In the age of smartphones and DSLRs, it may seem like an odd choice to invest in a point-and-shoot, but having a small and portable camera is a great way to capture memories while unplugging from social media. The best cameras under $200 have at least 12 megapixels to take better quality images than the average smartphone, and are versatile enough to adapt to most shooting situations.
The most important feature when choosing a budget-friendly point-and-shoot is the number of megapixels (MP), which essentially refers to the camera’s resolution, determined by the number of pixels in an image. More pixels means more detail can be captured, which makes it easier to zoom in or crop photos without having your images look like an 8-bit mess. In the under-$200 price range, you'll find cameras that range from 12 to 20 megapixels.
If you want to be able to zoom in on subjects before you shoot, look for a lens with optical zoom, which, unlike digital zoom, actually extends the lens out from the camera to focus in on your subject. Video enthusiasts or vloggers will also want their camera to support high-resolution recording. The gold standard for HD video is 1080p, but there are some affordable cameras that can shoot 4K. If you're looking for a more lo-fi option that offers instant gratification, go for an instant film style camera.
With that in mind, these are the best cameras you can find on Amazon for less than $200.
1. This small but powerful point-and-shoot
- Sensor: 20MP
- Lens: 8x optical zoom
- Max video resolution: 720p
You get more than your money’s worth with the Canon Powershot ELPH 180. It has a 20MP sensor, which is nearly double that of most iPhone cameras, and the lens has 8x optical zoom with digital image stabilization to keep your images crisp. At just 3.75 by 0.87 by 2.14 inches and weighing only 4.4-ounces, this point-and-shoot will fit in your pocket so you’re always ready to take the perfect shot. Reviewers love how easy it is to get started shooting with this camera, as its controls are intuitive and beginner friendly.
One reviewer wrote: “At this price point, I wasn't expecting much. But we were about to go on a cruise and I wanted a point and shoot that I could take on all our excursions (I have heard too many horror stories of phones dropped in the drink). I was replacing a more expensive camera. Quite honestly, the photos from this little camera are even better than my old camera - Clear, beautiful color, and excellent definition. The camera is easy to understand and use. I am impressed.”
2. A rugged, waterproof camera for outdoor adventures
- Sensor: 16MP
- Lens: 4x
- Max video resolution: 1080p
This Kodak point-and-shoot is ready to capture quality stills even in the most extreme conditions. The entire package is housed in a sturdy body that’s fully sealed, watertight, and dust-resistant. According to the brand, it’s waterproof down to 15 meters and has a shockproof rating of up to 2 meters.
The hardiness of the PIXPRO is also matched by its technical abilities: the 16MP sensor produces high quality images that rival more expensive cameras, and the impressive 4x optical zoom lets you get a closer view of wildlife. If you plan on shooting video with the PIXPRO, the video resolution maxes out at 1080p. Once you’re ready to share your memories, the camera can also easily transfer images using a Wi-Fi connection to your smart device.
One reviewer wrote: “Purchased for hiking, kayaking, days at the beach or on bike rides and wow, image quality is excellent. A few years ago I spent $300. on an Olympus Tough camera and this Kodak produces images that are much better. The various scene modes work well, has in body charging (no need to use a battery charger), and video is very good too. Money well spent on the perfect vacation/travel camera, getting photos of kids/grandkids, and if dropped, not an issue.”
3. A budget GoPro for action video enthusiasts
- Sensor: 16MP
- Lens: wide-angle lens, no optical zoom
- Max video resolution: 1080P
If you’re looking for a versatile camera to capture videos of intense adventures, you can’t go wrong with a GoPro video camera. The 12MP camera has a wide-angle lens, so you get the signature fisheye look on your images and video with great quality. The GoPro Hero 7 shines with its slow-motion features and built-in video stabilization. You can slow down footage with the camera's high-frame rate, up to 8x normal shooting speeds. This camera offers great video stabilization, smoothing out jerks and harsh movement almost as if you're using a gimbal.
The max video resolution is 1080p, and you can even live-stream footage from the camera to social media apps like Facebook and Instagram by linking the camera to your phone. This camera definitely outperforms the others on this list for video, but the wide-angle lens also makes for stellar stills.
One reviewer wrote: “I bought this for my husband for his birthday. He rides dirt bikes in much more extreme conditions than I like to ride, so this allows him to record his rides so I can see what and where he goes. The picture quality on this camera is awesome, so clear and sharp. It even picks up better audio than the previous camera we had. Downloading the videos has been pretty easy, especially with the app that can be downloaded for the GoPro. Would highly recommend. We are thinking of getting a 2nd one for my bike.”
4. An upgraded instant-film camera that's less than $90
- Sensor: N/A
- Lens: Optical zoom
- Max video resolution: N/A
There are a wide variety of instant film cameras that allow you to relive the glory days of shaking Polaroids or get used to analog shooting techniques before you invest in a more expensive film camera, and Fujifilm’s wide Instax camera is one of the most popular. The wide space beneath the photo allows you to write more than a few letters to label the memory. Since it uses larger film, the camera itself is a bit more hefty than Instax mini cameras, but if you hate squinting at the tiny prints from a mini instant camera, this camera is worth the upgrade.
One reviewer wrote: “I've missed the old 70's era instant cameras for some time now, and most of the contemporary ones make tiny business card sized photos, but this instant camera makes photos that are approximate in size to the vintage instant cameras. While the build quality does not match the vintage instant cameras, neither does the price, as this camera is much more affordable than the vintage ones were. Further, even though this camera isn't quite as sturdy and well built as the vintage ones, it is by no means shoddy or junk...it's just mostly plastic and more lightweight. It's easy to use, produces very good quality (instant) photos, and functions flawlessly. For the money spent, I'm very pleased and satisfied with this camera!”