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?
• Best point and shoot cameras (opens in new tab)
• Best cheap mirrorless cameras (opens in new tab)
• Cheapest full frame cameras (opens in new tab)
• Best camera under $1,000 (opens in new tab)
• Best camera under $500 (opens in new tab)
• Best camera under $200 (opens in new tab)
• Best camera under $100 (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab), the best instant cameras (opens in new tab) and the best cameras under $100/£100 (opens in new tab).
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(opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab) right now(opens in new tab)
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(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, 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.(opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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(opens in new tab)
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!(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 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 (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.(opens in new tab)
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.
Read more: Canon EOS Rebel T7 review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
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- Best cameras under $500 (opens in new tab)/£500 (opens in new tab)
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