When it’s time to take some beautiful pictures, smartphones simply don’t have the power of a modern digital camera. Not only are digital cameras better in low-light situations, but they also typically have sensors that have a higher megapixel performance. What’s even better is the fact that you don’t have to spend a lot of cash on a good digital shooter. In this guide, we’re going to cover the best digital camera under 300 dollars.
What to Look For in a Digital Camera
Easy Control Scheme
These cameras can often have a fairly complex control scheme that’ll let you film video, take photos with effects on them, or even activate the camera’s various modes. For a more enjoyable experience, it’s best to try and find a camera that can provide good performance but has an easy to control design. You shouldn’t have to look everywhere to add a filter and changing through modes should be seamless and intuitive.
One of the places that most smartphones will falter is in the zoom. While just about every smartphone camera can zoom in, the majority of these zoom functions are done digitally. This means that when you get in close, you’ll lose resolution on the image because the zoom is being done by the computer. Fortunately, most modern cameras have an optical zoom that actually uses lenses to get a closer view of the image. With this type of zoom, you won’t lose image quality, even when you snap.
Typically, the sensor on your digital camera’s function is measured in megapixels. These megapixels represent how many pixels are present in a square inch of the image itself. This means that a higher megapixel camera will have more realistic and smooth images.
Ability to Be Used in Low-Light Situations
Some modern digital cameras have issues when dealing with photo taking in darkened areas. When searching for a new digital camera, it’s a good idea to try it out in places with bad lighting so that you can see if there’s a loss of resolution or if there is a delay in focusing.
Digital Camera Reviews
Best for Close-ups: Nikon COOLPIX B500 Digital Camera
With an optical function that zooms in up to 40x, you’ll have no issue getting in close to the action with the Nikon Coolpix B500. It’s universally known that on most digital cameras, optical typically trumps digital insofar as image quality, but this camera also has a good digital zoom as well. In fact, the digital zoom on the Coolpix B500 will let you zoom in at 80x the magnification.
This is also one of the best digital cameras for beginners; it doesn’t have anything overly complex like a manual control or the ability to shoot in raw format. Despite this, it is a reliable shooter that can definitely provide some great close-ups as well as some great resolution with its 16-megapixel sensor.
Additionally, this is a very easy-to-grip camera. One of the first things that you might notice is the larger handgrip, which makes this feel very secure in your hand. The flash is also very easy to use; simply press the button to raise it out of the camera’s body.
- This is a beginner-friendly camera.
- With a 40x optical zoom and an 80x digital zoom, this is one of the best cameras for close-ups.
- It can shoot about 600 shots on a single pair of alkaline AA batteries and 1240 on lithium batteries.
- In low-light situations, it can take this camera a while to focus.
- It runs on AA batteries, which could be problematic for some photographers.
Best Compact Camera for Versatility: Panasonic DMC-ZS40S Digital Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD
If you need a digital camera that can quickly be stowed away inside a pocket when you’re not shooting, then the Panasonic DMC-ZS40S is an excellent option. This is a smallish camera that has a lot of design oomph. The sizing of this camera is perfect for the smartphone crowd because it has some of the same dimensions as a larger phone but has superior shooting.
For example, you’ll have a hard time finding a smartphone camera that can zoom in at an optical level of 30x. In addition to this Leica Super Zoom feature, the camera also has some great functionality that’s designed to keep the picture stable as you shoot.
When it comes to connectivity, this might be one of the best shooters for connectivity because of its onboard GPS and Wi-Fi with NFC functionality. When taking into account the design, the DMC-ZS40S has a minimalist aesthetic that is perfect for on-the-go shooting. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles on this camera, which is probably what you’d need in a good travel shooter.
- It has a five-axis image stabilization system that erases the “shaky cam” feel that some digital footage has.
- It has an 18.1-megapixel high-sensitivity MOS sensor that provides good overall image quality.
- This camera supports RAW shooting.
- It only has a 1/2.3 inch sensor, which means lower resolutions on some shots.
- It falters somewhat in low light situations.
Best Compact for Megapixels: Sony DSCW800/B 20.1 MP Digital Camera
With a 20.1 megapixel sensor, you won’t be able to help being impressed with the resolution of this Sony camera. In fact, the DSCW800/B is the second highest megapixel camera in this guide. It achieves this feat by using an MP Super HAD CCD sensor that’s known for its stunning detail and resolution.
In optimal light, the DSCW800/B performs exceptionally well. In fact, one of the best features of this camera is its quality pictures despite the fact that the camera is compact. While the video quality isn’t full HD, you will be able to record video at a resolution of 720p, which isn’t bad at all.
For beginner snappers, this Sony camera has an Easy Mode that can quickly bring you up to par with the camera’s features. One of the most beginner-friendly features is the “shutter smile” setting. When it’s used, the camera will automatically shoot when a smile is detected in the shot.
It doesn’t have a massive optical zoom, but most people will be able to take some decent close-ups with the 10x digital zoom feature.
- The shutter smile feature makes it so that you don’t even have to say, “Cheese!”
- This has some great resolution in good lighting.
- You can charge this camera via USB.
- The sensor is fairly powerful at 20.1 megapixels.
- Low light really reduces the function of this camera.
- Unfortunately, the optical zoom only provides 5x functionality.
Best Shooter for Exploring the Ocean: Fujifilm FinePix XP90 Green Waterproof digital camera
This Fujifilm Finepix camera is probably the best digital camera that you’ll be able to find for undersea adventures. This really is a great shooter to take with you to the depths of the ocean because it is waterproof down to 50 feet. When it comes to resolution, your deep-dive pictures will look excellent because the camera has a 16.4-megapixel BSI-CMOS sensor that will produce stunning images.
In addition to its ability to be used under the waves, this camera is also fairly shockproof and freezeproof; it can be dropped more than a meter and can withstand temps as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
While its 5x optical zoom is so-so, the main strength of this camera is its rugged ability to be taken anywhere. When you go on your trips, you’ll be up close in the action anyway, so zoom shots won’t be much of a priority. It can even take some good low-light shots, which is great for underwater footage.
- The three-inch screen is very clear with a 920k-dot performance.
- It has a 10 FPS continuous shooting mode.
- It has built-in Wi-Fi.
- This is a very durable camera; it’s waterproof, shockproof, and freezeproof.
- It has good image stabilization.
- It comes in six colors, which makes it one of the best cameras for looks.
- There’s some focusing delay when the light is low.
- There is no mode button. Instead, you have to cycle through the menu button on the rear.
Best Compact for Zooming: Nikon Coolpix S7000 16 MP Digital Camera
The Coolpix series of cameras are often on the “best of” lists around the web. This version of the Nikon Coolpix is also cheap enough to be featured on this list as the best digital camera for under 300 dollars. As a compact shooter, you can easily fit it in a pocket or in a purse, but where this camera shines is its 20x optical zoom. In fact, you may be surprised how far the zoom feature protrudes from the camera at a maximum distance.
The Coolpix S7000 is also capable of full HD video recording and has a 20 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor for some fairly high-quality pictures. This is also a great camera for scene modes, which it manages through some fairly impressive hardware.
- The 20x zoom is fairly uncommon among cameras of this size and form factor.
- The Coolpix S7000 has a wide variety of color options.
- The menus are simple to navigate.
- It has NFC and Wi-Fi capability.
- When using effects, you have to go back through the menus each time you want to try something new.
- The functions that are controllable through smart devices via Wi-Fi are fairly limited.
- The onboard screen doesn’t have touch functionality.
The Best Camera for Well-Roundedness: Canon PowerShot SX710 HS
Many people really like this camera for its overall ability to provide quality images. Not only does it have a very impressive CMOS sensor that has a high-sensitivity and can deliver 20.3-megapixel images, but it also has a very impressive 40x optical zoom.
Connecting up to a smart device is fairly easy with this PowerShot; simply use the built-in Wi-Fi and transfer your images. In addition to the steady performance of this product, it also has the ability to provide some of the best video captures of the products in this guide. Not only is 1080p filming possible, but you’ll also be able to achieve some good frame rates as well.
Though it’s not what many would call a compact, this Powershot is very portable and it’s amazing optical zoom capabilities make it a great travel shooter.
- This is a good camera for both beginners and for those that have a bit of experience.
- It has a popup flash that is convenient.
- The camera has a hybrid auto mode that will shoot a two-second video clip before every photo was taken.
- There’s a mode that will add random filters to your images.
- The colors are nice a vibrant.
- This camera lacks a touchscreen interface.
- It has a tendency to lose detail at higher sensitivity levels.