The 6 Best Cameras to Buy in 2018 for Under $250

You don't have to spend a lot of money to get a quality camera

When it comes to digital photography, the $250 price range is the sweet spot for mid-level point-and-shoots and the kinds of camera you’d look at if you’re trying to take your game to the next level. If you’re just learning the craft and trying to get a feel for how digital photography works, this is the place to start. None of these shooters will overwhelm you, nor will they send you into debt. Here is our guide to the best cameras for under $250.

Best Overall: Canon PowerShot SX620 HS

When you’re trying to find the most versatile camera option for around $250, you need to check off several boxes. First, it needs to have decent optical zoom, so you can take shots up close and from afar. Second, it should be relatively compact, as many budget camera buyers would prefer a camera that doesn’t need to be carried in a camera bag. The Canon PowerShot SX620 HS checks these boxes off and more.

The Canon PowerShot SX620 HS has an impressive 25x optical zoom with intelligent image stabilization and can handle low-light photos with its 20.2-megapixel CMOS sensor. It measures 2.3 x 5.7 x 6.3 inches and weighs just .38 pounds, so it’s easy to carry around no matter if you’re on your way to work or the beach. For video, it captures 1080p HD footage at 30 frames per second and both video and photos can be viewed instantly on the device’s three-inch LCD screen.

Amazon reviewers have been satisfied with the device and have noted that it works great for “weddings, museums, galleries, parties, insurance claims” and more. They also liked the camera’s ability to send photos directly to your smartphone via WiFi or NFC.

Check out our other reviews of the best Canon cameras available on the market today.

Best Value: Nikon Coolpix L340

The Nikon L340 is another steal for the sub-$250 price range, a fixed lens Super Zoom that competes directly with the Canon SX410. It features a 20.2-megapixel CCD sensor ideal for low-light conditions. The 28x optical zoom (56x dynamic fine zoom) lens allows for an impressive telephoto range, and it has one of the smallest bodies in its class. It’s compact as well as versatile. When put together, these specs don’t make for the most impressive point-and-shoot you can find, but when it can be found for at such a great price point, it makes for a great value. The lack of a rechargeable lithium-ion battery feels a bit old fashioned, as does the lack of Full HD (1080p) video, but what can you expect? This is a solid, reliable camera from one of the best names in photography, something any novice shooter would appreciate before upgrading to a more serious interchangeable lens device.

Best Compact: Nikon Coolpix S7000

Compact cameras are preferable to large digital cameras to many people because they are incredibly portable, and you don’t need a camera bag to carry them around. If this describes you, then it’s time to check out the Nikon Coolpix S7000, a svelte shooter with plenty of good features.

The Coolpix S7000 measures just 3.9 x 1.1 x 2.4 inches and weighs 5.8 ounces, so this thing will fit wherever you put it. It has a 16-megapixel sensor and offers 20x optical zoom and 40x dynamic fine zoom, so you can still get photos from afar. On top of that, it also has 1080p HD video recording and WiFi and NFC connectivity to send your photos instantly to your smartphone.

With hundreds of reviews in, Amazon customers have given the camera a 4.1 out of 5 rating. They have commented that the Coolpix S7000 is an outstanding travel camera because of its small size and versatility of features.

Best Zoom: Canon PowerShot SX420 IS

Zoom can play an incredibly important role for photographers, depending on what you’re shooting. For example, if you’re a nature photographer, you need good zoom to get a close-up of a bird without scaring it away. Or if you’re shooting sports photos, you need zoom to get action shots because you can’t go on the field.

For powerful zoom on a budget, the Canon PowerShot SX420 IS is the camera for you. It has 42x optical zoom (24-1008mm) with a 24mm wide-angle lens, enabling great landscapes, portraits or anything else. The camera’s 20-megapixel CCD sensor enables you to get plenty of detail and color, and it all can be viewed on the fly via the camera’s three-inch LCD screen. Oh, and you can send photos straight to your smartphone or tablet via WiFi and NFC, so you can post your new family photo immediately on Facebook and Instagram.

Reviewers of the device have given the camera high marks for its excellent zoom and ease of use. They suggest to avoid using digital zoom and sticking to optical zoom for the best shots. 

Best Waterproof: Fujifilm’s FinePix XP 120

Fujifilm’s FinePix XP 120 waterproof digital camera is a fantastic combination of wallet-friendly pricing and excellent design for adventurous photographers. Featuring waterproof hardware that can dive up to 65 feet beneath the surface, the XP 120 is also freezeproof up to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, shockproof up to a 5.8-foot drop and dustproof. Featuring a 16.4-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor and 1080p Full HD movie recording, the XP 120 adds Optical Image Stabilization for reducing potential blur that can occur when the camera is zoomed in on a subject.

 With a 5x optical zoom on-board and 10x digital zoom, the optical image stabilization is a terrific feature to help counteract the possibility that a picture would develop poorly thanks to camera shake. The three-inch, 920,000-dot LCD display on the rear of the camera offers anti-reflective coating for easy visibility in both light and dark conditions. And it can automatically adjust the light to help maintain optimal viewing without sacrificing battery life. Extras such as interval shooting for capturing multiple images of a scene at set intervals or burst mode for high-speed photography round out the XP 120’s feature set. Additionally, whether taken underwater or above the surface, images are quickly transferred off the camera onto a smartphone, thanks to Wi-Fi compatibility with a single press of a button.

Check out our other reviews of the best waterproof cameras​ available on the market today.

Best Package Deal: Canon PowerShot SX530 HS Bundle

If you’re looking to get a lot of extras when buying a new digital camera, the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS bundle on Amazon is for you. This bundle comes with a camera bag, a 32GB SDXC memory card, memory card case, extra battery, mini tripod, a mini-HDMI to HDMI A/V cable, LCD screen protectors and a microfiber cleaning cloth.

This sounds like quite the deal, so now you’re starting to wonder if the camera’s any good. Let us put your fears to rest. The Canon PowerShot SX530 HS is a reliable, well-liked shooter with a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor and 50x optical zoom for getting quality photos from far away. The camera also has a three-inch LCD screen for viewing photos on the fly and a built-in flash for when your shot is too dark.

Reviewers on Amazon noted this was a great first-time camera and that they liked the camera more than any of the accessories. One other important note from owners: make sure you always charge the camera before using it or always keep the included spare battery charged, as the battery life lasts roughly an hour.


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