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 rebuilt 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.

1
Best Overall: Sony DSCW800

Sony DSCW800
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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.

2
Best for Beginners: Nikon Coolpix S2800

Nikon Coolpix S2800
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A direct competitor of the Sony DSCW800, the Nikon Coolpix S2800 features more or less the same specs. However, if you’re an entry-level shooter looking for something simple and to-the-point, this is for you. It has a 20.1 megapixel CCD sensor, 5x optical zoom, and 720p HD video recording—all of which can be found on the slightly more expensive Sony DSCW800. The Coolpix, however, comes in a slightly slimmer, lighter package that’s a bit more easy to navigate.

If it came down to making a decision between the Sony and the Nikon, you could toss a coin and be happy with either result. But we’ll give the Coolpix the pick for beginners since the brand and product line have a good track record here. It also has a slightly more rounded design that fits well into most pockets, as well as a “Glamour Retouch” mode that softens skin tones. There’s a range of other shooting options for image versatility, too.

3
Best Action/Waterproof Camera: GoPro HERO

GoPro HERO
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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.

4
Best Budget Point-and-Shoot: Kodak PIXPRO Friendly Zoom FZ41

Kodak PIXPRO Friendly Zoom FZ41
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When it comes to budget point-and- shoots, they don’t get much cheaper than the Kodak PIXPRO FZ41. Traditionally a film manufacturer, Kodak isn't exactly an up-and-comer in the world of digital photography, but they do make some decent cheap shooters. The PIXPRO FZ41 packs a somewhat bare-bones features list, which is to be expected considering the "budget" category, but you can't ask for a whole lot more from a camera found for less than $100. It includes a 16.1-megapixel CCD sensor with a modest 4x optical zoom. It includes Face Detection and Auto Exposure modes to help capture the best shots (keyword: help). It also has a 24mm wide angle lens for capturing scenic vistas, and it comes in black, red and silver. The whole thing comes in a tiny package able to fit into most pockets. To be clear, though, if you already have a smartphone, there really is no reason to buy this. Pick it up if you need a dedicated shooter but don’t have the budget for anything truly next-level.

5
Best Instant Camera: Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera

Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Film Camera
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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.

6
Best Social/Sharing Camera: Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera

Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera
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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.

7
Best for Connectivity: Nikon COOLPIX S3700

Nikon COOLPIX S3700
Courtesy of Amazon.com

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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