The week of Thanksgiving is now upon us and, like many former retail employees, I will be most thankful that I don't have to get up at 2 AM Friday to prepare for the onslaught that is black Friday. However, for those of you looking to score a deal on a camera this year, we have a breakdown of the best black Friday deals that have been released so far, as well as some advice to help you beat the crowds on the craziest shopping day of the year.
For those of you who haven't engaged in Black Fridays in the past, understand that the big sales are limited in number. These are called "doorbusters," which require you to often lineup as early as midnight on Thanksgiving to guarantee one of a limited number of the product. Most ads will indicate the minimum amount of stock they have for a doorbuster in the ad itself and should hand out a voucher for the product around 2 AM to the first people in line who want them. These vouchers are often good for a set period of time (until say, 10 AM), meaning you can stay warm in your car until the doors open and browse other departments at will.
There aren't many camcorder doorbusters this year, but supplies are sure to be very limited and the crowds will be as massive as ever so you'll want to snap up the in-store deals quickly. We've got deals on camcorders and video-capable DSLRs below. If you're wondering why to buy a camcorder at all in a world of smartphones, check out our article on the four reasons to buy a camcorder.
It's also worth noting that many of these camcorder deals, unlike their still camera counterparts, do not include any extra memory. Luckily, black Friday is one of the cheapest days to buy memory cards all year long, with 16GB SDHC cards going for as little as $19.99 at many big retailers and online.
Best Values of the Week
Canon Vixia HF M40/M41 - $349.99 (MSRP $699.99 regularly) - available online now
The M41 is a high definition camcorder that comes with 32GB of internal memory. We reviewed the 16GB variant of this camera, the M40, and found it to be the best mid-range camcorder of the year. At this significant of a price drop, either version is worth the money. Read our full review on the M40 and then check out the deals below:
B&H Get the Canon M41 for $349 after $300 off of the original MSRP. Given that this is our fourth-best camcorder in our current testing rubric, this is a great deal. It's available at bhphotovideo.com right now.
Amazon You can get both the M40 (16GB internal memory) or the M41 (32GB internal memory) for $300 off of original retail price below:
M40 - $349.99 - Available at this link and in stock now directly through Amazon.com.
M41 - $399.99 - Available at this link and in stock Friday. Order it now through Amazon.com, though it's sold by a third-party retailer.
Panasonic TM90 - $406.99 (MSRP $599.99) - available online now
The TM90 is a high definition camcorder from Panasonic that offers 1080/60p shooting, 16GB of internal memory, a 21x optical zoom, and a slew of manual controls. These are not your traditional black Friday deals, but the TM90 won our awards for best value and best entry-level camcorder in 2011, making it a steal at just over $400. Read our full review on the TM90 here and check out the deals below.
Best Stocking Stuffer Deal - Kodak Playfull - $69.99 (MSRP $129.99)
The Kodak Playfull was runner-up for our best value award in 2011, when it cost $129.99. Its street price has dropped somewhat from there, but it becomes downright cheap at $69.99 on black Friday. You can read our review of the Kodak Playfull here and get it discounted at the following retailers:
Best Buy - Doorbuster (minimum eight per store, expect to need a voucher) $69.99
OfficeMax - $69.99, though it's not listed as a doorbuster supplies will be limited
Other Camcorder Deals
Sony Handycam HDR-CX160 - $299 (MSRP $499)
The CX160 currently ranks as our 16th best camcorder in our current testing rubric, offering 16GB of built-in memory, a 30x optical zoom, a touchscreen LCD, and 1080/60p video recording. It's on heavy discount this year and worth checking out. Read our full review of the CX160 to see if these deals are up your alley.
Best Buy $299.99 (minimum four per store), available for $349.99 with 8GB memory card, battery, and bag.
HHGregg $299.99, available for $339.99 with 8GB memory card and bag included
Sony Bloggie TS10 - $114 (MSRP $179.99) - available online now
The Bloggie is a decent all around pocket camcorder with a touchscreen interface and social media integration. Read our full review on the Bloggie MHS-TS10 and check out the deal below.
B&H - $114.00 after $40 instant savings, free case included. This deal is available right now through November 26th, as B&H is not open for business on Friday.
Canon DSLR Deals - Rebel T3 and Rebel T3i - $479 and $799 respectively
The T3i produced the best video of any DSLR we tested in 2011, and the T3 also performed well. They're also the most popular cameras on black Friday, as they appear in the ad for nearly every electronics retailer we've seen. This Friday expect the T3 to go for $479 at every retailer while the T3i is available nearly everywhere at $799 for just the basic kit with camera and 18-55mm kit lens. The real separation between stores comes down to bundles and the extras they throw in, which we've listed below. Read up on our full review of the Canon T3 and our review of the Canon T3i to see if these are the deals you're looking for.
Canon Rebel T3i
Best Buy - $799 with 18-55mm kit lens, 8GB memory card, 58mm UV filter, and camera bag; add 75-300mm lens for $100 or 55-250mm IS lens for $150 more. (minimum seven per store)
HHGregg - $799 with 18-55mm kit lens; $979.99 with 55-250mm IS lens, Lowepro all-weather sling bag, and 8GB memory card.
Sears - $799 with 18-55mm kit lens; $879.98 with 75-300mm telephoto lens.
Canon Rebel T3
Best Buy - $479 with 18-55mm kit lens, 8GB memory card, 58mm UV filter, and camera bag; add 75-300mm lens for $100 or 55-250mm IS lens for $150 more. (minimum six per store)
HHGregg - $479 with 18-55mm kit lens; $599 with 75-300mm kit lens, camera bag, and 8GB memory card.
Office Max - $479 with 18-55mm kit lens and Case Logic camera case.
Sears - $479 with 18-55mm kit lens; $579.98 with 75-300mm telephoto lens.
Staples - $479 with 18-55mm kit lens; $99 off of Canon zoom lens (online only), which we assume is the 75-300mm telephoto lens, so it should come to $579.98.
Target - $479 with camera bag.
Walmart - $479 with Canon gadget bag, 4GB memory card, 8x10'' Walmart photo book (Walmart opens at 12:01 Friday morning, much earlier than other stores)
B&H - $488 with 18-55mm kit lens, available right now through Wednesday on bhphotovideo.com with free shipping.