The 6 Best Digital Cameras Under $100

Save money with inexpensive digital cameras

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Sony DSC-W800

Sony DSCW800
Courtesy of Amazon.com
4

When it comes to cameras, the sub-$100 category is pretty tough, namely due to the convenience of smartphone cameras. However, if you’re willing to spend a few extra bucks on a standalone camera, the Sony DSC-W800 is probably the best you’ll find. It features a 20.1 megapixel CCD sensor with a 5x optical zoom lens. It includes Sony’s SteadyShot Image stabilization tech, which reduces blur, and it shoots 720p HD video. Among the other features are a 360° Panorama mode, USB charging, a simplified camera menu and a picture effect mode. It’s also super lightweight and compact, making it highly transportable—something any camera owner should expect in the age of the smartphone.

To be clear, this is an entry-level shooter from Sony. It may offer a bit more versatility than an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S7 (mostly thanks to the optical zoom), but the point-and-shoot category as a whole hasn’t seen much innovation in recent years. Buy this if you want a dedicated camera that can shoot fairly high quality images, but you don’t want to spend more than $100.

Best Sensor: Nikon COOLPIX A10

3.5

You may be surprised to find that the COOLPIX A10, Nikon's cheapest entry in the camera line, still packs plenty of power under the hood. For just $80, you get a firecracker of a camera with all the niceties of its more expensive point-and-shoot counterparts, albeit without the elegance of its pricier cousins. But it more than makes up for its lack of finesse with a litany of other stats. It's light and compact, weighing in at just 5.7 ounces and measuring 3.8 x 2.34 x 1.14 inches. Thus, it's the perfect pocket or bag-sized camera. 

It also features an impressive 16.1-megapixel sensor, with HD 720p video recording, and a slimmed-down version of Nikon's Smart Portrait system for skin-softening magic. Its fixed viewfinder, with its 230l-dot LCD screen, is a bit lacking, but its svelte body and impressive 700-shot battery life more than make up for it. All in all, the Nikon COOLPIX A10 is attractive, simple to use, and produces impressive results, especially for the price.

Best for Beginners: Kodak PIXPRO Friendly Zoom FZ43

Kodak PIXPRO Friendly Zoom FZ43
Courtesy of Amazon.com

If simplicity is the most important factor in your budget digital camera purchase, it’s unlikely you find something easier to get started with than the Kodak PIXPRO Friendly Zoom FZ43. This is a true beginner camera and one of the few inexpensive cameras that has been consistently updated by Kodak to keep it fresh. 

The camera is exceptionally light at .26 pounds and measures just 2.37 x 3.67 x 1.05 inches. On top of its dead-simple design and interface, it offers up a 2.7-inch LCD screen, 4x optical zoom, 16-megapixel photos and the ability to shoot HD videos in 720p.

Some reviewers have warned that the camera has an average battery life of less than two hours, so you may want to purchase some additional AA batteries to go with it just in case. That said, at this price, it’s still a good deal and we’re sure the camera would make an excellent choice for anyone that is just getting started with photography.

Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best Kodak cameras

Best Action: AKASO EK7000

4.7

For a surprisingly reasonable price, you can buy the updated EK7000 from AKASO, a feat of engineering that hits all the marks its predecessor missed. At its core, it’s a camera that lets you shoot 4K video at 25 frames per second. That’s herculean in its own right. Add to that its ability to shoot 2.7K at up to 30fps and your interest will assuredly be piqued. And while most video cameras skimp in the static photography department, this one has a 16MP camera that is well suited for taking really big, really crisp stills. The built-in, 20-inch IPS display makes it easier to view them, and from all angles.

But an action camera is only as good as, well, its action capabilities. Its electronic image stabilization is sufficient for moving photos, though optical stabilization would have been better. But the waterproof rating is insane, as in, you can still take videos with the camera submerged 131 feet under sea level — a full 30 feet deeper than the previous generation AKASO EK7000. Somehow further upping the ante, the battery life lasts up to 90 minutes, and the camera comes with a full selection of case, mount, and care accessories.

Best Budget Point-and-Shoot: Nikon COOLPIX L32

Nikon COOLPIX L32
Courtesy of Amazon.com

When you’re trying to get the best deal on a budget camera, sometimes you’ll have the best luck by purchasing a higher-end model that has been certified refurbished. That’s what we found with the powerful and easy-to-use Nikon COOLPIX L32. The device is lightweight at .65 pounds and measures 3.3 x 5.4 x 7.8 inches, so it can easily fit in your pocket. It stands out among other sub-$100 camera purchases with its 20.1-megapixel photos, 5x optical zoom lens, a three-inch LCD screen for viewing photos and the ability to shoot 720p HD videos.

On top of its surprisingly good hardware, the COOLPIX L32 also has some sweet software tricks under the hood. The camera offers a “Smart Portrait System” that does some of the work for you when taking portraits, including an autofocus feature that knows to look for faces in the frame. There’s even a “Glamour Retouch” feature that softens skin to hide blemishes and can add color to cheeks.

Best Instant Camera: Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera

Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Instant cameras are something of a party trick these days, as there really is no digital value to them. But not everything has to be Internet-compatible. Remember the good old days of film? The Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 is a trip down memory lane. The specs aren’t all that impressive. It features a 95mm f/14 lens with two focus zones, an optical (not electronic) viewfinder, and controls to help add high and low-key effects to pictures. That’s it. It doesn’t even have USB charging (it runs on AA batteries). But when your camera automatically snaps, exposes and prints out pictures, you don’t need all the bells and whistles. Snap images and post them all over your wall, office, locker, or wherever. Save them and share them with friends in the old-fashioned way. Cherish these cameras for their classical appeal, not their social media potential.

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent three hours testing one of our readers’ favorite digital cameras. To get the most comprehensive results, they took photos and video in different types of environments and lighting situations. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using this camera, from its zoom capability to the quality of the final photos. We've outlined the takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Digital Camera Under $100

Optical zoom - When searching for a compact point-and-shoot camera, take into consideration the optical zoom abilities advertised. If you want to capture images that are more than a few arms’ lengths away, you’ll want something with at least 4X optical zoom.

Connectivity - Having fun living in a connected digital world? If you want to quickly upload your favorite photos to Facebook and Instagram, ensure that your camera of choice offers digital connectivity options, such as Bluetooth or WiFi, to connect with your smartphone.

Video abilities - Not all compact cameras are excellent at video recording. If you’re looking for a camera to capture videos of the kids or your latest vacation, look for a solution that offers a minimum of 720p HD video. If you are able to find an option with stabilized video, it will help to remove any shakiness caused by your hand.

Test Results: Sony DSC-W800 (Best Overall)

4

What We Like

  • Super portable

  • Stylish but durable

  • Long battery life

What We Don't Like

  • Average photo quality

  • Difficult to focus

Sony DSCW800 camera
Sony DSCW800
Sony DSCW800 digital camera
Sony digital camera
Sony camera

We're going to be honest with you: Most cameras under $100 are not going to produce high-quality photos. However, if you don't want to spend a lot, the Sony DSC-W800 will get the job done. While one reviewer called the photo quality “rather average,” she liked how “surprisingly light” the camera was and the fact that it could easily fit in your pocket. Other things our testers liked? It’s durable, has a good battery life, and, according to one person, “looks much more expensive than it is.” Overall, it’s an affordable, on-the-go option, but if you’re interested in superior photos and videos, this isn’t the camera for you.