The 5 Best Digital Cameras for Under $150 in 2020

Save money with good, inexpensive digital cameras

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The Rundown
"Hands down one of the best entry level point-and-shoot cameras available."
"Extremely compact and lightweight, weighing just over a quarter-pound."
Best Instant Camera:
Instax Mini 90 at Amazon
"The retro design of the Classic version...pays homage to classic Fujifilm cameras of the past."
Best Waterproof:
Nikon COOLPIX W100 at Amazon
"Sports a 13.1MP 1/3.1" CMOS sensor with a sensitivity of up to ISO 1600 so you can get great pictures even if the lighting isn’t ideal."
"Employs a 42x optical zoom, so you won’t need to rely on digital or post-production zooming."

Getting one of the best digital cameras for under $150 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice image quality. If you want a decent camera but don't want to spend $1,000 or more on a flagship smartphone or a fancy DSLR, there are some great entry-level cameras that will capture decent photos and video without costing an arm and a leg.

The best overall entry point and shoot is Canon's PowerShot ELPH (view on Amazon). It's got solid baseline image quality and zoom (20MP, 8x), and also comes with a ton of surprising additional features. Plus, it's tiny and lightweight enough to slip into your pocket and forget about until you need it.

If you do decide to splurge, our roundup of the best DSLRs has you covered, but in the meantime, here are our picks for the best digital cameras under $150.

Best Overall: Canon PowerShot ELPH 180

Packing a bunch of features and surprising image quality for this price point, Canon's PowerShot ELPH 180 is hands down one of the best entry-level point-and-shoot cameras available. It pairs a 20MP sensor with 8x optical zoom for sharp photos even at distance, and it's also incredibly portable. Roughly the length and width of a credit card and weighing a very slight 126g, it disappears easily into a pocket or purse, so it's a breeze to take with you on vacation or day trips.

It's also got a surprisingly generous feature set. The ELPH 180 packs an Eco mode that lets you stretch out the battery life, it accommodates SD cards for saving your images, and includes a SMART mode that automatically adjusts settings to match the environment and subject of your shots. It'll also shoot video at 720p and 25 frames a second.

Best Value: Sony DSCW830

The Sony W830 seems to pack as much power and versatility as one could in a sub-$150 package. It includes a highly impressive (for the price range) 20.1-megapixel Zeiss lens with 8x zoom lens. It features Optical Steady Shot image stabilization, 720p HD video recording, a 360-degree panorama shooting mode, face detection, and smile shutter technology, as well as a 2.7-inch photo LCD.

It’s also extremely compact and lightweight, weighing just over a quarter-pound. Some of these features you could take or leave, but what you’re really aiming for is that 20.1-megapixel sensor, which is sure to beat any smartphone camera you put it up against. And did we mention it costs less than $100? You can also upgrade to one of the accessory kits, which are still only about $130.

Best Instant Camera: Instax Mini 90

Instax cameras have become sort of the industry standard for instant, printable photos ... both for their nostalgia-inducing homage to Polaroid originals, and for the simple fact that they just work well.

The Mini 90 series steps up the core nine models with a spec rundown including automatic brightness detection, an open-bulb, long exposure mode for awesome light trail pics, a macro mode that lets you photograph subjects as close as 30-60 cm, and even a super-fast shutter mode for capturing pets, children or other slippery, quick-moving subjects. The retro design of the Classic version also pays homage to classic Fujifilm cameras of the past.

Best Waterproof: Nikon COOLPIX W100

This camera may be inexpensive, but it has a rugged body that remains waterproof submerged up to 33 feet in water, freezeproof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit and even shockproof if dropped from a height of six feet or less. This model also features SnapBridge —Nikon's photography app — which, connected to via Wi-Fi, NFC, or Bluetooth, provides all kinds of cool features including instant image transfer and geolocation tagging.

When it comes to picture quality, the W100 sports a 13.1MP 1/3.1" CMOS sensor with a sensitivity of up to ISO 1600 so you can get great pictures even if the lighting isn’t ideal. It also boasts a NIKKOR 3x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 30-90mm), which produces sharp images in a range of situations and environments. 

Best Zoom: Kodak PIXPRO Astro Zoom AZ421-BK

It’s hard to find a digital camera for under $150 that also packs in a professional zoom option (we’re betting that’s why you’re on this little article here). This camera employs a 42x optical zoom, so you won’t need to rely on digital or post-production zooming — though if you do, the 16 MP sensor will give you more headroom for tightening up.

The 24mm wide-angle lens makes sure you get everything in the shot for those travel landscape shots. There are some flashier features, including face detection that works for humans and pets, as well as a smile/blink detection feature to make sure you never have to retake the picture a thousand times. There’s even internal touchup capabilities built right into the device, as well as a panoramic mode for those "wow" photos.

Final Verdict

Canon's PowerShot ELPH 180 is an awesome choice for an inexpensive, portable camera that will deliver great photos (and solid video) without breaking the bank. For a really cool, stylish instant camera alternative, check out the Instax Mini 90.

What to Look for in a Digital Camera

Optical zoom - If you’re purchasing a point-and-shoot camera, then that means you won’t be able to swap out lenses if you need a good zoom. If you’re planning on taking pictures from afar, make sure that the camera you choose has a nice zoom lens. Digital zoom can make your image blurry, so looking at the optical zoom, in particular, is important.

Video recording - Many point-and-shoot cameras also have the ability to record video. While you might not want to rely on it as a primary video camera, the feature can be really nice if you want to record video on the go. If this is something you care about, make sure the camera you pick has decent video quality.

Picture quality - Megapixels aren’t the only determinant of the quality of the images your camera will capture (the image sensor matters as well), but it’s an important spec to look at. Aim for the maximum number of megapixels within your budget.