In preparation for my trip to
Not to be derailed from my goal, I went down the list of vendors to the third lowest vendor, http://www.stop4camera.com/, who offered the camera for $248. Once more I called them and explained that I wanted just the camera. I also noticed background noise that sounded like the person answering the phone was at home. I asked about it and the “salesman” said some guys behind him were just talking. He claimed he could sell me just the camera – no problem – but he would need to call me back in ten minutes - ???? Of course, no call back ever came.
All of these vendors are listed through a web portal, http://www.lowpricedigital.com/ prominently advertised as a sponsored link at the top of the Google results page. This afternoon, I see that both The Digital Nerds and Wisetronics have upped their price for the Panasonic to $299 (A price available from Amazon and just about everybody else.) Now the third dealer on the list, http://www.digitalsuperdeals.com/, is offering the camera for $229 (and the auxiliary high-capacity battery is offered for $149.99! This web portal and all of its so-called merchant links appears to be a huge scam operation attempting to lure people in with low camera prices so they can fleece them for exorbitantly priced accessories.
Finally, I noticed a Google sidebar sponsored link for B&H Professional Photography Supply had the camera listed for $269. Their spare batteries were only $27 and I got a couple of 2 Gb SD Memory Cards for only $26 each. Their shipping was only $6.95 (Everyone else was quoting from $15 - $20 for 5- 7 day shipping) I requested 3 – 5 day shipping for only $5 more. They were thoroughly professional and even spent quite a bit of time answering my questions about shooting in raw format, Panasonic vs. Canon, Super Zoom vs. DSLR, noise reduction strategies, etc. I got great service and still a good buy without getting taken to the cleaners for the extras.