Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Quest for a New Camera, Day 1

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , , ,

First, a preface: you should really read Free Money Finance‘s post entitled Money Saving Tip: Don’t Let a 7-year-old Operate Your Digital Camera. Read it? Good.

The original title of this post was going to be “Don’t Let Me Operate Your Digital Camera.” As you might quickly learn if you did, I have a knack for dropping them. Fortunately for my friends, it was our own digital camera that suffered the sudden vertical death this time around. Unfortunately for our next camera, I’m batting a thousand when it comes to dropping cameras.

This time around, our victim was my adorably bulky Vivitar digital camera that was approaching its third birthday. I only shed half a tear as I watched it smash against the cold, hard sidewalk after our return from the D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival; the camera had failed me a couple times before at important moments of my life. Perhaps I dropped the camera subconsciously, my brain having deemed it at the end of its natural lifespan. Accident or not, we now find ourselves in need of a new way to capture memories (at least until I perfect my Memory Extraction Laser).

As I’m sure you already know, I like taking the frugal approach to spending money. This usually entails getting the most value out of my money, and there will be no exception this time around. The only difference now is that I have all of you to witness my frugality in action!

My goal is simple: find a new, good quality digital camera for the best price possible. I’ve set no due date on this mission, so it could last anywhere from a single day to weeks and weeks. I will be documenting my quest for a new camera daily with my progress including cameras I might be considering, camera deals I come across, and ultimately news of a successful purchase.

Here’s what I’m looking for in a digital camera:

  • Around 3-5 megapixels. I almost never print pictures I take with my camera, so I don’t need some insanely high resolution. My last camera was 3 MP and did just fine. Of course, if there’s a great deal on a >5 MP camera, I promise to make good use of those extra pixels. Really, I do.
  • Optical zoom. I think I used it on every single picture with my last camera. Digital zoom I could care less about.
  • Video and sound would be nice, but it’s not required. I’m not looking for even VHS quality here, but I wouldn’t mind being able to share my fancy dances with the world.
  • Something small. I’d really like it if the camera could fit in my pocket. While it doesn’t need to be ridiculously tiny, I imagine a pocket would help protect the camera from sudden vertical death.
  • Something easy to use. I’m no camera pro. If I see something I want to take a picture of, I expect to take out my camera, press a button, and get the darn picture. So no need for crazy options like SLR or twin-action double-barrelled omni-directional rack-and-pinion steering.
  • Warranty. One year at minimum, in case the camera should break on its own.
  • Um, anti-break technology. If it exists, I wouldn’t mind getting me some of that.

With this series of posts, I hope to gain some insight into how the mind of a bargain hunter works. Please feel free to share on Punny Money any digital camera deals you may come across along with your thoughts on any particular cameras you’ve used.

And if you have any advice on how to prevent a 23-year-old from constantly breaking his digital camera, I wouldn’t mind hearing it.

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