg

The Black Friday deal: $900 as a kit with an 18-55mm stabilized zoom lens, a 75-300mm zoom lens, an 8GB SDHC card, and a gadget bag.

Price when released: $900 as a kit with an 18-55mm stabilized zoom lens.

This is yet another bundle that throws in everything but the kitchen sink, this time in a play for Canon DSLR fans. The 1080p-shooting, 18-megapixel Rebel T2i is one of the best-performing entry-level DSLRs we tested in 2010, and the extra lens, memory card, and bag included with the kit make the temptation even stronger.

Nikon Coolpix P100 | Full review

The merchant: Best Buy

The Black Friday deal: $400 as a bundle with an extra battery, an 8GB SDHC card, and a camera bag.

Price when released: $400 for the camera only.

We love the manual controls, exposure quality, adjustable LCD screen, and well-stabilized 26X optical zoom lens (26mm to a 678mm) of the Nikon Coolpix P100. This deal adds quite a bit of extra booty for the camera's $400 price: a roomy 8GB SDHC card, a camera bag, and an extra battery that should come in handy, given the P100's good-but-not-great battery life of 250 shots per charge.

Kodak EasyShare Z950 | Full review

The merchant: Office Max

The Black Friday deal: $130

Price when released: $250

If you're not ready to make the leap to a DSLR or a complex interchangeable-lens camera, the pocketable Kodak Z950 with its 10X optical zoom lens is a phenomenal option for experimenting with manual controls. The camera serves up sharp, vibrant colors and earned one of the best overall scores for image quality of any point-and-shoot camera we've tested to date. It's a steal at $130: you'll be hard-pressed to find a more versatile, better-performing pocket camera for the price.

Kodak EasyShare M580 | Full review

The merchant: Sam's Club

The Black Friday deal: $100

Price when released: $170

This is another nice deal on a hot-performing Kodak camera. The EasyShare M580 offers some of the best exposure quality of any point-and-shoot camera we've tested in 2010, and its 8X optical zoom lens (28mm to 224mm) offers pocketable versatility. The camera features Kodak's Share button, which lets you tag photos and video in-camera for instant uploading to Facebook, Flickr, and other sharing sites once it's connected to a computer. You don't get the manual controls that the EasyShare Z950 offers, but that $100 price is very compelling.

Canon PowerShot SX210 IS | Full review

The merchant: Sixth Avenue Electronics

The Black Friday deal: $250

Price when released: $350

The PowerShot SX210 IS is in the running for my personal favorite point-and-shoot camera of 2010, thanks to its far-reaching 14X optical zoom lens (28mm to 392mm), full manual controls, fun scene modes, and excellent video quality. It's one of our highest-rated pocket megazoom cameras of the year, and the $250 price tag on this Black Friday deal gets you a lot of pocketable performance for the price.

Canon PowerShot SX120 IS | Full review

The merchant: Target

The Black Friday deal: $130

Price when released: $250

It's a bit bulkier than your average pocket megazoom, but the PowerShot SX120 IS makes up for its somewhat husky size with an extensive array of manual controls, a fast autofocus, a powerful pop-up flash, and good image quality.

Samsung Dual View TL205 | Read more

The merchant: AAFES

The Black Friday deal: $100

Price when released: $150

We haven't gotten our hands on the TL205 just yet, but we loved the innovative, front-facing secondary LCD on the closely related DualView TL225. Anyone within traveling distance of an Army or Air Force base can find the DualView TL205 for $100 at an AAFES PX or BX; that's a good price for a camera that takes the guesswork out of framing self-portraits and captures a baby's attention by playing an animated scene on its front-facing screen.

Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 | Read more

The merchant: Sears

The Black Friday deal: $110

Price when released: $170

We reviewed the Bloggie MHS-PM5's cousin, the pistol-grip-style Bloggie MHS-CM5; and though its 1080p video capture didn't quite match the quality of competing pocket camcorders, it offers a nice range of features. The candy-bar-style MHS-PM5 offers some unique versatility of its own, thanks to a 270-degree rotating lens and a dual storage card slot that accepts both SDHC and Memory Stick formats.

Canon Selphy CP800 photo printer | Read more

The merchant: Staples

The Black Friday deal: Free with any camera purchase after mail-in rebate.

Price when released: $100

While you're hunting for holiday camera bargains, why not pick up a free snapshot printer to use with your new gear? We haven't tested the Selphy CP800, but it does come from esteemed lineage: Canon's Selphy CP790 and Selphy CP780 photo printers. If you buy a digital camera at Staples, you'll get this photo printer for free--if you claim the mail-in rebate properly. Unfortunately, that's the least-exciting kind of deal for instant-gratification aficionados.

This story, "Black Friday: Hot deals on top-rated cameras" was originally published by PCWorld.

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