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The 5 Best Cheap and Budget Cameras - Spring 2024 Reviews

Updated
Best Cheap Cameras

When looking for an affordable camera, it's important to pick one that fits your budget and needs. Thankfully, most modern digital cameras are more than capable of capturing excellent images, but if you're looking to buy brand new, cameras can quickly veer into very expensive territory, and that's not even accounting for the cost of additional lenses and equipment.

Of course, if you're on a really tight budget, there's a big used market for cameras on eBay and at retailers like B&H Photo Video, MPBKEH, and Adorama since cameras generally don't depreciate in value or performance nearly as quickly as other kinds of technology. Many digital cameras released within the last five to ten years are still well worth considering and can be found at relatively cheap prices. An older camera body will also give you ample room to grow as a photographer and can still yield excellent results when paired with high-quality lenses. As a general rule, it's better to invest in a less expensive camera body and higher-quality lenses than it is to invest in an expensive camera body and cheap lenses.

We've bought and tested over 100 cameras in our lab, and below, you'll find the best cheap and budget cameras we've tested. If you have a set budget, you can also see our recommendations for the best cameras under $1,000 and the best cameras under $500. If you're specifically interested in mirrorless options, check out our best budget mirrorless cameras, and if you're more interested in making videos than snapping pics, you can try our best cameras for YouTube instead.


  1. Best Budget Camera

    If you prefer to buy new, the Canon EOS R50 is one of the best budget models we've tested. It may not be the cheapest option you can buy, but it offers a ton of value at a very reasonable price for a modern mirrorless camera. With a high-resolution APS-C sensor that can capture excellent images and a portable body, you'll want to take this camera everywhere you go. It also has a fully articulated screen and records 4k video with a decent amount of frame rate options, making it a solid choice for vloggers and video shooters. Though its intelligent auto mode takes a lot of the guesswork out of photography for beginners, the camera also uses the same RF lens mount as Canon's latest high-end cameras, so you can eventually upgrade to a more advanced body without buying into a whole new system.

    If you aren't bothered about having more lens options or eventually upgrading to a full-frame body, the Canon EOS M50 Mark II is a similar camera that'll save you a bit more money. This is especially true if you find a used model—just be aware that Canon has stopped developing new lenses for the M-mount, and the camera has notably worse 4k video capabilities. For a more portable option with built-in stabilization, don't count out the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV, although its autofocus isn't nearly as reliable as the Canon's.

    See our review

  2. Best Budget DSLR Camera

    The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 is another excellent budget option. It's one of the most portable and lightweight DSLRs Canon has ever produced, and while it isn't as portable as mirrorless offerings like the Canon EOS R50, it's still very easy to take on the go. Aside from their ever-lower prices, the biggest advantage of getting a DSLR is the wide range of lens options on offer, not to mention significantly longer battery life.

    The SL3 features a high-resolution APS-C sensor, which can capture great image quality for its class. While its autofocus system isn't as effective as the R50's, it's still fairly reliable and does a good job with slower or more static subjects. This is also one of the few DSLRs to offer 4k video capability. Despite some limitations, it works fine for more casual use. All that, plus the usual intuitive controls and user interface that Canon is known for, makes this an appealing budget DSLR.

    See our review

  3. Best Cheap Camera

    If you want something even more affordable than the picks above, the Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D is the best cheap camera we've tested. This DSLR doesn't have as many bells and whistles as the Canon EOS R50, so there's no 4k video capability or flip-out screen, but the camera has a high-resolution APS-C sensor that can capture great photos. Like the Canon EOS Rebel SL3, it's compatible with any of Canon's EF and EF-S lenses, so you'll have plenty of options to choose from, including more affordable lenses if you ever want to upgrade from the kit lens.

    It's a DSLR, so it has a longer battery life and a more established lineup of lenses. However, its autofocus system is more basic than the AF found on modern mirrorless cameras. Because of that, and its very slow burst rate, it isn't the best option for sports or fast-moving subjects. Still, this is the best cheap camera for photography if you want a simple interchangeable-lens DSLR.

    See our review

  4. Best Cheap Mirrorless Camera

    If you're set on mirrorless, the Canon EOS R100 is the cheapest mirrorless camera that Canon offers and is essentially the mirrorless equivalent of the Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D above. Because it's newer and mirrorless, it has a better autofocus system and a more portable design akin to the Canon EOS R50. However, unlike its pricier stablemate, this model doesn't have an articulating touchscreen, and its 4k video features are very limited.

    Although RF lenses are relatively few and far between, the kit lens will be enough to get you started. Also, because this model has the same lens mount as Canon's high-end mirrorless cameras, going with an R100 or the R50 can be a good long-term investment since you can eventually upgrade bodies without needing to replace your lenses. Despite its pared-down design, this is a good entryway into mirrorless cameras for those on a very tight budget.

    See our review

  5. Best Cheap Beginner Camera

    The Nikon D3500 is the best cheap camera for photography if you've never picked up a camera before. This budget DSLR stands out because of its unique Guide Mode, which walks you through the basics of photography so you can learn as you go, making it an ideal choice for those just getting started in photography. It's a very pared-down DSLR, similar to the Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D. However, it still has a high-resolution APS-C sensor that punches above its class.

    Beyond that, it's also relatively small and lightweight for a DSLR. It offers spectacular battery life, too, meaning you can shoot to your heart's content without worrying about running out of juice in the middle of the day. There's also a wide array of compatible lenses that you can use to upgrade your kit as your skills improve. It's worth noting, however, that the manufacturer has discontinued the D3500, so you'll likely have to settle for a used model.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Sony α6000: The Sony α6000 from 2014 may be old, but it still holds up surprisingly well in today's camera market if you can find one. It offers more native and third-party lens options than the Canon EOS R50, but its EVF has a low resolution, and its autofocus system is outdated by comparison. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Apr 04, 2024: We've reviewed the picks, including their availability and pricing, to ensure we recommend the best cameras to meet user needs.

  2. Mar 04, 2024: We've tweaked the introduction of this article for clarity.

  3. Feb 09, 2024: Removed the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 and Panasonic LUMIX ZS80, since they've been discontinued. Added the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 as the 'Best Budget DSLR Camera' and the Canon EOS R100 as the 'Best Cheap Mirrorless Camera'.

  4. Jan 12, 2024: No changes to picks after reviewing the article for accuracy.

  5. Dec 06, 2023: Ensured that picks still represent the best choices for user needs.

All Reviews

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