The 6 Best Cheap Cameras for Photography
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They say the best camera is the one you have with you. For most people, your smartphone is your best camera. But as good as modern smartphones are at capturing photos, sometimes you need a dedicated piece of kit. With that in mind, here are the best cheap cameras for photography.

The Difference Between Phones and Cameras

smart phone vs. point and shoot vs. dslr cameras

Simple point-and-shoot cameras are better than your phone’s camera in a number of ways. The biggest difference is the lens, which improves optical zoom for far-away objects. Usually, the camera sensor is also bigger, which means better quality pictures. But phones hold their own against point-and-shoots with smart software that improves the quality of the photos you take.

You’ll see a bigger difference when you compare phones and DSLR cameras. The picture quality on DSLR or mirrorless cameras is miles ahead of smartphones. Plus, you get to change lenses to better suit the environment in which you’re going to be shooting.

There’s a lot more to it, of course, but generally speaking, your phone is good enough for most uses. First figure out if you actually need a dedicated camera separately, and then find the right camera for you.

The Best Cheap Point and Shoot Camera
Canon PowerShot SX620

Canon Powershot SX620 is the best cheap point-and-shoot camera

Canon PowerShot SX620 Digital Camera w/25x Optical Zoom - Wi-Fi & NFC Enabled (Black) Canon PowerShot SX620 Digital Camera w/25x Optical Zoom - Wi-Fi & NFC Enabled (Black) Buy Now At Amazon $229.00

  • Sensor: 1/2.3-inch CMOS
  • Resolution: 20 Megapixels
  • Screen: 3-inch, No Touchscreen
  • Zoom: 25x Optical Zoom (25-625 mm)
  • Video: 1080p Full HD at 60fps
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, NFC
  • Battery Life: 295 Shots
  • Who It Is Best For: Anyone on a budget who wants something better than their smartphone to take zoomed-in shots while travelling, or at parties and events.

The Canon PowerShot SX620 is the perfect example of what you get beyond the limited capabilities of a phone’s camera. In particular, its optical zoom of 25x is a big differentiator to capture things that are far away from you.

It lacks a touchscreen, so it takes some time to get used to the controls. But it’s not complicated.

The Best Budget Compact Camera for Most People
Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II

Canon Powershot G9 X Mark II is the best budget camera among compact or point-and-shoot cameras

Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II Compact Digital Camera w/1 Inch Sensor and 3inch LCD - Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth Enabled (Silver) Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II Compact Digital Camera w/1 Inch Sensor and 3inch LCD - Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth Enabled (Silver) Buy Now At Amazon $399.00

  • Sensor: 1-inch CMOS
  • Resolution: 20.1 Megapixels
  • Screen: 3-inch, Touchscreen
  • Zoom: 3x Optical Zoom (28-84 mm)
  • Video: 1080p Full HD at 60fps
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Battery Life: 220 Shots
  • Who It Is Best For: Anyone who needs a better-than-smartphone camera for portrait photos, travel pictures, or images of babies and pets.

Most people who are looking for a compact, point-and-shoot camera that offers more than their phone should go with the Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II. The large 1-inch sensor makes a big difference in how your photos look, and it can also shoot in the RAW file format, which is great if you know how to edit RAW images.

The 3x optical zoom seems less, but the G9 X Mark II is all about image quality. That sensor is what makes the difference, and it’s a wonder to get that in such a compact camera.

The Best Cheap Tough Camera With Waterproofing
Olympus TG-5

Olympus TG-5 is the best rugged, tough, waterproof camera

Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Red Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Red Buy Now At Amazon Too low to display

  • Sensor: 1/2.3-inch CMOS
  • Resolution: 12 Megapixels
  • Screen: 3-inch, No Touchscreen
  • Zoom: 4x Optical Zoom (25-100 mm)
  • Video: 4K Ultra HD at 60fps
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Battery Life: 340 Shots
  • Who It Is Best For: Anyone who needs a rugged camera that can withstand the rigors of adventure sports, outdoor activities, or the uncareful hands of a child.

The Olympus TG-5, the latest in the TG series, is the best tough camera you can buy today. You can even put it in a housing case for additional protection, but you aren’t going to need it. It’s water-resistant up to 50 feet, shockproof for drops from 7 feet, and freeze-proof up to 14 degrees Fahrenheit or -10 degrees Celsius. What more could you ask for?

If this one doesn’t suit your budget, check out our list of the best rugged and waterproof cameras.

The Best Cheap Travel Camera With Long Zoom
Nikon Coolpix B500

Nikon Coolpix B500 is the best cheap point-and-shoot travel camera with a long zoom lens

Nikon COOLPIX B500 Digital Camera (Black) Nikon COOLPIX B500 Digital Camera (Black) Buy Now At Amazon Too low to display

  • Sensor: 1/2.3-inch CMOS
  • Resolution: 16 Megapixels
  • Screen: 3-inch, Touchscreen
  • Zoom: 40x Optical Zoom (22.5-900 mm)
  • Video: 1080p Full HD at 60fps
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC
  • Battery Life: 600 Shots
  • Who It Is Best For: Anyone who needs a long-zoom, point-and-shoot travel camera to take pictures of birds or wildlife, or sporting events.

The Nikon Coolpix B500 is a cheap and efficient superzoom camera for anyone who wants to take photos of things that are far away. It’s ideal for travel or events, especially since it uses AA batteries; you can carry plenty of spares to ensure you never run out of battery life.

One word of warning though, this isn’t a great camera for taking photos at night. The sensor is small and weak, and the results won’t even match up to what you get on an up-to-date Apple iPhone, Google Pixel, or Samsung Galaxy.

There are better bridge cameras, but if you’re spending more than the price of the Nikon Coolpix B500, I’d recommend that you move away from superzoom point-and-shoots and instead buy a mirrorless camera or a DSLR.

The Best Cheap Mirrorless Camera
Sony a5100

Sony a5100 is the best cheap mirrorless camera

Sony a5100 16-50mm Mirrorless Digital Camera with 3-Inch Flip Up LCD (Black) Sony a5100 16-50mm Mirrorless Digital Camera with 3-Inch Flip Up LCD (Black) Buy Now At Amazon Too low to display

  • Sensor: APS-C
  • Resolution: 24 Megapixels
  • Screen: 3-inch, Touchscreen
  • Zoom: Depending on lens
  • Video: 1080p Full HD at 60fps
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, NFC
  • Battery Life: 400 Shots
  • Who It Is Best For: If you don’t want a bulky DSLR but want the best possible photographs on a budget, even for night shots, buy this.

There’s a case to be made that hobbyists and travelers should buy mirrorless cameras. They’re usually cheaper than DSLR cameras, but offer similar image quality and lens compatibility, all in a compact body.

The Sony A5100 is the best mirrorless camera for anyone on a budget. Sony’s mirrorless cameras boast a wide range of lenses, which makes the A5100 a fantastic choice for any photographer looking to up their game.

The Best Cheap DSLR Camera
Canon EOS Rebel T6 (1300D)

Canon EOS Rebel T6 or Canon EOS 1300D is the best cheap DSLR camera

Canon EOS 1300D EF-S 18-55mm 18.7MP CMOS 5184 x 3456 Pixels (Black) - International Version (No Warranty) Canon EOS 1300D EF-S 18-55mm 18.7MP CMOS 5184 x 3456 Pixels (Black) - International Version (No Warranty) Buy Now At Amazon $330.50

  • Sensor: APS-C
  • Resolution: 18 Megapixels
  • Screen: 3-inch, No Touchscreen
  • Zoom: Depending on lens
  • Video: 1080p Full HD at 60fps
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, NFC
  • Battery Life: 500 Shots
  • Who It Is Best For: Anyone who wants the cheapest DSLR you should buy right now.

What’s the cheapest new DSLR camera you should buy? Easy, the Canon EOS Rebel T6, which is known as the Canon EOS 1300D outside the U.S.

Canon has outfitted this camera with everything that makes it easy for a photography beginners. The menu system is easy, the automatic settings will ensure you don’t need to do anything apart from point and shoot, and you can slowly learn the manual bits over time.

That said, the camera lacks a touchscreen, which might be a problem for many users. Its 9-point autofocus system is also dated, and won’t give the best shots for moving objects. Unless you have a specific reason to buy a new camera, you might want to look at buying a used DSLR instead. You’ll often get a deal at the same price for a better camera.

Don’t Forget About Camera Accessories

So now you know what the best cheap cameras for photography are, you need to think about buying accessories. From the above choices, you only need a lens for the mirrorless camera or the DSLR. But that doesn’t mean you can forget about everything else. No matter which camera you end up buying, you’ll need a few things to go with it.

For starters, you’ll need a good SD card to safely store all of your photos, and a case to carry your camera in. Good photography is not only about buying the right camera but also buying the essential accessories for photography 20 Essential Accessories for Any Photography Beginner, Amateur, or Professional 20 Essential Accessories for Any Photography Beginner, Amateur, or Professional There are tons of photography accessories out there -- but which do you actually need? Here are 20 great accessories for beginners, amateurs, and pros. Read More .

Explore more about: Digital Camera, DSLR, Mirrorless, Photography.

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