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The Best Digital Cameras for Under $100
Find the best cheap digital camera and start taking great photos today!
With so many different models of digital cameras to choose from, you'd think finding one that suits your photography needs would be hard than it really is. What features do you need? What specs should you look for? Do you need HD video recording ability? It's actually easy to find the perfect digital camera for your use and photography style!
In this article, I'll review the top-rated digital cameras on the market today - each one under $100 and with a high rating and positive feedback from other customers. Each of of these cameras has been tried and tested and will likely fit your needs perfectly - but pay attention to specs like resolution and storage space to get the most from your new camera and to ensure you buy the right model.
Jump right in with these quick links:
Each of these cameras I review here meet or exceed 16 megapixels - meaning they can easily take a photo that will turn out crisp and high resolution for printing, including being able to capture high definition (HD) video.
Why Use a Digital Camera?
Digital photographs are easy to edit share, print, organize, and enjoy
Photography has come out of the Dark Ages of developing film. With digital photography, you simply take a photo and you can sort it and save easily.
With a digital camera, you don't have to carry extra film with you and you don't have an intrinsic cost associated with each photo. Provided you have a digital camera with enough storage space for the photo files you can just keep snapping pictures all day long and it won't cost you anything.
Being able to sort and save your photos is vital to enjoying photography of any kind - professional or casual. Digital photography makes this incredibly easy with photo cataloging software like Apple's iPhoto software (free with new Mac computers). Most modern software will organize your photos based on the date you took the picture. Photo sorting software can even sort your photos into groups called "events" that automatically file them based on location.
What Do I Look For In a Digital Camera?
5 vital things to consider before you buy your next camera
Even if you're looking at a camera for $50 (some can easily run to over $1,000 or more!) you still need to make sure the model you get it going to meet and exceed your needs and demands, even if you're a casual photographer.
Consider 5 vital things as you shop around:
- Megapixel (Photo Resolution) Capacity Look for a camera with around 10 megapixels to ensure the highest quality photo for the price
- HD video capability Being able to grab high definition video is a must-have for a lot of photographers - and it puts the leverage of all those pixels to work in higher quality video.
- Storage Capacity The higher the resolution, the more space the photo takes up. Make sure your camera has enough storage to handle those photos
- Expansion Storage Options Most digital cameras come with a memory card slot for added storage space - look for industry-standards like SD or MicroSD card slots
- Add-ons & Accessories Accessories may be a vital component to expanding your photographic repertoire, if so make sure your new camera can support the accessories you want
- Ease of Use Each camera has a proprietary user interface - and while most are easy to use some are easier to use than others; opt for an interface with a more gradual learning curve to use
These two items are really the most important. Make sure the model you're looking at has enough megapixels to give you high-resolution photos. Consider why this is important: The higher resolution the photos, the better the quality when you print a photo and the more software tweaking it can handle.
If you plan on printing your photos, the resolution will dictate whether the photo comes out at a good photo quality or not. To make sure you get a high enough resolution, look for a high megapixel camera - megapixels are the way digital cameras tell you what the photo resolution will be; the higher then better.
Canon PowerShot ELPH
Canon's range of PowerShot cameras has consistently had a high rating - for price point, value and quality. A built-in wide angle lens gives you more photo in every photo and the Wifi feature enables you to upload it to share with friends via Facebook (and other social networks) without ever connecting a wire.
This model offers the following features:
- 3-inch TFT color LCD with wide-viewing angle monitor
- 16.0 megapixel 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor
- DIGIC 4 image processor for exceptional performance
- 8x optical zoom with 28mm wide-angle lens
- 720p HD video with a dedicated movie button
The big feature of this model is the 12.5x zoom - most models in this price range only sport 7x or 8x. This alone makes this camera a major contender in this price range, and it means you can SUPER close to your subject. This camera will work really well if you take sports or action photography, for example, and need to zoom in on your subject from farther away.
- Pocket Sized 12.5X Optical Zoom with 24mm Ultra Wide-Angle Zoom Lens (24-300mm)
- 16 Megapixels
- HD video capability
- 3.0" High-Resolution LCD
$89.00 ($40.99 off retail price)
Handy Photography Accessories
While not absolutely necessary, these items can make your photography a bit easier
The whole point of buying a digital camera is so that you can take it with you and start taking pictures and capturing moments: Special moments with family and friends, something funny an animal does, or a beautiful nature scene in the great outdoors.
But if you're going to spend any amount of money on a new camera, you'll likely find you need a few items to make your photographic journey just a bit easier. I've compiled a list of items I find make a photographic jaunt a little easier. I hope they help you as well - even if it's just a little bit. The more you can jump in and enjoy photography, the sooner you'll get the rewards of this really cool hobby.
Handy Accessories For Photographers
- A Storage bag is almost vital to safely carrying not only your camera but also any extras, like an extra lens or tripod. Having a bag or case to store and transport your accessories is convenient while also keeping things safe from nicks and scratches.
- Extra batteries - you'd be surprised how quickly you can go through batteries once you start taking pictures! In fact, in some cases with me I run out of power before I run out of space on my storage card! Bringing an extra battery for your camera - or even an AC adapter or car charger - can really bail you out of no-power situations.
- Lens Cleaner & Cloth - You can't take good photos if your equipment isn't in the best shape, and a smudged lens or screen can hamper your photography or your photo taking experience. Keep a microfiber cloth with you (to clean the lens without leaving scratches and dust) and lens cleaner to spot away possible blemishes.
- Add-on lenses are also important, if your camera supports them (not all do, and that's fine too). If your camera can support extra lenses, look for lenses a good macro lens to take up close photos. I have a macro lens for my camera, and I've been able to capture some amazingly intricate detail that really stands out. Another lens to look into is wide angle lens so you can capture a wider photograph.
A huge shot in the arm for this model is that fact it has an ISO range from 100 to 12,800, which translates for you and me into being able to shoot equally high quality photos in all kinds of different lighting situations; the ISO on this one makes it pretty versatile for indoor and outdoor photography.
- 16.2 megapixel
- SMART features, including Social Media Upload, E-mail, Direct Link, Mobile Link, PC Auto-backup, Remote Viewfinder, All share, Cloud Service
- Can capture 720p high-definition Video
$94.00 ($35.99 off retail price)
Nikon COOLPIX S2700
The main feature on this camera that makes it great for point-and-shooters and casual photo snappers is the auto-select option: The camera (if you want) can detect and automatically select the best scene mode to get the best photograph possible in a given situation. Granted, if you have experience with photography this might not be a huge feature - but for more casual photographers it takes the guesswork out of shooting the best photo every time.
- Slim, family-friendly 6x zoom compact with wide-angle 26 mm coverage
- 16.0 megapixel
- Scene auto selector automatically activates the optimal mode
- Captures high-definition 720p video
$80.95 ($39 off retail price)
Free Videos To Help You Improve Your Photography
These are a selection of videos I found to be useful in improving my skill as a photographer - you can't wrong watching these videos and putting the tricks and skills into practice.
Before you even realize it, you'll be taking much, much better photographs after you've watched and worked on some of these pointers.
This is PHENOMENAL 2-hour course that will definitely improve your photographic skill... but it's two hours long! Set aside enough time to watch, practice, and learn.
These are simple, easy-to-use tips that will give you an immediate boost in skill wielding your camera.
Another video with practical advice - this time in finding the best focal length for taking better portraits.
Fujifilm FinePix AX650
Each of these cameras has the capacity of capturing HD (high definition) video, and this one is no different: It can pick up HD video at an awesome 30 frames per second - which means you'll get a higher-quality video that looks a lot smoother.
- 2.7-inch color LCD monitor
- 16 megapixels
- 1/2.3-inch CCD image sensor with primary color filter
- 5x optical zoom lens with approx. 7.2x digital zoom
- Focal Length: f/5.9mm-29.5mm; Full Aperture: f/3.3 (Wide), f/5.9 (Telephoto)
- Captures high-definition 720p video at 30 frames per second (really good!)
Compare Prices & Specs With These Other Models - Other options for great buys on digital cameras
While I can't personally recommend these models, it does give you a solid idea of what else is available.
If you check your specs and watch for high ratings (over 4 stars is best) you really can't go wrong with these models either - just make sure to investigate any possible buys before you buy. Make sure it measures up to your requirements in megapixels, features, storage, rating, and price.
All of us who enjoy photography also look for ways that we can take better photos - and there's constantly room to improve.
Do you have any tips or advice for fellow photographers? Or maybe you have particular experience using a brand or model of camera. Share your ideas and tips here for everyone to enjoy and benefit from!