Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

41 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
371 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Shopping guide for best digital cameras under $200

Last Updated March 2019

Digital cameras have been around for a few decades, and during that time the technology has undergone a multitude of changes. In the early days, only simple point-and-shoot cameras were available. Soon, DSLRs and mirrorless cameras with advanced technology began to dominate the market. Then came smartphone cameras, which grabbed more of the market from point-and-shoot cameras. But inexpensive digital cameras take great pictures, they’re simple to use, and they’re relatively cheap. They may not be as plentiful as they once were, but these cameras work nicely for beginners.

If you want a simple point-and-shoot digital camera that costs less than $200, you can find many options. We can help you sort through the features to find a camera that’s right for you. When you’re ready to buy, check out our top picks for digital cameras under $200.

Digital cameras that cost under $200 are fixed-lens cameras. All cameras with interchangeable lenses cost more than $200 new.

Key considerations

When seeking a digital camera in this price range, you’ll be limited to what are called point-and-shoot cameras. You may also see them referred to as fixed-lens cameras. Here are some definitions.

Point-and-shoot cameras

A digital camera that costs under $200 is called a point-and-shoot camera, which refers to the simplicity of its operation. You just point the camera at the subject and press the shutter button to shoot the picture.

Many point-and-shoot cameras have some limited manual control features and shooting modes, but most people choose one of these digital cameras for its simplicity and use it in automatic mode. Manufacturers can keep the price low by not including advanced features in these cameras.

Fixed-lens cameras

A fixed-lens digital camera lens is built right into the camera body. You can’t remove it or change it out for a different lens. Point-and-shoot cameras are all fixed-lens cameras, but not all fixed-lens cameras are point-and-shoot cameras. Fixed-lens cameras occasionally offer high-end features, giving them an ability to create better photos than those you can take with point-and-shoot cameras. Some high-end fixed-lens cameras cost as much as $1,500.

Interchangeable-lens cameras

Point-and-shoot cameras are made for beginners. When you’re ready for more advanced photography, you’ll be looking at interchangeable-lens cameras (or ILCs). These models include DSLRs and mirrorless ILCs. In an ILC, you can change out the lens depending on the type of photography you want to do. Unfortunately, you won’t find new ILCs that cost less than $200, but you might occasionally find an older, used DSLR or mirrorless ILC in that price range.

Big zoom camera

When you want a large optical zoom lens in an inexpensive camera, the Sony DSCH300 is a smart choice. Even though it isn’t small like most point-and-shoot cameras, it’s comfortable to use. The camera’s 35x optical zoom lens easily brings distant subjects up close, and with a larger camera body, you can hold it steady, which is important when using long zoom lenses.

Digital camera features

To make a smart choice about a camera that costs less than $200, it helps to understand basic digital camera terminology. You’ll then be able to figure out which features you want in your camera.

Image sensor: This internal chip senses the amount of ambient light and records the photo. The image sensor’s physical size plays a big role in image quality. Most digital cameras in this price range have a 1/2.3-inch image sensor, which is smaller than the image sensors in more expensive cameras.

Megapixels: Digital photos consist of individual dots called pixels A megapixel (MP) is equal to 1 million pixels. More megapixels are desirable in terms of image quality. However, the image sensor’s physical size plays a far bigger role in image quality versus the number of megapixels a camera can record. Point-and-shoot camera image sensors can record anywhere from 12 MP to 24 MP.

Zoom lens: The zoom lens allows you to shoot a scene from different distances without moving your feet. You can magnify the scene with the zoom lens or shoot from a wide-angle view by using no zoom magnification or something in between. A fixed-lens camera has a zoom measurement listed as a number followed by an x. Larger numbers give you more versatility in shooting.

Optical zoom: Optical zoom is the magnification of the scene that the lens achieves. Optical zoom involves shifting physical elements of the lens to create the magnification. This results in sharp photos.

Digital zoom: Digital zoom involves magnifying the scene through software manipulation inside the camera. This causes a loss in image sharpness versus optical zoom. A camera’s optical zoom capability is significantly more important than its digital zoom capability.

DID YOU KNOW?

Even inexpensive fixed-lens digital cameras have an optical zoom lens of some sort. This is an advantage over the digital zoom lens found in smartphone cameras.

Digital camera prices

Digital cameras that cost under $200 can still have some nice features. For example, you can occasionally find waterproof cameras at this price. Inexpensive waterproof cameras won’t work in deep water, but they’ll let you shoot in shallow water. Some of these digital cameras have large optical zoom lenses, which is a handy feature when you’re traveling. Many thin, pocket-size digital cameras in this price range feature optical zoom measurements from 5x to 15x. Cameras with an optical zoom of 25x or greater are bulkier.

EXPERT TIP

Inexpensive digital cameras are made for beginning photographers, including children and teenagers. They provide a nice introduction to photography when trying to develop skills.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Embrace the light. Many point-and-shoot cameras struggle in low-light situations. Poorly lit shots can be blurry, or the colors can be off. If possible, move the subject outdoors or into a room with natural light. You can try using the built-in flash on the camera, but these cameras don’t usually have a high-quality flash unit. You’ll have better results improving the natural light versus using the flash.
  • Avoid blurry photos. Inexpensive cameras often don’t freeze fast-moving subjects sharply in a photo. To avoid blurry images, position yourself so a moving subject is coming toward you. If the subject is moving across the frame, the blur will be noticeable.
  • Brace yourself. When shooting indoors, you’ll have better luck creating sharp images if you can hold the camera steady. If you don’t have a tripod, lean your body against a wall or doorframe. Hold your elbows close to your body and you’ll be able to steady the camera nicely.
  • Don’t forget about video. Point-and-shoot cameras can record video, too, and they typically do a good job. You might not be able to record 4K video, but most digital cameras under $200 can record full HD video. You can use the optical zoom lens while shooting video, which is nice.

Smartphone cameras have significantly cut into the point-and-shoot market in the past decade. Few manufacturers still actively design and create point-and-shoot cameras.

Great beginner camera

With a low price point and reasonably good image quality, the Sony DSCW830 is a nice entry-level camera. This model is just the right size to slide into a pocket for convenience. The 8x optical zoom lens works well for everyday general photography, although some will want a bigger zoom. With numerous beginner-friendly features, this is an easy camera to use in all situations.

Other products we considered

Simple point-and-shoot cameras aren’t as popular as they were several years ago. In fact, some camera makers have abandoned this realm of camera manufacture. However, there are still some nice models in this price range, as shown above. We’ve also found a few additional cameras for you to consider. Underwater cameras can be expensive, but the Comi Tech Waterproof Camera is available for less than $100, and it works in ten feet of water. If you want a camera for shooting vlogs (video blogs), the Comi Tech Vlogging Camera is a nice choice. It’s inexpensive, and it has a 180° flip screen, allowing you to see what’s being recorded while sitting in the frame. The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 is a traditional point-and-shoot camera. It’s available in a thin body with multiple color choices and a nice 8x optical zoom lens. Don’t worry about any hidden costs when you pick the Nikon Coolpix A10 camera bundle. It’s an older camera, but it comes with a memory card, batteries, and table tripod for a great value.

Point-and-shoot cameras don’t allow for add-on components like extra lenses or external flash units. Whatever is built into the camera is what you’ll be limited to using for your photos.

FAQ

Q. Why would I want a camera that costs under $200 instead of using a smartphone camera?
A.
Many people choose to use smartphone cameras for convenience. And the image quality of smartphone cameras has improved quite a bit in the past few years. But an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera still has the advantage of an optical zoom lens. Smartphone cameras use digital zoom, which causes a loss in image quality versus optical zoom.

Q. Why do DSLRs shoot better photos than point-and-shoot cameras?
A.
A DSLR camera is an advanced camera with outstanding image quality and advanced manual control features. The point-and-shoot camera is a simple camera usually used in automatic mode. DSLRs primarily cost more because they use high-quality image sensors.

Q. How does the cost of a point-and-shoot camera compare to that of an interchangeable-lens camera?
A.
Cameras that cost under $200 cost quite a bit less than advanced ILCs. DSLRs can cost anywhere from $400 to $4,000. Mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras cost roughly $400 to $3,000.

Q. Why are these cameras colorful?
A.
Advanced DSLR cameras typically are black, but you’ll find a few different color options with inexpensive point-and-shoot cameras. Manufacturers have always offered multiple colors with entry-level cameras. The idea behind the colors is to make point-and-shoot cameras fun to carry and use.

The team that worked on this review
  • Austin
    Austin
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey