group of girls gathered around best budget digital camera

First things first - cheaper isn’t always better. Setting yourself up with a quality DSLR camera these days for next to nothing is easy. However, taking something home you’ll actually be happy with is an entirely different story.

This is why you should always prioritise value for money over low prices alone.  Cutting corners on quality to save money is tempting, but is also something you’ll likely live to regret.

Now for the good news. Picking up a solid DSLR for a low price that gets the job done fantastically has also never been easier. There’s an extensive range of affordably priced technology on the market, with options available to suit all budgets.

Particularly where beginners are concerned, the market for low-cost DSLRs is wide open. Robust and reliable hardware from the world’s most iconic camera brands, now available at prices anyone can stretch to.

Not to mention, some of the most amazing mirrorless cameras and pocket-sized shooters ever to hit the shelves.

Of course, there’s also a huge market for approved second-hand hardware - often with at least some warranty coverage. Whichever way you go, you’re more likely to find yourself spoilt for choice than struggling for options to choose from.

 

Top Low-Cost Digital Cameras for All Budgets in 2021

To help narrow things down, we’ve shortlisted a selection of low-cost, high-quality cameras that are well worth considering in 2021.

Each of the following has earned rave reviews from buyers and independent experts alike, having struck the perfect balance of quality, performance, user-friendliness and cost-effectiveness:

 

sony alpha a6000 budget digital camera

1. Sony Alpha A6000

It’s a high-spec camera at a low-spec price.

The deceptively low price of the Sony Alpha A6000 makes the whole thing seem almost too good to be true. But when you factor in how it first debuted back in 2014, it all starts to make sense. Even today, the Sony Alpha A6000 boasts the kinds of features and specifications that make it an absolute firecracker. Not to mention, an unbeatable bargain given the series of price cuts sent its way over the past seven years.

An excellent 24MP APS-C sensor, a fast hybrid 179-point autofocus system and fantastic 1080p FHD video capture - all at the price of a low-end digital camera. It may lack 4K shooting capacity, but this really is a small price to pay for such a small price to pay!

Features and Specs at a Glance:

  • Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor: APS-C CMOS, 24.3MP
  • Lens mount: Sony E-mount
  • Screen: 0-inch tilt-angle, 921K dots
  • Viewfinder: Yes, EVF
  • Continuous shooting speed: 11fps
  • Movies: 1080p
  • User level: Beginner

 

Sony HX90V budget digital cameras

 

2. Sony HX90V

A super-slim 30x zoom camera – ideal for day trips. If you’re looking for something to pop in your pocket while on your travels, the Sony HX90V has you covered.

Somehow, this super-slender pocket camera manages to house a fantastic 30x optical zoom. When combined with a tilting screen, this makes for a world of ‘up close and personal’ shooting opportunities.

The sensor itself is slightly small, making the Sony HX90V better suited to daytime shooting than in low light conditions. Though in its defence, it’s not a camera that has been designed with pro-grade evening shots in mind. It’s a handy, capable and reliable piece of pocket hardware that’s fantastic for taking out and about.

Features and Specs at a Glance:

  • Type: Compact
  • Sensor: 1/1.23-inch, 18.2MP
  • Lens: 30x zoom, 24-720mm
  • Monitor: 3-inch, 921K dots, tilting
  • Viewfinder: 2-inch, pop-up EVF
  • Continuous shooting: 10fps
  • Movies: 1080p / 60p
  • User level: Beginner

 

3. Nikon D3500

Often tipped as the greatest entry-level DSLR that Nikon has ever produced, the D3500 hits all the right notes.

Everything that made the D3400 a hit but available at a significantly lower price. The Nikon D3500 steps up to a battery life of 1,550 frames, incorporates an all-new APS-C sensor and has been reduced in weight for a more comfortable hold.

Exceptionally easy to work with and with a huge selection of lenses available, it’s the perfect entry point to the world of DSLR cameras for newcomers. Though it also has more than enough to offer the more experienced and discerning user.

Features and Specs at a Glance:

  • Type: DSLR
  • Sensor: APS-C CMOS, 24.2MP
  • Lens mount: Nikon F
  • Screen: 3-inch, 921K dots
  • Viewfinder: Optical
  • Continuous shooting: 5fps
  • Movies: 1080p
  • User level: Beginner

 

4. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

A strong and stable workhorse you can count on, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is perfect for enthusiastic beginners looking to learn the ropes.

Outstanding in-body image stabilisation pairs with the superb 20.3 MP sensor to put out consistently excellent shots. Video capture isn’t one of its strong points, limited to 30fps in 4K and with no in-built microphone. But when it comes to capturing dynamic stills in almost all lighting conditions, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV excels.

It’s easy to use, comfortable to hold and features a super-convenient flip-down touchscreen as a welcome added extra. A cut above other entry-level mirrorless cameras at a very attractive price.

Features and Specs at a Glance:

  • Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor: 3MP
  • Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • Monitor: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,037K dots
  • Viewfinder: 36m-dot EVF
  • Continuous shooting: 15fps
  • Movies: 4K/30p
  • User level: Beginner

 

best budget cameras, Fujifilm XT200

 

5. Fujifilm X-T200

Anyone on the lookout for an entry-level mirrorless camera that packs a solid range of pro-grade features should check out the Fujifilm X-T200.

10 steps ahead of its predecessor - the X-T100 - the Fujifilm X-T200 boasts a brilliant 3.5-inch touchscreen to the rear and is capable of shooting immaculate 4K video. It’s actually not a million miles removed from the significantly more expensive X-T30, though at its current price represents far better value for money.

Easy to use, remarkably portable and boasting a gorgeous retro design, the Fujifilm X-T200 is everything a simple and affordable mirrorless camera should be.

Features and Specs at a Glance:

  • Sensor size: APS-C CMOS
  • Resolution: 2MP
  • Viewfinder: EVF OLED, 2,360,000 dots
  • Monitor: 5-inch fully articulating touchscreen, 2,780,000 dots
  • Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8fps
  • Movies: 4K
  • User level: Beginner

 

6. Sony Cyber-shot WX220

If you can cope with kit that’s been around for some time, the Sony Cyber-shot WX220 is an absolute bargain among compact digital cameras.

Tiny enough to be slotted into a pocket, it combines an impressive 10x optical zoom with optical image stabilisation and a capable 18.2MP CMOS sensor. Slightly long in the tooth (that’s old, FYI), yes. But the Sony Cyber-shot WX220 nonetheless packs the kind of technology you’d have once paid a hefty price for. And it still makes the grade today.

A step up from anything any current smartphone is capable of at a low price and a fantastic all-purpose toy to play with.

Features and Specs at a Glance:

  • Type: Compact
  • Sensor: CMOS, 18.2MP
  • Lens mount: N/A
  • Screen: 7-inch, 460K dots
  • Viewfinder: N/A
  • Continuous shooting: 10fps
  • Movies: 1080/60p
  • User level: Beginner

 

7. Fujifilm Instax Mini 9

Last in our listings comes the fabulous Fujifilm Instax Mini 9; a camera worth checking out for entirely different reasons. Instant-print cameras have come a long way over the years, and the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 remains a firm favourite in terms of fun, enjoyment and value for money.

Designed to print credit-card sized snaps at the touch of a button, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is a family-friendly point-and-shoot camera at its best. There’s a neat front-facing mirror for selfies and five brightness settings, making it ideal for most everyday conditions.

Naturally, the film packs needed to operate the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 aren’t cheap. Still, they aren’t nearly as pricey as some of today’s comparable instant cameras.

Features and Specs at a Glance:

  • Type: Instant
  • Sensor: N/A
  • Lens mount: N/A
  • Screen: N/A
  • Viewfinder: Optical
  • Continuous shooting: N/A
  • Movies: N/A
  • User level: Beginner