Sam Kacey

Sam is a hobbyist photographer. He loves taking pictures of everything he finds interesting especially landscapes and sporting photos.

In a lot of the US, vaccine rates are kicking up, and we’re finally starting to see an end to the coronavirus pandemic. A lot of people are hoping that 2021 will be the most social summer yet, and you’ll want a good camera to save all of those delightful memories.

Of course, you’ll certainly have a lot of other expenses on your plate, and after flights, concert tickets, and the general costs of a night or two (or ten) out, you probably won’t want to spend a ton of money on a super-expensive camera.

To keep things affordable so that you can spend the rest of your money on the really important things in life – like a vacation – we’re going to keep all of the cameras on our list under $300. We promise to find you the best affordable camera that won’t put too big a dent in your credit limit.

Carry on reading to see our full list of the best cameras under $300, followed by a recap breaking down what makes each product on our list stand out. Or jump straight to our number #1 pick here.

What Should You Look For in Cameras Under $300?

In this day and age, a lot of people have probably never used a camera that’s not attached to their phone. If this is your first time splurging for a dedicated camera, you may want to know what to look for in your purchase. We’re here to help with that, and we want to make sure you feel in the loop and informed while you read our list.

In pursuit of that goal, we’ve added this brief rubric to fill you in on all of the important features of any camera, cheap or otherwise. Keep reading for your crash course Cameras 101 class, so you can feel like an expert before you start exploring the market.

Criteria #1: Image Quality

I don’t think anyone will be too confused by our first criterion. No matter how much your camera costs, it better deliver pictures and videos that aren’t grainy and blurry. If it doesn’t do that, you might as well stick to your smartphone.

Of course, the less obvious part is to know what gives a camera good image quality, though that’s also pretty simple. The main trait to look at is the number of pixels, with more pixels being better. Pixel count will usually be measured in megapixels, and we’ll be aiming for at least between 10 and 20 megapixels.

Criteria #2: Design

Design means more than just a pretty package. We want to help you find a camera that’s sturdy, conveniently sized, and easy to use. Of course, it’ll also be a nice cherry on top if it has a powerful battery that won’t die on you mid-video or after just a few photos. We’re looking for the best cheap cameras out there from manufacturers who understand that form and function go hand-in-hand.

Criteria #3: Extra Features

The little things go a long way, and it’s the extra features you’ll find on a standalone camera that you can’t always get from your smartphone’s camera. These extra features can range from fancy capture modes, like time-lapse, to waterproofing. There are also cameras that connect directly to wi-fi to save you the trouble of transferring your pictures and videos to your phone before sharing them on social media.

Sometimes it’s nice to have all of the bells and whistles, and just because you’re staying on a budget doesn’t mean you don’t deserve something fancy.

Criteria #4: Price

Considering the title of this article, we’re obviously not here to make you spend a ton of money for no reason. That being said, meeting this criterion is less about being cheap and more about justifying your price. We’d rather buy a relatively expensive product that’s cheaper than it should be than waste money on a cheaper product that isn’t worth the money and that will just break on you or not perform well.

Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Cameras Under $300

We measured the specs of the top products on the market against our listed criteria to see how they held up and if they’re worth buying. We then checked customer reviews, blog posts, and “best cameras under $300” articles to see if the products on our list performed as advertised. We’ll also make sure to include a wide variety of products that covers different niches and price points. This way, everyone can find the perfect product that will satisfy their needs and their budget.

And without further ado, here is our list – tailored to your specific needs – of the best cameras under $300. 

#1: Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 Digital Camera (Best Value – All-Purpose)

I don’t think I need to tell you much about the Canon brand. Just about everyone who’s ever looked at a camera has come across a Canon product at least once, and they definitely have the popularity contest backing them up. Our list starts off with Canon’s PowerShot ELPH 360 Digital Camera, which features just about everything you can ask for while, somehow, managing to stay under $300.

With 20.2 megapixels and 1080p video capabilities, this camera will make your Instagram look like a Hollywood studio, and the 12x zoom will really help you capture some amazing photos off in the distance. The optical image stabilizer will make sure that your less-than-steady hand doesn’t ruin the perfect shot.

The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 Digital Camera also has more photo modes than you’ll know what to do with, so you’ll always be able to put your creative spin on things. These include a nighttime mode, so this camera is perfect for all lighting situations.

Perhaps my favorite feature of this affordable Canon digital camera is that it’s compatible with both wi-fi and NFC technology. That means you’ll be able to cut out the middle man and throw away those pesky wires for all of your file transfer needs. Either upload these photos straight to the cloud or your social media accounts through wi-fi or transfer them to your phone or another device with nothing more than a quick tap.

The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 Digital Camera brings photography into the 21st century so that you don’t have to rely on your smartphone for everything. If you want to share your portfolio with a large audience, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 Digital Camera is one of the best ways to do it.

In addition to the top-tier image quality and all of the fantastic features, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 Digital Camera comes in a nice and compact frame of just 4.4 x 3.1 x 2.6 inches with a low weight of 11.2 ounces. That means that our first-pick budget camera is smaller than your smartphone, and you’ll have no problem slipping this product into your pocket or that weird small section of your bag that you haven’t really found a use for.

On top of being featured on multiple lists of the best budget cameras, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 Digital Camera has received more than 1,000 reviews on Amazon, and the crowd’s thoughts are crystal clear. Several customers praised our top-ranked camera for being the best bang for your buck out there, and we couldn’t agree more. The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 Digital Camera is one of the best values on the market, and it was an easy choice for our #1 best camera under $300.


#2: Nikon Coolpix B500 Digital Camera (Best Overall Camera under $300)

We didn’t have to scrounge around and look too hard to find the best cameras under $300. There are plenty of amazing options out there. This means that you don’t have to go with our number one pick if it wasn’t quite what you’re looking for. It also means you can feel free to use every dollar in your budget if you’re the kind of customer that prefers to splurge for the best product, even if it’s not necessarily the best value. If that’s what you’re looking for, then look no further than the Nikon Coolpix B500 Digital Camera.

It may push our $300 budget to its limit, but it has some features that you just can’t get from the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 Digital Camera. Here are the must-have features that will convince you that you don’t need any money leftover from your camera budget.

Reason #1 to Choose This Product: More Zoom Than You’ll Ever Need

The 12x zoom may be solid, but if you’re going to be traveling a lot, you want to give your subject the closeup they deserve. Or if you just want to be able to see what’s off in the distance, you’re going to need a lot more than that. The Nikon Coolpix B500 Digital Camera has you covered and then some. It offers enough zoom to get a perfect photograph from all the way across the ocean. (Well, at least it will feel that way.)

With 40x optical zoom and 80x digital zoom, you’ll be able to perfectly capture all of the amazing scenery you see from afar, and you’ll be able to hone in on all of the detail that you can’t reach. Of course, just as with our last camera, the Nikon Coolpix B500 Digital Camera has an optical image stabilizer, which will really start pulling its weight the more you zoom in and the more your shaky hands start affecting the shot.

Reason #2 to Choose This Product: Remote Control Feature

When the creative juices really start flowing, you’ll sometimes feel like you need to be in two places at once to get the perfect photo. Luckily, that’s almost possible with the Nikon Coolpix B500 Digital Camera.

This Nikon camera can use Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone, which then acts as a remote control for the camera. This means that you can keep your camera in one place and walk around to survey the landscape and find your perfect shot. As soon as you’re ready, you can activate the camera remotely from your smartphone. Only photographers much more skilled than I am can tell you how useful this feature can be.

On top of the amazing zoom and the remote control feature, the Nikon Coolpix B500 Digital Camera boasts a 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor. It provides the same ultra HD 1080p video as the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 Digital Camera. Finally, there’s a smart auto feature that analyzes the environment and picks the best capturing mode for the situation, which makes this camera the best friend of beginners everywhere.

Just like the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 Digital Camera, the Nikon Coolpix B500 Digital Camera is compatible with both wi-fi and NFC technology. It features a similarly convenient frame, though it is a little larger.

As we mentioned earlier, it does push our budget to its limit, so if you planned on having some money left over, you should go with a different option. But if you want telescopic zoom, a convenient remote control feature, and a useful auto function to help you in the learning phase, then there’s just no beating the Nikon Coolpix B500 Digital Camera. Sometimes it’s worth it to pay for the best.


#3: Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera (Best Optical Zoom)

I’m going to have to give a quick caveat this time around. The Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera is really tied for the best zoom along with the Nikon Coolpix B500 Digital Camera, but if you adjust for the difference in price, it’s definitely the best choice for anyone who wants to take amazing pictures from afar.

The Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera has 42x optical zoom compared to the 40x optical zoom of our Nikon camera, but it’s missing the digital zoom feature. That being said, the Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera has the same wi-fi and NFC capabilities, so sharing all of your amazing photos will be as easy as ever.

Our 3rd camera also features a 20.0-megapixel sensor with a DIGIC 4+ Image Processor and a beautiful 3-inch LCD screen. The only real complaint about this camera is that it falls a little short of the competition in terms of video, as it only offers 780p video quality, but that’s still HD clarity for a cheap price.

With a frame of 3.4 x 4.1 x 2.7 inches and a weight of just 11.5 ounces, the Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera is nice and small and won’t add too much to your luggage. Just like the Nikon Coolpix B500 Digital Camera, the Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera boasts a beginner-friendly automatic mode that picks the perfect capturing mode based on your surroundings.

Reviewers and paying customers alike loved this camera and praised the PowerShot SX420 for its size, price, and quality. If you really want ultra HD 1080p video quality, then you should go with another option, but if you want all the optical zoom you can get your hands on and the Nikon Coolpix B500 Digital Camera was just a little too pricey for you, then the Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera is the perfect compromise for you. There’s nowhere else to get this much zoom power for this cheap.


#4: Uggkin Underwater Digital Camera (Best Waterproof Camera)

Uggkin Underwater Camera for Snorkeling, Waterproof 2.7K 24MP Digital

If you ask me, there’s really only one thing I want to do in the post-covid world of the summer of 2021, and that’s hanging out on the beach. If you’re looking to really broaden your horizon and snap some photos that were previously impossible, a waterproof camera is one of the best ways to do that. You’ll be amazed at the breathtaking photos you can take in the water. That brings us to the Uggkin Underwater Digital Camera, which is just about the best affordable waterproof camera out there.

This underwater camera can dive to depths of up to 10 feet, which may not be enough for a serious scuba diver, but it’s much deeper than you’re getting without any special equipment. The camera itself boasts 24 megapixels to give you the best photos on land or underwater, and it has a screen on both sides of the camera. This means that you’ll always be able to see exactly what you’re photographing, so you’ll have the best underwater selfies around that will really bring your Instagram to another level.

The Uggkin Underwater Digital Camera also features continuous shooting mode so you’ll never miss a shot, and you can record while charging the camera. On top of that, you’re getting self-timer, exposure mode, and white balance. Finally, this affordable underwater camera is nice and slim, and it features a durable design. The outside features a rope hole, which is perfect for fastening some lanyard to your wrist and making sure the Uggkin Underwater Digital Camera doesn’t go off for a swim without you.

And just to make things even better, the Uggkin Underwater Digital Camera is the cheapest camera on our list by a significant amount. If you want to save some money and capture the beauties of the deep sea, there’s no better choice than the Uggkin Underwater Digital Camera.


#5: Action Camera 4k 20mp (Best Action Camera)

The best way to enjoy a hands-free photography experience that will let you record and photograph your vacation without missing out on the action (pun intended) is with a high-quality action camera. These small cameras, popularized by GoPro, will make sure that you can completely immerse yourself in your current experience without focusing on playing director too much. This 4K 20MP Action Camera is one of the best cheap action cameras on the market, and it’ll offer you everything you could possibly ask for in an amazingly small and cheap package.

The final camera on our list of best digital cameras under $300 features 20 megapixels and a 170-degree lens to give you the best pictures possible and an external microphone to give you studio-quality videos. Speaking of videos, this Action Camera offers 4K resolution, so you’ll have the clearest videos around. Our budget action camera is wi-fi compatible to streamline sharing your photos and videos, and it comes with a remote to help you set up everything to your liking.

Here’s the real kicker: This 4K 20MP Action Camera is waterproof up to depths of 40 meters. That’s 131 feet! I mentioned that the Uggkin Underwater Digital Camera isn’t exactly designed for scuba diving. Well, that is not the case with this 4K 20MP Action Camera. In fact, this action camera would have earned the title of the best waterproof camera if it weren’t for its action camera design, which isn’t inherently a bad thing, but is a bit more niche and not exactly what everyone is looking for.

Any way you spin, this is the best action camera out there for under $300. So if you’re skydiving, snowboarding, scuba diving, or skateboarding, this is the best camera for you to stay within your budget. No matter what physical activity you’re engaging in, the 4K 20MP Action Camera is the best way to make sure it’s perfectly recorded for a cheap price.


Why Are These Cameras So Cheap?

You get what you pay for, so we wouldn’t blame you if you’re asking yourself, “What’s the catch?” I think we did a pretty good job of keeping things nice and cheap, but you deserve to know what the alternatives are if you decide to splurge a little.

The fancier cameras out there, which you’ll be more interested in if you’re looking to become a serious photographer, will offer features like swappable lenses and extra photo capturing modes. They’ll obviously also have superior specs when it comes to image quality, which is where most of your money is going.

The best cameras out there don’t really offer any mind-blowing features that you haven’t already seen on our list. They’re just a little better across the board. So if you’re okay with taking things slow and getting a camera that will do everything you need but won’t blow your mind, then it’s okay to be a little stingy on your digital camera.

Verdict: Your Best Cameras under $300

We’re reaching the end of our list, and you’re hopefully starting to get a good idea of which of our products is best for you. But if you haven’t made up your mind yet, don’t worry. We don’t want to rush, and we know how important it is to make sure you’re getting one of the cameras under $300 that’s perfect for you. That’s why we’re going to recap all of our cameras under $300 and focus on their standout features. This way, you’ll be able to see the highlights and really know what each product has to offer for you.

If you want the best value for your money, pick the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 Digital Camera.

To be the best camera on a list of budget cameras, you know you have to offer a product that’s cheap but still manages to deliver. That’s exactly what you’ll get if you buy the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 Digital Camera, as this cheap camera offers everything you’ll need to get started, and then some.

Our top-ranked Canon camera comes equipped with 20.2 megapixels and 1080p video capabilities, plus 12x optical zoom to make your life just a little bit easier and make the world just a little bit smaller. On top of all that, you have wi-fi and NFC capability to make sharing your photos and videos easier than ever before.

You can transfer your files onto your phone or upload them straight to your Instagram or blog from your camera. You’re getting all of this for less than $300, and that’s what makes the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 Digital Camera the best value out there.

If you need a powerful zoom, pick the Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera.

If you want some money left over from your budget and you want to be able to scout out the entire area without moving an inch, then the Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera is the perfect camera for you. The Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera boasts incredible 42x optical zoom that will let you capture all of the scenery as quickly as possible, without moving.

Plus, this powerful Canon camera also comes with a powerful image processor and 20 megapixels, so this isn’t a one-trick pony. As a nice little bonus, the Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera is incredibly slim and light, and it still manages to give you HD 780p video. Unless you want to splurge for the Nikon Coolpix B500 Digital Camera, the Canon PowerShot SX420 Digital Camera is the best option for all of your zoom-oriented needs.

If you’re looking for the best waterproof camera, pick the Uggkin Underwater Digital Camera.

The folks at Uggkin understand that design is everything, and that’s what makes their Underwater Digital Camera the best waterproof camera you can buy on a budget. Besides the fantastic image quality of 24 megapixels and all of the shooting modes you’ll need, it’s the build of this camera that really sets it apart.

With 10 feet of waterproofing, the Uggkin Underwater Digital Camera features a convenient rope hole that will make sure you don’t lose this camera during your aquatic adventure, and it features a screen on both the front and the back of the camera. This means you’ll always see exactly what you’re looking at, and taking a selfie on this water-friendly camera will be just as easy as taking one on your smartphone.

Honestly, this is a pretty solid camera even if you don’t bring it into the water, though there’s an undeniable beach vibe to the color scheme. If you want to bring your camera into the water with you, then the Underwater Digital Camera is the best way to keep things cheap.

There you have it. We’ve just shown you five fantastic digital cameras under $300. If you still haven’t found the camera of your dreams, there are still plenty of other options out there, and we hope we’ve given you the tools to separate the good from the bad.

If one of the products highlighted above were not quite what you were looking for, you may be more interested in the powerful and remote-controlled Nikon Coolpix B500 Digital Camera. There’s also the durable and convenient 4K 20MP Action Camera, which is sure to be the best friend of any adrenaline junkie looking to post a highlight reel.

Remember, all of our cameras have one trait that really sets them apart from the crowd, so focusing on that trait is a great way to decide which camera is best for you. Of course, you can also work the other way around, and decide which trait you need before you sit down to make the decision.

That’s all for now. We hope your list has helped, and we hope you enjoy your brand-new camera!

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