As digital technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous, it’s no surprise that prices continue to drop drastically. Ten years ago sticking with a disposable point-and-shoot was a better option than buying a cheap digital camera—but those days are long gone. There are plenty of high-performing, inexpensive digital cameras on the market today. They may lack some of the bells and whistles of higher-end models, but they won’t break the bank. Here are our top five choices that retail for less than $200.
An update to the popular 250F model, this time with vintage casing and several unique color options, the Samsung WB350F is our top aesthetic choice. Style doesn’t mean sacrificing function, however.
• 16.2 megapixel resolution
• 21x optical zoom
• Wi-Fi enabled with SMART features for super fast social media uploads
• 1080p HD video function
• Touch screen option
• Only compatible with micro SD memory cards
• Remote viewfinder function isn’t on par with other cameras
• Small sensor (printing larger than 8×10 will be grainy)
Fujifilm FinePix Z1000EXR
The FinePix’s sleek design more resembles a smartphone than a point-and-shoot, but the images are definitely camera-quality.
• Three sensor options to choose from for more control in low-light situations
• 5x optical zoom
• Can use viewing screen as shutter button, making it more intuitive than other LCD models
• Wi-Fi enabled with Wireless Image Transfer option (can send photos straight to smartphone)
• Ships from Japan, so users needing manual will need to download English version online
• Battery compartment cover is a bit cheap feeling
• Smooth lens cover exterior makes it not very klutz-proof
Canon PowerShot ELPH 340 HS
The Canon ELPH series is easy to use, lightweight, and delivers higher-quality images than most smartphones in sharp resolution with little noise pollution.
• 16 megapixel resolution
• 12x optical zoom
• Wi-Fi enabled, making sharing easy
• Creative filters available
• Can use zoom lens when shooting video
• Shots using zoom lens can be fuzzy
• Short battery life, especially if using video
• No touch screen
• Can’t select multiple photos if uploading using on-board Wi-Fi
This is the cheaper cousin of the Sony Cyber-shot RX100, but boasts the same Carl Zeiss lens that made the RX100 the premiere point-and-shoot on the market.
• Can shoot panorama function continuously
• Takes good photos in low-light
• Faster frame rate than ELPH series
• Includes “Easy” setting for inexperienced users
• Wi-Fi enabled
• No touch screen option
• 2.7-inch LCD screen is small; can be difficult to use if you have large hands
• Short battery life, can’t charge via a USB and use at the same time
General Electric X2600
You may know GE for refrigerators and microwaves, but they’re still in the camera business too and this model hits the mark. Shaped like a DSLR, it’s the perfect fit for someone used to a larger camera interested in the ease of a cheap point-and-shoot.
• Creative settings (ie: fish eye, macro zoom, panorama)
• 15x optical zoom, 6x digital zoom
• Can use either LCD screen or viewfinder for more imaging control
• Short-ish battery life (roughly 300 shots without flash or video)
• Auto focus doesn’t always hit your mark
• Manual only available on CD or online