By Christina VanGinkel
If you have been putting off purchasing a new digital still camera, or one of the newest video cameras on the market, the holidays can be a great time to buy. With many stores offering sales, deep discounts, or packaged deals, you can spread those dollars you have been saving pretty far. Before plunking down a single dime though, take the time to acquaint yourself with all the jargon that goes with the new breed of cameras.
Get online and read reviews available at nearly any site that sells cameras. While maybe not as reliable as hands on experience, it is a close second. Ask friends and family for recommendations too. If they are willing, ask them for a demonstration of what they own and if they have any specifics likes or dislikes about what they own. If you have a knowledgeable friend or family member (often a teenager or even a pre-teen!) ask them for a course on what it all means. Surprisingly, once it is explained in non-technical terms, it is easy to understand. The best part of knowing the lingo is that you be sure your dollars get you the best equipment it can buy.
Go to the different manufacturer's websites. They often have more detailed information on the specifics of each camera than what you will find at retail outlets, both online or at a typical brick and mortar style store. Another feature that many websites have is a comparison graph. This will allow you to choose different cameras and compare, feature for feature, the differences, and similarities from the model you looked at for $200 and the one that was $400.
If you have nobody to explain it all to you, after researching as much as you can on your own, head to your local camera shop and ask for a demonstration. If you have done your research, and understand the terminology pretty well, do not be too upfront with this knowledge. See what they have to say, and gauge their credibility before taking a recommendation from them.
When you feel that you have narrowed your choice down, and know what model you are going to buy, go back to all of your sources and do a complete price comparison. If you are finding deep differences in prices, check why. One may be selling just the bare bones camera, while another one may come with all sorts of bells and whistles. You may want these, or they may be extras that you really have no need for or desire, such as a fancy gear bag. If you were planning to purchase the extras that are being offered, still do a separate price comparison of the items by themselves. A packaged deal can be a good buy, but not always. A recent example was a camera with a bonus memory card for what looked to be a reasonable price of $229. The same camera with the same sized memory card bought separately only came to a total of $199!