Top five best cheap digital cameras [Update]

by , Technology Researcher Cameras 28/11/2012
Cheap compact cameras

You may not want to take your best camera on every adventure, or take snaps on your iPhone whilst your dangling from a tree. That’s where a cheaper compact camera can step in.

From our extensive lab tests of digital cameras we’ve highlighted five compact cameras, each of which has plenty to offer for less than £200. Click the links to our digital camera reviews to see how they compare for image quality, speed and overall ease of use.

What makes a Best Buy digital camera?

We send more than 100 cameras to our test lab every year to be put through their paces, testing them for aspects including image quality, video quality, ease of use and speed. But what makes a camera a Which? Best Buy?.  Find out in our video:

Visit our how we test digital cameras page for more details on the scientific testing we conduct on every camera we review.

Top 5 best cheap digital cameras

The Canon SX240 HS has auto and manual shooting options.

Canon PowerShot SX240 HS – £160

Just tipping over the £150 mark, the Canon SX240 HS builds on the precedent set by earlier models in the range.

For your money you get a 12Mp resolution camera with a 20x optical zoom and more advanced functions like shutter speed and aperture priority modes, manual focus and an adjustable strength flash. But if you just want to use it as a point-and-shoot camera the auto mode takes good shots.

At just 3.5cm deep it’ll easily slip into a pocket but the zoom is generous – you’ll be hard pressed to get closer to the action with anything smaller.

If you want to save a few pounds more the earlier Canon SX220 HS is still available, priced at around £130.  It has a 14x optical zoom, but is still a very good camera.

Read the Canon PowerShot SX240 HS review to find out how it did in our picture quality tests.

The Nikon S6300 can shoot HD video at 1080p.

Nikon Coolpix S6300 – £119

You won’t get any manual options to play with on the Nikon S6300, but it’s a great point-and-shoot camera.

It has a 15.9Mp resolution which will come in handy if you want to enlarge shots or zoom in on parts of a photo to print.

There’s a 10x optical zoom and like the SX240HS the lens starts from a good wide angle of 25mm which will help you to fit more of a landscape into a shot.

It’s equipped with a whole host of scene modes, including the usual suspects such as an auto mode that chooses the best settings for the scene. There are also a number of special shooting modes, like a sepia setting as well as filter effects that can be applied after you’ve taken the shot. It can also shoot HD video at 1080p.

If you want a cheaper option the £90 Nikon Coolpix S4300 is worth a look. The spec is trimmed a bit though – it only has 6x optical zoom, shoots HD video at 720p and also unlike the S6300 you can’t use the zoom when shooting video.

Find out how it measures up against the older, pricier Nikon S8200 in our Nikon Coolpix S6300 review.

The Olympus SZ-14 has a generous 24x optical zoom.

Olympus SZ-14 – £140

The Olympus SZ-14 is an older model now, having launched in February, but its age makes it a bargain buy.

24x optical zoom is about as much as you’ll get in a compact camera, so it’s a good choice if you want a camera that can get you close to the action.

At 4mm deep it’s a little bigger than the Canon SX240 HS, but it’s still small enough to slip into a pocket and it takes good shots in auto mode.

The 25mm wide angle will help you to fit people into close up group shots and the face detection works well.  It also has a still 3D shooting mode – but you’ll need a 3D TV to view your 3D shots.

Find out how it did in our tests by reading our Olympus SZ-14 review.

Shutter delay on the Panasonic SZ-1 is short.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ-1 – £100

The Panasonic SZ-1 is a good match for the Nikon S6300. It has a 10x optical zoom, 15.9Mp resolution and the lens starts from a wide angle of 25mm.

It’s a little slimmer and lighter than the Nikon but it has fewer scene modes and can only shoot HD video at 720p.

The shutter is quick for such a cheap camera which will help you to freeze action shots. Video sound quality leaves something to be desired though.

Read our Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ-1 review to find out what we thought of its picture quality.

The Panasonic TZ-25 includes some manual controls.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ25 – £135

Like the Canon SX240 HS, this Panasonic camera has shutter and aperture priority modes, so you can take some creative control over your shots. It doesn’t have a manual focus option though.

It has a 12Mp resolution and 16x optical zoom, which is good for the price.

It’s not the quickest camera to start up – you need to give it around three seconds from the moment you switch it on to taking your first shots – but the shutter is quick.

Get the full rundown in our Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ25 review.

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David

“or take snaps on your iPhone whilst your dangling from a tree”

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