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Camera Buyers Beware of Incredible Bargains

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The flyers were placed under windshield wiper blades of cars all around the county last week, announcing an incredible deal: A "$149.95 2000 35mm camera” for only $28.

How could you possibly pass it up?

Well, what you think you’re getting and what you actually end up with aren’t always the same. The flyer said an entire truckload of these cameras was headed east when it was discovered that the shipment had been mislabeled, causing the shipper to cancel the order. Now, at great sacrifice, the manufacturer is making the cameras available to the general public for just $28.

The faithful masses were invited to show up at a warehouse in Santa Ana between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. one day only. The flyer also said that there were full warranties but that “due to the distress nature of this sale, only cash can be accepted.”

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Upon purchasing one of these $28 wonders, you realize that the only similarities between it and a high-priced camera is that they look alike. But don’t touch because you will soon come to realize more differences.

For starters, the camera is very light, and that is because it is made of nothing but plastic, from the casing to the lens to the shutter. It also offers only two shutter speeds (1/60 and 1/125).

The lens is a 50-millimeter f/6 auto fixed focus. That is interesting because how can a fixed-focus lens be automatic? What’s there to

change or vary? The answer, obviously, is nothing, which approximates the value of this camera.

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It looks like a single-lens reflex camera but uses only a cheap leaf shutter and a viewfinder that is clear plastic.

There is also no way to vary the film speed and, with all these constant or fixed features, it would be very difficult to get a picture properly exposed with this camera. There is also no light meter--immaterial because you couldn’t change the exposure if you wanted to.

If there are any redeeming qualities to this camera, I couldn’t find them.

The point of all of this is that buying a camera is an important step and not to be done without some knowledge.

If you know a little bit about cameras and know exactly what features you do or don’t want, buying from a big discount house can be the most inexpensive way.

However, if you are buying your first camera, go to your local camera store and don’t be afraid to ask questions--a lot of them. After all, service is an important factor when buying anything.

If a camera costs next to nothing, there is probably a pretty good reason for it. And that reason can’t work in your favor.


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