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The 5 Best Cheap and Budget Cameras - Winter 2023 Reviews

Best Cheap Cameras

When looking for an affordable camera, it's important to consider your options and find one that fits your budget and needs. If you want the latest camera technology and are willing to spend a little extra for a brand-new model, some relatively cheap cameras will give you solid performance without breaking the bank. There's also a large used market for cameras, and many older models are still well worth considering. Many cheaper camera bodies will also give you ample room to grow as a photographer and yield excellent results when paired with more expensive lenses.

We've bought and tested over 75 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best cheap cameras to buy. These picks were selected not only based on their overall performance but also their feature set and price. For more options, see our recommendations for the best cameras under $500, the best cameras under $1,000, and the best cameras for beginners.

  1. Best Budget Camera

    Getting an interchangeable-lens camera doesn't mean having to go into debt, thanks to affordable models like the Canon EOS M50 Mark II. It's one of the best budget models you can get, and it's super portable, to boot. With a fully articulated screen that can flip around to face you and a simple user interface, this is a great choice for beginner photographers and first-time vloggers. While lens options are somewhat limited for those thinking more long-term, the available lenses will suit most users just fine.

    The camera performs admirably for a wide range of photography styles, with a high-resolution APS-C sensor and a very good autofocus system, along with relatively quick burst shooting. That said, aspiring videographers need to note that it's limited in the 4k department, with just a single 24 fps frame rate option that's heavily cropped. Still, if you don't mind shooting in 1080p, this is quite a capable little camera.

    See our review

  2. Best Cheap Camera

    If you're looking for something even more affordable than the Canon EOS M50 Mark II, the Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D is a solid entry-level DSLR. It's a simple camera with a fixed screen (sorry, vloggers), and it's much bulkier than the M50 II, but it feels good in the hand and has the same intuitive user interface. Plus, since it's a DSLR, it has a longer battery life than the mirrorless M50 II.

    Inside is a solid, high-resolution sensor that can capture great photos, and Canon has a large selection of EF-S and EF lenses that you can use with this camera. It means you can easily upgrade to better lenses, making all the difference in your photography as your skills grow. That said, its AF system is a lot more rudimentary than the AF found on mirrorless alternatives like the M50 II, and it can only shoot at a max 3 fps burst rate, meaning this isn't the best option for sports or fast-moving subjects. Still, this is a good choice if you want a relatively cheap interchangeable-lens camera kit to get started with.

    See our review

  3. Best Cheap Superzoom Camera

    While interchangeable-lens cameras like the two above will give you the most flexibility and room for growth, a bridge camera with a superzoom lens is a solid option if you want an all-in-one camera. The Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 offers a ton of value for its price, and when it goes on sale, it's one of the best cameras under $300. Ultimately, you get a comfortable DSLR-like shooting experience with the convenience of a built-in zoom lens with a 20–1200mm full-frame equivalent focal length, giving you a ton of flexibility to shoot everything from landscape shots to photos of far-away wildlife.

    Of course, you won't get the best image quality since it uses a much smaller sensor. It'll be closer to your smartphone camera than either of the two cameras mentioned above, but thankfully, the camera comes loaded with extra features that make taking photos a breeze. These include a Macro AF mode for close-up photography, and an 'Artistic Nightscape' mode for long-exposure photos, making this a great-value option if you're on a tight budget and prefer the convenience of a built-in lens.

    See our review

  4. Best Cheap Point-And-Shoot Camera

    The Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 is similar to the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 in that it has a built-in zoom lens; however, it comes in a compact form factor that makes it a better option for travel or casual street photography. It's one of the best budget point-and-shoot cameras we've tested, packing in many features and decent performance for its price.

    The lens has a 24–720mm equivalent focal length, so not as much zoom range as the FZ80 but still very versatile if you have to zoom in on far-away subjects. The image quality isn't amazing, but it gets the job done for casual photos of friends or family. Plus, the camera has a flip-up screen that makes it easy to take selfies. You even get a little viewfinder for sunny days when it's harder to see the screen. Overall, a solid little compact that won't break the bank.

    See our review

  5. Best Cheap Action Camera

    For action video, there's nothing better than a portable action camera; however, if you don't want to dish out on something expensive like the GoPro HERO10 Black, there are still some decent options that'll let you capture action footage without spending a fortune. The AKASO V50X is a solid cheap action cam that can shoot in 4k or 1080p. It's super portable and comes with a protective case that gives it added durability and allows you to submerge it in water down to 131 ft (40 m). Unlike more expensive options, the camera itself isn't waterproof, but you can still use it for all your on-land adventures if you don't want to use the outer case.

    On top of that, it has a very effective stabilization feature and good battery life. Just know that frame rates are a bit limited. You'll be stuck with 30 fps in 4k and either 30 fps or 60 fps in 1080p, meaning that super slow-mo video is out. However, it's a solid budget option if you're looking for a simple action camera that you can slap onto a helmet or chest rig.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Canon PowerShot SX540 HS: The Canon PowerShot SX540 HS is a solid bridge camera that's normally slightly cheaper than the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80. However, it can't shoot RAW photos, doesn't have a viewfinder, and its autofocus performs worse overall. See our review
  • Nikon COOLPIX B600: The Nikon COOLPIX B600 is another slightly cheaper bridge alternative to the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 with similar build quality and better battery life. Its autofocus system performs worse, and it doesn't support RAW photos. See our review
  • Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV: The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a great budget camera that's part of the portable Micro Four Thirds system. Unlike the Canon EOS M50 Mark II, it has in-body image stabilization, but it's a bit more expensive and has a less effective autofocus system. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Dec 16, 2022: Reviewed article for accuracy and clarity.

  2. Oct 18, 2022: Added the Canon EOS M50 Mark II as the 'Best Budget Camera'; restructured and changed remaining picks to better reflect current market conditions. Added the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV to Notable Mentions and removed irrelevant notables.

  3. Dec 24, 2021: Removed the Canon EOS Rebel T100 / EOS 4000D. Added the AKASO V50X as 'Best Cheap Action Camera'.

  4. Nov 03, 2021: Restructured article to focus on more affordable cameras by removing the Canon EOS M50 Mark II and the Canon EOS M200. Replaced the Nikon D3500 with the Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D as the 'Best Cheap DSLR Camera' and added the Canon EOS Rebel T100 / EOS 4000D as a 'Cheaper Alternative.' Added the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 as 'Best Camera Under $300'. Added the Canon PowerShot SX540 HS, Nikon COOLPIX B600, and Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 to Notable Mentions.

  5. Oct 13, 2021: Minor updates for clarity and accuracy.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best budget cameras for most people to buy, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).

If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our budget cameras. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.