10 Cheap Cameras (Under $160) Ranked from Best to Worst

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Quality Point-and-Shoots, Affordable Prices

Looking for a first camera for your kids? Going to the beach for the day? In these situations, you don’t want to risk your expensive camera or cellphone. Instead, you need a camera that’s cheap enough that you won’t need a third mortgage to replace it, but which still takes decent pictures. We’ve reviewed and rated 10 cameras that cost under $100 to see which best fits that bill.

One area where these budget cameras outpace smartphones is zoom. While some phones have a 2x or 3x zoom lens, the better models in this roundup range from 4x all the way up to 28x. After testing and evaluating 10 of the most affordable cameras based on image-quality features and ease of use, we rated each model to help you find the best bargain.

Sony DSC-W800

The Sony DSC-W800 is our top budget camera because it delivers good image quality in a compact package. It measures just 2.1 x 2 x 0.9 inches when turned off, and weighs 3.5 ounces, so it is very portable and pocketable.

When you turn it on, the lens telescopes out of the front, offering a 5x zoom that goes from a 26mm equivalent wide angle to a 130mm telephoto, good enough to capture selfies to a friend from a distance. It shoots 20-megapixel images that are saved to a (not included) SD card that fits alongside the slim battery.

The 2.7-inch LCD screen is a decent size (especially considering the size of the camera), but it looks blocky and has rather flat color. It isn’t viewable in direct sunlight, but it is bright enough to be seen when shaded from the sun.

Resolution: 20.1 MP
Optical Zoom: 5x
Focal Length: 26 – 130mm (35mm equiv.)
Video (Max): 720p (1280 x 720 pixels)
Size: 2.1 x 2 x 0.9 inches
Weight: 3.5 ounces
Battery Life (CIPA): 200 shots

Sony DSC-W800 Image Quality

Images captured by the W800 have strong color and detail when you are shooting in bright light. In our sample photo, you can see lots of details of my dog’s coat, and even a reflection of me in his eye. The quality quickly falls off as the light level drops, though: nighttime and indoor shots without the flash have dull color and exhibit grain.

We also found that the small body and thin grip means  it is very easy to inadvertently put your fingers over the flash, casting shadows in your photos. The telescoping lens mechanism also seems fragile, and could be prone to picking up sand or grit.

Still, $90 gets you a very portable camera that can shoot attractive images. For those looking for a wallet-friendly step-up from a cellphone camera, it’s the one to get.

Kodak Pixpro FZ53

FZ stands for Friendly Zoom, and it’s a good name for Kodak’s well-priced, simple camera. This small device (3.6 x 2.2 x 0.9 inches) has a great selection of features for the price, including a 5X zoom lens, 16-megapixel sensor and 720P video. Its 2.7-inch LCD screen isn’t overly bright, but is good enough to use at the beach with a shading hand. One irritation is that the camera switches to a slow-speed preview mode in low light, so you  get an updated image only every half second or so. That makes it rather difficult to time a shot in low light.

The FZ53 offers a good range of shooting modes for a cheap camera, including several scene modes, a burst mode (albeit at just 1 frame per second) and a time-lapse mode that automatically takes photos at 30-second or 10-minute intervals. There’s also a manual mode, which lets you change the exposure by adding exposure compensation. It’s not as powerful as the full manual mode of more sophisticated cameras, but it does allow more control than most cheap cameras.

Resolution: 16 MP
Optical Zoom: 5x
Focal Length: 28-140mm (35mm equivalent)
Video (Max): 720p (1280 x 720 pixels)
Size and Weight: 3.6 x 2.2 x 0.9 inches
Weight: 3.8 ounces
Battery Life (CIPA): 200 shots

Kodak Pixpro FZ53 image quality

The images the Pixpro FZ53 captures have clean, accurate color and  good detail. The camera has a decent macro setting, as you can see in our sample photo: The fine details of the flower are well captured. With the zoom on the longer settings, the images become somewhat soft and fuzzy, though, especially at the edges of the frame.

Although the FZ53 has its quirks, at $75 it represents great value. Photographers on a budget who want to have more control over their photos will find a lot to experiment with here.

Nikon Coolpix L340

The Nikon Coolpix L340 is the most expensive of the cameras that we’ve tested, but that’s for a good reason. It has a very long 28x zoom lens, which takes you from a very wide angle (22.5mm equivalent) that can capture a group of people to a very long telephoto, equivalent to a 630mm lens on a DSLR — long enough to zoom in on a single person across a football field. That makes it a remarkably flexible camera that could be used for group selfies or sports shooting. It captures 20-megapixel images or 720P HD video to a (not included) SD Card.

The L340 is also a lot bigger than most of the other budget cameras we’ve tested, measuring 4.4 x 3.3 x 3 inches when powered on. When using the long zoom, that extends to nearly 5 inches. It  fits well in the hand and is comfortable to hold, but it isn’t exactly pocketable.

Resolution: 20 MP
Optical Zoom: 28x
Focal Length: 22.5 – 630mm (35mm equiv.)
Video (Max): 720p (1280 x 720 pixels)
Size: 4.4 x 3.3 x 3 inches
Weight: 16 ounces
Battery Life (CIPA): 370 shots (AA Alkaline batteries)

Nikon Coolpix L340 image quality

The L340’s long zoom allows you to take some interesting photos, like this sample image of the moon. I took this with the camera resting on a wall to keep it steady, and applied a stop of exposure correction to adjust for the bright moon against a dark sky. The L340 captured an impressive level of detail here.

Don’t throw out your DSLR just yet, though: the L340 is rather slow to focus, sometimes taking a couple of seconds to find the right focus spot at the longer zoom lengths. Saving images also takes the camera a long time: You are often  left hanging for a couple of seconds after shooting before you can see the image or take another one. The 3-inch LCD screen shows a preview of the image, but isn’t  easy to see in bright light. The camera is powered by four AA batteries, which don’t last very long, especially if you do a lot of zooming.

Panasonic Lumix DSC-T30

If your adventures include the outdoors, the Panasonic Lumix DSC-T30 might be a good pick. It’s a tough little camera that can handle up to 26 feet (8 meters) of water and drops from up to 5 feet onto hard surfaces. It will also keep shooting in the cold: Panasonic claims it will keep working in temperatures down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 10 degrees Celsius), so it can handle all but the most hard-core skiing and snowing adventures. The screen isn’t great, though: it looks blocky and pale compared with more expensive cameras.

The DSC-T30 shoots 16.1-megapixel images and includes a 4x optical zoom that goes from wide angle (equivalent to a 25mm lens on a DSLR camera) to a moderate zoom of 100mm equivalent. That’s good enough for group shots or picking out a pine marten on a branch.

Resolution:  16.1-MP
Optical Zoom: 4x
Focal Length: 25 – 100mm (35mm equivalent)
Video (Max): 720p (1280 x 720 pixels)
Size: 4.1 x 2.3 x 0.8 inches
Weight: 5.3 ounces
Battery Life (CIPA): 250 shots

Panasonic Lumix DSC-T30 image quality

The pictures the T30 captures are good, but not great: the color was rather flat, and got rather noisy in low light. Still, that’s an acceptable compromise for a camera that can survive your adventures (assuming you do) and won’t bankrupt you if you drop it in the raging rapids.

I didn’t have any raging rapids available, but I was able to take a fish-eye view of my local river that shows how the camera can easily shoot underwater. One odd omission here, though: the camera doesn’t float, so make sure you use the included wrist strap, or it could end up sleeping with the fishes.

Polaroid Snap

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Polaroid Snap

As you might expect with the Polaroid name, the Snap is all about immediate gratification. Built into the Snap is a printer: After you’ve taken the photo, a copy of the photo pops out of the side of the camera in about a minute. A pack of 30 pieces of the special photo paper it uses will cost you about $15, so each print costs under 50 cents. The Zink print paper it uses is also available in a variety of colors, so it’s great for scrapbooking or as a pass-around camera at a party.

Apart from printing, it’s a very basic camera. You get a fixed focus and focal length lens (no zoom), nor do you get an LCD screen or any way to view the 10-megapixel images it captures. Images are stored on a microSD card, and can be transferred to PC over the included USB cable.

Resolution: 10 MP
Optical Zoom: None
Focal Length: 3.4mm
Video (Max): N/A
Size: 4.7 x 2.95 x 0.98 inches
Weight: 7.5 ounces
Battery Life (CIPA): N/A

Polaroid Snap image quality
Kết quả hình ảnh cho Polaroid Snap

The only buttons on the camera are the shutter, a 10-second delay shutter, the print button and a mode button that switches between normal color, vivid color and black and white. You frame the photos through a pop-up optical viewfinder, which also turns the camera on.

The digital images captured by the Snap have reasonable levels of detail, but colors were rather flat. On this sample photo of my dog snoozing, you can see most of the details of his fur, but the image is rather soft.

Still, the Snap is a neat camera, and the prints it produces are fun and attractive.

Sony DSC-W810

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Sony DSC-W810

The W810 is a step-up model from the W800, adding a couple of improvements. For the extra $23 you get a slightly longer zoom in a slightly lighter package. The lens is the only major difference: the W810 has a 6x zoom (162mm equivalent) to the W800’s 5x (130mm equivalent), which lets you get closer to the action. The price is that the W810’s wide angle is not quite as wide: the W800 offers a 26mm equivalent, while the W810 starts at 27mm, which means you won’t be able to get quite as wide a view into a single shot. Otherwise, the two cameras are pretty much identical, both capturing 20-megapixel images and offering a nice, sharp-looking 2.7-inch LCD screen.

Resolution: 20 MP
Optical Zoom: 6x
Focal Length: 27 – 162mm (35mm equiv.)
Video (Max): 720p (1280x 720 pixels)
Size: 3.8 x 2.2 x 0.8 inches
Weight: 3.9 ounces
Battery Life (CIPA): 200 shots

Sony DSC-W810 Image Quality

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Sony DSC-W810

We found the image quality of the W810 to be as good as the W800, with strong detail and bright, clean color in the 20-megapixel images it captures. The same is true of the 720p video that the camera captures. If you regularly shoot things from a distance, the W810 might be worth the extra cash. But for most users, the W800 will suffice, leaving $23 to spend on a decent-size memory card.

Canon PowerShot Elph 190 IS

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Canon PowerShot Elph 190 IS

The Elph 190 IS has a lot hidden in its tiny case. Measuring just 3.8 x 2.2 x 0.9 inches, it has a telescoping lens that offers an impressive 10x zoom range: from a 24mm equivalent wide angle to a very long 240mm equivalent telephoto. That’s long enough to capture the dimples on a celebrity’s face before the security guards drag you away. The zoom control is a ring around the shutter button, so it’s easy to frame your shot, then quickly take it without moving your hand.

This is one of the cheapest cameras we have seen that includes Wi-Fi, which can be used to send images to another camera, smartphone or computer through the Canon View app. The Elph 190 IS can also send photos directly to web services such as Facebook and Twitter and to cloud services such as Google Drive through the Canon Image Gateway service. It’s a neat way to back up your images without using a laptop.

Resolution: 20 MP
Optical Zoom: 10x
Focal Length: 24-240mm (35mm equivalent)
Video (Max): 720p (1280 x 720 pixels)
Size: 3.8 x 2.2 x 0.9 inches
Weight: 5.5 ounces
Battery Life (CIPA): 190

Canon PowerShot Elph 190 IS Image Quality

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Image stabilization works quite well on the wider zoom settings, but not at the longer zoom ones. We did find that the smooth plastic case of the 190 IS was rather slippery, though: hold it in sweaty or sun-cream-covered hands and you could easily drop it. Its 2.7-inch LCD screen is crisp, but it does get rather difficult to see under direct sun.

Both images and video (720p max) are excellent, with fine details accurately captured and bright, but not overly vivid, color. Image quality isn’t as good in low light: in our sample photo taken under moon and street light, the noise is very visible in the dim sky.

Canon Powershot Elph 180

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Canon Powershot Elph 180

You’d be forgiven for a slight feeling of deja vu here: the Elph 180 is pretty much a cut-down (and slightly cheaper) version of the Elph 190. Saving $30 loses you a few of the nicer features: You get a shorter 8x zoom lens that starts at a slightly less wide angle setting (28mm instead of the 24mm of the 190), no Wi-Fi and no image stabilization.

You still get a pretty good camera that shoots 20-megapixel images and 720P video, as well as a digital-image-stabilization system that compensates for small hand movements. It’s not as effective as the active stabilization of the 190, but it helps.

Resolution:  20 MP
Optical Zoom: 8x
Focal Length: 28 – 224mm (35mm equiv.)
Video (Max): 720P (1280 x 720 pixels)
Size: 3.7 x 2.1 x 0.9 inches
Weight: 4.4 ounces
Battery Life (CIPA): 220

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Canon Powershot Elph 180

Canon Powershot Elph 180 Image Quality

Images taken by the Elph 180 have attractive color and a good amount of detail. But, like most cheap cameras, it suffers at night, when images become grainy and bleached out.

The choice of this or the Elph 190 depends on how much you want the extra features: the wider zoom is a definite plus of the more expensive camera, and the Wi-Fi is a handy feature to have. But, if you don’t want or need those features, the Elph 180 is a good, lower-cost pick.

Nikon Coolpix A10

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Nikon Coolpix A10

The A10 is a simple, straightforward camera that offers a good range of features for a very decent price. It includes a 5x zoom lens that goes from a fairly wide angle (26mm equivalent on an SLR) to a fairly long zoom: 130mm, which is enough to pick a squirrel out of a tree you are standing under. It captures 16-megapixel images and 720P video that is saved to an SD card that fits alongside the two AA batteries that power it.

At 3.8 x 2.3 x 1.4 inches, the A10 is slightly larger than models like the Kodak FZ53 but it fits well in the hand, with the large bump where the batteries are forming a comfortable handgrip. The zoom control ring is located around the shutter button, so it is quick and easy to zoom in to frame a picture, then take the shot.

Resolution: 16.1-MP
Optical Zoom: 5x
Focal Length: 26-130mm (35mm equiv.)
Video (Max): 720p (1280 x 720p)
Size: 3.8 x 2.3 x 1.4 inches
Weight: 6.3 ounces
Battery Life (CIPA): 200 (AA Alkaline)

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Nikon Coolpix A10

Nikon Coolpix A10 Image Quality

However, the A10 is slow, sometimes taking a second or two to snap into focus. Once you have taken a picture, there is an irritating pause before you see it on-screen. There is then another pause before you can take another picture. I often found myself mashing the shutter button to take another picture quickly if someone blinked.

We generally like the image quality, as there was a fair amount of detail and natural-looking colors. The images did get rather soft at the long end of the zoom range, and it is hard to capture steady images when fully zoomed.

Vivitar XX14 Snap A Pic

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Vivitar XX14 Snap A Pic

This is the cheapest of the cameras that we tested, and there’s a reason for that: It’s a piece of plastic crap. It feels more like a poorly made Barbie prop than a real camera, with a fixed focus, no zoom lens and a 1.75-inch LCD screen the size of a postage stamp. The XX14 is powered by three AAA batteries, which only last a short time.

The Snap A Pic shoots 20 megapixel images, but they aren’t very good: Photos were soft and had visible color noise even in bright light. Try shooting in anything less than that and the noise gets more pronounced and even more off-putting.

Resolution: 10 MP
Optical zoom: None
Focal Length: 7mm
Video (Max): 720p (1280 x 720 pixels)
Size: 3.5 x 2.2 x 1 inches
Weight: 14 ounces
Battery Life (CIPA): N/A

Kết quả hình ảnh cho Vivitar XX14 Snap A Pic

Vivitar XX14 Snap A Pic Image Quality

The poor-quality lens also affects the image quality: look at the left side of our sample photo of a sculpture, and you can see that the hair becomes blurry and unfocused at the edge of the frame. The XX14 does shoot HD video, but it is HD in name only: although it has a resolution of 1280 by 720 pixels, it looks awful, with lots of noise. Move the camera and the video turns into a blurry mess.

To put it bluntly: don’t bother. If you are on a tight budget, save up another $25 and buy the Kodak FZ53, which is a better camera in every respect.

(tomsguide.com, https://goo.gl/TQS59N)

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