Skip to main content

The best cheap cameras in 2022: these are the best camera bargains today

The best cheap cameras

The best cheap cameras often never started out cheap! What happens is that cameras come out at one price, then get cheaper and cheaper the longer they stay on sale. So how do you know which are the has-beens, and which are still worth getting? 

We'll tell you! We've seen and tested all these cameras, and in some cases we like them so much that we bought them. Like you, we've got a canny eye for a good bargain, and we like to think we know one when we see one.

The best cheap camera deals aren't only at the lower and of the market, and there are cameras here for experts and enthusiasts too. In this guide we've picked out DSLR and mirrorless cameras – you might say 'proper' cameras. There are cheaper alternatives than this, such as the best point and shoot cameras, the best instant cameras and the best cameras under $100/£100.

What counts as a cheap camera depends on the user. If you're a beginner, then price is likely to be your key factor, but if you're an enthusiast, you're going to want to get the most bang for your buck. So let's go!

The best cheap cameras in 2022

(Image credit: Panasonic)

1. Panasonic Lumix GX85 / GX80

An amazing bargain as a twin-lens kit or on its own, this little Lumix is perfect for travel and even shoots 4K

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Micro Four Thirds
Megapixels: 16MP
Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
Screen: 3in tilting, touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots
Max burst speed: 8fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
4K video recording
+
Electronic viewfinder

Reasons to avoid

-
Only 16 megapixels
-
Restricted tilt-screen range

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 using 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 travelling 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.

Read more: These are the best mirrorless cameras right now

(Image credit: Future)
If it's a cheap DSLR you want, the Nikon D3500 is the obvious choice. It's cheap, but it's also classy

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C CMOS
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Lens mount: Nikon DX
Screen: 3in fixed, 921K dots
Continuous shooting speed: 5fps
Max video resolution: 1080p
User level: Beginner/enthusiast

Reasons to buy

+
Great image quality
+
Neat retracting kit lens
+
Beginner friendly

Reasons to avoid

-
Fixed screen not touch-sensitive

The entry-level model in Nikon's DSLR range is small and light, yet comfortable to grip. It's an entry-level model but it has a 24.2MP sensor as good as those in cameras at twice the price, and it offers a very good 5fps continuous shooting speed for a beginners camera. The Guide mode will help beginners get started and understand the basic principles, and the D3500 has all the manual controls you need to learn about photography as you improve your skills. The lowest prices include a non-VR kit lens but we'd recommend paying that little bit extra for the VR version of the 18-55mm standard zoom. On paper, the D3500 looks no better than the Canon Rebel T7/2000D, but we like the Nikon a lot more.

• Read our full Nikon D3500 review

(Image credit: Future)
Our favorite entry-level Olympus gets a great update

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Micro Four Thirds
Megapixels: 20.3MP
Screen: 3-inch tiltable touchscreen, 1,037K dots
Viewfinder: Electronic 2,360K dots
Lens: Micro Four Thirds
Continuous shooting speed: 15fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Intermediate/Enthusiast

Reasons to buy

+
Updated 20MP sensor
+
Flip-down monitor

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic build
-
No mic port for vloggers

The E-M10 IV was affordable right from the start, and it's one of our favorite cheap cameras for beginners, vloggers 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 more: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review

(Image credit: Future)
The evergreen A6000 packs in some high-end features at a low-end price

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.3MP
Lens mount: Sony E-mount
Screen: 3in tilting, 921,600 dots
Viewfinder: Electronic, 0.39-inch, 1,440,000 dots
Max burst speed: 11fps
Max video resolution: Full HD (1080p)
User level: Enthusiast

Reasons to buy

+
Superb AF system
+
Sound image quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Video not 4K
-
No weather sealing

For a time, this 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 yearrs, so either Sony has realised this camera is better that 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 more: Sony A6000 review

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
The Lumix G9 is half the price it was when new, and is a real MFT powerhouse

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: MFT
Megapixels: 20.3
Lens mount: MFT
Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040k dots
Viewfinder: OLED EVF, 3.68 million dots
Max burst speed: 20/60fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Enthusiast/expert

Reasons to buy

+
Rock-solid DSLR-style handling
+
4K 60p video
+
Both 12-60mm lens options are good
+
Twin card slots
+
4K/6K Photo modes

Reasons to avoid

-
Video AF not the best

The Panasonic G9 is a very fast and effective camera for both 4K video and fast-action sports and wildlife photography. It’s unexpectedly substantial in your hands, which gives you a good grip, especially with longer lenses, and its image quality is very good, despite the smaller MFT sensor. Initially it was quite expensive, but steady price drops have made the Lumix G9 a really tempting buy for enthusiasts and videographers alike. It's basically half the price now than when it was new, but has specs that are still cutting edge, even by today's standards.

• Read our full Panasonic Lumix G9 review

(Image credit: Adam Duckworth)
And it's straight in with another Panasonic – for top-quality, low-cost full frame video, it's unmatched

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Screen: 3-inch vari-angle, 1,840k dots
Viewfinder: Electronic, 2,360k dots
Lens: L-mount
Continuous shooting speed: 7fps
Video: Uncropped 4K UHD up to 60/50p
User level: Intermediate/expert

Reasons to buy

+
Best in-class video performance
+
Magnesium frame and vari-angle screen
+
Dual SD card slots

Reasons to avoid

-
HDMI port not full-size
-
Only contrast AF

Despite its compact size, the Lumix S5 shares the impressive 24MP CMOS sensor housed in the Lumix S1, but with improved AF. It also has a tough weather-resistant body and delivers up to 6.5-stops of image stabilisation with compatible lenses. Its standout features include class-leading dynamic range and 4K video recording, as well as 96MP high resolution RAW+JPEG capture. It’s tough to beat in this category. The Lumix S5 is smaller than the Lumix S1 and S1R before it, and cheaper too. It matches the Lumix S1 for stills and beats it for video, coming close to the capabilities of the far more expensive Lumix S1H. What a camera!

Read more: Panasonic Lumix S5 review

(Image credit: James Artaius)
The mirrorless EOS M50 is compact, well equipped and affordable!

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C size
Megapixels: 24.1MP
Screen type: 3.2in vari-angle touchscreen LCD, 1.04million dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 2,36million dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Vari-angle touchscreen
+
Built-in electronic viewfinder

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited lens range
-
4K video limitations

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 is 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 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 more: Canon EOS M50 Mark II review

(Image credit: Canon )

8. Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D

It's the cheapest of the cheap. It's not a great DSLR, to be honest, but it is cheap. Did we mention that?

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C CMOS
Megapixels: 24.1MP
Lens mount: Canon EF-S
Screen: 3in fixed, 921K dots
Continuous shooting speed: 3fps
Max video resolution: 1080p
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Inexpensive
+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
No 4K video
-
Fixed rear screen

We'll come right out and say it. 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 to match the resolution of our favorite low-cost DSLR, the Nikon D3500, but it can't match the Nikon's 5fps continuous shooting or the Nikon's space-saving retracting kit lens. However, 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. Just don't expect to fall in love with it.

(Image credit: Nikon)
A more advanced DSLR than the Nikon D3500, with a vari-angle screen

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Lens mount: Nikon F (DX)
Screen: 3.2in vari-angle touchscreen, 1,037,000 dots
Max burst speed: 5fps
Max video resolution: 1080p (Full HD)
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Advanced AF system
+
Performs well at high ISOs
+
Vari-angle screen

Reasons to avoid

-
SnapBridge not great

The D5600 is more expensive than other DSLRs in this list, but it's a very good camera that was once sold at much higher prices. The 39-point AF system offers more focus points than other cheap DSLRs and the 3.2in vari-angle touchscreen display on the back is bigger than most. The live view autofocus isn’t as accomplished as on the Canon Rebel SL3 or any of the compact system cameras here (particularly for video), but the overall performance is still excellent, and lens options are plentiful. We probably wouldn't choose it for video, but as a versatile, high-quality compact DSLR it's a really good buy these days. We especially like it for travel, because of its size, and we recommend getting it with Nikon's retracting AF-P 18-55mm VR kit lens.

Read more: Nikon D5600 review

(Image credit: Future)
Full frame cameras don't come much cheaper, or cuter, than this

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame CMOS
Megapixels: 26.2MP
Monitor: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040k dots
Continuous shooting speed: 5fps
Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36 million dots
Max video resolution: 4K UHD
User level: Enthusiast

Reasons to buy

+
Size, weight and low cost
+
Fully articulating screen

Reasons to avoid

-
1.6x crop and no Dual Pixel AF in 4K
-
Weak battery life

The EOS RP was Canon's second full frame mirrorless camera, 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 more: Canon EOS RP review

More camera buying guides:

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Rod is the Group Reviews editor for Digital Camera World and across Future's entire photography portfolio, with decades of experience with cameras of all kinds. Previously he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more.