The huge progress made in recent years in the field of sensors and lenses means that some of the best cameras under $100 are now much better than the much more expensive models of yesteryear. If you have an intense passion for photography, there has never been a better time to follow your dream. You can start by using your smartphone’s camera, then move on to more specialized cameras if you want more advanced features.
Best Cameras Under $100
With an ever-increasing number of high quality, economical cameras coming onto the market every year, it’s getting harder and harder to navigate the market and make the right decisions. That’s why we’ve decided to compile the following list of the best cameras under 100 dollars.
1. Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W800
The Sony DSC-W800 is our most affordable camera because it delivers good image quality in a compact body, measures only 2.1 x 2 x 0.9 inches when turned off, and weighs 3.5 ounces. However, it is easy to accidentally put your fingers over the flash. When you turn it on, the lens extends forward and provides a 5x zoom that’s good enough to take pictures of a friend from a distance. It captures 20.1-megapixel images that are stored on an SD card (not included) that fits next to the slim battery.
The 2.7-inch liquid crystal display is a decent size, but looks blocky and is very difficult to see in direct sunlight. Images taken with the W800 have strong colors and detail when you shoot in bright light. In our example photo, you can see many details in my dog’s fur and even a reflection of me in his eye. However, the quality decreases quickly as the light level decreases; night and indoor shots without flash have a dull color and show graininess. Overall, this is one of the best cameras under $100.
2. Sony DSC-W830
If you’ve got a few extra dollars to spend, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W830 offers a surprising number of features in a small package, including high-resolution video, panoramic images and a long 8x zoom lens. When you turn it on, the lens extends into three sections from the front, but the assembly feels rather fragile. The DSC-W830 also has crevices where grains of sand or dirt could accumulate and block the camera. In fact, on our overview model, some dust had gotten stuck in the lens mechanism, which showed up as a black shadow in zoomed images.
The 2.7-inch screen on the back is clear and quite sharp, but is difficult to see in direct sunlight and has no touchscreen. Instead, you get a selection of buttons and sliders, such as a slider with three positions for camera, panorama, or video capture mode. The zoom control at the top of the back of the camera is small but well placed for one-handed shooting – you can zoom with your thumb and still reach the shutter release with your index finger to take a picture. Overall, this is one of the best cameras under 100 dollars.
3. Kodak PixPro FZ53
FZ stands for Friendly Zoom, and it’s a good name for Kodak’s affordable, simple camera. This small device (3.6 x 2.2 x 0.9 inches) has a wide range of features for the price, including a 5x zoom lens, a 16 MP sensor, and 720p video. Its 2.7-inch LCD screen is not overly bright, but good enough to use on the beach with a shady hand. A nuisance is that the camera switches to a slow preview mode in low light conditions, so you only get an updated image about every half second.
The FZ53 offers a good selection of shooting modes, including multiple scene modes, a continuous shooting mode (albeit at only one frame per second), and a time-lapse mode that automatically takes photos at 30-second or 10-minute intervals. There is also a manual mode where you can change the exposure by adding an exposure correction. It’s not as powerful as the fully manual mode of more sophisticated cameras but allows more control than most of the best cameras under $100.
4. Kodak Smile
The Kodak Smile is one of the best cameras under 100 dollars. and also one of the better instant cameras. Simple but effective, the Kodak Smile prints your pictures on zinc paper; we didn’t like the quality as much as other instant cameras, but the Smile was good for the price. We liked the smile’s simple slide-open mechanism, although it takes a few seconds longer than most other instant cameras to get it ready for the first shot. However, the Kodak Smile also allows you to store images on a microSD card, and unlike other instant cameras, the Smile doesn’t require you to print every photo. Considering that photo paper isn’t the cheapest, you’ll save a lot of money on printing costs if you have a lucky trigger finger.
5. Kodak PixPro FZ43
If you’re looking for an inexpensive camera that can handle most tasks but don’t want to spend too much, the FZ43 is a good value. Just don’t expect cutting-edge technology; it captures 16 MP images, has a 4x zoom, and has a clean, bright 2.7-inch LCD screen. The FZ43 is powered by two AA batteries that don’t last long; our batteries were dead after a day of moderate use. The photos taken with the FZ43 were good, with sharp details and bright but not overwhelming colors.
We noticed that, as with many cheap cameras, the image quality deteriorated at the longer end of the zoom range, with fine details being slightly lost in a soft haze at the edge of the image. Still, it’s a great bargain for those who want a simple camera to take snapshots of the kids on the beach (or let the kids take snapshots) without having to worry too much when the device falls into the sea. Overall, this is one of the best cameras under $100.
6. Fujifilm Instax SQUARE SQ6
The Fujifilm Instax SQ6 is powered by two small CR2 lithium batteries (included) which, according to the manufacturers, will last 30 packs of the film of 10 shots each. To divert Instagramers from their smartphone, this device takes the style of the “gram” logo and offers a 1:1 square format image, while retaining its analog operation. Again, we have a selection of body colors and a “selfie” mode, plus three color filters that attach to the flash, as well as dual exposure, macro, and landscape modes.
Not surprisingly, the camera uses a special Fujifilm SQUARE film, which provides a 6.2×6.2 cm center image. As with most film-based instant cameras, the results look a little paler than with a digital camera, but if you’re trying to rip your teenager away from his or her phone and put them in touch with the real world, you could do worse than offering the SQ6. Overall, this is one of the best cameras under 100 dollars.
7. AKASO EK7000 Pro
If you’re looking for a great value camera that offers a lot of fun and functionality for your money, then an action camera might be a good choice. There are a number of low-budget action cameras out there, but this one is one of our favorites. It’s a 4K model that allows you to shoot decent quality video footage from its fixed wide-angle lens. But you also get 16MP stills and a two-inch touch screen. There’s also electronic image stabilization, while the waterproof body allows it to withstand depths of 131 feet.
The box contains a remote control that attaches to the wrist, Wi-Fi is included here, as well as the ability to perform special effects in time-lapse, so in all this, it’s an option worth exploring. Overall, this is one of the best cameras under $100.
8. Canon Powershot ELPH 180
Canon’s Powershot ELPH models (known as the IXUS outside the U.S.), remain a very popular budget choice – and rightly so. Combining a low price with a fairly generous feature set, the 190 is ultra-thin and lightweight, and incredibly easy to carry as a spare or travel camera. You should be able to find the latest Elph 180 or IXUS 185 model for just over $100. Slightly more expensive, the CANON IXUS 190 offers a slightly longer 10x zoom and wifi communication – if you can stretch your budget even further. With a 20.5MP sensor, crisp image quality, and easy controls, this PowerShot is a small, slim and attractive compact, available in a range of colors. Overall, this is one of the best cameras under 100 dollars.
9. Lomo’Instant Automat
With its 38 mm wide-angle lens made of f/4.5 multilayer glass, the Lomo’Instant Automat offers you sharper images, better performance in low light, and a wider field of view than its competitors. The automatic mode allows the camera to adjust the aperture (f/4.5- f/22), shutter speed, and flash power. The Automate has a remote control built into its lens cap, making it easier for you to take group shots or exposures up to 30 seconds.
The zone-focusing allows you to measure the appropriate distance for the best shot, and we appreciated its optical viewfinder. The camera and remote control use two different batteries (sold separately). No matter how far I tried it, the pictures from the Lomo Instant Glass Magellan were incredibly sharp. Its size made it handy to carry and it worked well in low light; it didn’t even need a lighting mode to take a few pictures at night in the yellow street lamp in a park. Overall, this is one of the best cameras under $100.
10. Fujifilm Instax WIDE 300
Powered by four AA batteries instead of the usual two, the Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 is the big daddy of the Instax camera range. Its almost identical size to that of a medium-format camera allows it to produce larger prints (it uses WIDE Instax film packs rather than Instax mini) that are closer to standard print sizes. Its size doesn’t really make it practical for home use, but its plastic structure is lighter than you might think.
A lever that surrounds the shutter release on its bridge-camera type handle operates it and extends its lens by 95 mm, while the built-in flash is just as huge (and automatic, except for a fill option). With the prints coming out of the slot on the top plate of the camera, the only little thing here, oddly enough, is the left-center viewfinder, which could have been bigger. The control is limited to adjusting the brightness and flash, but if you want instant prints closer to the dimensions of the “good” pictures, this is one of the best cameras under 100 dollars.