The Best Cameras Under $100
Looking for the Most Affordable Digital Camera?
So you want a new digital camera but you don't want to spend big. In fact, you don't want to spend more than $100. Well, this page can help you find the best cameras under $100.
If you want a new camera, versus used or refurbished, there are a few models out there that perform well as long as your photographic needs are basic. This page will try to guide you in finding one, providing you tips for the features that you want to look for to assure your satisfaction. Affordable digital cameras aren't a "bargain" if they don't perform well after all.
If you want a digital camera with more features than $100 will buy, your other option is to consider a refurbished camera. These have been serviced to repair any malfunction and should function like new.
The pricing on the cameras we discuss here will fluctuate from time to time and thus they may sell for slightly over $100 at any given time.
The Sensor and Image Quality
Affordable cameras really aren't that hard to come by; however, you need to assure they can do the job to your satisfaction.
Cameras under $100 aren't going to offer the same quality and controls that cameras over $300 offer. However, they can still be quite good for the average, casual user and can be very easy to use.
Two basic things to examine that reflect image quality are the camera's lens and the sensor type, size, and number. Most of the point and shoot cameras that are less expensive will have one sensor, a small one. Shoppers can compare of course. A 1/2.5" sensor is a good minimum. Consumers can also look at the megapixel rating. Generally, a 5-megapixel camera is quite sufficient for sharing images online and for producing good prints that are 4x6, 5x7 or 9x10. Larger prints generally require 6 megapixels or more. Most modern cameras, even the budget ones offer 16-20 megapixels.
It's important to know that more megapixels don't always mean better images though. If the sensor is very small, then 16 megapixels likely won't produce a better photo than say an 8 or 10-megapixel camera if all else is equal.
Larger sensors and cameras with more than one sensor as well as higher quality lenses can produce better-looking photographs but this comes with an increased price tag.
It's important to remember that a quality lens and a good processor are also tied closely to image quality so often it's a good idea to stick to a brand name that is known for quality lenses and so forth.
Memory or storage is important with a digital camera so that you don't have to stop shooting every few photos just to download your photos. Most cameras have at least 16MB of internal storage and then offer a card slot for additional memory.
SD card slots are by far the most common. They may offer 2 or 4 GB of memory or more. As you might suspect a card with a higher capacity will cost more. For most purposes, a 2GB card is sufficient for most people.
There are a number of features to consider if you want the best camera under $100 or for any price for that matter.
- Image Stabilization.
Any form of stabilization can help reduce blurriness due to unintentional camera movement when the photographer isn't able to stabilize the camera. (For instance, if your hands shake.) Optical/mechanical stabilization is preferable to digital/electronic stabilization but again, it's more expensive. Certainly, a tripod can help assure a steady camera, but most of us don't find them convenient to use in most circumstances.
Zoom allows you to take an up-close shot despite being physically further away from a subject. Optical zoom is superior in quality, but digital zoom can be useful without degrading image quality in smaller print sizes (4x6). Obviously 3x zoom won't give the user as much ability to get up close as 8x zoom.
- Shooting and scene modes.
Many point and shoot cameras give automated controls to users that help adjust exposure, shutter speed, and/or white balance to capture better shots despite changes in lighting and more challenging situations. If you would rather that the camera does this for you, look to see if the camera you are considering offers a variety of scene modes to help you out. Certainly, for the easiest operation, a Smart Auto or Intelligent Auto Mode is good as it allows the camera to choose the correct settings without the photographer having to figure it all out.
If you want to be able to get up close shots of insects, flowers, and so forth, then a macro mode is very useful. If you tend to shoot a lot of pictures indoors, in the evening, and in other low light situations, then a night mode can be important. Look for scene and shooting modes that will coincide with the types of shots you will be taking.
Sweep Panorama mode helps in getting great panoramic images and a burst mode can allow the ability to capture multiple shots with one push of a button; great when photographing something or someone in motion.
Many casual photographers have situations in which they want to be in the shot. A self-timer can allow you to do this.
- Built-in flash with red-eye reduction.
One of the most common complaints when using a flash is that subjects end up with red eyes. This feature helps to reduce this effect.
- Manual Controls.
For those who want to learn more or have more experience, manual controls are important. The ability to turn off the flash at a minimum is critical. Being able to adjust shutter speed or aperture may not be common on lower end cameras but certainly gives the user much more control in a variety of settings such as low light, high speed (like sports), and other scenarios.
- Built-in Technologies.
There are a number of common technologies digital cameras offer which can improve the quality of your photos. Face detection allows the camera to identify faces and assure they get the right exposure and focus. Motion detection helps to keep things in focus despite small movements. There are various technologies like these that are particularly useful for those who like simplicity.
An affordable camera lacking in many of these features probably won't meet your needs.
Ease of Sharing Photos
The images stored on a digital camera are generally downloaded to a computer, printed, and/or shared online.
Shoppers need to be sure they understand how they will transfer their photos to a computer. A USB 2.0 or Firewire connection is fast but both the camera and your computer must have the appropriate connections and the camera must be compatible with your operating system. Most budget cameras under $100 won't offer wireless transfer abilities.
Many modern computers offer memory card slots that allow for transferring photos directly from the card. Some printers have a memory card slot as well, but if you don't have this it is possible to obtain a memory card reader to transfer pictures.
To print photos at home, a compatible printer is needed but for those who prefer, various stores and kiosks can do this work as well.
The key point is that buyers need to be sure they know what they want to do with their photos and assure they have the connections and compatible devices they need.
So What Are Some of the Best Cameras Under $100?
Just a few to consider:
- Sony W800
- Kodak PixPro FZ43
- Canon Powershot ELPH 180
Perhaps the devices you're finding as far as new models aren't meeting your expectations. Another option as mentioned above is to look for refurbished cameras or perhaps used. Refurbished cameras can be purchased many places. eBay and Amazon certainly have some and even the makers typically offer them. You can search by brand or by a specific model.
These cameras should be restored to meet factory specifications and yet will be priced lower so that you get more camera for your money.
The other obvious option is to use a camera phone. Most modern smartphones have a camera, and if your photographic needs are basic, even the lower end phones that you can typically get through cellular providers for under $100, can do the job. Certainly, there are a number of higher-end phones with great cameras, but they have a hefty price. However, if you will be investing significant money in a phone anyway, you'll have the added bonus of a good camera without having to make an additional purchase. The iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, and the Google Pixel 2 XL are great examples.
© 2008 Ruth Coffee