More camera buying advice
Best entry-level DSLR 2018: 10 budget DSLRs perfect for the beginner
Best DSLR camera 2018: 10 models to suit all budgets
Best mirrorless camera 2018: 10 top models to suit every budget
Best compact camera 2018: 10 top compact cameras to suit all abilities
Best camera 2018: 10 of the best cameras you can buy right now
Everyone loves to take a picture – be it using a smartphone or a digital camera. While some are happy with the advances made on smartphone cameras, many would love to step away and upgrade to a great pocketable compact, or go all out and snag a DSLR or a brand-new mirrorless.
And whether you want to something small to take along with your on your next holiday or you want to go pro, there’s a camera out there for everyone. Deciding on which one to get can be a challenge though.
There’s a lot of choice out there, with cameras available for every budget. So we understand it can get rather overwhelming when deciding on which one to buy. That’s where the TechRadar team comes in – we tell you what features to look for in a camera so you can make the right choice. And with Black Friday just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about what kind of kit best suits your needs so you can save a bundle.
How to get the best camera deals on Black Friday/Cyber Monday
With a flurry of camera deals going live during the Black Friday sales period, you want to make sure you’re getting a good bargain, and not an aging snapper that your smartphone can trump even during bad light conditions.
You’ll also be bombarded with a large amount of photography jargon around cameras and lenses when the sale goes live, adding to your confusion. So follow our advice and you could keep panic at bay and score yourself a brilliant camera on Black Friday.
Decide what type of camera you want
Cameras today come in all shapes and sizes, not to mention every budget, so the first thing you’ll need to do is decide what kind of snapper you want to buy.
If you’re after something small, light and easily pocketable, then a travel compact is your obvious choice. While the budget compacts have all but disappeared, thanks to innovations made on smartphone cameras, manufacturers have been regularly launching premium models that offer longer zooms, faster performance and better creative control.
What makes the travel compact an appealing choice is that fact that it’s great for the newbie as well. They don’t need a lot of technical knowledge to use, and neither do they need fiddly settings as most offer an array of auto modes that take great images.
Advanced users, however, might want something that offers a tad more control. For them, an interchangeable lens camera (ILC) is a better option. That includes DSLRs and a mirrorless cameras.
With the ability to swap out lenses for specific subjects and the degree to which users can control camera settings, DSLRs have traditionally been seen as the gateway into the world of more serious photography. Canon and Nikon dominate this market, with both manufacturers offering DSLRs to suit most budgets and varying degrees of technical abilities – from entry-level to professional.
In comparison, mirrorless cameras are relatively new. They first arrived on the scene about ten years ago, but since then have given the industry quite a shake-up. Like DSLRs, mirrorless cameras also have interchangeable lenses; the difference is they don’t feature an internal mirror. Hence the name.
The lack of a mirror allowed manufacturers to make the cameras smaller and lighter, and also replace the DSLR’s optical viewfinder for an electronic equivalent.
If you’d like to learn more about the difference between the two systems, take a look at our mirrorless vs DSLR: 10 key differences buying guide. If that doesn’t answer all your questions, we also have an expert guide to help you decide what camera you should buy, with all the key types of cameras explained, with pros and cons of each provided.
Get the best images
With some travel compacts featuring the same or higher resolution than some ILCs, it can be hard to decide which delivers the best image quality. This is down to the size of the sensor in the camera.
While compacts can feature a sensor smaller than your little finger nail, sensors on DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are considerably larger thanks to the space within the bigger bodies. So although a compact camera may have the same resolution (for example, 20MP) as an ILC, the pixels (or photosites) on the sensor itself is much larger, thus offering better light-gathering capabilities.
The larger sensors allow for superior image quality, especially in low-light conditions, with higher degree of detail. They also capture photos with far less image noise, resulting in sharper, clearer images.
For more information, take a look at our guide to camera sensor sizes.
4K video capture is becoming the norm on most travel compacts and mirrorless ILCs, but most DSLRs are only capable of shooting in Full HD.
You shouldn’t be put off by that, however. Unless you’re a vlogger or film maker, a camera deal on Black Friday that features only 1080p video capture should be considered. Most interchangeable lens cameras produce better Full HD videos than a compact snapper with a smaller sensor that shoots in 4K, for example. But if you are keen on videos, then you’ll need to consider other features like headphone and microphone ports.
A camera boasting 4K video capture can also be a little deceptive. Some offer capture at 15p, resulting in footage that’s jerky and horrible (you’ll want 24/30p and above for good video). On the other hand, some DSLRs and mirrorless cameras can shoot ‘cropped’ 4K video. This means that the entire width of the sensor is not being used, only the centre, making it hard to shoot wide-angle footage and can compromise quality.
Know what you want before Black Friday
In the lead up to Black Friday, think about what you really want from a camera. Is the image quality more important to you, or would you prefer something more portable? Would you be happy with an all-in-one solution or would you rather get something you can build a system of lenses around?
If you’re after a DSLR or mirrorless camera, don’t just look at the camera itself but also the lenses that are compatible with each model. While Canon and Nikon have an extensive range of lenses for their DSLRs (along with plenty of options from third-party manufacturers like Sigma and Tamron as well), newer mirrorless ILCs don’t quite have the breadth of lenses and accessories to suit different price points.
Keeping this in mind should help you avoid impulse buys, which are all too easy to do during Black Friday. While it may not be that headline saving, it’s better to get something to suit your specific needs rather than a camera that’s heavily discounted.
Keep the receipts and don’t buy grey
It goes without saying, but make sure you hold on to your receipt, in case you’re not happy with your new camera. Make sure you look into the retailer’s refund policy before purchasing anything on Black Friday – if there’s no free return policy, it can get quite expensive to ship back a photography kit.
Even the best camera gear can fail unexpectedly, so keep an eye on the warranty period – the longer the better if you want that extra peace of mind.
Also make sure you buy local stock. While grey imports (equipment that has been imported through channels other than the manufacturer’s official distribution system) are typically cheaper, they won’t ship with an Australian warranty and you won’t be able to return them locally if you need to. It’s not worth the risk just to save some extra dosh.
Stick with TechRadar to get the best Black Friday deals
Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales can get a bit overwhelming, with numerous retailers vying for your custom at the same time. While this means there will be very competitive deals, it also unfortunately means there are some that aren’t as good as they first appear.
That's why you should visit TechRadar to ensure you get the best Black Friday deals. We keep an eye on all of the top retailer's Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, and highlight the very best savings on the best cameras to suit every ability and budget.
The best Black Friday camera deals from last year
Sony RX100 V compact camera | down to $1,348; was $1,699
This pocketable compact was launched last year and it was great to see it get a decent discount on its debut Black Friday season. Sony’s RX100 series carry a hefty price tag, so for anyone who was looking for the best travel compact, saving $351 was a good bargain.
Sony Alpha a7R II mirrorless camera | down to $3,185; was $4,499
This third generation of this excellent camera is now available, but last year this full-frame mirrorless ILC made headlines with its 42MP sensor, fast autofocus and plethora of features. With a saving of $1,314, this was a great buy and, at the time, Sony was offering a $500 gift card to sweeten the deal as well, adding to the savings.
Olympus E-M10 Mark II + 14-42mm EZ lens | down to $678; save 15%
This was our favourite budget micro four thirds at one point, and we were excited to see it on sale last year for 15% off. At $678, it was an affordable kit that came with a single pancake lens.
Best camera deals predictions for 2018
While Black Friday is still not as large as it is in the US, it’s getting more and more popular with each passing year. Last year saw a handful of great cameras go on, and if that’s anything to go by, we expect to see more this year, with more competitive prices from both manufacturers and retailers.
Sony is always up for a good Black Friday bargain, so we could see the latest generation of Alpha mirrorless cameras go on sale. That would make the premium Sony Alpha a7R III and the Alpha A7 III a bit more affordable. We’re also hoping that last year’s headline act from Sony, the superfast Alpha a9, will also be discounted this year. If you’re happy with the previous generation of Alpha cameras, we’ll definitely see the a7R II and the a7S II also heavily discounted.
Sony will also definitely offer deals on its Cyber-shot range, especially the RX100 series. So anyone after a travel compact, that’s a name to look out for.
If you fancy an entry-level DSLR, we’re likely to see the Nikon D3400 as a kit go on sale this year, along with some excellent options from Canon as well. The Canon EOS 200D is an easy-to-use entry-level shooter that could go on sale for the first time this year on Black Friday.
Action cameras could also go on sale. The GoPro Hero5 Black went on sale last year and, with the launch of the GoPro Hero7 range, we expect the entry-level GoPro Hero and the GoPro Hero6 Black to join the older model this Black Friday.