Best Digital Camera 2018-2019 Under 300/500/600
Best Digital Camera 2018-2019 Under 300-500-600.What are the best Digital cameras 2018 under $500?” They don’t know an f-stop from an ISO and think more mega pixels equals more mega! They just want the best bang for their buck and some nice looking pictures at the end of it.
This list includes 18 of ‘The Best Cameras under $500 in 2018’, has been updated for 2018, and is meant for the average non-camera enthusiast who has little to no photography knowledge. I’ve tried to write it in a way that’s easy to understand, and will hopefully serve as a useful guide to the cameras I would recommend to my friends.
For those of you who already know a lot about cameras and photography, please bear with me – I’ve dumbed down my recommendations a lot in the hope that the information is easy to digest for everyone.
Also, remember that we’re dealing with the best digital camera under $500 here, so the points below are relevant in this price category only.
As for where to buy cameras, I recommend Amazon every time. Click on any of the links in this post to be taken to product pages where you can read real user reviews to help you make your decision.
What are the Best Cameras Under $500 in 2018?
Best Digital Camera 2018-2019 Under 500-If it’s your first camera and you don’t intend to go pro, I advise limiting your budget to $500 and sticking to the list below. There are so many cameras on the market today that it’s easy to become overwhelmed if you search elsewhere.
As a side note, when you have your first camera, you’ll no doubt want a great camera bag too, so be sure to check out these 2 posts: the best camera bags and the best camera bags for women. Also, if you’re looking for somewhere to put your photos online somewhere, here’s a simple guide on how to make a photo blog.
If you’d like to read in depth reviews on each cameras, click the links to be taken to Amazon. You’ll get the most rounded recommendations by reading the impartial and honest views of actual owners. Amazon also offers free postage (where available) and the best after sales service (returns policy) I’ve come across. If you change your mind, just send back for a refund 😉
Below are our picks for the best cameras under $500, with options from leading brands like Nikon, Canon, Samsung, and Sony. We will continue to update this list as new models are released and price drops bring some of our favorites below the threshold. For more background, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks
So without further ado, what are the best cameras under $500 in 2018?
Best Digital Camera 2018-2019
|$497 BUY NOW||$447 BUY NOW||$499 BUY NOW||$449 BUY NOW||$389 BUY NOW|
|$499 BUY NOW||$448 BUY NOW||$497 BUY NOW||$448 BUY NOW||$429 BUY NOW|
- Best Digital Camera Under $500 2018-2019
- 1. Nikon D3400 ($497 with 18-55mm lens)
- 2. Nikon D3300 ($447 with 18-55mm kit lens)
- 3. Canon Rebel SL1 ($499 with 18-55mm lens)
- 4. Canon Rebel T6 ($449 with 18-55mm lens)
- 5. Canon Rebel T5 ($389 with 18-55mm lens)
- Mirrorless Cameras Under $500
- 1. Olympus OM-D E-M10 ($499 with 14-42mm lens)
- 2. Sony Alpha a5000 ($448 with 16-50mm lens)
- 3. Nikon 1 J5 ($497 with 10-30mm lens)
- Point-and-Shoot Cameras Under $500
- 1. Sony DSC-RX100 ($448)
- 2. Canon PowerShot G9 X ($429)
- 3. Canon PowerShot SX720 HS ($329)
- 4. Olympus TG-4 Tough ($379)
- Camera Comparison Table
- Top Rated 60x Zoom Point and Shoot Camera
Best Digital Camera Under $500 2018-2019
Sensor size: 366 sq. mm
Weight: 13.9 oz.
What we like: The whole package in this price range.
What we don’t: Improvements over the D3300 were minimal.
Lenses: 10 Great Nikon DX Lenses
In 2017, the D3400 is Nikon’s flagship entry-level DSLR and a great value at under $500 with a kit lens. With this camera you get impressive image and video quality for the price including a 24.2-megapixel APS-C image sensor, Full HD 1080p video at a variety of speeds, and the ease of use that has helped make Nikon so popular. All in all, the D3400 is a no-brainer for those looking for an inexpensive DSLR that still gets the job done.
One consideration for buyers is that the D3400 is very similar to the older and slightly cheaper D3300 below. The most notable improvement on the newer model is Nikon’s SnapBridge technology for transferring images and videos via Bluetooth, and the D3400 also got a boost in battery life. With a $50 increase in cost over the D3300, you can’t go wrong with either model but we appreciate the connectivity options and extended battery life of the D3400.
See the Nikon D3400
Sensor size: 357 sq. mm
Weight: 15.1 oz.
What we like: Better flash than the D3400 above.
What we don’t: Wireless requires adding a separate adapter.
It was a very close call between the D3300 and the D3400 above for the top spot on this list. First and foremost, these cameras are identical in terms of image and video quality and the $50 difference in price comes down to a handful of features. The D3300 lacks Bluetooth Connectivity (you can add a WU-1a wireless adapter for about $30 more) and has inferior battery life. The upside is that the flash is considerably better on the D3300, a nice advantage for those who frequently shoot indoors and in low light.
Moving on from nitpicking about features, the D3300 has everything most beginning DSLR users need: good optical quality, a user-friendly interface, and an improved kit lens that is sharper and lighter than past models. At this price, the D3300 offers better resolution than the sub-$500 Canon DSLRs below and will outperform just about any point-and-shoot.
See the Nikon D3300
Sensor size: 332 sq. mm
Weight: 14.4 oz.
What we like: Small form factor.
What we don’t: We still prefer the D3400 above for a DSLR at this price point.
The Canon SL1 is the lightest DSLR in Canon’s lineup, and we were big fans when it was released a few years ago. Now it feels primed for an update, with an 18-megapixel image sensor (6.2 megapixels less than the Nikon D3400 and D3300) and relatively simple autofocus system that has been surpassed by newer Canon models like the T6i. The SL1 still is a solid entry-level camera, but we prefer the higher resolutions of the cameras above.
In 2017, the most direct competitor to the Rebel SL1 is the Rebel T6. Compared to the T6, the SL1 offers touchscreen functionality, faster shooting, and better low light performance. But the tipping point for us is the kit lens: we like the 18-55mm STM offered with the SL1 over the 18-55mm IS II offered with the T6. You can save $50 with the latter, but for our money we prefer the SL1.
See the Canon Rebel SL1
Sensor size: 332 sq. mm
Weight: 17.1 oz.
What we like: A nice option for still photographers.
What we don’t: Fewer megapixels than the Nikon D3400 and D3300.
Canon’s popular Rebel series is a favorite among photographers and videographers on a budget. Unfortunately, with $500 you can’t quite crack the higher-end “i” models: the Canon Rebel T6i is $749 with a kit lens and the T5i is $649. The Rebel T6 (no “i”) is a trimmed-down version with fewer megapixels, a simpler autofocus, and a fixed LCD that doesn’t tilt. But at only $449 with an 18-55mm lens, the T6 gets you a current digital SLR from one of the best in the business.
What do you sacrifice by going with the T6? For those who plan on shooting mostly still photography, not as much as you might think. Many of the features on the pricier T6i and T5i such as the tilting LCD and STM lenses are designed with video in mind, and therefore aren’t much of a loss for those capturing stills. But we don’t like the drop in megapixels down to 18, which we think makes the Nikon D3300 above a more attractive option at the $450 price point.
See the Canon Rebel T6
Sensor size: 332 sq. mm
Weight: 15.3 oz.
What we like: One of Canon’s cheapest DSLRs at less than $400.
What we don’t: Video quality could be better.
It’s pretty rare that you’ll find an interchangeable-lens camera for under $400, especially from a brand like Canon. The Rebel T5 isn’t loaded with features by any means—it’s at the bottom end of Canon’s Rebel DSLR lineup—but we love the bargain basement price. At around $400 with a kit lens, it’s the cheapest DSLR on this list.
Why is the Rebel T5 so inexpensive? First, the rear LCD screen doesn’t have touch functionality nor does it tilt or swivel. Second, the T5 has a slow burst rate at only 3 frames per second. Finally, the autofocus is fairly basic with only 1 cross-type focus point. But we love the price, which is comparable to some point-and-shoots that don’t offer nearly the same image quality. If you’re comparing the T5 to the newer T6 above, the latter adds Wi-Fi and NFC along with a higher resolution LCD screen.
See the Canon Rebel T5
Mirrorless Cameras Under $500
Sensor size: 225 sq. mm
Weight: 13.8 oz.
What we like: Great image quality for the price.
What we don’t: Camera is small in the hand and can be tough to grip.
Olympus makes some of the top mirrorless cameras on the market (they are part of the Micro Four Thirds family), but most are closer to $1,000. Even this camera, the OM-D E-M10, had been around $700 for much of last year before going on sale. At its current price we absolutely love the OM-D E-M10: it’s small and light for travel yet offers the same image sensor as the much pricier Olympus E-M5 Mark II. New to the camera is 5-axis image stabilization and improved electronic viewfinder, among other features. All in all, you get a whole lot of camera here for $430, although we do expect the price to go back up. Until then, OM-D E-M10 is the top mirrorless camera under $500 and will run circles around the Olympus PEN E-PL7 below.
See the Olympus OM-D E-M10
Sensor size: 357 sq. mm
Weight: 9.5 oz.
What we like: APS-C image sensor.
What we don’t: No electronic viewfinder.
The Alpha a5000 is Sony’s leading entry-level mirrorless camera and currently available for under $450 with a kit lens. Most importantly, the Sony a5000 has a large APS-C image sensor and 20.1 megapixels of resolution, but it does forego the bells and whistles of higher-end models like the pricier Sony a6000. Perhaps its biggest shortcoming is the lack of an electronic viewfinder (you’ll have to use the LCD screen around back to line up your shots). But this issue aside, the a5000 is a solid value for those who want quality photos at a reasonable price.
See the Sony Alpha a5000
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Weight: 9.4 oz.
What we like: Super fast shooting speed and improved ergonomics.
What we don’t: Smaller image sensor than other mirrorless cameras.
Nikon has not been aggressive with the sheer number of its mirrorless offerings, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook the 1 J5. This compact camera lags behind in the size of its image sensor but makes up for it in features and functionality. With the 1 J5 you get extremely fast shooting at up to 20 frames per second, 20.8 megapixels of resolution, built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, and better ergonomics than past versions with an improved grip. In addition, the 1 J5 does not have an optical low pass filter like many of Nikon’s latest DSLRs, which results in better sharpness. If you can overlook the small image sensor (we should note that although it is smaller than the other mirrorless models on this list, it’s the same size as Sony’s popular RX100 series) the Nikon 1 J5 is a fun and very fast camera.
See the Nikon 1 J5
Point-and-Shoot Cameras Under $500
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Weight: 8.5 oz.
What we like: Still one of the top point-and-shoots on the market.
What we don’t: No electronic viewfinder.
Sony has released three versions of the RX100, all of which are terrific cameras that many enthusiasts and professionals use when they can’t carry larger set-ups. The new RX100 IV is selling for a whopping $948, but the original RX100 is less than $500 and can go head-to-head with any camera on this list. For the price you get a large sensor that produces high-quality 20.1-megapixel images, a fast Carl Zeiss lens, manual settings, and RAW capability, all packaged in a lightweight and durable body. The newest version has an electronic viewfinder and 4K video—the original X100 does not—but it’s a great camera nevertheless.
See the Sony RX100
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Weight: 7.4 oz.
What we like: Longer zoom range than the Sony RX100.
What we don’t: Smaller 1″ sensor.
Canon expanded its high-end point-and-shoot lineup at the end of 2015 with the release of G9 X and G5 X to compliment the existing G7 X. The G9 X is the simplest of the bunch in terms of features without an optical viewfinder or ultra-high resolution articulating LCD screen. You also get fewer manual controls on the camera itself. However, the G9 X boasts the same large 1” CMOS sensor as the other two models, has even more zoom at 28-300mm, and is extremely light at only 7.4 ounces. If you’re choosing between this camera and the Sony RX100 above, we prefer the larger sensor but the extended zoom range of the G9 X is valuable for uses like travel photography. The built-in Wi-Fi is a nice touch as well.
See the Canon PowerShot G9 X
Sensor size: 28 sq. mm
Weight: 9.5 oz.
What we like: A well-rounded camera for under $300.
What we don’t: Image sensor is smaller than advanced point-and-shoots.
If you’re willing to move down to a smaller sensor, the Canon SX720 HS is a popular superzoom and a great travel camera on a budget. Most impressive is its 24-960mm of reach, which far exceeds any of the more expensive point-and-shoots above. You also get Full 1080p HD video capability and built-in Wi-Fi, among other features. In most conditions, the SX720 HS can produce quality images and you’ll barely notice it’s in your pocket. However, for people who plan on making large prints, the resolution can be limiting and you may want to consider a point-and-shoot with a larger sensor or an interchangeable-lens camera.
See the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS
Sensor size: 28 sq. mm
Weight: 8.7 oz.
What we like: Waterproof, dustproof, and freezeproof.
What we don’t: Small image sensor.
Generally, we hesitate to recommend “tough” cameras. The bottom line is that a big chunk of the money goes to the waterproof housing and you end up with a small image sensor and meager components on the inside. Having said that, certain outdoor activities like surfing, rafting, skiing, and even a beach vacation can wreak havoc on your electronics. If you want a dedicated camera on hand but don’t want to think or worry about it, the Olympus TG-4 is the top rugged point-and-shoot on the market in 2017.
Why do we prefer the Olympus TG-4 over other waterproof models from brands like Nikon and Fujifilm? In addition to being waterproof, dustproof, and freezeproof, the TG-4 has a very respectable maximum aperture of f/2 for low light and underwater photos. We also like the 25-100mm zoom range, which goes wider than most other comparable cameras at 28mm. It’s true that $380 is a lot to spend for a camera with a small sensor and without big zoom, but for those who expect serious exposure to the elements, the Olympus TG-4 offers the highest levels of protection.
See the Olympis TG-4 Tough
Sensor size: 28 sq. mm
Weight: 15.6 oz.
What we like: Big-time zoom.
What we don’t: DSLR-like size yet with small image sensor.
If you’re looking for huge zoom at a low price point, check out the Canon SX530 HS. For less than $300 you get a massive 24-1200mm of reach along with image stabilization and Canon’s signature easy-to-use functionality. All in all, it’s a beast of a superzoom for travel photography and everyday use.
Why isn’t the SX530 HS higher on our list? Unlike the compact SX720 HS above, this camera is extremely bulky and feels much more like a DSLR than a point-and-shoot (it weighs a hefty 15.6 ounces). In addition, the SX530 HS has less resolution than the SX720 HS in terms of megapixels (16 vs. 20.3) and an inferior LCD screen. But you do get more zoom range, which is why many people choose a camera of this type in the first place.
See the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS
Camera Comparison Table
|Nikon D3400||$497||DSLR||24.2||366 sq. mm||5 fps||13.9 oz.|
|Nikon D3300||$447||DSLR||24.2||357 sq. mm||5 fps||15.1 oz.|
|Canon Rebel SL1||$499||DSLR||18||332 sq. mm||4 fps||14.4 oz.|
|Canon Rebel T6||$449||DSLR||18||332 sq. mm||3 fps||17.1 oz.|
|Canon Rebel T5||$389||DSLR||18||332 sq. mm||3 fps||15.3 oz.|
|Olympus OM-D E-M10||$399||Mirrorless||16.1||225 sq. mm||8 fps||13.8 oz.|
|Sony Alpha a5000||$428||Mirrorless||20.1||357 sq. mm||3.5 fps||9.5 oz.|
|Nikon 1 J5||$499||Mirrorless||20.8||116 sq. mm||20 fps||9.4 oz.|
|Sony DSC-RX100||$448||Compact||20.2||116 sq. mm||10 fps||8.5 oz.|
|Canon PowerShot G9 X||$429||Compact||20.2||116 sq. mm||6 fps||7.4 oz.|
|Canon PowerShot SX720 HS||$329||Compact||20.3||28 sq. mm||8 fps||9.5 oz.|
|Olympus TG-4 Tough||$379||Compact||16||28 sq. mm||5 fps||8.7 oz.|
|Canon Power SX530 HS||$279||Compact||16||28 sq. mm||10 fps||15.6 oz.|
If you are a point and shoot type of person then today we are going to show you the best point and shoot digital cameras under $500.
Click Here For Top Point and Shoot Cameras Today
When you talk about producing some absolutely stunning pictures and with all the lasted features, the recommendations that we are about to show you can get the job done. The very nature of these types of cameras is to take photos with about a lot of hassle. With that being said, check out the choices below.
Best Point and Shoot Camera Under $300
If you are looking for a pocket size camera that is versatile, then you just might want to check out the Nikon Coolpix S9900 Digital Camera. With this model you can take a lot of amazing photos and videos with great quality.
See Full Review and Price
Features include 30x optical zoom lens that also has vibration reduction. There is also 60x dynamic fine zoom that gives you double the reach. The LCD is 3 inches in size with Wifi and NFC enabled so that you can share your content. There are over 200 reviews with a rating of 4.3 stars.
Best Rated Digital Camera Under $250
An excellent choice by a brand that has been around for a long time is the Panasonic DMC-ZS40S Digital Camera. This is a good and solid combination of compact size with great zoom capabilities.
Check Discount Price Here
This model features eye level viewfinder with 30x super zoom lens with stabilizer. For improved feature control versatility, there is a lens mounted control ring. It also has Wifi along with NFC for file sharing. There are over 400 reviews and it comes in with a rating of 4.3 stars.
Top Rated 60x Zoom Point and Shoot Camera
With the Panasonic LUMIX DMC FZ70 Digital Camera, you get lots of zoom that will bring the action right up close and personal. This model is a top seller and is very popular as well.
It features 60x optical zoom and when you are recording, you can experience 1080p HD video. It has zoom focused Dolby quality sound with an amazingly clear microphone and more. It has a rating of 4.5 stars based on over 800 customer reviews
Check Out More Point and Shoot Cameras Today
|Sony DSCW800/B 20.1 MP Digital Camera (Black)|
Sale Price: $89.99
|HD Mini Digital Camera with 2.7 Inch TFT LCD Display, Digital Video Camera Black– Sports,Travel,Camping,Birthday&Christmas Gift|
Sale Price: $38.93
You save: $31.06 (44%)
|Sony W800/S 20.1 MP Digital Camera (Silver)|
Sale Price: $89.95
You save: $0.04 (%)
|Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 Digital Camera w/ 10x Optical Zoom and Image Stabilization – Wi-Fi & NFC Enabled (Black)|
Sale Price: $149.00
You save: $10.00 (6%)
|Canon PowerShot SX720 HS (Black)|
Sale Price: $275.00
You save: $104.00 (27%)
Here, we’ve organized a list of the best sub-$500 cameras according to design, style and use case.
Best Overall: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS60
You save: 1%
Like most of Panasonic’s point-and-shoot cameras, the ZS60 is all about versatility. Whereas some cameras excel in one or two key areas and leave other areas in the lurch, Panasonic affords due regard to the whole photographic experience, and the ZS60 is the pinnacle of that approach. It features a powerful 30x (24-720mm) Leica DC optical zoom lens, specifically catered to travel and outdoor use. The 18-megapixel affords solid performance in a variety of conditions, and the lens-mounted control ring offers a level of control not often found in the point-and-shoot realm. The eye-level electronic viewfinder (EVF) and touch LCD deliver a variety of framing modes and strategies, and with 4K/UHD video recording the camera is pretty much future-proof. The ZS60 is no DSLR or mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, but it proves that the point-and-shoot category as a whole is not to be overlooked when it comes to high-end digital photography.
Best DSLR: Canon EOS Rebel T6
You save: 19%
The $400-$500 price range may sound like a lot of money for a camera, but when it comes to DSLR shooters it’s still fairly introductory. For folks who are looking to dive into the world of interchangeable lenses without breaking the bank, the Canon T6 is a good place to start. It features a solid 18-megapixel CMOS sensor, Full HD (1080p) video recording, a built-in flash with a variety of shooting modes and filters, and a three-inch LCD. The kit comes with a 18-55mm IS II standard zoom lens that’s versatile enough for most first-time SLR shooters. It also includes a nine-point autofocus system, an ISO range of 100-6400 (expandable to 12800). The T6 is an all-around great camera for novice DSLR users, something that could pave the way for intermediate and even advanced photographers.
Best Mirrorless: Fujifilm X-A10
You save: 31%
The mirrorless camera category has one thing that unifies nearly all cameras in it – they’re all a bit expensive. So, when Fujifilm released its X-A10 mirrorless camera in December 2016, heads turned when its price tag came in just under $500 while also promising high-quality images.
The Fujifilm X-A10 measures 6.6 x 6.7 x 3.5 inches and weighs 1.8 pounds, and it sports a modern-yet-retro look with silver and black flourishes. But the technology inside is anything but retro, with a 16.3-megapixel APS-C sensor that provides great color reproduction and stellar image quality. On top of this, the camera offers many filters and shooting modes to help you find the right look for your photos, it has a three-inch LCD screen for viewing photos and it can shoot 1080p HD video. The X-A10 comes with a 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, but it’s also compatible with other X-Series lenses if you want to up your camera game in the future.
Best Point-and-Shoot: Nikon Coolpix A900
You save: 6%
The Nikon Coolpix A900 is the quintessential point-and-shoot camera—even if it does have some flaws. It features an impressive 35x optical zoom (and 70 dynamic zoom), a typical 20-megapixel CMOS sensor, 4K video capture at 20 fps, a multi-angle LCD and WiFi/NFC/Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity for sharing and uploading images wirelessly. It’s a versatile yet robust camera with an unassuming appearance, and that’s sort of what people want from basic point-and-shoots.
Best Zoom: Nikon Coolpix B500
You save: 15%
With its sharp looks and excellent photographic results, the Nikon Coolpix B500 digital camera is an excellent choice for digital shooters who don’t want to be weighed down by a full-fledged DSLR. Among its highlights are a 40x optical zoom lens and 80x dynamic zoom for getting up close and personal with your photo subjects. Boosted by a 16MP 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS sensor, 35mm lens and Full HD 1080p video recording, the B500 is a stand-out selection. When it comes to its main highlight, the zoom feature, the optical zoom and dynamic zoom are both aided by lens-shift vibration reduction, which helps maintain a steady image and is critical when snapping photos at a distance. The three-inch tilting LCD helps make composing shots a snap, as well as aiding you in finding a few new angles to capture. The addition of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC technology makes getting photos off the B500 and onto a smartphone or PC a snap.
Best Waterproof: Canon PowerShot D30
The Canon PowerShot D30 is a lesson in durability. Yes, it’s waterproof, but that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. It can withstand temperatures from 14 degrees Fahrenheit up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit; it’s shockproof up to drops of 6.5 feet; and it’s waterproof up to depths of 82 feet — that’s one of the deepest waterproof performances around.
As for the camera, its 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor with a DIGIC 4 Image Processor takes high-quality pictures, shooting in Full HD 1080p video at 24 frames per second and 720p HD video at 30 frames per second. As an adventurer on the go, you’ll most likely want a camera that can keep up with you, and the D30 packs in GPS technology to do just that, although the feature doesn’t work underwater. It lets you geotag your photo and map them out, so you have essentially a photo diary of your trip.
Best Novelty Camera: Insta360 Nano
You save: 13%
As 360-degree photography continues to grow in popularity, so does the existence of devices that support it and few offer the novelty of the Insta360 Nano 360-degree camera for the iPhone. Compatible with the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, iPhone 6/6S and 6/6S Plus or even used alone, the Insta360 captures 360-degrees of photography in 3040×1520 3K resolution at 30fps. Attached to the iPhone via the lightning port at the bottom of the device, your 360-degree photos and video are easily shared via social media whether it’s a selfie, live streaming (Facebook and YouTube) or extreme adventures such as bungee jumping. The Insta360 might be built for the iPhone, but as a stand-alone device, it adds support for Android devices with a separately purchased transfer cable. With 64GB of onboard memory, there’s plenty of storage to capture and preview photos and video on your smartphone before allowing your social world to view your life from all possible angles.
Best Adventure Camera: GoPro HERO5 Black
The adventure cam category is fairly young, having been around for only a few years, but it is led by a single brand name that everyone knows: GoPro. And the GoPro HERO5 is the cream of the adventure cam crop. These cameras are not for everyone. Some folks buy these impressive little gadgets only to find that the footage they capture is dull and unworthy of social media. For others, though, it’s an indispensable part of their lifestyle. The HERO5 shoots 4K video at 30 fps, and can capture still images through the 12-megapixel sensor. It comes with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth supports the GoPro App, remote function and sharing options. It features a number of shooting modes that allow you to capture cinema-quality footage, and the built-in touch display makes for a fast, easy, intuitive user experience.
Here is our guide to the best cameras for under $250.
Best Overall: Canon PowerShot SX620 HS
You save: 11%
When you’re trying to find the most versatile camera option for around $250, you need to check off several boxes. First, it needs to have decent optical zoom, so you can take shots up close and from afar. Second, it should be relatively compact, as many budget camera buyers would prefer a camera that doesn’t need to be carried in a camera bag. The Canon PowerShot SX620 HS checks these boxes off and more.
The Canon PowerShot SX620 HS has an impressive 25x optical zoom with intelligent image stabilization and can handle low-light photos with its 20.2-megapixel CMOS sensor. It measures 2.3 x 5.7 x 6.3 inches and weighs just .38 pounds, so it’s easy to carry around no matter if you’re on your way to work or the beach. For video, it captures 1080p HD footage at 30 frames per second and both video and photos can be viewed instantly on the device’s three-inch LCD screen.
Amazon reviewers have been satisfied with the device and have noted that it works great for “weddings, museums, galleries, parties, insurance claims” and more. They also liked the camera’s ability to send photos directly to your smartphone via WiFi or NFC.
Best Value: Nikon Coolpix L340
The Nikon L340 is another steal for the sub-$250 price range, a fixed lens Super Zoom that competes directly with the Canon SX410. It features a 20.2-megapixel CCD sensor ideal for low-light conditions. The 28x optical zoom (56x dynamic fine zoom) lens allows for an impressive telephoto range, and it has one of the smallest bodies in its class. It’s compact as well as versatile. When put together, these specs don’t make for the most impressive point-and-shoot you can find, but when it can be found for at such a great price point, it makes for a great value. The lack of a rechargeable lithium-ion battery feels a bit old fashioned, as does the lack of Full HD (1080p) video, but what can you expect? This is a solid, reliable camera from one of the best names in photography, something any novice shooter would appreciate before upgrading to a more serious interchangeable lens device.
Best Compact: Nikon Coolpix S7000
Compact cameras are preferable to large digital cameras to many people because they are incredibly portable, and you don’t need a camera bag to carry them around. If this describes you, then it’s time to check out the Nikon Coolpix S7000, a svelte shooter with plenty of good features.
The Coolpix S7000 measures just 3.9 x 1.1 x 2.4 inches and weighs 5.8 ounces, so this thing will fit wherever you put it. It has a 16-megapixel sensor and offers 20x optical zoom and 40x dynamic fine zoom, so you can still get photos from afar. On top of that, it also has 1080p HD video recording and WiFi and NFC connectivity to send your photos instantly to your smartphone.
With hundreds of reviews in, Amazon customers have given the camera a 4.1 out of 5 rating. They have commented that the Coolpix S7000 is an outstanding travel camera because of its small size and versatility of features.
Best Zoom: Canon PowerShot SX420 IS
You save: 24%
Zoom can play an incredibly important role for photographers, depending on what you’re shooting. For example, if you’re a nature photographer, you need good zoom to get a close-up of a bird without scaring it away. Or if you’re shooting sports photos, you need zoom to get action shots because you can’t go on the field.
For powerful zoom on a budget, the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS is the camera for you. It has 42x optical zoom (24-1008mm) with a 24mm wide-angle lens, enabling great landscapes, portraits or anything else. The camera’s 20-megapixel CCD sensor enables you to get plenty of detail and color, and it all can be viewed on the fly via the camera’s three-inch LCD screen. Oh, and you can send photos straight to your smartphone or tablet via WiFi and NFC, so you can post your new family photo immediately on Facebook and Instagram.
Reviewers of the device have given the camera high marks for its excellent zoom and ease of use. They suggest to avoid using digital zoom and sticking to optical zoom for the best shots.
Best Waterproof: Fujifilm’s FinePix XP 120
You save: 35%
Fujifilm’s FinePix XP 120 waterproof digital camera is a fantastic combination of wallet-friendly pricing and excellent design for adventurous photographers. Featuring waterproof hardware that can dive up to 65 feet beneath the surface, the XP 120 is also freezeproof up to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, shockproof up to a 5.8-foot drop and dustproof. Featuring a 16.4-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor and 1080p Full HD movie recording, the XP 120 adds Optical Image Stabilization for reducing potential blur that can occur when the camera is zoomed in on a subject.
With a 5x optical zoom on-board and 10x digital zoom, the optical image stabilization is a terrific feature to help counteract the possibility that a picture would develop poorly thanks to camera shake. The three-inch, 920,000-dot LCD display on the rear of the camera offers anti-reflective coating for easy visibility in both light and dark conditions. And it can automatically adjust the light to help maintain optimal viewing without sacrificing battery life. Extras such as interval shooting for capturing multiple images of a scene at set intervals or burst mode for high-speed photography round out the XP 120’s feature set. Additionally, whether taken underwater or above the surface, images are quickly transferred off the camera onto a smartphone, thanks to Wi-Fi compatibility with a single press of a button.
Best Package Deal: Canon PowerShot SX530 HS Bundle
If you’re looking to get a lot of extras when buying a new digital camera, the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS bundle on Amazon is for you. This bundle comes with a camera bag, a 32GB SDXC memory card, memory card case, extra battery, mini tripod, a mini-HDMI to HDMI A/V cable, LCD screen protectors and a microfiber cleaning cloth.
This sounds like quite the deal, so now you’re starting to wonder if the camera’s any good. Let us put your fears to rest. The Canon PowerShot SX530 HS is a reliable, well-liked shooter with a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor and 50x optical zoom for getting quality photos from far away. The camera also has a three-inch LCD screen for viewing photos on the fly and a built-in flash for when your shot is too dark.
Reviewers on Amazon noted this was a great first-time camera and that they liked the camera more than any of the accessories. One other important note from owners: make sure you always charge the camera before using it or always keep the included spare battery charged, as the battery life lasts roughly an hour.
ix Camera Categories
There are three kinds of basic cameras, and three kinds of advanced cameras. Here’s what they cost and what they can do. (Narrow your choice down to one or two types, and shopping becomes much easier.)
Basic point-and-shoot cameras are used pretty much the way you shoot photos with a smartphone. Simply set the camera on either a fully auto or a scene mode, and fire away. You have only coarse control over exposure settings, and you can’t switch lenses. But point-and-shoots do vary quite a bit in terms of features and capabilities. At Consumer Reports, we recognize three flavors of basic camera.
A. Basic point-and-shoots (Price range: $100 to $450). These are simple, portable cameras, but some have optical zoom ranges as long as 23x. That’s fine for shooting anything in your backyard, but probably not enough to capture action from across a soccer field. Some of these cameras have touchscreens. And nearly all are lightweight and slim, which make them ideal for slipping into your pocket or bag.
B. Superzoom point-and-shoots (Price range: $100 to $400): If you go to a lot of baseball games or concerts, you may want a superzoom camera. These models have optical zooms of at least 24x, and some are as long as 83x. That can literally capture craters on the moon. Many superzooms have nice grips, which can help you stabilize your camera when you shoot. Current models are also more compact and lighter than their predecessors.
C. Waterproof point-and-shoots (Price range: $100 to $350): If you want to shoot photos or video at the bottom of a swimming pool or beneath the waves, consider a waterproof point-and-shoot. Note that capabilities vary: Some cameras in this category claim to be waterproof to 50 feet, while others can be submerged to a fraction of that depth. With strengthened inner and outer chassis construction, most of these cameras are also rugged enough to survive a fall of several feet and function properly in colder temperatures.
If a camera gives you fine control over exposure settings, we group it with advanced models. But that’s just one of the elements that sets these cameras apart. They all have large image sensors and other features to help produce high-quality images.
D. Advanced point-and-shoots (Price range: $350 to $1,500): Like basic point-and-shoots, they have nondetachable lenses, but also have manual controls and other advanced features. They’re also more expensive than basic point-and-shoots. Most have hot-shoe mounts for an external flash and can produce RAW files—the best format to use with image-editing software. Some have high-quality electronic viewfinders—helpful if you shoot in bright light and the LCD looks washed out.
E. Mirrorless models (Price range: $300 to $2,700): These models accept interchangeable lenses, like SLRs, but they’re smaller and lighter. Downside: They don’t have an SLR through-the-lens viewfinder. Settings are adjusted via knobs and an on-screen menu. Mirrorless cameras have large sensors for enhanced images. Some expensive models have full-frame sensors; these are the size of a frame of 35mm film and enhance low-light performance. Mirrorless models can also capture RAW files.
F. SLRs (Price range: $500 to $3,000): SLRs are interchangeable-lens cameras, and most are compatible with a number of lenses. With the most features, they’re also the biggest and heaviest. All SLRs have large sensors for enhanced image quality in low light. They also have through-the-lens viewfinders, which use mirrors to display the photo subject exactly as it appears through the lens. As with mirrorless cameras, there are some pricey SLRs that include full-frame sensors. SLRs can also capture RAW files.
Specs That Matter
Once you have a general idea of what type of camera you’d like to get and how much you want to spend, you can dive deeper into the specs. Just remember that no single spec or feature can tell you whether a camera is good or not.
Megapixel counts, in particular, can nearly be ignored these days—even though they get mentioned prominently in ads and by salespeople. The number tells you how fine the resolution the final picture will have, but every camera on the market has enough megapixels for most people. You only need more than 16 megapixels if you want to send out for literally poster-size prints of your photos.
So, if megapixels don’t matter much, what should you look for? Here are some important features to consider.
Interactive Video Buying Guide
For more, watch our video below. You can skip to different chapters depending on your interests. For example, HD camcorders or action cams, and digital camera basics or camera features.
Try out Cameras in a Store
Before you buy, we suggest trying out a camera model in a brick-and-mortar store, so that you get a sense of how the camera feels in your hand.
Check the size and weight: No matter what type of photographer you are, you’ll want to consider a camera’s size as well as other factors when choosing a model. Do you want something portable for traveling, like a small, compact point-and-shoot (below, left)? Or are you OK with a big and bulky model, like a large superzoom (below, right)? Remember, if you’re traveling and you’re camera is heavy, you may take fewer photos and miss important moments.
Consider the controls: What do the buttons, switches, dials, and levers look like on your camera? Do you like these types of controls? Most cameras have just a few, and you’ll need to change most of the settings in the menu system, which is why a touchscreen LCD can be useful. SLRs have the most physical controls, which makes changing the settings quick and easy.
What Else to Shop for
There are various accessories, from essential to esoteric, you can get for your digital camera. And depending on which model you buy, some can be pretty pricey. For most, you’ll want to consider the following important accessories when you purchase a digital camera: