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Buying from a brick-and-mortar retailer has its advantages, particuarly if you are buying your first, second or third digital camera. But, in all fairness, shopping online has advantages, too.
The first and foremost advantage to shopping online is selection. Very few brick-and-mortar retailers even come close to the selection of digital cameras online. If you're looking for a camera with specific features, this could be an important consideration.
For example, only a handful of cameras have a fast lens that zooms out 10x or more. And because these models tend to be relatively expensive, many retailers prefer not to tie up inventory dollars stocking them. After all, a brick-and-mortar store serves a limited population.
On the other hand, an online retailer can afford to carry these cameras because they can sell them to customers anywhere. And that means quicker turnover of their inventory. So you're more likely to find the special features you're looking for online.
Price can be an advantage to buying online... but exercise caution. Sometimes online retailers achieve "bargain" prices by selling parallel imports - that is, gray market merchandise that doesn't carry the manufacturer's US warranty. Other retailers simply inflate prices unbelievably. For example, the Canon EOS 40D has a suggested retail of $1,099. But I found online retailers selling it for as much as $1,434.68
I was also able to find several reputable online retailers selling the same camera for under $850 - with the US warranty. So the good deals are out there. You just have to exercise a little caution.