What makes the best cheap camera? There are plenty of low-cost cameras on the market, but that doesn't always mean they give you good image quality, design, and performance at the same time. In this guide, we recommend cameras that balance a combination of features and good value.
Some of these cameras originally sold for a lot more money than they do now, and they're only cheaper now because their tech is slightly dated (but still good). There are also some new cameras in this guide that have been designed to offer the best features for the least money and succeed brilliantly at doing so.
The best cheap camera deals aren't only at the lower end of the market. There are cameras here for experts and enthusiasts, too. In this guide, we've picked out DSLR (opens in new tab)cameras and mirrorless cameras (opens in new tab). There are even cheaper alternatives than this, such as the best point-and-shoot cameras (opens in new tab), the best instant cameras (opens in new tab), and the best cameras under $100/£100 (opens in new tab).
Since the focus is on value, we've put these cameras in approximate price order, with the cheapest first and the better, more advanced cameras further down the list. It's up to you how far you want to go in the pursuit of quality, but all of these cameras offer a lot for your money.
The best cheap cameras in 2023
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The diminutive GX85 (GX80 in some territories) has an older 16MP Micro-Four-thirds sensor, but still takes top-quality images and can also shoot 4K video. The built-in electronic viewfinder (amazing in a mirrorless camera at this price) makes it a great option for use in harsh sunlight or darker conditions, while the tilting screen makes it easy to shoot from ground level.
Together with Panasonic's tiny Micro Four Thirds lenses, this makes it perfect for traveling or holidays. These days it looks like you can only get this great little camera in a twin-lens kit which also includes the compact Panasonic 45-150mm telephoto. It's a great combination at a great price, but being a twin-lens kit it does push the price up.(opens in new tab)
The Canon Rebel T7 (EOS 2000D in some territories) is not a bad camera to get started with, but it is pretty basic. It has a fixed rear screen and only shoots full HD video, and it doesn't come with Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF for faster focusing in live view. It does have a 24-megapixel sensor, which is pretty amazing for the money, and for anyone wanting to get started with a proper camera at the lowest possible price, it's a perfectly competent camera at a rock-bottom price.
Read our full Canon EOS Rebel T7/ EOS 2000D review for more details(opens in new tab)
Launched way back in 2015, the Lumix G7 is a generation or two behind the latest Panasonic technologies, but it was surprisingly modern for its day and is still a compelling budget buy even now. The 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor is a little behind the latest for outright resolution, but the image quality is pretty good and the camera can even shoot 4K video. There's no in-body stabilization, but many Panasonic lenses are stabilized and there are lots of small and affordable lenses out there for this camera. It may be sold with a Panasonic 14-42mm kit lens, which is fine, but if you can get it with the later and better 12-60mm kit lens, all the better!
Read our full Panasonic G7 review (opens in new tab) for more details(opens in new tab)
For a time, the Sony A6000 was our absolute favorite low-price mirrorless camera. Now several years old, the A6000 is a once top-end camera that's just got cheaper and cheaper. Later A6000-series models beat it for video and autofocus features, but for regular stills photography, the A6000 is just as good at a fraction of the price. However, prices have crept up in the last couple of years, so either Sony has realized this camera is better than it thought it was (bah!), or it's being lined up for some big, big discounts. Either way, the A6000 still deserves its place in our list of the best cheap cameras.
Read our full Sony A6000 review for more details
Vloggers and creatives more broadly will enjoy the simplicity of the Lumix G100. It makes it easy to capture high-quality video and stills with its approachable button layout. Even people uninterested in the technicalities of capturing great-looking videos will be able to get results with this camera.
There’s an inherent risk of dumbing things down too much when creating a camera for social media creatives, but Panasonic has avoided that pitfall with the Lumix G100, as we discovered to our delight when we gave it a full review. By giving it a decent viewfinder and “proper camera” ergonomics, Panasonic has given the G100 an edge in a highly competitive market. This is a great camera to start with if you're more interested in vlogging than regular photography – or both!
Read more Panasonic Lumix G100 review (opens in new tab) for more details(opens in new tab)
Panasonic's Lumix camera models can quickly leave you feeling lost and confused, especially since many of the older models remain on sale, so we're here to straighten it out. The Lumix G85 (or G80 in some territories) is Panasonic's DSLR-style enthusiast camera. It replaces the Lumix G7 (above) and was then superseded by the G95 (G90). The G95/90 is getting harder to find now, but the G85/80 is still on sale at great prices.
This is a powerful, good-handling camera with a vari-angle screen and an electronic viewfinder. The 16MP sensor is not the newest, but still pretty good, but this camera has in-body stabilization, which makes it a good step up from the older G7. The G85/80 is often sold with Panasonic's newer 12-60mm kit lens, which makes this camera an even better deal.(opens in new tab)
With the mirrorless EOS M50, we think Canon hit the sweet spot. This camera is easy to use for beginners but has a built-in electronic viewfinder. The EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM kit lens has a retracting mechanism to make the camera smaller to carry around when it's not in use, and there is a small but handy selection of other EOS M lenses you can use with this camera.
If travel is your thing and a couple of lenses are all you need, the EOS M50 is great, and because it's now been out for a little while, the prices are starting to fall. There is a new Canon EOS M50 Mark II (opens in new tab) on sale now, but the differences are so minor it's hard to know why Canon bothered! The only thing that worries us is that we know an APS-C version of Canon's EOS R range is on its way, and that could spell the end for Canon's EOS M range.
Read our Canon EOS M50 Mark II review (opens in new tab) for more details(opens in new tab)
The Sony ZV-E10 is not going to win any awards on the photography front, where its specs are good but completely mainstream – but it is a great option for content creators cutting their teeth in vlogging and videography. While Sony hasn't moved its APS-C 4K video tech along much in recent years, the ZV-E10 is the manufacturer's first APS-C body to feature an articulating touchscreen (which is obviously vital for vlogging). It also packs a large and well-performing internal microphone (with clip-on muffler), Sony's excellent autofocus, and an appealing price tag. It's a shame that there is no in-body image stabilization, and the menus can't be touch-controlled (a rather glaring omission for a vlogging camera), but for a very specific YouTube-era audience, this camera hits the nail on the head.
Read our full Sony ZV-E10 review (opens in new tab) for more details(opens in new tab)
The E-M10 IV was affordable right from the start, and it's one of our favorite cheap cameras for beginners, bloggers, and travel fans. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV's predecessor, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III, was a great camera with plenty to offer. However, its aging 16MP sensor and contrast AF left room for improvement. Luckily the Mark IV is a great update, with the same 20.3MP sensor as the PEN-F and improved Continuous Autofocus. While some improvements are incremental, the Mark IV brings some interesting new offerings to the table including a zippy 15fps continuous burst mode. We're also a fan of the extra-tiltable screen, which is capable of flipping 180° down to create the perfect selfie screen.
Read our full Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review (opens in new tab) for more details(opens in new tab)
The Canon EOS RP was Canon's second full-frame mirrorless camera (opens in new tab), and it's smaller, lighter, and a lot cheaper than all of the others. It's designed to be a compact, affordable and easy-to-use entry point into Canon's full-frame mirrorless system, and it succeeds brilliantly. Its small dimensions mean it can sometimes feel overbalanced by larger lenses, though, and the 4K video mode comes with some caveats – the image frame is cropped by a factor of 1.6 and you can't use Canon's speedy Dual Pixel CMOS AF system unless you drop the resolution to full HD.
On the upside, the pictures are clear and sharp, the vari-angle touchscreen display is a real advantage for both stills and video, and the inclusion of an EF lens adaptor means you can use existing Canon DSLR lenses alongside the new but growing RF lens system. At $1,000/£1,000 or more you wouldn't say it was 'cheap' in the general run of things, but for a full-frame camera, its price is practically miraculous.
Read our full Canon EOS RP review for more details
How we test cameras
We test DSLR and mirrorless cameras both (opens in new tab) 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.
Find out more about how we test and review on Digital Camera World (opens in new tab)
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