The 6 Best Cameras to Buy in 2018 for Under $400

You don't have to shell out a ton of money for a great camera

The $400 price range actually delivers some options when it comes to form factors and designs. Here, you’re no longer limited to point-and-shoots, as you are in the sub-$300 range. However, that also makes for a more complicated decision-making process. We’ve outlined some of the best options for the sub-$400 category, ranging from mirrorless, to fixed-lens, to waterproof and more. Read on to see which one is best for your needs.

The Nikon Coolpix L340 strikes a welcome balance of price, quality and portability. It has a very pronounced grip, which makes it comfortable to hold, and it has a fairly pared down array of buttons for easy shooting. Our favorite feature is its 28x optical zoom, which yields an equivalent of 22.5-630mm in 35mm terms, plus a 56x digital Dynamic Fine Zoom.

Inside, you’ll find a 20.4 million-pixel CCD sensor. It can shoot video in 720p, features High Performance VR (Vibration Reduction) and has a variety of automatic and scene shooting modes, including Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Cyanotype, High Contrast Monochrome, and more. While it lacks a viewfinder, you can review all your shots on its three-inch, 460k-dot LCD screen. It can be hard to see in the bright sun and isn’t touch sensitive, but these are tradeoffs we will happily make at this price point.

If you’re on the hunt for a DSLR under $400, you really can’t do better than the Nikon D3300. While it retails for around $450, you can score a certified refurbished model within budget. It’s tested and certified to work like a new camera and ships with all its accessories, including a 18-55mm lens, and has a 90-day warranty.

The camera itself is perfect for entry-level photographers, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack some powerful specs: It has a 24.2-megapixel DX format (APS-C) sensor, an Expeed 4 processor and a three-inch, 921k-dot LCD screen. It shoots HD video in 1080/60p, though doesn’t offer 4K. It has an ISO range up to 12800 (25600 with expansion) and shoots five fps in burst mode. Aside from the fact that it ships in a generic white box, reviewers on Amazon say that you can’t tell the difference between a new Nikon and this refurbished model.

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best entry level DSLR cameras and our best DSLR cameras under $2,000 articles.

Sharing features are becoming somewhat standard on cameras these days, so while the PowerShot SX730 makes it super simple to shoot and share photos quickly, we recommend it for its other fabulous features beyond sharing. It has a 40x zoom lens, which is equivalent to 24-960mm in 35mm terms, and its 20.3 megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor with a DIGIC 6 Image Processor takes sharp photos in various settings. But if sharing is your priority, you likely also care about selfies too, which means you’ll appreciate its 3-inch tilting screen that flips up to 180 degrees to get you the best angles. The Self Portrait Mode can be accessed via the menu, or automatically when you flip up the screen, and also lets you change the background blur and smooth skin.

Mirrorless cameras are a rather new category of cameras that allow you to swap out lenses but still circumvent the complex mirror system. By virtue, this makes them smaller and more compact than similarly capable DSLRs. The Sony a5100 is conveniently compact, measuring 1.42 x 4.33 x 2.48 inches and weighing just .62 pounds. Still, it features a 24MP CMOS sensor, a Bionz X processor, on-chip phase detection covering 92% of the frame and WiFi with NFC. Its 3-inch LCD display has 921,600 dots and touch functionality and also flips up 180 degrees, making it ideal for selfies. On top of that, it has a built-in GN4 flash and supports full HD video recording at 1080/60p and 24p with XAVC S. According to reviewers on Amazon, it’s a must-have for vloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers, and just about anyone who anyone needs something light to tote around.

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best mirrorless cameras article.

No one ever said the compact point-and-shoot category was lacking in quality. In fact, some fixed lens devices could compete right alongside the top mirrorless and DSLR shooters on the market — just don’t complain when you need to capture some close-up macro or a long-range telephoto shot. High-end point-and-shoots are general-purpose cameras, and when it comes to sub-$400 devices, there’s nothing better than the Nikon A900. It features a 20-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor with a fixed NIKKOR f/3.4-6.9 ED lens (24-840mm). It offers a 35x optical zoom range with a dynamic (digital) zoom function that effectively doubles that. It also features a 3-inch tilting LCD, the full suite of connectivity options (Bluetooth, WiFi, NFC), and, perhaps most impressive of all, UHD 4K video recording, effectively future-proofing the camera for a while.

Adventure-seekers can’t go wrong with a GoPro. It’s designed to be ultra-durable and waterproof up to 33 feet without housing. It can take 12MP photos in single, burst, time lapse and night lapse modes and also supports 4K video, which you can record in continuously for 60 to 90 minutes thanks to its solid battery life. It also has a two-inch touch display that makes reviewing your footage convenient on the go, and a cool QuikStories feature transfers your footage to your phone, where you can edit it into a shareable video. Amazon reviewers rave about its image stabilization technology and three multi-directional microphones that capture awesome audio, but on the downside, quality degrades in low light settings.

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best waterproof cameras article.

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