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Best Overall: Sony DSC-W800 at Amazon
"Super lightweight and compact, making it highly transportable."
Best Sensor: Nikon COOLPIX A10 at Amazon
"Attractive, simple to use, and produces impressive results, especially for the price."
Best for Beginners: Kodak PIXPRO Friendly Zoom FZ43 at Amazon
"Excellent choice for anyone that is just getting started with photography."
Best Action: AKASO EK7000 at Amazon
"A feat of engineering that hits all the marks its predecessor missed."
Best Budget Point-and-Shoot: Nikon COOLPIX L32 at Amazon
"Does some of the work for you when taking portraits, including an autofocus feature."
Best Instant Camera: Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 at Amazon
"Snap images and post them all over your wall, office, locker, or wherever."
Trying to find a good digital camera under $100 can be a challenge, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. For less than a price of a smartphone, you can find a digital camera with a good optical zoom and video recording capabilities. We've researched and reviewed the best affordable digital cameras from manufacturers like Sony, Nikon, Kodak, and Fujifilm to pick the ones that fit your needs.
Sleek, pocket-friendly design
Straightforward, clutter-free controls
Middling image quality
720p video resolution
Limited manual controls
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 degree 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. Our reviewer points out that while it may offer a bit more versatility than an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S7 (mostly thanks to the optical zoom), 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.
"You will be hard pressed to find a cheaper alternative that is worth considering." — Jonno Hill, Product Tester
Feels good in hand
Easy to use controls
Excellent photo quality
Long wait times between shots
Noisy HD video
Navigation not intuitive
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. Our reviewer liked how light and compact it was, 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.
"While the Nikon COOLPIX A10 takes beautiful photos, the user experience ruins the camera." — James Huenink, Product Tester
Slim, portable design
Easy to shoot
Impressive digital zoom
Low quality video
Noisy photos in low light
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. Our tester liked that 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.
"This is an ideal option for the budget-conscious buyer who just wants a cheap, portable camera." — James Huenink, Product Tester
Sharp photos and video
Easy to use in action shots
Wi-Fi control through app
Heats up after prolonged use
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. Our reviewer thought the electronic image stabilization was 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.
"Every shot, even with a wildly shaking camera, was crystal clear, the kind of clarity you could never get from a similarly priced point-and-shoot camera." — James Huenink, Product Tester
Compact and pocketable
720p HD videos
Solid 5x optical zoom
Runs on AA batteries
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.
Two focus zones
Requires AA batteries
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.
Just because you're on a tight budget doesn's mean you have to settle for bad photos. If you want a good digital camera under $100, the best one to get is the Sony DSC-W800. Its 20.1-megapixel sensor and 5x optical zoom along with image stabilization makes it better than the average smartphone, especially for the price. For something a little cheaper, the Nikon COOLPIX 10 has a similar sensor in terms of quality and a compact build. For something more beginner friendly, we like the Kodak PIXPRO.
Jonno Hill has been a Lifewire writer since 2019, and before that he's been a professional photographer at PCMag. With a degree in design, motion graphics, and video production, he's deeply familiar with what makes a camera great. He liked the Sony DSC-W800 the most for its pocket-friendly design and 20.1 megapixel sensor.
James Huenink has tested products for Lifewire since 2019. He previously been published in other tech publications like VPNside.com. He reviewed a number of cameras on this and liked the Nikon COOLPIX A10 for its affordable price and sold quality, and the Kodak PIXPRO FZ53 for being easy to use for beginners.
Kyle Schurman has written about cameras and freelance photography for more than seven years. He's previously been published in Steve's Darkroom, Gadget Review, and others. He's very familiar with digital cameras and has been writing about them since they started appearing in consumer marketplaces.
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.