Focus on digital camera savings

Compact camera prices are creating excitement in stores.

I have three point-and-shoot digital cameras — two Nikon Coolpix and a Canon Sure Shot — a digital Nikon D100 SLR and a vintage, I suppose, Olympus Pentax.

My world view is a girl can never have enough cameras — especially when she has five utterly adorable nephews, Facebook, Twitter and an affinity for photography. (My dad, back in the day, worked for Eastman Kodak and GAF.)

Although I certainly don’t need a new camera, there is good reason to buy a point-and-shoot camera right now.

No, it won’t be Ashton Kutcher’s goofy mug that lures me to buy a newer Nikon camera.

It will be the fantastic prices I have found.

According to Mark Leonard, president of Cleveland-based Dodd Camera stores, now is historically a great time of the year to find deals, since manufacturers are clearing out inventory to make way for new models.

He says the greatest excitement revolves around compact cameras by Nikon, Canon, Sony and Fujifilm.

Nikon, for instance, has two sharp offers, says Leonard.

At his stores, the Nikon Coolpix S4100 with a 5X optical zoom and LCD touchscreen (regularly $179.99) is offered at $99.99. He adds the Nikon Coolpix S9100 also is marked down from $319.99 to $199.99. (These prices are good through Feb. 25.)

The S9100 is a good value, says Leonard, noting although the camera is very small, its mightiness can be found in a powerful 18X zoom lens.

Over at Canon, Leonard says the PowerShot Elph 100 HS is also a sweet deal. Regularly $179.99, it is now on sale for $129.99.

“It’s truly the smallest of cameras we have in the point-and-shoot realm,” he explains, making it just the right size for a small handbag or backpack.

While I am ready to hang on to my older models (especially since I am still having fun with the camera on my new iPhone 4S.), the market is hot for folks who desire a point-and-shoot camera offering high-quality still images and creative capabilities.

Louis Ramirez, the senior features writer for Brooklyn-based Dealnews.com, says the influx of better smartphone cameras has given camera makers a true run for the money.

Quite frankly, the competition is tough.

Retailers across the board are discounting the point-and-shoot units, and manufacturers are upping the ante on new models by adding more built-in features.

“The Canon PowerShot A3300 (16 megapixels) is one of the best on the market and it was released last year,” he explains. Ostensibly, it can be found (do your research, of course) for under $100.

“It’s insane; the average person does not even need that much megapixel,” he says.

You set the camera to whatever you want: low-level, sports, portrait, video.

What if you are ready to unleash your inner artist and upgrade to a single-lens reflex digital camera?

Again, good news.

Last fall, Nikon released the first two models in its Nikon 1 series:Think of these cameras as transitions between the point-and-shoot cameras and the pricier SLRs.

Their compact and lightweight bodies make them ideal for everyday use. You can keep them with you at all times, making them perfect not only for vacations and special events, but also for quick and easy snapshots of everyday scenes or unexpected episodes.

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