The 7 Best Digital Cameras Under $100

Save money with inexpensive digital cameras

First things first: The best cheap digital cameras for under $100 are not going to be feature-rich models. They aren't going to take photos that will generate poster-sized prints.

The best cheap digital cameras can, however, yield photos of good quality for using on the Internet and for making small prints. Before you automatically dismiss a sub-$100 digital camera because of its lack of features and power, keep in mind that cameras with very similar specification lists to these cameras were probably $300, $400, and even $500 cameras half a decade ago. That's the great thing about the $100 price point: The number of features and technologies that drop down into this budget level occur continuously, so a camera that was considered pretty powerful just a few years ago may now have fallen to the $100 price point.

You also may find some refurbished cameras in this sub-$100 price point. Obviously purchasing a camera that has been re-built can have some risk, as the camera may not include a warranty or may not work for very long. Still, if you're willing to take this chance, you may find an incredible bargain that provides great results for a few years.

Thanks to technological advancements, today's inexpensive digital cameras have more power than you might think. Here are the some of the best cheap digital cameras for less than $100.

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 DSCW800 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.

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.

GoPro has become something of a household name in recent years. These tiny, highly wieldable gadgets have been able to capture some truly amazing images from the sky, the ocean and the racetrack. But the only one that can be found in the $100 ballpark is the original GoPro HERO.

This nifty cam can still do quite a lot for its age. It captures impressive HD video (1080p at 30 fps and 720p at 60 fps) through its Ultra Wide Angle Lens, as well as still images through its 5MP sensor. The Integrated Waterproof Housing allows for underwater protection of up to 131 feet (40m). It’s also compatible with more than 60 GoPro mounts and accessories. The whole camera weighs less than 4 ounces, ensuring a lightweight shooting option for helmets, selfie sticks or vehicles.

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.

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.

Another instant camera, the Polaroid Snap Instant harkens back to the original instant cameras, but in a digital package. It features a 10 megapixel sensor with a Micro SD slot able to hold up to 32GB of image storage space. Unlike the Fujifilm, which immediately prints out images in the traditional way, the Snap Instant can save images to print for later. It also features a Photo Booth mode, six picture modes (normal, black and white, vintage, Polaroid border logo format in normal, black and white and vintage) and a self-timer. And it comes in black, white, blue and red.

Best of all, the Integrated ZINK Instant Printer prints out full-color 2x3-inch images in less than a minute. While there is no WiFi connection, you can upload saved images to your computer for later sharing on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. And the whole thing comes in a retro, minimalist design that’s as catchy as the instant print function. It just looks plain cool, and it’s probably small enough to fit in your pocket.

Nikon’s COOLPIX line of point-and-shoots is ideal for beginners as they tend to have rudimentary specs with intuitive, easy to use interfaces. Anyone can work one of these shooters. But a lot of COOLPIX models are also ideal for connecting to computers. The COOLPIX S3700, for example, has Wi-Fi and Near Field Communication technology (NFC) compatibility, allowing you to seamlessly and wirelessly connect to a computer or mobile device for instant sharing access. It features a 20.1 megapixel CCD sensor with 8x optical zoom, 720p HD video capture, an ISO range of 80, 1600, 3200, as well as 16 Scene Modes and a 16x dynamic (digital) zoom that effectively doubles the camera’s reach. The whole thing can be found around $100, and it comes in red, silver, and pink.

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