I am a bad shopper. You would think that comparison shopping would help you get the best deal and gadget, which is true, but at what cost? I’ve heard in the past that shopping around stresses you out, and I agree. Finding something good and plopping down money is the way to go if you want to remain stress-free.
I have been shopping around for a camera to replace the larger model that I just sold on ebay. I wanted a smaller one for travel and every day use, as often I would leave the larger camera at home just because I didn’t want to justify lugging it around my neck when I wanted to use it. It was not a fancy enough SLR to warrant that, and made me look more touristy than the ones with the thousand dollar Rebels with telephoto lenses sticking out of their chests. I decided I’d get a point and shoot type camera, which would fit into my pocket, be good enough for most pictures, and be done with it. I set myself a $150 budget, and got to shopping.
First I was going to try Costco, seeing as I have a membership and they have cheap goods often. I learned two things from that: one, that they close at 6PM on Saturday, which is foolish, and two, that they sell cameras pricier than elsewhere, except for Best Buy. I instead swung by Best Buy to look, and it has to be the most crowded I’ve ever seen one outside of 4AM the day after Thanksgiving. After poking around, I found a model that I was in lust with, a $250 Canon on sale. Yes, I already broke out of my budget, which I should have figured would happen. After getting the attention of a few employees and waiting around a half hour to get one out of the cage and to the cash register, I gave up and hit the mall. Best Buy just lost a sale, but I was better for it anyway when I looked online. At the mall I tried Ritz camera, still invested in that model, to find that they sell tons of Canon lenses, but no Canon cameras. It’s a good thing that I didn’t want that model after reading reviews and testing one at a less crowded location (it worked alright, but had an unbearably slow buffer between shots), because it was on a sale ending that week, and immediately shot back up in price the next day.
I began shopping around on Amazon, finding that pretty much every model that Best Buy sold was to be found new for $30 less than the Best Buy sale prices. I spent hours combing through reviews and models to narrow it down to three, ranging from $140-240. This is where it got tough. Each model had something that I liked best about it. The cheapest had the highest megapixel count, was the smallest and lightest, and was actually in my original budget. The middle one had the best zoom and three programmable modes, useful to set up for specific shooting conditions. The most expensive was from a reputable company (Nikon), had full HD recording, and looked nicest to boot. After hunting around for a good while and asking countless peoples’ opinions, I finally settled onto that model, and went hunting around to buy it.
Amazon itself sold it for the lowest price, at $219, with free two day shipping with my account. The issue with that was that they were out of stock, so I could order and have no idea when it would come. The next lowest seller on Amazon sold it for $240, with free shipping in a week, or $20 to get it there in under three days. Next up was Walmart, which had it for $250, and in stock at a few local stores. Costco sold it online for $250 with $10 shipping, but tossed in a free case and SD card to sweeten the deal. Best Buy finished last with the model for $280 and not in my nearest store. I checked the local Costco by phone, none in the area had the bundle, so after placing the Amazon order to see if it would give me a time, I headed to Walmart.
All of the local Walmarts listed it, but the nearest one did not have any in stock, or really any good cameras in at all. The employee helping me said don’t even bother with the online availability chart, as they count the display model, which they do not sell until the item is discontinued. The next Walmart had it, so I spent the fun time flagging an employee, and paid, then walked out, having spent $265 after tax. Immediately after arriving home I get the notice from Amazon that their model would be shipped out and arrive to me either Friday or Monday (stupid no shipping weekends), so less than a half hour after buying the camera, I was planning the inevitable return, as it will be delivered to my door within a few days for $46 cheaper, enough for me to take it back.
I spent the evening playing with it, and it performs rather well, and made me happy with the picture quality. I haven’t tried video yet, but will today before returning it, to get an idea. My only complaints with it are that it is slightly bulky for a point and shoot model, it uses a rechargeable battery, and the charger supplied needs to plug into the camera, so I can’t use it while charging a spare which I plan on buying as well. Otherwise, I think I made a good choice, though I killed more time than I care to think about researching this purchase.
Sometimes it’s easier to just go in, grab, and leave.