5 Low-Cost Digital Cameras

Flipping through old photo albums over the holidays brings joy, often laughter, and memories that have faded over time. These days many people use ever-present smartphones to capture the moment, but others may still prefer a dedicated digital camera. Even the cheap ones have features such as optical zoom, which most smartphones lack (instead they simulate the effect digitally). Cheapism.com has highlighted a number of stocking-ready digital cameras available for less than $100.

Cameras at this price point can give more expensive models a run for their money in good light, although they tend to struggle when there’s limited light available. Luckily, all the digital cameras Cheapism recommends come with optical image stabilization, which helps prevent blurriness in low-light images. All four also house 16-megapixel sensors and shoot 720p high-definition video.

For anyone who wants a serious step up from a phone camera, a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera is a much more powerful device. These models are heavier, bulkier, and more expensive but more capable than point-and-shoots. They use interchangeable lenses, an upside for those who want to experiment and advance their photography skills. This list includes a great entry-level DSLR in addition to the four inexpensive point-and-shoots.

The Canon PowerShot A3400 IS (starting at $99) has 5x optical zoom and a rechargeable battery that lasts long enough to take about 180 photos. This well-reviewed camera also has a 3-inch touchscreen on the back, a feature rarely seen at such a low price.

The Olympus VR-340 (starting at $78) also offers a high-resolution, 3-inch LCD screen, although it lacks the touchscreen capability. The body of this durable camera is made of metal and the 10x optical zoom is double what most cameras offer at this price. Reviewers say photos produced in decent lighting are very high quality.

The Canon PowerShot A2400 IS (starting at $99) is much like its sibling, the A3400, except this model has a slightly smaller 2.7-inch, non-touchscreen display. With the two models priced about the same, the A3400 may seem the obvious choice, but some users may prefer buttons to a touchscreen. Reviews attest that photos from either camera are high-quality, with accurate and vibrant colors.

The Fujifilm FinePix T400 (starting at $73) is designed for someone who doesn’t want to bother with technology. Automatic settings make it easy to snap photos and reviewers say that in good lighting the picture quality is high. With 10x optical zoom, users can get up close and personal with their subjects.

The Canon EOS Rebel T3 DSLR (starting at $349) is a few years old and a bargain for amateur photographers looking to get their first DSLR. While some DSLRs run into the thousands, this model can often be found for well under $400. One offer from B&H includes the camera and two lenses for $399.99. Expert reviewers rate this 12.2 MP camera a solid choice with good enough image quality and features to entice consumers to upgrade from a point-and-shoot.

In addition to the cameras featured here, a couple of others have piqued Cheapism’s interest this holiday. The Kodak EasyShare C1550 (starting at $85 on Amazon), a 16 MP camera with 5x optical zoom, was created with the social media maven in mind. Just like on a smartphone, photos can be uploaded directly to social networks including Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. The Canon PowerShot ELPH 130 used to retail for about $150 but dropped below $100 on Amazon about a month ago. The 16 MP camera has 8x optical zoom and built-in Wi-Fi.