If you are looking to buy an inexpensive camera, but have not yet decided on the model, then this article is for you!
Admittedly, we prepared this article with special inspiration. After all, choosing a camera is not merely about “choosing a device that can take photos.” There is more to it. You might need to find a quality tool for a video blog, a reliable friend, for traveling, or for finding an emotional gift for someone important to you.
In regards to budget cameras, the biggest regret is to end up with “brick” or a “pile of scrap”. Read our new article and find out which camera will best meet your needs and will not be “an additional headache for your money”.
Top cameras up to $200
How we did this research
- Before publishing our recommendations, our team conducted a detailed study to find the most reliable and noteworthy cameras.
- We found and tested many different models.
- We interviewed more than 600 users of different cameras. Among them were ordinary workers, beginners, and professional photographers, dreamy teenagers, brides in love, mad travelers, and true connoisseurs of photography and video.
- After that, we consulted with camera manufacturers, technical experts.
And now we are ready to share this information with you.
What features and quality do cameras under $200 have?
Over the past couple of years, manufacturers have reconsidered their attitude towards compacts, and they have turned so-called “toys” into something better. Uncut CMOS-type sensors are installed in cameras of an advanced level.
The main advantage of these cameras lies in the high level of detail, image quality (photo will be without noticeable distortion), and the ability to work with high ISO values. That is, if you suddenly need to take a picture indoors or in the evening, you can expect a good result.
How to choose a camera (quickly and without errors)
Let’s get back to the main task — choosing a camera to suit your needs.
The only and most important question here — For what purposes do you need a camera? Or Who and when will they use this camera?
It is not enough to say that you need it simply (for example) for a vacation. Will it be a quiet walk through the narrow streets of Rome or do you plan to dive with sharks and shoot 4K video underwater?
If you need to choose a camera for a gift, stop for a second and think about the person — handmade enthusiasts, a biker, or a 9-year-old boy?
You may simply want to give a personalized camera gift (maybe to yourself.) We have some good recommendations.
The choice is easier than you think
Before buying a digital compact camera, in addition to planning the amount for its purchase, it is still very important to decide on the type of camera that you need. Which is more important to you: compactness, ease of use, or versatility of focal lengths? Having considered the price and type, we will immediately make significant progress in resolving the question “what exactly do you need to buy?”
The rest of the parameters — the number of megapixels, design and control features, LCD size, and video capture format — can be considered part of the main solution.
Also give attention to image stabilization, image quality at high sensitivity, the speed of switching on and the speed of the focusing system, the presence of additional shooting settings, and intra-camera frame processing.
What parameters are important and unimportant when choosing a camera?
We have spent over 200 hours interviewing users who use cameras in a wide variety of environments. Each person we interviewed spoke about their requirements and impressions, users shared their emotions and facts. As a result, we have compiled a list of must-have parameters (even in the case of cameras under the $200 range).
- Best image/video quality
Photos should have a good sharpness, no grain, and the color reproduction should be realistic, sufficiently saturated, and without spots. In low light, photos should focus on the subject.
For specialized models, additional features should also work. For example, when shooting underwater, the image must be clear, the sound transmission must be realistic, not muffled, and the camera must be waterproof.
- Ease of use
The camera should be easy to carry and handle. It should be compact, convenient to use by being easy to operate, having an intuitive interface, along with convenient control buttons.
- Software stability
The camera should work seamlessly for several years, never a hiccup.
- Durability, high-quality assembly
The camera should arrive in a high-quality and durable (most likely metal) case. The product should look solid, well-built and of high-quality, made of resistant materials.
- 3+ hours autonomous work
It should have the ability to change the battery quickly, and there should be reusable batteries. It should offer a convenient charging method, USB is ideal.
- Effective stabilization tools
If this is an action camera, then photos and videos should be crystal clear due to an effective image stabilization function.
Undoubtedly, the most important thing you should get from a camera is good quality pictures. The frame should not be cropped in an unexpected place, the images should be sharp, and the color reproduction should be reasonably accurate (no dull or bright spots).
What’s the catch? Some authors rely on the opinion of 3-4 acquaintances, so you can find recommendations from the series “a good camera should work together with a special original program for processing photos”.
No doubt, a good camera should have software that will allow you to quickly transfer photos to your phone or computer. Its interface should be intuitive and it should work seamlessly.
We found several models that do a great job at this. Some manufacturers have implemented this with a good application of their own, and in others, it works as expected without additional software.
Therefore, it is not so important whether you will transfer photos via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Speed and stability are more important. And manufacturers would rather not write about this in the product description on the listing.
8 best cameras up to $200
Even in the budget camera segment, there are decent choices. We tried to make an exhaustive list so that you are not limited on options. We have divided all the models into groups, depending on the purpose for which you will use them.
Point-And-Shoot Cameras – one-stop solution
Kodak PIXPRO AZ421
Even a beginner photographer can get good quality photos with this model.
The camera is equipped with 42x optical zoom, which means that your picture will have high resolution, clarity, and sharpness at a high frame magnification. You can hardly get this quality with digital zoom.
By the way, here’s another reason for you not to focus on the promotional materials of the sellers. In this case, the statement “more is better” does not always work.
📌 Pro tip: If you want to take photos outside the home, it is best to invest in a protective camera case. This is especially important for travelers. If the camera is dropped or someone accidentally hits it somewhere, the fragile lens can break and its replacement is equivalent to 80% of the cost of the camera. Such risks exist with other similar cameras.
✏️ Things to consider:
If you are shooting very distant subjects, then the automatic viewfinder will not always focus immediately on the subject or the person that you want it to. To eliminate this drawback, you can use manual settings or take several photos, and then choose the most suitable one.
I’ve had this item for at least a couple of weeks and have been using it for outings to take photos of lakes etc. the zoom is awesome and photos turn out crystal clear. I can get photos of the moon now with craters showing etc. Makes me feel like I’m a professional photographer and I have also got compliments from my boyfriend, family, and friends saying that the pics look professional too.
— Sarah, OK
This camera uses a battery that is recharged via USB, without any AA batteries. This new Kodak has features that I haven’t even begun to fully use. I love the greater zoom capability. Not being a professional needing multiple lenses … this camera exceeds my normal needs. IT IS much better than my tablet cameras. I will probably use it for at least another 10 years.
— Alan, MO
“Size matters” is a very relevant expression in the context of choosing a compact camera. It should be so small that it fits in the pocket. At the same time, it should be comfortable to hold in the hand, the buttons should be located where it is convenient to press them.
The undisputed winner in the Smart Design category of compact cameras is SONY. You do not need to learn or get used to it, you can easily start taking pictures with it. This aspect makes it a good present for a beginner photographer.
Also, this model will be your reliable travel friend. With SONY you have the least risk that the camera will stop taking pictures during your “3000 kilometers from home” journey.
✏️ Things to consider:
This camera received average ratings from users in the category of “shooting fast-moving objects”. If you are planning to take pictures of children’s parties or wild animals, it is better to consider action cameras. This camera is more suitable for shooting architecture, family, holiday, and travel photos.
This camera was purchased for our teenage daughter who was interested in photography. We didn’t want to make too big of an investment but still wanted a quality item and we got it!
— Bill, AZ
I like this camera because of the pixel and video quality. The images taken are crisp meaning you don’t see dots when the pixel capability is low. Very compact to carry around. Easy to use.
— Kyle, LA
Action cameras — modern and practical
We have found several worthy analogs of GoPro. You can also choose the budget GoPro, which is great for beginners.
With this camera, you can shoot in Ultra HD 4K quality. Its cost is about 4 times lower than that of a similar GoPro camera.
No more worrying about the recording time. It has more than 3 hours of battery life which is one of the highest among similar action cameras. It is also very convenient to charge via USB. Also, the company’s support team received excellent ratings from users.
The camera comes with a waterproof case. Includes useful accessories clips, straps, small mounts, straps, wireless remote, two batteries, and a charging dock.
If you want great video shots, this camera has it all! It arrives with accessories that could easily amount to 1k if you were to get them with the GoPro. A great feature of this camera is the high-quality 1080p footage. It’s also easy to carry around with you.
— Mark, CA
This camera can easily be charged overnight. The charging feature is great, you can charge the camera anywhere as long as you have the USB battery charger. If you use one battery, you can carry on filming because it can be plugged into the USB battery charger (included). No stress about the battery!
— Luis, FL
Among inexpensive action cameras, this one does an excellent job of image stabilization. So, you can safely choose it as a gift for surfers and bikers. Despite being in the budget segment, this camera has a high build quality and looks like a $500+ camera.
Photos and videos taken with it are of excellent quality. The same can be said about the pictures taken underwater. The camera’s automatic operation time is about 3 hours and this is one of the highest rates among inexpensive cameras.
Two more options that users have found useful are — dual color screens (that instantly allow you to see and edit the frame if it is a selfie photo/video) and wrist remote control (which lets you easily control the action camera while skiing, cycling, surfing, etc. Wireless range up to 10m/33ft).
✏️ Things to consider:
Some customers told us that it could be hard to connect via Wi-Fi to your PC. You can use the official app, but the user reviews were not much in favor of it (compromise on the interface and stability).
You will need to put the SD card in the laptop to transfer photos and video.
The battery and memory card compartments are well-sealed. I have used this camera for underwater videography and the quality of the videos and images exceeded my expectations. For selfies, the front display comes in very handy and does a good job at focusing. The camera also comes with a wide variety of adapters for any activity that you may need to use the camera for. The picture quality exceeds the others I have seen. The video quality is also crisp despite the camera moving. Another great aspect is the fact that the accessories included are compatible with my GoPro.
— Adam, MT
The camera’s quality is great. It doesn’t feel too light or flimsy for a budget camera. You can easily control your camera using the downloadable app for your phone. The customer support is effective and quick in response. I definitely recommend this action camera.
— Josh, OR
* If you would buy an “e-commerce edition”, it differs from the usual one only in that you do not receive a printed instruction manual with the camera.
Of course, the build quality and image quality of this branded camera will be excellent. You will also get a video with better sound quality, less background noise when shooting, and accurate sound transmission even underwater. It is a waterproof camera (up to 10 meters / 33ft).
It is also equipped with a Voice Control option (12 commands) that helps in taking photos, and for starting and stopping videos.
One of the most significant updates for this model and which users liked is the HyperSmooth function (a form of video stabilization that GoPro ranks as being the equivalent to using a gimbal). The result of a combination of hardware and software, rather than simply an upgraded optical stabilization system.
✏️ Things to consider:
Pay attention that “white”, “silver” and “black” are not just colors, but models. And they have differences. The white and silver do not have a removable battery like the black. The original battery will work for up to 2 hours.
My hUSBand really likes this! Although the battery life is not so great, we’ve got a pack of three backup batteries for off-road adventure emergencies.
— Fane, AR
I got the GoPro Hero +. I’ve been really pleased at how well this camera performs. Especially for under $200. Compared to some other action cameras I’ve used, it’s been great not having to use a case. The audio is much better and the screen makes the camera much easier to use. My new go-to surf/snowboard camera.
— Emmett, DC
The picture quality is not as high as similarly priced cameras, but you don’t use the GoPro to take pictures. It’s not a stop (and take pictures) pro, it’s a GO (and LIVE and take VIDEO) PRO. The GoPro 7 silver takes great videos!
— Brian, NC
Instant cameras — timeless classic
Polaroid Originals OneStep+
A Polaroid is like a Jacuzzi. The name of a brand that has long become a common word for us.
Of course, this is no ordinary multi-function and versatile camera. Its uniqueness and essence lie in the fact that it is both a technological and an authentic camera that immediately prints a photo for you.
The design is similar to the original OneStep camera from 1977. The camera has a dual optical system for general and portraits photography.
One of the users told us that he tried to explain to his daughters that to get a beautiful shot with this camera, you need to think carefully because every photo (whether it is good or not) will be printed immediately.
Its way of framing, sensitivity, and other characteristics are slightly different from those that are already familiar to us. Be prepared to take time to figure out how to get the perfect shot.
But all these things become irrelevant when you learn about the double exposure function (two shots in one). We won’t explain much, just look at these masterpieces.
We Frecommend buying the version with a Bluetooth option. This gives you a unique opportunity — you can manually control the photo process remotely within the app. This means you can see what will be printed in advance and, as a result, that can save you film and money.
The developers did their best to keep all the fun advantages of this camera and remove the disadvantages with the help of new technologies.
For some, this will be an obvious fact, but we must remind you again. Since this is an instant camera (that prints photos right away), you will always need spare films for it.
✏️ Things to consider:
The only downside is that to access the more customizable options, you’ll have to do it through the App. Customers find the App to be enjoyable and easy to use, but not suitable for fast street photos if that’s more of your preference.
For almost a decade, I’ve been using 600, SX-70, Image, Spectra, and type 1200 cameras for shooting instant film (expired polaroid, fuji, and now Polaroid Originals’ Spectra/Image/1200 film.) Each camera has its pros and cons whether it is an issue with light sensitivity or basic functionality. It makes sense to think that Polaroid Originals OneStep+ designers were both engineers and photographers. You can count on the OneStep+. It does an excellent job and takes beautiful photos in a wide variety of environments. I am a fan of the extra details here and the Polaroid designers have nailed it with this one. I am striving to excel as a photographer in my artistic and professional endeavors and this camera makes it so easy for me!
— Jan, GA
I’ve always wanted a Polaroid camera and I finally treated myself to one, despite this one having average reviews. There is a learning curve for people that are not familiar with using this type of camera. It seems like most of the bad reviews are from people who do not know how to use it and aren’t familiar with how sensitive Polaroid cameras are. It took me one film to get the lighting and exposure right. I enjoy using this camera now and I know it will be my favorite hobby for a while.
— Rebecca, MO
Fujifilm cameras under $200
Fujifilm has released two similar models in different cases. The Mini 9 has a completely modern style. Instax 90, on the other hand, has a classic look (like that of 50 years ago).
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90
We propose you to prank your child. Just give them this camera and tell them that modern engineers have learned to embed Photoshop and Instagram into the camera.
This model also has a double exposure function (two frames in one, not a built-in Photoshop). And you’re liable to get color shifts in any light. Your shots will rarely represent the actual colors. Imagine vintage-style photos — moderately grainy and slightly color-corrected (just like in the Instagram filter).
Many users were delighted with such pictures taken on the most important days for them (at a wedding, at an engagement, or on a long-awaited trip).
✏️ Things to consider:
Unfortunately, this camera is not the best option for a ski vacation in Italy.
In addition to the “built-in functions of Photoshop and Instagram”, this camera has a “built-in iPhone function” and starts to slow down if you shoot at temperatures below 30 degrees.
This camera has not been designed for crystal clear pictures. Your photos will have a vintage Instagram filter look.
— Angie, LA
I absolutely love this camera. It looks vintage and creates great quality photos. I also love all the different settings like portrait and party and how you can change the brightness to get the perfect photo. It is hard to get used to at first, so prepare to use a few extra photos to get the hang of the settings. All my friends and family love it and I definitely recommend it. A fabulous keepsake.
– Danny, ME
Very cute in a vintage way. It takes great photos. It has more controls and settings than previous Instax cameras. It is portable and each picture is unique. I like the idea of a rechargeable battery. It’s the best Instax camera out there.
– Angelica, HI
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9
This is a super-compact model of the classic Instax camera with a modern design. A selfie mirror, a new macro lens adapter for close-ups, has been added to the traditional camera.
Its main difference from other instant cameras is that it has a built-in exposure meter. The camera signals the recommended aperture setting with a flashing LED. This helps capture the perfect photo, even if you are an aspiring photographer.
You can choose it as a gift for children or friends. Thanks to the built-in exposure meter, everyone can quickly understand how to use such a camera.
✏️ Things to consider:
Customers give it 2 opposite marks. The first one is like a “100% perfect designed comfort size camera” and that is true because on the left side it has an additional finger ledge.
On the other hand, we found that for a 6′ 3″ and taller person it is better to use similar (by functions) but classic designed Fujifilm Instax Mini 90.
It is simple to use and makes taking photos fun!
– Jeanie, NH
Everybody loved this camera at my sister’s engagement party. I was able to bring back the 90s thanks to this camera and it was a nice change to the usual photo booth with props. Guests took photos and clipped them to a lighted string adding a fun social activity at the party.
– Claudia, TX
This camera is my favorite. I needed instant prints for my photo journal. I had to take a few photos before I got the hang of the settings. The picture quality is brilliant and I love that I have an instant picture. I also bought one for my daughter as I loved mine so much.
– Benjamin, OH
Useful accessories for camera owners
To get the best sharpness in your photos, we recommend that you purchase a lightweight tripod. It is also recommended to store the compact camera in a protective case when traveling or when you shoot outside the home. Before buying the camera, be sure to check if the seller offers you a memory card. You will need this for storage.
SanDisk 32GB memory card
Shock-proof, temperature-proof, waterproof, and x-ray-proof.
UBeesize Selfie Stick Tripod combo
17.5 – 51.0 inches
combined with 180° neck rotation & 360° head rotation.
Instax Mini Twin Pack Bundles
Compatible with the Fuji Instax Mini 90 and Mini 9 models.
All the cameras from the article
At first glance, it may seem that there is no point in buying a compact camera because now even smartphones have brilliant cameras integrated into them.
First, the question is about individual preferences — think about whether it will be more convenient for you to take pictures and video on your phone during a trip or on vacation. In this case, you should calculate in advance how much free memory you have on the device, it may also make sense to buy a place on the cloud before the trip to upload pictures there every couple of days from your phone. Also, not every person is comfortable taking photos with their phone. You may have to hold the phone and take photos with one hand. From our experience, we can say that photos are likely to be blurry.
Secondly, compact cameras are still equipped with additional features that smartphones do not have. These are enhanced image sensors, optical zoom, image stabilization, inbuilt flash, longer battery life, and many other useful features.
Of course, with a budget under $200, you shouldn’t count on buying a DSLR. However, you may not be afraid to buy compact camera models released in 2016—2018. For a novice photographer, its functions will suffice for comfortable shooting.
|Kodak PIXPRO AZ421||Sony DSCW800|
|AKASO EK7000||Campark V40|
|GoPro HERO7||Polaroid OneStep+|
|Fujifilm Instax mini 90||Fujifilm Instax Mini 9|
🎥 What are the best inexpensive cameras?
- Sony DSCW800 — best compact camera
- Kodak PIXPRO AZ421 — best point and shoot camera
- AKASO EK7000 — best action camera
- Campark V40 — best automatic operation time
- GoPro HERO7 — best sound capture
- Polaroid Originals OneStep Plus — best instant camera
- Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 — best mix of technology and design
- Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 — best camera for a gift
🔸 What is the best camera under $200?
Kodak PIXPRO AZ421. The camera is equipped with 42x optical zoom, which means that you will get a picture of high resolution, clarity, and sharpness at a high frame magnification, which you can hardly get with digital zoom. Even a beginner photographer can take quality photos with this model.
💡 What is a good cheap camera for beginners?
We recommend that you purchase the Sony DSCW800. This camera is very lightweight and compact, making it easy to shoot on the road. It has a very intuitive interface. It also has several of the most popular shooting modes (outdoors, macro shooting, children, and more). And, you can configure it manually if necessary.
⚙️ Are point and shoot cameras better than smartphone cameras?
They still offer a much better photography experience than your average smartphone. The latest compact cameras have features that are not found in smartphones. These cameras, for example, are equipped with optical (physical) zoom, which allows you to take more focused and clear pictures. Also, these cameras are more convenient to use when filming while traveling or if you photograph moving objects (children’s parties, animals and birds, sports competitions).
🎬 What are the best budget point and shoot Cameras?
2 top models: Sony DSCW800 and Kodak PIXPRO AZ421. They could be comfortable to use even for a beginner photographer. The price for the cameras is under $200. We have tested cameras and asked customers their opinion. Both items are reliable and have a user-friendly menu and design.
💳 Where is it better to buy a budget camera from?
Since we are talking about choosing an inexpensive product, you have a higher risk of buying a substandard product. Therefore, it is better to purchase it from a reputable online seller. Also, preferentially choose stores that provide additional guarantees for delivery and goods (such as the A-to-Z Amazon warranty).