Smartphone cameras are shockingly good, butthe best flagship phone’s camera doesn’t measure up to a proper digital camera. Professionals and hobbyists alike still use full-size mirrorless and DSLR cameras, and they’ve only gotten better in recent years thanks to new technologies like Full HD and 4K video recording capabilities and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity now standard even on entry-level models.
Nonetheless, even those entry-level cameras will set you back hundreds while the cream of the crop from brands like Canon and Nikon can sail well into four figures. That’s why it behooves any aspiring photographer to hunt for a discount. There are plenty to be found and to save you the hassle of hunting around for them. We’ve smoked out the best cheap camera deals and bundles right here. If you’re new to all this, we’ve also put together a quick camera buying guide to help you make the right choice.
Today’s best cheap camera deals
- – $119
- Kodak PixPro AZ401 Bridge Digital Camera – $149, was $170
- — $247, was $400
- – $300, was $400
- — $450
- — $650, was $750
- — $1,499, was $2,000
- — $2,198
Modern DSLR cameras have perhaps the widest range of features, capabilities, and — naturally — price points. Entry-level models can be had for around $300 or even less if you buy refurbished units. High-end professional-grade cameras run well north of $2,000 — or much more once you consider the different lenses and accessories that are available). Serious hobbyists and professionals have long favored these cameras, which feature a reflexing mirror (“DSLR” stands for “digital single-lens reflex”) that reflects the image of what you’re pointing at directly into the optical viewfinder.
This mirror then simply flips out of the way to reveal the imaging sensor when you shoot, giving you an accurate and immediate photograph of your subject without the lag that occurs with mirrorless and point-and-shoot camera sensors. The digital single-lens reflex imaging systems require very little power, so your camera’s battery can last a long time before needing to be recharged or swapped out (swappable batteries are a bonus if you carry your camera around all day).
DSLRs are not as dominant as they once were due to the growing popularity of mirrorless cameras, but they are still the most popular type of camera aspiring photographers look for when they’re in the market for their first “real” camera. With great entry-level options and ongoing camera deals, there’s never been a better time than now to shop for a DSLR.
At first glance, mirrorless cameras look much like their DSLR counterparts, and they are used for much the same purpose — taking clear, super-detailed, professional-quality photographs. What sets the mirrorless camera apart from DSLRs primarily is their imaging system. Simply put, mirrorless cameras lack the reflexing mirror found inside DSLRs, hence their name. Mirrorless cameras, however, still boast many of the same features and functions as DSLRs, such as the ability to use interchangeable zoom lenses.
High-quality mirrorless cameras are newer than DSLRs and have greatly increased in popularity in recent years. Instead of using a reflex mirror that covers the image sensor until the picture is taken, a mirrorless camera uses a sensor exposed to light, and thus “sees” your subject, at all times. This lack of an internal reflex apparatus means that mirrorless camera bodies are often relatively compact. As mirrorless camera technology has matured and caught up to DSLR designs, many serious hobbyists and professionals now prefer them.
A point-and-shoot camera is probably what most people think of when they hear “digital camera.” These units are typically compact and more pocket-friendly than larger DSLR and mirrorless cameras. They’re ideal for times when your smartphone camera won’t cut it, but you don’t want to be lugging a bulky DSLR around, making them a good choice for vacations, family get-togethers, and other occasions where you’ll be taking a bunch of pictures but photography itself isn’t your primary aim.
Point-and-shoot cameras are also typically cheaper than professional-grade models, although the best ones with more advanced features can definitely be pricey. Point-and-shoot models are a good option for people who want better-than-smartphone photos but aren’t interested in pursuing photography as a serious hobby or career.
Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.
- The best digital cameras for 2020
- Sony’s A7S III is the ultimate 4K video camera, five years in the making
- Canon EOS R6 review: A mirrorless to sway DSLR diehards
- The best video cameras for 2020
- Canon EOS R5 review: It holds nothing back