Urban Landscape + Lifestyle Photography

Maybe I’ll get a Nikon

Nikon Coolpix S3300

Nikon Coolpix S3300, Target – Austin, Texas

I headed over to Target tonight with the family to pickup school supplies. I let my wife manage the required inventory of composition books, binders and pens and I ambled over to the camera aisle. It’s always fun to see what Target is selling camera wise; it gives me a perspective that I don’t always have. What do average consumers want in the photo gear? I’m not exactly a super high-end camera guy. I don’t have the top end sports DSLRs or the full frame Canon 5DM3 or Nikon D800 but I do own my share of mid level mirrorless system cameras and a prosumer DSLR. So I have no illusions that my blog tends to focus a bit north of the entry-level point and shoot crowd.

Target’s camera gear spanned an entire aisle. On the left they had 2 consumer DSLRs from Canon and 2 from Nikon. The next section over they had two mirrorless system cameras, the Nikon J1 and some version on the Sony NEX-3. Then came the compact superzooms and the nicer point and shoots and finally the really inexpensive, bottom of the line point and shoots. The least expensive models were on sale for about $100. They were made by major manufactures such as Nikon, Sony and Canon. There were even less expensive cameras in a different aisle but those were the no-name brands with truly dubious functionality. Those are probably outclassed by the higher end camera phones.

I spent time in the low-end section. After all, I already had may share of nicer cameras and I wanted to see what a $100 camera looked like these days. Two Nikon models were particular interesting. These $100 to $140 cameras at Target were priced at about $50 for last year’s factory refurbished models at Cameta Camera. I wasn’t interested in spending $100 or more on a low-end point and shoot but heck for $50 it might be fun. I could play around with it to see how good or bad these tiny 16MP sensor are. And it’s always fun to prove to oneself that it’s not the equipment but the photographer that makes great, creative photos. While I’m sure there are many differences between the two models, a big concern for me was the batteries they used. The lower end model was a bit thicker on one side and it took two AA batteries. The other was super slim and used a proprietary Nikon EN-EL19 Li-ion battery. The downside of proprietary batteries are that they can be expensive and become hard to find over time. If I did end up buying a $50 camera, I didn’t want to spend $40 for a replacement battery. At least I knew the AAs would be cheap and always available.

A quick check at Amazon revealed that the official Nikon battery cost about $35 but there were a couple of third-party batteries that ran $10 and even one for $2.66. The bargain basement $2.66 version had a bunch of good reviews so in a pinch I can get some low cost alternatives. Well, I might have to get this inexpensive Nikon at Cameta. In one sense it maybe a waste of money. I certainly own a bunch of better quality cameras and I also have my slim Sony TX5 if I wanted a smaller point and shoot. I have to admit though that part of me just wants to buy a gadget. Something frivolous but not overly expensive and at $50 it fits the bill. Some people might treat themselves to a nice meal or go to a concert but for the same price I can play with yet another camera. And heck, a new camera will give me more to write about on this blog.

Note: I shot The image of the Nikon S3300 at Target with my iPhone.

6 responses

  1. You reminded me that I’ve been looking for an inexpensive little P&S, but with a decent lens. The only 4100s at Cameta were scarlet. I couldn’t do it. I could cope if the lens weren’t scarlet too, but it was much too fire engine for me. So I popped over to Adorama and ordered it in plum, which by any other name is purple. The lens is silver and the price is okay. Because we traveled so much this summer, I realized there are times and places, where I do NOT want to take an expensive camera. It’s not the size. I can fit the P3 into my purse, no problem, and often do. But when you’re going to ride roller coasters and log flumes, I’m way too paranoid to take an expensive camera. Not even the PL-1. The little Coolpix is light, small and cheap … and hopefully, the lens is not bad. Thanks for the info on the batteries. Found them and I’ll get a few. Cheap enough. By the way, did you notice that the longevity of the batteries for these cameras is low? Rated at 190 pictures, I’m betting if you use the zoom and/or flash, it’ll be a lot less, so get a lot of batteries. I figure on getting 3 or 4. They don’t hold much juice.

    August 20, 2012 at 11:17 am

    • Please let me know how it works out for you.

      August 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm

  2. “I have to admit though that part of me just wants to buy a gadget.”

    I allow myself one crazy out of whack purchase per year, so I bought that $100 Canon Elph. Yes there has been frustration but overall I would say I am pleased. Feels good in the hand, as long as I watch my light I can get some good shots.

    Here is the primary reason I went with the Canon – Over the years, I’ve got hundred of Canon shoot & pray files from clients for web prep and even full blown retouch. Everything from the old A series to the S95. The quality has always been “livable” although understandably, a lot of the stuff made me wince. On the Nikon side, not so much with the lower end and mid range Coolpix line. The stuff has always been a disappointment. Just my 2 cents.

    August 20, 2012 at 11:33 am

  3. What a great blog idea! I have 50 American dollars and I need to by photog gadget. I wouldn’t buy a P&S. Once i snapped one photo the thrill would be over! What could it be?
    Maybe this: http://www.amazon.com/Lomography-Diana-Mini–35mm-Camera/dp/B002SSU4AI/ref=sr_1_9?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1345498826&sr=1-9&keywords=holga+35mm+camera and this http://www.amazon.com/Fujifilm-1014258-Superia-X-TRA-400/dp/B00004TWLZ/ref=sr_1_11?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1345498908&sr=1-11&keywords=holga+35mm+camera

    August 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    • Frank, not a bad idea. I have been down to the Austin Lomography store, fun stuff.

      August 20, 2012 at 4:49 pm

  4. Reblogged this on Serendipity and commented:
    I actually did order one. I’ve been looking for a light, small, good AND inexpensive camera that I can throw into my purse when we are going places to which I don’t want to bring my more expensive and somewhat larger cameras. For example, I didn’t take a camera to Busch Gardens because I could not protect it from water, dropping, or theft and still do the other stuff I wanted to do. I would have liked to bring a camera, but wasn’t going to endanger either of my Olympus PENs. I ordered one of these guys … the 4100S to be precise … and the whole thing cost me $54.95 including shipping from Adorama. Two additional batteries from Amazon cost an addition $9.00 (approximately) including shipping. Problem solved at a very low cost … hopefully. Refurbished equipment bought from legitimate companies saves hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars. Both for computers and for cameras, if you are on a tight budget, it may be the best way to go.

    August 21, 2012 at 9:12 am

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