The best camera under $100 is unlikely to set the world alight but these pocket-sized shooters will be better than you think! Whether you're looking for a digital, instant film or even an underwater camera, major manufacturers have done a good job of making sure there are powerful cameras available for two-figure prices.
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Investing in the best camera under $100 is a cost-effective way to learn the basics of photography, and can also be a good choice for getting kids into snapping pictures. After all, if a camera is going to get accidentally dropped or lost, you'd probably rather it wasn't an expensive one!
We've put together a guide of what we think are the best cameras available for $100 or less right now. They aren't going to have cutting-edge features or massive megapixel counts, but all of the cameras on our list are reliable, capable, and will do the basics that you need of them. You'll find cameras from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm and more on this list of our top ten picks, so you can be confident you'll be getting a name you trust.
Bear in mind that if you pick an instant film camera (opens in new tab), refilling it will represent an ongoing cost, and not all digital cameras come with memory cards, so double-check that as well.
The prices of cameras are always changing, so while we've done our best to ensure that we include cameras available for $100 or less, some of them may creep over the line from time to time. Keep checking back though, as our tool pulls in all the latest deals, so you can be sure you're always getting the best price on each model!
The Instax Mini 11 looks like every version before it only Fujifilm has decided to remove the exposure dial in place of automatic exposure. You can view how many shots you have left on the back of the camera and film cartridges are easy to replace, all you need to do is match up the yellow dots. When you first load a new film cartridge, you'll need to fire off one shot to get rid of the plastic film cover and then you're good to go. The film prints almost instantaneously and develops in just 90 seconds. I love the aesthetic of Fujifilm Instax, it's hard to recreate in an app and for weddings and festivals they're perfect for creating tangible keepsakes.
Read more: Instax Mini 11 review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Planning an action and adventure holiday but don't have a big budget for an action camera? The AKASO EK7000 Pro would be a great choice, it offers plenty of fun features and is one of our favorite budget action cameras (opens in new tab). You might be surprised to find out it's capable of shooting 4K video, it can take 16-megapixel photos and it has a two-inch touch screen. It has a fixed wide-angle lens which is perfect for getting a lot of background in, electronic image stabilization will help your video to look smooth and with its waterproof housing, it can go down to depths of 131 feet. If that hasn't you, it even as a time-lapse special effect so this is well worth considering.
Polaroid's smallest camera yet is hard not to love. It's designed that you can even wear it around your neck should you want to add a funky accessory to your outfit. The square, polaroid prints are smaller than those you would get out of the Polaroid OneStep 2 (opens in new tab) but that only adds to its cuteness factor. In bright sunlight it does have the tendency to overexpose and considering how expensive a pack of 8 film is, you don't want to be wasting shots. One of the features we loved was its ability to create double exposure images - something the Instax range of cameras can't do. It's a fun, quirky little camera that is fun to use for both young and old making it one of the best cameras for kids (opens in new tab)
This quirky little camera from Ilford is perfect for anyone who is just thinking about getting into film photography. It's reimagined version of a popular camera from the 90s - the Sprite 35 - which was the go-to model at the time. This 35mm camera is the only full-frame camera on the list, it features a 31mm f/9 fixed lens, has a built-in flash and a viewfinder. It's certainly a step up from a disposable camera plus it's better for the planet as you don't need a new one every time. If you're someone who likes to shoot film but doesn't want to commit to anything more advanced, this is ideal for beginners. It looks great, is small enough to keep in your pocket and super lightweight at just 122g.
The biggest of Fujifilm's Instax range, as the name suggest, the Wide 300 delivers larger prints (via instax WIDE film packs).
Depending on your taste, its size is either a blessing - it feels substantial and well-built - or a curse (it's not a great choice for selfies, small hands may struggle, and it isn't as friendly to carry around).
Control is limited to adjusting brightness, and that huge built-in flash, while the 95mm lens is extended via a level next to the shutter release.
It's all a bit on the chunky side, apart from - strangely - the slightly ungenerous viewfinder. Still, if you're after larger prints from an instant camera, and still want change from $100, then the Wide 300 may be for you. Just make sure you handle it and check you're comfortable with the size before buying.
The Kodak M35 is a fun alternative to a normal disposable. Not only does it look a lot funkier than other cheap film cameras, but it might also save you money in the long run. While the cost of the best 35mm film does seem to be rising, at least with a reusable camera you're creating less waste for the planet. It has a built-in flash so you can snap away even in the dark and a manual wind/rewind feature. Use either black and white or colored film and capture your favorite memories.(opens in new tab)
A left-field choice for those wanting a camera for under $100 is to go 35mm - as there are a number of film cameras (opens in new tab) available at budget prices - and in fact, many of the best Lomography cameras (opens in new tab) can be bought for under $100. But they don't get much more left-field than the Konstructor... which you build yourself out of the plastic bits contained in this kit. It is a great project for those who want to live the analog life - and a great present for a patient teenager. Remember though, the film costs extra.
While the Polaroid Wave might not be able to capture the coral reef in all its glory it is perfect for using among friends whether you're at the beach or on a kayaking trip. It has an 18MP sensor, 4x optical zoom and a LCD screen so you can preview the photos you've taken. It required a micro SD card and it can be charged via USB. It would also be a great camera for kids (opens in new tab) as it floats in water and isn't too expensive.
How we test cameras
We test 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 both real-world testing and lab results to inform our comments in buying guides.
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