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The 4 Best Cheap Cameras - Black Friday 2021 Reviews

Updated
Best Cheap Cameras
71 Cameras Tested
  • Store-bought cameras; no cherry-picked units
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When looking for the best cheap camera, it's important to consider your options and find a camera that fits your budget and preferences. 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. A lot of cheaper camera bodies will give you ample room to grow as a photographer and yield excellent results when paired with more expensive lenses.

It's worth noting that a camera's overall performance can vary drastically depending on what kind of lens you use. Your lens influences the amount of light entering the camera, an image's depth of field, autofocus behavior, and stabilization performance. That's without mentioning the physical aspects of your lens: a larger lens with a longer zoom length and a wider maximum aperture might make it easier to take the kind of photos you want, but it could make your camera more of a hassle to carry around. As a general rule, it's better to invest in a less expensive camera body and higher-quality lenses than to invest in an expensive camera body and cheap lenses. That said, for the sake of consistency and user-friendliness, we currently test cameras with their standard kit lenses.

We've tested over 70 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 Cheap DSLR Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D

    6.7
    Travel Photography
    7.0
    Landscape Photography
    6.1
    Sport & Wildlife Photography
    3.2
    Vlogging
    3.8
    Studio Video
    3.0
    Action Video
    Body Type
    DSLR
    Mirrorless
    No
    Sensor Size
    APS-C
    Tested Lens
    Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II

    The best cheap DSLR camera that we've tested is the Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D. It's a simple, entry-level DSLR with a mostly plastic construction that feels fairly comfortable to use and has a great, easy-to-navigate menu system. However, its screen is fixed and lacks touch-capability. Still, there's a guide mode to explain certain features and settings to novice users. Like all DSLRs, it has an optical viewfinder that gives you an unfiltered view of your subjects.

    This camera uses a 24.1-megapixel sensor that delivers very good overall image quality. Photos look sharp and detailed at moderately high ISO levels, though its RAW noise handling capability is just passable, in part due to its APS-C sensor, which can handle some low-light situations but introduces visual noise at higher ISOs. While it doesn't have any in-body image stabilization, the camera does a great job stabilizing photos when shooting at slower shutter speeds without a tripod when you have its kit lens attached.

    Unfortunately, it has a very limited battery life and doesn't support USB charging, which is inconvenient, though battery performance can also vary with different settings and usage habits. Its autofocus system is also mediocre, with just nine advertised detection points, and it does a poor job tracking moving faces for photos, although it performs much better when tracking objects. All in all, this is a solid entry-level camera for those on a tight budget.

    See our review

  2. Cheaper Alternative: Canon EOS Rebel T100 / EOS 4000D

    Body Type
    DSLR
    Mirrorless
    No
    Sensor Size
    APS-C
    Tested Lens
    Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 III

    If you want a very similar camera at a slightly lower price point, check out the Canon EOS Rebel T100 / EOS 4000D. While it has a lower-resolution sensor with worse RAW noise handling capability, it's a tad cheaper than the Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D and has a similar-sized body. Overall image quality is great, but its sensor has a lower 18-megapixel resolution, and its inferior noise handling capability makes it less suited to shooting in low light. It has a similar autofocus system with the same number of focus points but performs more consistently when tracking moving faces, which is great. That said, its build quality feels even less robust, and it has an even smaller fixed screen.

    Get the Rebel T7 if you want a camera with a higher-resolution sensor and slightly better build quality. If you want to save even more money, the Rebel T100 still delivers great image quality.

    See our review

  3. Best Cheap Point-And-Shoot Camera: Canon PowerShot SX740

    6.8
    Travel Photography
    7.2
    Landscape Photography
    7.2
    Sport & Wildlife Photography
    7.6
    Vlogging
    5.4
    Studio Video
    4.6
    Action Video
    Body Type
    Ultracompact
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    1/2.3-inch
    Tested Lens
    Built-In Lens

    If you're looking for a simpler point-and-shoot camera, the best budget camera that we've tested in the compact category is the Canon PowerShot SX740. It's incredibly compact and portable, and while it may not be the most comfortable to use for people with larger hands, it has a small textured bump on the front of its body and back thumb rest to help you maintain a secure hold. Its screen can also tilt out to help you shoot at lower angles or take selfies.

    Its built-in lens has a 40x zoom range (960mm full-frame equivalent focal length), so you can zoom in on far-away subjects. It takes decent-quality photos with a ton of dynamic range, although sharpness declines significantly as you raise the ISO due in part to its small 1/2.3-inch sensor, so it's not well-suited to low light conditions. Its lens also has optical image stabilization and does a great job of steady handheld shots.

    Unfortunately, its autofocus system is inconsistent. It does a superb job tracking moving objects in photos, but it struggles to track moving faces. Its battery life is also disappointing, though this can vary with settings and usage habits. It can shoot 4k video at 30 fps with a minor crop, which is good for a camera in this price range, but its overall video quality is poor. Still, this is an ultra-compact camera that offers good value for its price.

    See our review

  4. Best Camera Under $300: Panasonic LUMIX FZ80

    6.6
    Travel Photography
    6.9
    Landscape Photography
    7.5
    Sport & Wildlife Photography
    3.3
    Vlogging
    5.4
    Studio Video
    3.4
    Action Video
    Body Type
    Bridge
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    1/2.3-inch
    Tested Lens
    Built-In Lens

    The best camera under $300 or around that price point that we've tested is the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80. While it retails for a bit over that, you can often find it on sale. It's a superzoom bridge camera that combines the convenience of a fixed-lens compact with the comfortable body and feel of a DSLR camera. Getting a bridge camera also lets you shoot at very long focal lengths without the bulk of a dedicated telephoto lens on an interchangeable lens camera, although image quality is just okay due to its smaller sensor.

    Its built-in lens has a full-frame equivalent focal length that ranges between 20mm to 1200mm, so you can take wide-angle landscape photos or zoom in on far-away subjects like birds and wildlife or athletes on a field. It also has a fast 11 fps continuous shooting speed in its high-speed drive mode, allowing you to fire off quick bursts to capture small moments of fast-moving action. It also has a '4k PHOTO' feature that pulls high-quality stills out of 4k video clips at 30 fps.

    That said, this camera isn't well-suited to shooting in dimly-lit conditions. It has poor noise handling capability at moderate and higher ISO levels, with luminance noise noticeable as low as ISO 400. Its autofocus system also struggles to track moving faces, though it performs better with objects and includes useful features like 'Focus Stacking' that lets you combine images taken at different focus points for an expanded focal range. Overall, this is a great value bridge camera and one of the best cameras under $300.

    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 FZ80 with similar build quality and better battery life. Its autofocus system performs worse, and it doesn't support RAW photos. See our review
  • Panasonic LUMIX ZS80: The Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 is a decent point-and-shoot with an electronic viewfinder and better autofocus performance than the Canon PowerShot SX740. It's more expensive and has a more limited shutter speed range. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. 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.

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

  3. Sep 22, 2021: Reviewed picks for clarity and accuracy; no change to recommendations.

  4. Sep 03, 2021: No changes to product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cheap 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 US).

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.

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