Buying a decent camera at any price is difficult, even for an old pro. It manages to get even more complicated when you’re trying to get passable snapshots for less than a couple hundred dollars. Even the biggest names in the camera industry will put out a few less than stellar products in their lower line, so it can be a gamble even when you’re buying from a reputable name. To get a good camera for a low price, you need to do the research and we suggest also trying a camera before you buy it to ensure that it does everything you need to not only take photographs now, but be good enough to stay on pace in the future.
We’ve weighed all the options and found cameras that don’t scrimp on the important parts to stay inexpensive. They don’t have all the bells and lenses of their more costly counterparts, but they have spunk and are more than sufficient for getting that wacky pic of you holding up the leaning tower that your Instagram followers have been clamoring to get. When you’re ready to pay a little and get a lot, we’ve found the 6 best digital cameras under $200 for you.
Nikon Coolpix S33 Waterproof
Pro: Simple transition from stills to video
Con: Buttons tend to stick over time
Hydroelectric: It’s ready to go on your next snorkeling expedition or just a day at the pool. Capable of going down to more than 30 feet without letting water in, and able to fight off dust, shocks, and shattering blows, you should have one just as a knockaround camera for getting all the vacation shots that would kills a DSLR. In addition to stills, it can shoot full HD video in 1080p, using the wide angled lens with artful genius. Everything about the camera makes it good for the rookie on their first photoshoot. From the big buttons to the basic menus written in plain English, it sets a low entry level bar that anyone can clear with ease and begin learning the ropes of photography.
Pro: Panoramic shooting capability
Con: Sluggish shutter
Silver Sliver: Supermodel slender but still able to bring along a 5x zoom lens, Sony’s offering to the the under $200 photographer looks good just sitting on your mantle. Take it out in the world and get a few shots using the Super HAD CCD sensor and you’ll find that it packs a surprising amount of detail into images with a limited amount of noise. The W800/S is one of the least expensive cameras to bear the SteadyShot image stabilization for less blur and more crystal clear images that can even stand being blown up without too much degradation. Growing along with this camera is easy since the menu has both regular and easy modes, so that you can start out slow until you get an eye and learn some terms. Then kick it to regular and start thinking about that $4,000 swappable lens piece you’re going to get.
Fujifilm FinePix S8600
Pro: Long 36X zoom
Con: Won’t work well in low light without the flash
Close-Up Ready: Fine doesn’t begin to describe the lovely pictures you can produce with the S8600. It’s outfitted with a 1/2.3 inch CCD sensor that gives you 16 full megapixels for grabbing up larger, more complex shots than your average point-and-shoot. The FinePix registers as a bridge camera, giving you a nice long zoom that emulates lenses between 25 and 900 millimeters. On the back is a 3 inch LCD monitor that has 460 thousand dots, which permits you to see what your shots will look like without needing to squint or operate on guesswork. The video goes up to 30 frames per second, but it only registers at 720p, so it’s the lowest res HD that you can find. A few additional options such as filters and face tracking give an insight into the rich world of cameras for a price only the brokest of the broke won’t be able to reach.
Pro: Long zoom adapter
Con: Viewfinder is slow
Filter Fiend: Loaded up with features, the WB350F is the successor to the WB800F, though it doesn’t add much to the photo quality of its predecessor, choosing instead to expand in the areas where the WB800F failed. This is essentially a very nice smartphone camera complete with zoom when all is said and done. While the specs say it should be much, much better, using a 16.3MP BSI CMOS sensor, the proof is in the pudding that you get a lot of ways to make your shots snazzy and share them, but it isn’t going to give you picture quality to put you back on your heels. Built-in WiFi and NFC make it the social media junkie’s camera. This shooter also has a 21x optical zoom, shoots tight 1080p HD video, and still can go in your pants pocket for EDC
Nikon Coolpix L830
Pro: Tilting, high resolution screen
Con: Zero shutter speed control
KISS: The Coolpix L830 aims to keep it simple while also giving you a really reliable camera that makes decent pictures without a load of features or menu options that are tough to understand. The whole point here is to get the shot fast and get out. Delve into the higher resolutions or unusual ISO settings and distortion and noise become apparent, so don’t expect it to perform like a DSLR, even though it looks like one. Shooting video for the web is fine, as is home movies that won’t be going out for mass consumption, but if you’re an aspiring filmmaker, this camera is not the place for you to cut your teeth. It uses AA batteries for power, but manages to be fairly quick in spite of that, competing with most rechargeables for fast action. The burst mode is a thing to see and a delight to use.
Canon PowerShot SX610 HS
Pro: Rapid zoom
Con: Manual flash
Pocket Powerhouse: Despite the body being metal and plastic, the Powershot doesn’t feel cheaply made at all, and the compact body is just under 7 ounces, making it a bulk-free way to get shots without carrying additional equipment. The specs sound good on the SX610 with its 20 megapixel CMOS sensor, but the truth is that you’ll often end up getting more noise if you don’t know what you’re doing due to the increased sensitivity. This is better for those with some experience who know how to handle all the parts, since the SX610 isn’t as friendly as it could be to navigate. A dedicated movie button and a killer zoom packed into the slim frame make it worth the money with the 922,000 dot reverse monitor just icing on the cake.