From sharing photos of your vacation on Facebook to recording your next vlog, cameras connect us to the world. For many people, the built-in cell phone camera has replaced the need to carry a point-and-shoot individual camera. But sometimes, the lower resolution and limited space of your cell phone’s camera just isn’t enough power for your needs.
If you think it’s time to invest in a better camera, we have good news. You no longer need to invest $1,000 or use your budgeting app for weeks on end just to afford a quality camera.
There are now plenty of amazing options available online for under $200. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite selections, along with some additional tips to help you find the right camera for you. Happy shooting!
Quick Look – Best Cheap Cameras
- Best Overall: Sony DSCWX220/B – Get it now
- Best for Vlogging/YouTube: Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 – Get it now
- Best Polaroid: Fujifilm INSTAX 300 – Get it now
- Best 4k: AKASO EK7000 4K WiFi Sports Action Camera – Get it now
- Best Pocket-Sized: Canon PowerShot ELPH – Get it now
- Best Waterproof: Campark ACT74 Action Camera – Get it now
- Best DSLR: Canon EOS 4000D DSLR Camera – Get it now
- Best for Under $100: Nikon COOLPIX A10 – Get it now
- Best for Under $50: AbergBest 21- Get it now
What to Look for in a Camera
Though there are plenty of great, affordable cameras out there, not every model is equally functional, especially at a lower price point. Consider the following characteristics while you shop to make sure you aren’t sacrificing quality to save money.
Long Battery Life
Unlike cell phones, you usually won’t be able to find camera charging cords and portable chargers at every gas station. If you want to take your camera on vacation or to events, your camera’s battery life is important to preserve. Look for a camera with a long battery life to make sure that you don’t run out of charge on the road.
If you’re very concerned about price and battery life is your top concern, it is still possible to find cameras that take AA batteries instead of electrical charge. This can be a good option for shoppers who can’t afford to spend more than $50 on a camera but who need longer battery assurance.
One of the best ways to save money when buying portable electronics is to spend just a little extra to choose a model that will last. Cameras are unique because unlike your cell phone, they typically don’t come with a case that stays on the camera at all times to protect its lens and screen.
This makes it especially important to choose a camera with a durable frame and body.
A Lightweight, Portable Design
Cameras are meant to be taken on adventures. If your camera is too heavy or bulky, you won’t be able to use it as effectively or in as many environments. While a little bulk is unavoidable with some models (DSLR cameras will almost always be heavier than point-and-shoot models), make sure the camera that you choose feels comfortable and stable in your hands.
If possible, don’t be afraid to visit your local electronics retailer to test out the weight and feel of different models before you make your final decision.
Not every camera has the ability to take videos. If you only want a camera to take photos, you may not need video capabilities. But if you want to record videos or vlogs, make sure that the model you’re considering can take high-quality footage. For cameras under $200, look for video quality at or above 1080p.
Optical Zoom Capabilities
When shooting, zooming allows you to take photos of things that are far away by extending the lens of your camera. If you think that you’ll often be taking photos of things far away, you’ll want to search for a camera with strong optical zoom capabilities.
Optical zoom is a type of super zoom feature that allows you to take photos of things very far away, extending the standard zoom features and capturing small details with higher-quality footage. Not every camera offers optical zoom — if you’re interested in nature or sports photography, make sure that the model you’re considering has an optical zoom feature.
Our Top Picks for Affordable Cameras
Ready to start shopping? Begin by taking a look at some of our favorite affordable camera models — all of them are available online for less than $200!
Best Overall: Sony DSCWX220/B
Who it’s for: Beginner hobby photographers who want durability, affordability and great features rolled into one convenient package.
Price: From $197
If you’re just getting started with hobby photography, the Sony DSCWX220 is a great first camera.
This model offers 10x optical zoom and a 10 frames-per-second (fps) burst rate, which can capture high-quality images at far-away distances. It can record video in 1080p, despite weighing less than five ounces. Packing a powerful punch in a sleek, lightweight body, the Sony DSCWX220 is an ideal camera for most day-to-day uses.
Best for Vlogging/YouTube: Canon PowerShot ELPH 360
Who it’s for: Content creators who need a lightweight, portable camera that can be taken anywhere but that also offers high-quality video rendering.
When you record vlogs or YouTube videos, portability is an absolute must-have characteristic — and this model from Canon offers a range of lightweight features for a low price.
Weighing in at about 4.5 ounces, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 is one of the lightest camera models you’ll find on the market. Its 1080p filming resolution and WiFi connectivity make it easy to shoot, capture and upload your content. Plus, with over 20-megapixel capabilities, your audience won’t miss a single detail.
Best Polaroid: Fujifilm INSTAX 300
Who it’s for: Casual photography hobbyists who want an easy way to get started with a portable Polaroid camera.
A Polaroid camera is a type of instant camera that uses self-developing film stored inside of the camera to create a print shortly after you take a shot.
This Fujifilm INSTAX 300 bundle (that includes the camera, multiple rolls of film and other accessories) offers hobby photographers the perfect way to get started shooting. It weighs about 4 pounds, which means the INSTAX 300 can be taken almost anywhere.
Its glossy film yields beautiful photos in both daylight and low-level lighting. Its display screen even shows you how many photos you have remaining before the film runs out, making the Fujifilm INSTAX 300 the perfect companion for everything from road trips to birthday parties.
Best 4k: AKASO EK7000 4K WiFi Sports Action Camera
Who it’s for: Sports and nature enthusiasts who don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for full 4K HD rendering.
This 4K model from AKASO offers professional-level 4K filming capabilities, with up to 30 FPS and 4 times the speed of other cameras.
While the AKASO EK7000’s incredible detail surely makes it unique, what really makes this model stand out is its nearly unbreakable design.
Created for usage in extreme environments, the EK7000 is waterproof up to 100 feet and features a long-lasting case to protect against rain, wind or other elements. An exceptionally affordable model with outstanding details, the AKASO EK7000 is a durable and portable camera suitable for almost any type of indoor or outdoor usage.
Best Pocket-Sized: Canon PowerShot ELPH
Who it’s for: Travelers or adventurers who want a lightweight, pocket-sized model that’s made to last.
The first thing that you’ll notice about the Canon Powershot ELPH is that it’s tiny. It weighs less than 5 ounces, so you can take it anywhere.
However, don’t let its small size fool you — this model from Canon features 720p HD video capabilities, 10x optical zoom and a number of fun other features (like fisheye and toy camera effects) that makes your photos and videos look stunning.
The Powershot ELPH also features a unique battery-saving ECO mode that extends the life of your camera. Stylish, slim and powerful, the Canon Powershot ELPH is our number one choice for photographers on the go.
Best Waterproof: Campark ACT74 Action Camera
Who it’s for: Swimming and diving enthusiasts who need a durable underwater camera that doesn’t sacrifice clarity for strength.
Another powerful and shockingly affordable 4K camera option, this model from Campark is one of the best waterproof models available.
The Campark ACT74 is waterproof up to about 100 feet, making it suitable for most SCUBA, diving
However, the camera is also equally as effective on land — with a 170-degree optical viewing lens, you can quickly adjust the camera to capture every angle of your shot. The ACT74’s duel rechargeable batteries also offer an amazingly long 180 minutes per charge, which makes it an excellent HD sports camera.
Best DSLR: Canon EOS 4000D DSLR Camera
Who it’s for: Photography enthusiasts and intermediates who want the power of a professional-grade DSLR camera but who aren’t ready to make a large investment quite yet.
Okay, this model costs a bit more than $200 — but for anyone who has shopped for a DSLR camera before knows, name-brand models often run up to $1,000.
This model from Canon offers the power and clarity of a DSLR and combines the optics and mechanisms of a single-lens camera with additional lenses for an increased view frame and more detailed shots.
The Canon EOS 4000D model shares its body and frame with more expensive models in the Canon family but cuts some of the least often-used features of professional models. This makes it an ideal beginner DSLR for users who want to take high-quality photos without investing hundreds more in a full-fledged professional camera.
Best for Under $100: Nikon COOLPIX A10
Who it’s for: Budget shoppers who need a basic, durable point-and-shoot camera for daily use and hobbies.
When you’ve got less than $100 in your budget, you won’t find many models better than the Nikon COOLPIX A10. The A10 offers up to 5x optical zoom, stunning 16-megapixel display for clear and beautiful photos and 720p video rendering. The COOLPIX A10 also runs using 2 AA batteries, which means that you don’t have to wait around for a charge or pull out a few extra hundred dollars for a top-of-the-line battery. Cheap and powerful enough for everyday usage, the COOLPIX A10 still holds up as an affordable camera option.
Best for Under $50: AbergBest 21
Who it’s for: Men and women who want a camera that’s better than their cell phone’s offering but who only want basic functionality.
Don’t care about fancy features or lenses but need to take better quality photos and videos? This model from AbergBest is functional and affordable.
Though this model doesn’t have optical zoom capabilities, it does offer basic digital zoom up to 8x. It also features a durable, portable body. Basic and affordable, the AbergBest 21 is a great starter camera for hobbyists and teens.
The Best Camera For Your Needs
Finding a great camera doesn’t have to mean spending up to $500. However, when you’re working on a budget, it becomes especially important to take your time and do your research. Compare specs on plenty of models and consider where and how you want to use your camera before you decide to buy. With just a little bit of time, you’ll be able to find the right camera for your needs — without totally blowing your budget.