Didn't think it was possible to find a great camera for less than a grand? It sure is and we're here to help you get the best camera for under AU$1,000.
As camera technology progresses, and new ones hit the market, you'll find a whole stack of older, yet remarkably powerful snappers dropping down the pricing ranks. Despite their age, they offer some fantastic features for a relatively affordable price. These sharp shooters show that the best camera isn't always the most expensive, as entry-level offerings can capture high-quality photos – and the best cheap cameras often come in a lightweight and compact body too.
So how can camera manufacturers produce such good cameras at a really affordable price? The biggest reason is that with each new release, cameras have more advanced features and the price of older models drop. Features that you once would've only seen on the best DSLRs or the best mirrorless cameras are now common features in more basic compact systems. This means that things like raw photos, Wi-Fi and 4K video are now available in even budget cameras.
Another reason why cheaper cameras have become so good in recent years is that many manufacturers keep their older models on the market for quite a while. This means that consumers can pick up an absolute bargain if they're not too worried about having the newest camera on the market.
Read more: The best camera for beginners
So, what can you expect to get for a budget of under AU$1,000? Well, depending on what tickles your fancy, you should be able to pick up a fairly advanced compact camera, an enthusiast-focused mirrorless camera, or a decent entry-level DSLR.
It's worth noting that as camera prices fluctuate, you may find a camera on our list that creeps a little over budget (or plunges far below!). However, every camera model on this list has been chosen because it balances fantastic features with an affordable price point, so we will definitely get you in the right ballpark.
Cameras aren't a one-size-fits-all product, so the best camera under AU$1,000 for you will depend on what you want to use it for. However, each of the following models are all standout products in their respective categories, so you'll be sure to find something that suits your needs.
Best cameras under AU$1,000
It might be an entry-level camera, but the EOS 200D Mark II (called the EOS 250D in some countries) has a lot going for it. Inside a light and relatively compact body is a great 24.2MP sensor that's equipped with Canon's trusty Dual Pixel AF technology. It works remarkably well in live view for both stills and video (as it should), but the sensor only has 9 AF points to choose from when using the optical viewfinder. Despite that, the eighth-generation Digic processor lets you churn out 5fps bursts, and there's a plethora of creative filters to choose from.
If you've never used a 'proper' camera before, there's a guided menu to help you come to grips with how to use the EOS 200D Mark II. Other features to recommend it include a vari-angle 3-inch LCD display that flips all the way around to face the front and includes plenty of touch commands too. There's a built-in flash for low-light conditions or portraiture, and its under one-grand price includes a kit lens.
Welcome to the newest and best GoPro around. It might look a lot like the GoPro Hero 9, but it is a pretty significant upgrade. It features the new G2 processor that makes the interface super responsive, doubles the frame rates and fuels the best image stabilization tech available in action cameras.
The stand-out feature is its ability to record 5.3K/60p using GoPro's new HyperSmooth 4.0 video stabilization. It also has the ability to shoot 23MP photos and has the best low-light performance of any GoPro yet. You can buy a wealth of accessories separately, so as well as mounting it on your helmet, you could attach it to your chest, your head or even onto one of the best selfie sticks.
Panasonic's pocket-friendly (in size and cost) TZ100 ticks all the boxes for the best travel camera – it's small enough to rob you of space in your bags and it's versatile enough to capture practically anything. Thanks to a 10x optical zoom, it'll get you closer to the action, and keep things steady as it's complemented by 5-axis image stabilisation.
There's a 4K Photo mode that cracks on at an incredible 30fps bursts, resulting in 8MP stills, while video clips can be captured in 4K/25p. Plus its ISO sensitivity range of 125-12,800 means you can get great results in different lighting conditions. There's even a Post Focus feature that lets you pick a specific focus point after you've take a shot. That's a lot of value for money in terms of feature set from a camera that comes in under AU$1,000.
This retro-chic camera is packed full of Fujifilm goodness, including support for an extensive range of top-notch X-mount lenses (if you want to graduate from its 15-45mm kit lens). It's a beginner camera that will grow as your skills do as it comes with quite a few high-end features.
It's OLED viewfinder is sharp with a resolution of 2.36 million dots, and its tilting 3.5-inch LCD screen has a unique 16:9 aspect ratio that's perfect for video capture. If you don't like the 16:9 default, you can change it in the menu system, but you won't be utilising the full width of the screen. Moreover, the tilting mechanism of the display is unique too, letting you flip it to face the front. Alongside 4K video capabilities are most of Fujifilm's Film Simulation filters, allowing you to explore your creativity to the fullest. The body is tough too, and all for a smidge under a grand.
The Olympus Tough TG-6 has a sterling reputation in the tough camera market, not only for being sufficiently specced to handle tough conditions, but also equipped with impressive imaging and video tech. The Raw-shooting, 4K-capable TG-6 is a fairly minor upgrade on the previous TG-5, but adds some nifty new features like improved LCD resolution and a new Underwater Microscope mode for getting in close.
Producing 4K video at 30fps and offering the option to shoot Full HD video at 120fps for super-slow-motion, the TG-6 also has a generous 25-100mm optical zoom lens that lets you get closer and closer to the action. It's got a chunky handgrip providing a secure hold on the camera, while the internal zoom mechanism means the lens never protrudes from the body, protecting it from knocks and bumps. Straightforward but sophisticated, the TG-6 is quite simply the best waterproof camera around right now.
The original Canon EOS M50 quickly became one of Canon's bestsellers, thanks to its budget price and feature set. The Mark II carries on the same tradition of great balance between price and features, adding a few minor upgrades to the original camera (which has now been discontinued). It retains all that was great about the M50 – compact body, fully articulating screen, great EVF, excellent 24.1MP sensor, 10fps burst shooting and Dual Pixel AF – but one step further by adding 4K video (albeit heavily cropped), improved eye detection and the ability to take videos in the vertical/portrait orientation for social media.
The only thing to note about getting the EOS M50 Mark II is its limited range of native lenses.
Olympus’ digital revival of its analogue OM line has been hugely popular among enthusiast photographers, and with the OM-D E-M10 III the company has provided those on a tighter budget with a solid entry point to the series. This model builds on the impressive feature of the Mark II OM-D E-M10, and again sports a 16MP sensor, 2.36 million-dot electronic viewfinders, 3-inch touchscrseen, and five-axis image stabilization systems. You also get 4K video and a much more sophisticated autofocus system than was seen in its predecessor. This is a great beginner mirrorless camera – small, light and easy to use. And for the money, it is great looking too!
From its junior models right through to its various flagships, Panasonic has always been generous with features. This has allowed its models to remain appealing in the face of newer competitors, and 2015's FZ300 exemplifies this perfectly: a sub-AU$1,000 camera with 4K video recording, a splash-resistant body and a 25-600mm, full-frame equivalent lens with a constant of f/2.8 aperture. You simply don't get that anywhere else right now! On top of that there's a tilting touchscreen, a 1.44 million-dot EVF, Wi-Fi and image stabilisation, which round off the specs to deliver a mighty fine proposition for the advanced novice or enthusiast on a budget.
It's perhaps one of the best-looking Canon cameras on the market today, particularly the tan and silver iteration, but there's more to the PowerShot G9 X Mark II than just retro charm. It's pocket friendly in both size and cost, and it's large 1-inch sensor produces some seriously good results. Admittedly its modest 3x optical zoom isn't going to get you too close to where the action is, but its f/2 max aperture produces great shallow depth-of-field effects. You're also not going to get 4K video here, with movie clips restricted to 1080p.
Eliminating the viewfinder has given Canon the space for a built-in flash and a raised model dial. Its fixed LCD display has some touch controls, including focus selection. Whether you're after a great compact or a backup for your DSLR/mirrorless kit, the G9 X Mark II will not disappoint.
How we test cameras
We test mirrorless and DSLR cameras both in real-world shooting scenarios and in carefully controlled lab conditions. Our lab tests measure resolution, dynamic range and signal to noise ratio. Resolution is measured using ISO resolution charts, dynamic range is measured using DxO Analyzer test equipment and DxO Analyzer is also used for noise analysis across the camera's ISO range. We use these real-world testing and lab results to inform our comments in buying guides. For compact cameras, we judge on real world handling and photographic results alone.