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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. If you're in the market for an action camera or a quirky instant camera printer you can get those too. 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
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 FZ53. It's 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 0.26 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.
It has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, a nice improvement over its predecessor. At its price, it's a good deal and we’re sure the camera would make an excellent choice for anyone that is just getting started with photography.
Sharp photos and video
Easy to use in action shots
Wi-Fi control through app
Lesser known brand
For a surprisingly reasonable price, you can buy the AKASO Brave 4, a feat of engineering that hits all the marks its predecessor the EK7000 missed. At its core, it’s a camera that lets you shoot 4K video at 24 frames per second. That’s herculean in its own right. Add to that its ability to shoot 2K at up to 30fps and your interest will assuredly be piqued, not to mention 1080p at 60fs. And while most video cameras skimp in the static photography department, this one has a 20MP camera that is well suited for taking really big, really crisp stills. The built-in, 2-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.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 AKASO EK7000. Somehow further upping the ante, the battery life lasts up to 90 minutes for each of the two rechargeable 1,050mAh batteries for a total of 180 minutes. the camera comes with a full selection of case, mount, and care accessories.
Pocket-sized and attractive design
The Polaroid Mint takes the dated idea of an instant print digital camera and makes it fun and fresh. Available in a variety of colors including red, black, yellow, white, and blue, the pocket-sized Mint can snap great shots with its 16-megapixel sensor. It can take and print up to 40 photos before needing to be recharged and doesn't require any additional toner, unlike some other instant print cameras. Everything is contained in the Zink Cartridge, which combines paper and ink together, and is available in packs of 20, 30, and 50 sheets.
Unlike more simplistic instant cameras, there are several modes like Vibrant Color for bright and beautiful shots, or Black & White and Vintage for a more old school look. Finally, the camera is rechargeable and includes a micro USB cable so you don't have to worry about batteries.
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.
Easy to carry
Good connectivity and app support
No 4K video recording
The Canon IVY REC may not look like much at first glance, but it's actually a powerful compact action camera. It's not as sophisticated as the 4K AKASO camera, but it's not meant for the same purpose. Rather than mounting it on a helmet or bike handles, the IVY REC has a carabiner-style clip to attach to a backpack or a belt. The 13-megapixel sensor can record both photos and video as you walk, run, and generally go about your business. It's waterproof up to nearly 7 feet and shock resistance for the same distance, so you don't have to worry too much about knocks or bumps.
The camera is capable of recording 1080p at 60fps, giving you smooth recording even if it's not as sharp as higher-end action cameras. There's a multi-mode functional dial to switch between shooting modes, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built-in. You can also use the Canon app as a remote camera control and to transfer files.
Easy to use and learn
Simple Zink cartridges
Low resolution sensor
The Canon IVY CLIQ is another instant camera printer, but it's shaped more like a traditional point-and-shoot digital camera making it easier for kids to use. The IVY CLIQ comes in three bright colors: Bumblebee Yellow, Ladybug Red, and Seaside Blue. Like Canon's regular IVY, the CLIQ takes advantage of Zink cartridges so you don't need to buy separate ink and paper.
The sensor is only 5 megapixels which isn't very sharp, but it's perfectly fine for handing to a child to take to summer camp, the concert, or the beach. It works for selfies, has some fun modes that you can add effects, filters, and emojis too, and is supported by the Canon Print app for remote shooting and file transfers. Best of all, the price is just right.
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 more beginner friendly, we like the Kodak PixPro FZ53.
Our expert testers and reviewers evaluate the quality of digital cameras under $100 the same as we evaluate most cameras, though we put a stronger focus on the value proposition and the quality trade-off. One of the elements we look at are design and physical features, focusing on portability, ease of use, and durability.
The more important factors are photo and video quality, including optical zoom capability. We test these by taking sample shots and video, both indoors and outdoors, in a variety of environments, modes, and lightning conditions. Then we look at the resulting images and video on a monitor. Finally, we take a look at the price and competition to evaluate how much value the digital camera offers and make our final judgement. All of the digital cameras we test are purchased by Lifewire; none are provided by manufacturers.
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 predecessor to 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.