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.