Cameras have become ubiquitous. Most of us today carry smartphones that come with at least a couple of them built in. But despite the rapid improvement of phone camera technology, they’re still no match for dedicated cameras.
If you’re in the market for a camera that’s better than the one you have on your smartphone, but you’re not looking for the big sophisticated DSLRs, this article is for you. Point-and-shoot cameras fall somewhere between phone cameras and DSLRs in terms of photo quality and price range.
In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the best cameras in the market today that are available for under $300.
So let’s get to it!
Best Cameras Under $300
Table of Contents:
Nikon Coolpix B500 – Overall Best
The Nikon Coolpix B500 features a 16 megapixel CMOS sensor and a 40x optical zoom lens. And the digital zoom extends the zoom capacity by twice that amount. Technically, this gives the Coolpix B500 a zoom that’s equivalent to 22.5mm to 900mm in steps of 35mm. The Coolpix B500 also comes with a built-in VR optical image stabilization system that helps take sharp pictures even in low-light conditions or unstable conditions.
The picture quality is pretty great. The Coolpix B500 has a reliable exposure and is capable of producing quality photos at multiple scenarios. The D-Lighting feature helps produce sharp images and you can also use a combination of HDR and backlighting mode to combine multiple images. The Coolpix B500 can also take full HD videos and record stereo sounds.
The Coolpix B500 runs on 4 AA batteries. With a lithium battery, one full charge will last you up to 1240 shots. This camera comes with built-in Bluetooth, WiFi and NFC, so it’s always easy to transfer your photos to your phone or laptop.
- Has an impressive zoom of 40x
- Has Bluetooth, WiFi and NFC
- Comes with image stabilization technology
- Has a top shutter speed of 1/4000
- Has a revolving screen that can be useful when taking photos at tricky angles
- Does not perform well in low light
- Needs 4 AA batteries to operate
Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 – For 4K Videos
The first one on our list is Panasonic’s Lumix FZ80. The FZ80 features an 18 megapixel sensor and an impressive 60x zoom. The 20-1200 mm DC VARIO lens makes this possible. The FZ80 comes with a fixed 3-inch touch-controlled LCD display. And it comes with an electronic viewfinder that most cameras of this price range don’t have.
One of the most interesting features about this is that it can shoot photos in RAW at 11 fps. It can also shoots videos in 4K at 30fps. It features great low-light images and a fast auto focus system.
The Lumix FZ80 is one of the most feature packed on our list. It features a USB in-camera battery charging system which means you won’t have to carry extra batteries or a charger. It can shoot photos in JPEG and RAW and it comes with a built-in WiFi feature that allows you to transfer photos/videos to your smartphones/laptops or control it remotely via an application.
- Has a superb zoom of 60x
- Has a touch LCD display
- Can shoot in raw
- Can shoot 4K videos at 30 fps
- Has a fast auto focus system
- The LCD display is fixed, so this isn’t the best camera if you like taking creative shots
Canon PowerShot SX730 – Great Flash and Autofocus
The Canon PowerShot SX730 features a 20.3 megapixel (1/2.3 inch) CMOS sensor and a 40x optical zoom lens. It also comes with an auto focus feature that offers three different modes. This means that you can always count on the PowerShot SX730 to focus on the subject of your photo.
The PowerShot SX730 is capable of taking pictures at 5.9 fps. It also comes with an Image Stabilization system. These two features always guarantee a sharp image. It can also take full HD videos.
The flash is one of the highlights of the PowerShot SX730. It comes with a pop up flash that can be operated in four different modes, on, off auto and slow synchro. The SX730 also comes with a built-in software that helps remove red eyes when using the flash.
The PowerShot SX730 is a pocket-friendly camera with a decent battery life. It comes with built-in Bluetooth and NFC, so it’s no hassle transferring your photos or videos to your phone, tablet or laptop. The Bluetooth feature can also be used to pair the camera with your smartphone and use it as a remote device.
- Has an impressive zoom of 40x
- It is light weight
- Has a pop up flash
- Has a great auto focus speed
- Does not perform well in low light
- Is fairly high priced for a point-and-shoot camera
- The shutter creates a shake when the lens is fully zoomed out
Sony DSC WX350 – Very Compact and Portable
The Sony DSC WX350 is the most compact camera on our list. This also makes it a hassle-free option to carry around with you when you’re travelling. This incredibly lightweight camera comes with a 20.4 megapixel (1/2.3 inch) Exmor R CMOS sensor and a 20x zoom. It comes with a 3-inch LCD display and a mode dial that lets you choose between six different modes.
The Exmor R CMOS sensor allows features such as low-light sensitivity, fast speed, higher resolutions and clear-crisp images with reduced grains. The locked-autofocus is another great feature that allows you to lock on to a target so that you can focus on it even when it is moving. It can also shoot videos at full HD and stereo sound recording with an added wind noise reduction feature.
The DSC WX350 is a compact camera packed with tonnes of features. You can choose between multiple modes and options to suit the environment you are on, so that you always get the best photo. It also comes with built-in WiFi with NFC that allows you to transfer photos to your smartphone or PC.
- Is lightweight and has a very compact build that is perfect in terms of portability
- Can shoot full HD video
- Has built in WiFi and NFC
- Has a great battery life
- Comes with Optical Image Stabilization
- Pictures aren’t particularly good at the edges
- Does not have exposure compensation
- The screen isn’t bright enough for the outdoors
Canon PowerShot SX530
The Canon PowerShot SX530 is the second PowerShot camera on our list and is the bigger of the two. But its bigger size can be attributed to its more superior zoom. The SX530 come with a powerful 50x optical zoom that is the 35mm film equivalent of 24mm to 1200mm. That makes this a perfect camera for telephoto purposes. The SX530 also comes with a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor that offers features such as high low-light sensitivity and an great imaging performance.
The SX530 comes with several Image Stabilization modes including Intelligent IS, Normal IS, Panning IS, Macro IS, Dynamic IS, Active Tripod IS etc. All these modes apply the best shake correction methods for each scenario. It also comes with Canon’s DIGIC 4+ Image Processor which aids in noise reduction and the generation of clear and crisp images. And it also has the Creative Shot mode which aids the user give artistic touch to his/her photos.
The PowerShot SX530 comes with a built-in WiFi system that makes it easy to transfer photos/videos to a phone or any PC via an application. The application also allows the user to control the camera remotely.
- Has a great 50x zoom
- Has built-in WiFi and NFC
- Comes with framing assist function
- Comes with Canon’s creative shot mode
- Difficult to mount grilles
- Can be slow to lock focus when zoomed. No EVF. HD video limited to 1080p30. Pricey.
How To Select A Camera
So that was list of the best cameras under $300 available in the market today. We will now look into some of the things worth considering before you purchase one of these devices.
We will be starting with the megapixel count because this is something that usually gets the most hype. Even with smartphone cameras, we tend to focus way too much on how many megapixels they have rather than the other specs. And manufacturers capitalize on this trend by unnecessarily hyping the megapixel count in their devices.
A megapixel is a million pixels. A pixel is a dot on the photo that was taken. So a camera that claims to have a 20 megapixel sensor can take photos with 20 million pixels. But when it comes to image quality this plays a secondary role. The primary role always falls on the size of the lens.
The size of a camera’s sensor will decide the quality of the images it produces. The thing is a bigger sensor can take in much more light (or information about the frame) than a smaller sensor. This means that the image thus reproduced will be richer as it has been derived from more information. Furthermore, the size of the sensor will also determine the size of the image generated. Of course in both these cases, the lens of it also plays a huge role, but the role of the sensor cannot be undermined. The high end DSLRs come with full frame (35mm) sensors, but for most everyday scenarios a smaller sensor will do just fine.
The next thing to consider is the Zoom. When considering the zooming capacity, you must note that there are two kinds of zooms. The first kind is optical zoom. This is the lens’ actual capacity to zoom into a frame. The second kind is digital zoom. This zoom isn’t a zoom into the frame but rather a zoom of the image reproduced by it. A camera that has 40x optical zoom can zoom into a distant frame by upto 40 times. But it may be able to zoom even further although that will resort in distorted images. Also beyond a certain level the zoom in most cameras fail to reproduce the best quality images.
The size is another thing to consider before selecting one. Depending on how or where you see yourself using it most of the time, you may have to choose between a smaller, more compact and lighter design with reduced features or the opposite. The rule of thumb here is, a bigger camera will almost always have more features packed into it. For example in our list above, the Sony DSC WX350 with its 20x zoom is considerably smaller and lighter than the Lumix FZ80 with its 60x zoom. So you’ll have to decide between portability and features.
This is a factor most people tend to overlook. But if you’re someone who likes traveling in the outdoors, the protection of it plays a huge role. By ruggedness we mean things such as dust-protection, water-protection and freeze-protection. For instance if your camera is water proof, you won’t have to worry about the rain. Not only this, a camera with a good water protection system can even be used to take photos underwater!
Finding the Balance
We’ve listed a whole range of factors to consider before selecting a camera. But it’s important to consider all of these factors together. Usually, like we’ve already pointed out in case of compactness and zoom capabilities, an improvement in one feature will mean a trade off in another. Thus it is wise to first ask yourself what you will be using. Based on this, you will have a rough idea of what the most important features are for you. You can then look for cameras that specialize in those features, considering the other features as secondary.
Also, depending on your choice of camera or style of photography, you may need additional accessories. These may include memory cards, tripods, additional batteries, cases etc.
So that was our article on the best cameras under $300 that you can buy in 2019. We reviewed a total of 5 cameras and we ended the article with a quick look at some of the key features to consider before purchasing one of these devices.
We hope this article helped you make a decision!
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