These days, any camera worth its weight is going to cost you a couple hundred dollars — and if you have the cash, we can’t help but steer you toward an investment in the $400-$500 range. But if that’s a little rich for your blood, have no fear, there are a variety of point-and-shoots for less than $300 that will get the job done, and then some. Just because you won’t empty your bank account doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with manual settings or fun filters, not to mention that most of the units in this price bracket fit nicely in your pocket or purse. Check out our favorite digital cameras under $300.
Samsung WB150F — $200
You won’t find an easier or more fun to use connected camera at this price. The Samsung WB150F smart camera connects via Wi-Fi to auto-share and backup your photos, and the interface and physical as well as in-camera navigation is one of the most seamless setups we’ve seen yet. While the image quality doesn’t particularly shine, there are enough manual controls and preset scenes available that results will be satisfactory to pretty darn good, depending on setting and lighting.
Canon PowerShot ELPH 520 HS — $280
The Canon name has long been associated with the best of the best point-and-shoots on shelves, and its ELPH series is no exception. These cameras are known for their high-sensitivity capabilities and high speed bust mode. In addition to all that, the ELPH 520 HS also has an incredibly easy-to-master button setup, and we’re big fans of its unconventional boxy shape.
Canon PowerShot SX260 HS — $299.99
The Canon PowerShot SX260 HS comes in at just under $300 (riding the line pretty close there, aren’t we?), but it’s so feature-full it deserves mention. It has a pop-up flash, GPS, manual settings, and 20x zoom lens. It’s a little heavier and bulkier than other point-and-shoots, it’s still a nice-looking device that certainly has plenty built in to keep you busy. This isn’t a camera you’ll easily outgrow.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 — $299.99
This Panasonic model has significantly come down in price, making it quite the steal (the lowest price we’ve seen is around $225, so keep those eyes peeled for cheap units). The DMC-ZS20 has an improved sensor over earlier iterations in the Lumix lineup, as well as impressive video recording abilities and an impressive burst mode. It’s a nice looking, compact unit as well, just to top it all off.
Nikon CoolPix P300 – $278
While Nikon is best known for its DSLR cameras, it’s made an impressive foray into point-and-shoot units with capable manual settings. This unit has an incredibly good-looking shape, and user-friendly button and in-camera navigation setup. The pop-up flash and HD video are also worth noting.
Nikon COOLPIX S9100 — $189
If you like what the Nikon CoolPix P300 is bringing to the table but want to go a little cheaper, then the S9100 might fit the ticket. The two models are incredibly similar looking, while the S9100 is a much simple, no fuss model that performs incredibly well for the limitations that it does have (the manual functions aren’t very developed). Still, for its price, this is a solid bet.
Olympus TG-820 iHS — $279
Olympus’ Micro Four Thirds PEN series has stolen much of the brand’s show, but its tough cams deserve mention as well. While the TG-1 is arguably the best rugged, waterproof digital camera on the market, the last generation TG-820 iHS has taken a price cut and is still a pretty impressive model. It’s durable without hugely sacrificing image quality, and manage not to look too much like an ugly tough cam at the same time.
With an impressively large sensor for its price and size, Sony managed to pack quite a bit into a small package. There are plenty of preset scene modes to choose from here, and image quality manages to do fairly well with nice color saturation and a manageable level of noise. The 16x zoom lens is nothing to shrug at either.
Fujifilm FinePix F750EXR — $250
The FinePix point-and-shoots continue to get better and better, and the F750EXR is no exception. The unit has an impressive sensor as well as full manual controls. It doesn’t have the GPS function that the F775EXR does, but that’s what keeps its price lower. Preset modes, a 20x optical zoom, and 1080p HD video are also included, and the dropping price makes these all that much more attractive.