The Best Cameras Under $200

the best cameras under 200 dollars

In this roundup, we’ll investigate the best cameras under $200 available in 2017. You may wonder why we’ve set the price limit to $200 for a digital camera for the sake of this post – after all, isn’t it impossible to find a great digital camera for under 200 bucks?!

$200 is the arbitrary budget at which I’ve seen a lot of people searching for cameras. I’ve done a roundup of the best cameras under $500 in the past which proved to be very popular, but I felt like I was ignoring a large section of the public.

People who have a $200 budget for a digital camera are looking for something that has better image quality than their smart phone or tablet and is much more affordable.

A digital camera under $200 will be perfect as a child’s first camera perhaps, or as something you’d take backpacking when you’re worried about losing it. Cameras in this price category are also for people who simply don’t care much about the ins and outs of photography, and want a no-nonsense camera that will record their precious moments.

What are the Best Cameras Under $200 in 2017?

For those of you looking for a dSLR for under $200, I’m sorry to disappoint you – it’s just not going to be possible I’m afraid.

If you’re really lucky, you may be able to find a second hand Canon Rebel SL1 or Nikon D3300 camera body for around that price range, but you’d still need to pay for a lens.

[Click to open in a new tab: What’s the Best Camera Bag on Shotkit? Find out here!]

The under $200 camera market is limited to compact cameras (‘point and shoots’), but don’t worry – the quality of compact cameras in 2017 is impressive, and for under 200 dollars you can get a lot of bang for your buck.

One thing to note here – several of the cameras in this roundup were released over a year ago, but haven’t been updated since. An older camera doesn’t necessarily mean a worse one, and you can even save a few dollars choosing an older model.

As always, if you’d like to read in depth user reviews on each of the cameras, click the links to be taken to Amazon. You’ll get the most rounded recommendations by reading the impartial and honest views of actual owners.

Amazon also offers free postage (where available) and the best after sales service (returns policy) I’ve come across. If you change your mind, just send back for a refund ;-)

One thing to note – since the prices of the cameras change frequently, you’ll have to click the links to see the most recent price. At the time of writing, all the cameras were available for under $200.

So without further ado, what are the best cameras under $200 available in 2017?

best digital camera under 200 dollars

The Best Cameras Under $200 – Compact Cameras

If you’re in the market for a budget digital camera, compact cameras are where you should start your search.

Seeing as most people will have a smartphone in their pocket and thus the ability to shoot adequate images, a compact camera which costs less than $200 will need to be able to offer something more.

All the compact cameras recommended below offer better image quality than most smart phones and are not much bigger or heavier either – perfect for throwing in a jacket pocket.

At the time of writing, all the compact cameras below were under $200 but don’t forget to check today’s prices by clicking the links.

Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS

one of the best cameras for under 200 - canon powershot elph 360 hs

Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS Specifications

Type: Compact Camera
Megapixels: 20.2
Sensor Size: 1/2.3 inch (6.2mm x 4.6mm)
Lens: 12x zoom (25-300mm eq.) f/3.6-7
Weight: 147g (0.32 lb / 5.19 oz)
Average Customer Rating: 4.5 stars
Price: Click here to find the best price

Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS Review

Canon has had a long history of making well-built, good looking compact cameras. Whilst the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS isn’t a perfect allround performer, it’s still up there with the best digital cameras under $200.

Housing a 12x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilizer in such a small, slim body is no mean feat. For those who don’t know, ‘optical’ zoom as opposed to ‘digital’ zoom means that the camera is using a lens to do the zooming rather than the camera software simply ‘cropping’ the digital image. Optical zoom is always better quality.

A 12x zoom equates to roughly a 25-300mm lens on a 35mm camera, meaning that you can go from wide angle (for shots of large groups, wide panoramic vistas and city-scapes, for example), all the way up to distant shots of wildlife.

Long focal lengths (generally anything over 85mm) can also be used for more flattering portraits of people too, although you do of course need to be standing further away to take them.

Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 colours
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 is available in black, silver and purple.

The aperture range of f/3.6-7 doesn’t make the lens on the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS particularly ‘fast’ (i.e. one that can let in a lot of natural light), but the optical image stabilizer does help you achieve a sharper image when the sun begins to set.

As well as increasing aperture and lowering the shutter speed, the 3rd part of the exposure triangle is ISO, which when increased, brings in more light to the sensor. The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS supports ISO up to 3200, but as with all compact cameras under $200, noise becomes an issue with images shot at ISO 800 and upwards.

Another option for low light photography is of course to use flash, and fortunately the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS includes a small, inbuilt flash that does an adequate job of lighting up your scene.

Since the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS doesn’t have a viewfinder, you need to use the rear LCD to frame your photos. The LCD is 3″ with 461,000 pixels of resolution, placing it in front of other compact cameras under $200.

A neat feature of the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS is the Intelligent IS mode, which helps even the most novice photographer capture clear, steady images, even in lower light. The Intelligent IS automatically analyzes camera movement and applies the ideal shake correction method for the shooting situation, allowing you to focus more on framing and capturing your shot.

Best cameras under 200 - Canon Powershot 360
The Canon Powershot 360 is a compact unit with small and lightweight battery and charger, making it perfect for travel.

The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS features a dedicated Wi-Fi button which allows for easy sharing of images over Wi-Fi and NFC. Wi-Fi is a standard feature on most of the best digital cameras under $200, but NFC is not normally seen on a camera of this price.

Android phone and tablet users in particular will benefit most from this ability to transfer photos with minimal fuss.

So, you’re probably wondering why amongst all the other good cameras under $200, this Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS with its relatively humble feature set is considered one of the best? In 2 words, image quality.

The 20.2-Megapixel CMOS sensor combines with the DIGIC 4+ Image Processor gives the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS more resolution than other more expensive cameras.

Outdoor shooting in good light is where the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS shines, producing crisp, vivid photos that look great when viewed large on computer monitors.

Canon Powershot 360 - one of the best digital cameras under $200
The 12x optical zoom retracts back into a compact body which easily fits into a backpocket or handbag.

Canon has borrowed upon its autofocus technology in more expensive compact cameras, lending them to the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS . In adequate lighting, autofocus is definitely snappier than other cameras under $200, giving fast and accurate results.

To conclude, it’s the solid image quality, fast auto-focus and flexible wide-to-long-range zoom  capabilities of the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS that really add up to make this small camera one of the best digital cameras under $200 available today.

It’s a great value camera, perfect for the beginner photographer who wants to shoot vivid JPGs of their holiday. Available in silver or black.

CLICK HERE FOR THE BEST PRICE ON THE CANON POWERSHOT ELPH 360 HS AT AMAZON

Nikon Coolpix S7000

BEST CAMERAS UNDER 200 - NIKON COOLPIX S7000

Nikon Coolpix S7000 Specifications

Type: Ultra Compact Camera
Megapixels: 16
Sensor Size: 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Lens: 20x zoom (25-500mm eq. f/3.4-6.5)
Weight: 165 g (0.36 lb / 5.82 oz)
Average Customer Rating: 4 stars
Price: Click here to find the best price

Nikon Coolpix S7000 Review

Nikon is of course another big name in camera manufacturing, but it has to be said that its pocket cameras are a bit of a mixed bag. Aside from a couple of standouts like the ones on this list of the best compact cameras, there’ve been a few flops on the way too.

Fortunately, the Nikon Coolpix S7000 is a different story altogether.

You’ll have to click here to find out the current price of the Nikon Coolpix S7000, but at the time of writing, it was under 200 bucks. This stands it in good stead as one of the best digital cameras under $200, hence its inclusion in this roundup.

Watch the video below for a brief intro to this impressive camera:

So what is it that makes the Nikon Coolpix S7000 such a great contender? Well, let’s start first with the most important elements of any camera – the sensor and the lens.

The Nikon Coolpix S7000 sports an impressive 20x zoom, meaning roughly 25 to a whopping 500mm of equivalent zoom on a bigger camera.

This means you can take a group photo of your extended family, then in one hold of the zoom button, take a photo of a bird in flight 100m away! A zoom range on a camera this small and affordable is really impressive.

As for the image quality, the Nikon Coolpix S7000 produces sharp images featuring realistic colours. It’s often the case with cameras under $200 that colours look overly-processed (too vivid), but this isn’t the case with the Nikon.

Speaking of colours, you can get the Coolpix in black, white, pink and gold.

Nikon Coolpix S7000 digital camera under 200
The colourful options of the Nikon Coolpix S700 will appeal to fashion conscious photographers.

Alike the aforementioned Canon, the Nikon Coolpix S7000 is limited to JPG only shooting.

To be honest, RAW isn’t really necessary on a camera under 200 bucks with such a small sensor, so I don’t think you’ll miss it. Shooting only JPG allows the Nikon Coolpix S7000 to process images quickly, and also means you can easily transfer the pictures via the SnapBridge Wi-Fi and NFC technology direct to your mobile devices.

Affordable compact cameras in this category often include multiple in-camera special effects, and the Nikon Coolpix S7000 is no different. However, it’s the 18 scene modes that you’ll find most useful, allowing you to take good photos effortlessly in otherwise challenging situations – beach, snow, night, sunset and more.

If it’s all too much, the Easy Auto Mode will make the decisions for you, producing good results in most situations.

As for low light performance without the inbuilt flash, the Nikon Coolpix S7000 struggles above ISO 800, but this is normal for a camera costing less than 200 dollars. As long as your scene is adequately lit though, the camera does a good job despite its small sensor size.

A stand out feature on the Nikon Coolpix S7000 is the Target Finding autofocus, which as the name suggests, finds and locks onto its target quickly and accurately.

Coupled with the 20x zoom, you’ll have fun picking out objects in the distance to photograph discreetly.

best cameras under $200
The 20x optical zoom combined with Target-Finding AF offers quick, sharp focus on your subject.

At the time of writing, the Nikon Coolpix S7000 was still under $200, but even if it’s crept up since then (click the button below to find out), it’s still a great value camera.

Packing so much zoom into a camera that’s just over an inch thick is incredible, and decent image quality and autofocus means that this affordable digital camera should definitely be on your shortlist. Is it the best digital camera under $200? Let’s look at a few more before we make that decision.

CLICK HERE FOR THE BEST PRICE ON THE NIKON COOLPIX S7000 AT AMAZON

Samsung WB350F

ONE OF THE BEST CAMERAS UNDER $200 - SAMSUNG WB350F

Samsung WB350F Specifications

Type: Ultra Compact Smart Camera
Megapixels: 16.3
Sensor Size: 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Lens: 21x zoom (23-483mm eq. f/2.8-f/5.9)
Weight: 216g (0.61 lb / 7.2 oz)
Average Customer Rating: 4 stars
Price: Click here to find the best price

Samsung WB350F Review

Samsung is a somewhat smaller name in the compact camera market in the west, but in Asian countries, it leads the way in popularity and innovation. The Samsung WB350F is the most technologically advanced of all the digital cameras under $200, and as such, deserves its spot in this post.

When connected to a wireless network with a Windows PC on it, you can set up Samsung’s i-Launcher software with so that every photo you take with the Samsung WB350F is automatically backed up wirelessly by the ‘Auto Share’ feature.

Another neat feature is that this wireless connectivity extends to video too, meaning you could theoretically use the Samsung WB350F in combination with your tablet on holiday for a make-shift video baby-monitor! The streaming is a little laggy, but it’ll do the job.

best camera under $200 - Samsung WB350F
Send images to 4 people at once via Group Share, post directly to Facebook, Youtube and Picasa, or email them right from your camera.

Whether the ability to transfer images straight to your computer is useful to you or not is questionable, but the other wireless features of the Samsung WB350F will definitely appeal to most photographers – MobileLink and the Remote Viewfinder.

MobileLink lets you transfer photos from a smartphone or send files from the camera to one or more smartphones. The Remote Viewfinder turns your smartphone or tablet into a viewfinder, allowing you to move the Samsung WB350F‘s zoom lens as well as hit the shutter release.

In practice, this means that you can set up the Samsung WB350F on a tripod, then take a selfie or group shot (with you included in it!), by controlling the camera with your phone.

Samsung WB350F review
Near Field Communication or ‘NFC’ allows you to tap the Samsung WB350F against an Android smart device to transfer images.

Equipped with ‘Tag & Go’ technology, the Samsung WB350F can connect to smartphones by simply touching the two devices together – this makes a refreshing change from the arduous process of digging into menus for a connection.

Apart from impressive wireless technology, the Samsung WB350F holds its own when it comes to actual picture-taking too. The 16.3 megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor needs less light for proper exposure and quick focus than conventional sensors. This allows you to take properly exposed images in low-light situations.

The 21x optical zoom gives you an effective range of 23-483mm – a hugely impressive feat for any compact camera under $200. There’s no in-built optical image stabilization though, so you’ll need to be in good light and have a steady hand when shooting at the longer end of the zoom range.

For more advanced cameras users, the Samsung WB350F features full manual controls to take full creative control of the picture taking process. Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority settings allow you to experiment with shutter speeds and depth of field, such as when you’re shooting fast-moving images in low-light settings.

The touch screen functionality on the Samsung is also a welcome inclusion, and something that’s not seen on any of the other digital cameras under $200 in this list.

Touch screen is great not only for quick menu navigation, but also for the elderly, or those whose hands are too big for fiddly buttons (like me!!)

best digital camera under 200 dollars - Samsung WB350F
The Samsung WB350F is definitely one of the best looking (and feeling!) digital cameras under $200 in 2017.

Another feature that should be mentioned, albeit a somewhat subjective one, is the looks of the Samsung WB350F. Inspired by vintage camera designs, the smooth curves of this compact camera combined with a faux-level outer (available in 5 colours!), will definitely appeal to the style conscious photographers out there.

I don’t talk about video much in this roundup of the best cameras under $200, but they all feature HD recording abilities, and the Samsung WB350F is no different.

To conclude, if you’re the type of person who wants a step-up from their smartphone camera, but with all the sharing capabilities, the Samsung WB350F is for you. Being able to shoot a photo, then have it effortlessly transferred to up to 4 friends simultaneously will only appeal to a certain subset of photographer, but to those, this stylish camera is the one for you.

CLICK HERE FOR THE BEST PRICE ON THE SAMSUNG WB350F AT AMAZON

Sony DSCW800

ONE OF THE BEST CAMERAS UNDER $200 - SONY DSCW800

Sony DSCW800 Specifications

Type: Ultra Compact Camera
Megapixels: 20.1
Sensor Size: 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Lens: 5x zoom (26-130mm eq. f/3.2-f/6.4)
Weight: 127g (0.28 lb / 4.48 oz)
Average Customer Rating: 4 stars
Price: Click here to find the best price

Sony DSCW800 Review

Sony is one of the leaders in the compact digital camera market, and has sneaked into this list of the best cameras under $200 with the impressive Sony DSCW800. Over 1500 reviews on Amazon attest to the fact that this cheap compact camera is as popular as it is affordable.

Let’s start with the price. Including a sub-ONE hundred dollar camera on a list of the best cameras under $200 is a little cheeky. That’d be like including one of these sub-$200 cameras on my list of the best cameras under $500!

Let’s have a closer look at why the Sony DSCW800 can hold its own with the bigger boys…

The Sony DSCW800 is clearly aimed at a certain market of photographer, or rather, average person. It’s the kind of compact camera that can be bought on a whim (click here to check out just how ridiculously cheap it currently is!), stuffed into a backpocket or handbag, and pulled out whenever the moment arises.

It won’t win any image-quality awards, but it will be better than your new iPhone!

Sony DSCW800
Fun photography made simple is the catchphrase used with the Sony DSCW800 and it’s easy to see why.

Seeing as its aimed at beginners, the Sony DSCW800 includes several scene modes to help capture decent shots in tricky environments, like parties or lower light. As it’s small enough to always have on you, it’s likely that this compact camera will be pulled out at every social event, so having a dedicated mode to help you get the shot is a definite plus.

If you do fancy taking some control of your photos, the Sony DSCW800 offers manual control of exposure compensation (making images lighter/darker), white balance and ISO.

One of the downsides of the Sony DSCW800 is the slower-than-average start up time. Whilst the other cameras in this sub-$200 category are able to turn on in around a second, the Sony DSCW800 is a relative slouch at almost 3 seconds.

When it’s ready though, the Sony DSCW800 is actually very good in decent light, locking onto the subject immediately and accurately. Auto white balance does a good job getting the right colours, and the automatic modes produce well-balanced images with adequate highlight/shadow detail.

Sony DSCW800 review
The compact, lightweight form factor is one of the major plus points of the Sony DSCW800.

Overall image quality is so-so, but for a camera under 100 dollars, it’s hard to complain.

There’s no distortion at the wider end of the zoom range (26mm), and good overall sharpness, all the way up to 130mm. It has to be said that the image quality won’t wow users, but for the price, it can hold its own with most smart phones costing 6x the amount.

To conclude, don’t get the Sony DSCW800 if you’re a pixel peeper as you’ll be disappointed. However, do get the Sony DSCW800 if you want a cheap alternative to your smart phone that can take some abuse in your back pocket, ready to get some fun snaps on a night out, or on your next backpacking trip.

It’s hard to go wrong at this price point, it’s a great point and shoot camera for under $200. With Smart Auto mode taking care of most of the picture taking for you, the Sony DSCW800 is a fun camera that can be used by anyone. Available in black or silver.

CLICK HERE FOR THE BEST PRICE ON THE SONY DSCW800 AT AMAZON

The Best Cameras Under $200 – Waterproof Cameras

For a compact camera to be affordable, offer excellent image quality and be waterproof all at the same time is a difficult thing. The only camera that really achieves this in 2017 is the Olympus Tough TG-4, but unfortunately it falls our of our $200 budget.

In order to waterproof a camera to withstand average underwater pressures, certain changes need to be made to the housing, and to the lens in particular. This usually results in less-than-average image quality.

The only waterproof digital camera under $200 that is recommendable is the Fuji below. If you’re looking for something simple to catch the kids underwater in the holiday pool, or some fish while you’re snorkeling in shallow water, it’s a great value little camera.

Fuji FinePix XP90

BEST UNDERWATER CAMERA UNDER $200 - FINEPIX XP90

Fuji FinePix XP90 Specifications

Type: Waterproof Compact Camera
Megapixels: 16.4
Sensor Size: 1/2.3 inch (6.2mm x 4.6mm)
Lens: 5x zoom (28-140mm eq.)
Weight: 199g (0.44 lb / 7.04 oz)
Average Customer Rating: 4 stars
Price: Click here to find the best price

Fuji FinePix XP90 Review

Fuji is another strong contender in the compact camera category, pulling from years of experience in the film industry making high quality cameras and lenses. This little Fuji FinePix XP90 however brings something new to the table – namely its ability to shoot underwater.

Available in a whole host of funky colours (blue, green, orange and yellow), the Fuji FinePix XP90 is geared toward the fun-loving category of amateur photographer out there who need something water/shock proof to capture their next trip.

Have a quick look at the promo video to get a better idea of what this fun little camera is all about:

Although it’s plastic, the build quality on the Fuji FinePix XP90 is excellent. The decent-sized front finger grip and textured thumb rest on the back of the camera makes the Fuji FinePix XP90 comfortable to hold, and provides enough grip to use it confidently underwater.

Fuji calls the rugged build of the Fuji FinePix XP90 ‘4-way proof’, in that it can withstand dust (on the beach), shocks (accidental drops), cold temperatures (down to -10 degrees Celsius) and of course, water (down to 15m).

As with all underwater compact cameras, I’d definitely advise you invest in a brightly coloured floating strap such as this one – for under 10 bucks, you can reduce the chance of accidental loss of your underwater camera – something that’s very easy to do whilst in the sea, as I can attest :-( !!

The underwater compact camera market is a small one, and finding one under $200 reduces it further. Thankfully, the Fuji FinePix XP90 brings with it the rare combination of decent image quality, handling and overall performance with the ability to be used to depths up to 15m.

There are also some geuinely useful features not seen on other digital cameras in this category, namely a time-lapse mode to take photos at specific intervals.

Fuji FinePix XP90 review
The Time-Lapse Movie feature will automatically turn image sequences into a movie clip showing the passing of time.

Characterized by high-speed processing, the CMOS sensor in the Fuji FinePix XP90 powers the continuous shooting at up to 10 frames/sec. (max. 10 frames) or ultra high-speed bursts at a maximum 60 frames/sec. (max. 70 frames at 16:9).

A dedicated ‘Burst mode button’ lets you instantly switch into continuous shooting mode, making it easy to capture exactly the moment or expression that you’re shooting for.

When using compact cameras underwater, it’s often tricky to get the perfect composition when, say, you spot a fish. By using the fast continuous shooting mode on the Fuji FinePix XP90 however, you’re able to fire off a series of photos, vastly increasing the chance you’ll get that damn fish in focus!

The bright, 3 inch screen is a welcome addition to the Fuji FinePix XP90, featuring an anti-reflective coating, allowing it to be seen in bright sun and underwater. The brightness is automatically adjusted in response to the lighting conditions to maintain optimal visibility while preventing unnecessary battery drain.

Having an optical zoom in a compact underwater camera under $200 is impressive, with a range of 28-140mm meaning that the Fuji FinePix XP90 can be used for up close wide angle shots as well as long range zoomed shots.

By downloading the Fuji Camera Remote app to your Android or iOS mobile device, you can remotely control the Fuji FinePix XP90 and transfer photos wirelessly.

Being able to download a full resolution photo in around five seconds, and zoom at two speeds with almost no lag, as well as remotely control self-timer and flash options is so impressive in a camera under 200 bucks!

Fuji FinePix XP90 review
Using the wifi capabilities, the creative possibilities of the Fuji FinePix XP90 are limitless.

There’s a slight delay between pressing the remote shutter release and the camera taking the shot, but being able to control the Fuji FinePix XP90 wirelessly whilst underwater opens up a whole world of fun possibilities.

Imagine throwing the camera in a pool (as it’s shock proof, the bump on the pool floor won’t harm the camera!), then controlling it wirelessly to take a shot from the bottom looking upwards of you swimming.

Above the water, autofocus is relatively fast for a digital camera under $200, and in good light you’re able to lock on to subjects quickly and accurately.

As with other compact digital cameras in this price bracket, low light photography brings challenges to the table for the Fuji FinePix XP90, but the built in flash will help you out in most situations.

It has to be mentioned that the sensor and image processor in the Fuji FinePix XP90 aren’t the absolute latest technology, and combined with the constraints of a waterproof camera housing, image quality isn’t the best.

However, if you want a fun little waterproof camera to capture every holiday snap with decent colour reproduction and accurate exposure metering, it’s hard to turn your nose up at such a good value camera. Above all, it won’t break when the kids drop it!

At the end of the day, compact underwater cameras under 200 dollars are few and far between. If you find yourself needing something like this and have a limited budget, the Fuji FinePix XP90 is the best of the bunch.

CLICK HERE FOR THE BEST PRICE ON THE FUJI FINEPIX XP90 AT AMAZON

The Best Cameras Under $200 – Instant Film Cameras

Instant film cameras have made a massive resurgence in the past few years, with Fuji Instax leading the way. Thankfully, most instant film cameras under $200 are very good, and have hundreds, sometimes thousands of positive reviews backing this up.

One thing to note – even though you can get a great little instant film camera for under 200 bucks, you’ll need to remember that the price of instant film is still relatively high (click here for some good value instant film.)

Instant film cameras are meant for low usage (they’re popular at kids’ parties, weddings and other events where people are usually dressed up), and as such, most users don’t need to buy much film.

As long as you’re not planning to take your instant film camera on holiday to document your every step, they can still be a fun and affordable way to produce some really original images.

Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic

BEST INSTANT FILM CAMERA UNDER $200 - FUJI INSTAX MINI 8

Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Specifications

Type: Instant Film Camera
Picture Size: 62mm x 46mm
Lens: 60mm eq. f/12.7
Weight: 296g (0.65 lb / 10.44 oz)
Average Customer Rating: 4.5 stars
Price: Click here to find the best price

Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Review

Instant film cameras have seen a huge resurgence in recent years, but they still remain a love/hate photography product. Actually, that’s not true – there’s love, hate and simply…wtf?!

I must admit that I was in the wtf category until I played with a Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic at a recent wedding. I finally understand what all the fuss is about with these instant film cameras, and have to admit that they’re a lot of fun.

Fuji leads the way with its Instax series of instant film cameras, and the Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic is an attempt to bridge the gap between ‘toy’ and ‘high end’. Its retro styling and classic design will appeal to an older market than the other Fuji Instax cameras, and some of the functions may even appeal to the photography enthusiasts and even pros out there too.

Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic review
Whils the Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic is simple to use, it also offers functionality that allows greater experimentation options.

The Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic uses the familiar 2×3″film packs like these. You take a picture and the camera spits out a photo from its side, developing right in front of your eyes in true ‘Back to the Future’ style :-)

No matter your age, watching a photo appear from nothing is a magical experience, and its this feeling that’s at the heart of the popularity of instant film cameras. For the young, they’ve never seen anything like it in their digital age, and for the older generation, the process is nostalgic of Polaroids back in the day.

So what is it exactly hat sets the Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic apart and puts it up with the other best cameras under $200?

The modes include ‘party’ which attempts to let in more ambient light thanks to a longer shutter speed; ‘kid’ which shortens the shutter speed to freeze the action; ‘bulb’ which allows you to control the length of the shutter by depressing the button; macro, self-timer and double exposure.

Double exposure is the feature on the Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic that might keep the enthusiasts and pros entertained for a while, since it harks back to the film days of manually taking multiple photos on top of the same film slide. Modern digital cameras have this function too of course, but doing it on an instant film camera just adds to the fun.

Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic double exposure
The double exposure function on the Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic is so much fun. With a bit of practice, you can get very creative with your shots.

Composing and exposing correctly for the shot a double exposure shot is largely guesswork, but therein lies the attraction of an instant film camera like the Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic – you’re clearly not buying it for razor sharp images or vibrant colous, but rather, that magical unpredictability where you never know exactly what you’re going to get.

Due to the small aperture of the lens (around f/12), the Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic relies heavily on the flash. You can control the power output of the flash to a degree, but it’s important to remember that the ‘look’ of an instant film camera photo is due to the harsh, direct flash which white-washes skin imperfections and leaves everyone looking a little ghost-like!

One of the stand out features of the Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic which actually puts it ahead of the other digital cameras under $200 is the battery life. You can expect the rechargeable batteries to last months when not in use, or enough to shoot through 5-6 rolls of film under heavy usage.

Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic instant camera review
Through trial and error you can produce a wide range of creative prints – it’s the experimentation that’s part of the fun!

Even if you have no interest in the instant film camera experience, the Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic just begs to be picked and played with. As soon as you press the shutter button and see the result printed before your eyes, you’re hooked. The aniticipation while waiting for the photo to appear is just so addictive!

One thing to note is that whilst I believe the Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic deserves its spot amongst the other best cameras under $200, the cost of Fuji Instax film should be taken into consideration. At roughly 75 cents a click, you will have this in the back of your mind whenever you pick the camera up.

However, variable costs aside, there’s simply no other camera like an instant film camera, and I believe that the Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic with its unique styling and fun features is the best of the lot in 2017. Purchase the film in bulk from here to save some pennies and take it to your next party  – I guarantee that within minutes you’ll have a crowd around you eager to take a ‘real-Instagram’ selfie!

CLICK HERE FOR THE BEST PRICE ON THE FUJI INSTAX MINI 90 NEO CLASSIC AT AMAZON

Fuji Instax Mini 8

BEST INSTANT FILM CAMERA UNDER $200 - FUJI INSTAX MINI 90

Fuji Instax Mini 8 Specifications

Type: Instant Film Camera
Picture Size: 62mm x 46mm
Lens: 60mm eq. f/12.7
Weight: 307g (0.67 lb / 10.82 oz)
Average Customer Rating: 4.5 stars
Price: Click here to find the best price

Fuji Instax Mini 8 Review

It wouldn’t be right to include the Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic without writing about its baby brother, the colourful Fuji Instax Mini 8.

Including the Fuji Instax Mini 8 in a list of the best cameras under 200 bucks is a bit cheeky, since it actually costs 1/4 this amount! (Click here for the most recent price.) It’s low price, multi-coloured options (pink, white, yellow, baby blue, dark blue, red, white and black!), multiple shooting modes and fun form-factor make this little instant film camera one of the most popular ever made.

Fuji Instax Mini 8 instant film camera colour options
The candy coloured Fuji Instax Mini 8 is clearly aimed at fashion conscious photographers or teenagers. With the all-black/all-white options, it’s covering all bases.

As mentioned in the previous review, no one buys an instant film camera like the Fuji Instax Mini 8 for image quality. Instead, the legions of happy users (check out over 9,000 reviews here on Amazon!) are looking for that intangible quality that Fuji Instax cameras provide. That unpredictability in how the final image will look when printed is just so addictive, and to have this for around $50 is just too good to resist.

As you’d expect, the buttons and features on the Fuji Instax Mini 8 are very basic. This camera is aimed after all at the young teenager market, but that doesn’t mean that photographers of any age can’t enjoy the simplicity too.

There are five different exposure levels for you to choose from. Even those with no photography experience will be able to understand the icons shown around the lens of the Fuji Instax Mini 8. Twisting the lens ring allows the camera to nail exposure more effectively in cloudy, shade, sunny, slightly cloudy and sunny and bright conditions. At night, the aperture opens to f/12.7, not wide by any standards, but wide enough to let a little ambient light in for party photos. The fixed shutter speed of 1/60 will also help in this regard.

A ‘high-key’ mode increases the flash output even further, white-washing the skin to create white faces reminiscent of edgy fashion portraits a la Terry Richardson!

instant film camera reviews
Photos taken with the Fuji Instax Mini 8 can are printed instantly. Watching the image slowly appear will be nostalgic with many Polaroid photographers.

With no autofocus, you’ll need to get close to your subject to shoot – between 60cm and 270cm to be exact. The Fuji Instax Mini 8 is clearly a people camera, made to shoot faces, upper body, and at a pinch, full body if you can still remain close.

The Fuji Instax Mini 8 takes the same credit card size 62 x 46mm Instax film as the other instant cameras in the series. Buying the film in bulk is the cheapest way to do it (this pack is currently on sale at the best value), but you’ll obviously need to be aware at the cost per shot.

Having said that, at this bargain basement price point, could get the Fuji Instax Mini 8 and around 200 shots for the price of its big brother mentioned above. If all you’re bothered about is the instant film experience and don’t need the retro styling and other features of the Neo Classic, I’d recommend you stick with this Fuji Instax Mini 8 which is great value for money.

Fuji instant film camera reviews
Even though the retro-themed Neo Classic is billed as the stylish option, the Fuji Instax Mini 8 can also look great in black, at less than half the price.

For those who are still wondering why I’m even including an instant film camera in a list of the best cameras under $200, go to your nearest store and have a play with one. I guarantee that come your next dinner party, you’ll wish you had it on the table to take some imprompu snaps of your guests, for them to sign and date for you to put them on your wall!

It’s no wonder the Fuji Instax Mini 8 is one of the most popular gifts for photographers and for the teeny-boppers out there – it’s cheap, fun and above all, can be the gateway drug to other forms of photography in the future.

CLICK HERE FOR THE BEST PRICE ON THE FUJI INSTAX MINI 8 AT AMAZON

The Best Cameras Under $200 – Action Cameras

The huge rise in popularity of action cameras in recent years is largely down to one brand in particular – GoPro. GoPro has brought high quality first-person-perspective photography and videography to the masses with its affordable line of action cameras.

Whilst GoPro will is still predominately aimed at filming rather than stills photography, that’s not to say that their action cameras can’t take a decent photo… albeit one with an immersive but rather amusing super-wide angle field of view.

If you’re looking for the best action camera under $200, there are many cheap Chinese knock-offs on the market. Normally we’d recommend sticking with a brand name like GoPro that you can trust, but there’s one action camera listed below by a little-known manufacturer that’s arguably even better than the GoPro in this price range.

Either way, being able to get a waterproof, shockproof, HD ready action video camera that also shoots stills for under $200 really is impressive. Here are the best two available in 2017:

GoPro HERO Session

BEST ACTION CAMERA UNDER 200 - GORPRO HERO SESSION

GoPro HERO Session Specifications

Type: Ultra Compact Action Video Camera
Lens: 9.5-11mm eq.
Weight: 72g (0.16 lb / 2.56 oz)
Average Customer Rating: 4.5 stars
Price: Click here to find the best price

GoPro HERO Session Review

I thought twice about including the GoPro HERO Session in this blog post about the best cameras under $200. Can a compact action video camera really hold its own against dedicated point and shoot cameras?

For those who’ve been living under a rock for the past 5 years, GoPro makes ultra-compact (golf ball size) video cameras which offer a unique first-person viewpoint. They’re most commonly bought by the average Joe who thinks he’ll use it to capture amazing footage of his next snowboarding trip, but are usually found gathering dust at the back of a drawer 6 months later.

The sad truth is, no one has the time to edit video footage, no matter how cool it looks! However, when we focus on these tiny cameras as being tools for stills photography rather than video, all this changes.

This must be the only review of the GoPro HERO Session in existence that will ignore video functionality! The only thing that I will say is that if you’re looking for great GoPro video quality, you’re better off investing a bit more in a GoPro Hero 4 or 5 which offer beautiful 4k footage.

Before we look at the stills image quality out of the GoPro HERO Session, let’s take a quick look at its features. ‘Quick’ being the operative word here, since there really isn’t much to say, and therein lies the beauty of the Session – SIMPLICITY.

GoPro Hero Session closeup
It doesn’t get simpler than this – one button to start and stop recordings.

On the tiny 1.5″ cube of the GoPro HERO Session , you’ll find just 2 buttons and a small LCD panel. There’s a large record button which is easily operable whilst wearing gloves (good for Joe on his snowboard trip!), and a small Wifi button on the back. Pressing the record button starts and stops the video, and holding it down starts a time-lapse.

Despite all the simplicity in operation of the GoPro HERO Session, some users still prefer to make changes to the settings using their smart devices and the excellent GoPro app.

The LCD on the top of the unit displays all the usual important data, and a small switch on the side of the unit reveals the micro-SD card slot and micro-USB port – nothing new there, but you can’t help being impressed by the water-tight build on this tiny device. At this point it’s worth mentioning – whilst in the past, GoPros needed separate waterproof housing for underwater use, the GoPro HERO Session is waterproof straight out of the box.

Also included with the GoPro HERO Session are a few mounts and frames, allowing you to stick the camera in a variety of places.

GoPro Hero Session photographer's review
The mounting options which come with the GoPro Hero Session allow you to mount the camera almost anywhere.

The flexibility of mounting options along with the size of the GoPro cameras has always been their strong point, and this opens the doors wide open to creative photography options with the GoPro HERO Session. Without spending hundreds of dollars on expensive suction mounts, arms and brackets for your dSLR (not mention the nerve-racking experience of watching it all wobble!), it’s very hard to get first person perspective shots without using something like a GoPro.

As for the stills image quality, there’s no denying that the GoPro HERO Session, lags behind all the other digital cameras under $200 in this line up. Obviously, this is first and foremost a video camera, so any stills capability is a bonus. However, the 8mp sensor combined with an f/2.8 aperture lens does allow the capture of decent JPGs, which can be pushed and pulled to some degree in Lightroom to achieve decent shots.

It should be remembered though that it isn’t image quality that’s the attraction of the GoPro HERO Session, but rather, image options. There simply isn’t another way to get the angles of view that you can achieve with a camera of this size with Wi-Fi capability.

GoPro Hero Session for stills photography
First person perspective shots like this just aren’t possible straight out the box with other compact digital cameras.

With the GoPro HERO Session, the only creative limitation is your imagination. Just come up with a zany spot to place the tiny camera, check the composition via Wifi on your smart device, then set off a time lapse to capture a series of interesting shots.

I’ve even seen pro photographers attaching the GoPro HERO Session to the tops of their dSLRs, using the time lapse feature to capture interval shots of their entire shoot. Then in post, they speed the whole thing up to create an interesting first-person perspective stop-motion video.

The price varies on the GoPro HERO Session, but at the time of writing it was on sale at just under $200 – click here to see the current price. Whatever the cost today, it’s still the most afforable way to get into this exciting breed of photography, with a unique angle of view that really imerses the viewer into the experience.

CLICK HERE FOR THE BEST PRICE ON THE GOPRO HERO SESSION AT AMAZON

YI 4K Action Camera

BEST ACTION CAMERA FOR UNDER 200 DOLLARS - YI 4K

YI 4K Action Camera Specifications

Type: Ultra Compact Action Video Camera
Lens: 155 degree f/2.8
Weight: 95g (0.21 lb / 3.35 oz)
Average Customer Rating: 4.5 stars
Price: Click here to find the best price

YI 4K Action Camera Review

Where there’s a popular big name brand, there’s always a few cheap Chinese knock-offs lurking in the background. Normally I’d say steer clear of these poorly-constructed imitations, but there are still some exceptions to the rule. In steps the unusually titled YI 4K Action Camera

We’re still in the ulta compact action video camera category here, and it’s still questionable whether a video camera deserves to appear on a list of the best compact cameras under $200, but bear with me here – after all, word on the street is that the YI 4K Action Camera is a GoPro beater at a more afforable price.

I won’t bother introducing the Xiaomi owned ‘Yi’ brand as it’s not so important here. What is important is the fact that this little-known mannufacturer has managed to create a tiny 4k camera with an intuitive UI and a touch screen viewfinder… all for under 200 bucks!

YI 4K Action Camera review
7 layers of glass optical lenses combined with an f/2.8 large aperture increases light intake to capture crisp and detailed footage.

The YI 4K Action Camera offers the touchscreen of the GoPro Hero 4 Silver, and the 4k video of the GoPro Hero 4 Black, and easily beats both on price. The touchscreen is ‘Gorilla Glass Retina’, meaning it resits scratches and daily impact and is vieable from a 160 degree angle.

Controlling and setting up the YI 4K Action Camera is easy thanks to its well-thoughtout menu system and touch screen operation. Similar to the GoPro, you can also download a free app to do everything via your smart device.

There are plenty of user comparisons of the YI 4K Action Camera to the GoPro equivalent when it comes to video, and the Chinese brand usually emerges victorious. The same seems to be true with stills image quality.

The sensor can capture 12mp stills through a f/2.8 aperture lens combined with 3-axis electronic image stabilization, meaning adequate JPGs that can be played around with after the fact using Lightroom or similar image editors. Image quality out of these tiny action video cameras will always lag behind the high-end smart phones… but people don’t buy these things for the image quality.

YI 4K Action Camera photos
The YI 4K supports 802.11a/b/g/n 2.4G/5GHz to offer download at speeds up to 30Mbps. Edit your images with the slick YI Action Camera App.

Viewing the extreme wide-angle images that come out of the YI 4K Action Camera will bring a smile to your face. Whether it’s the comical distortion when shooting people up close, or simply the immersive effect of a sweeping panoramic vista, there’s simply nothing like seeing life at 155 degrees!

Using the YI 4K Action Camera is a joy thanks to the intuitive touch-screen interface, and finding nooks and crannies to mount it, then control it wirelessly is a lot of fun. Whilst the quality of the final image may not amaze, the unique perspectives this little camera gives will certainly not grow tiring.

The inclusion of the YI 4K Action Camera in this roundup of the best cameras under $200 was perhaps an unusual one, but since it’s an allround GoPro beater at an affordable price, I believe it deserves its spot ;-) Available in black, white and pink.

CLICK HERE FOR THE BEST PRICE ON THE YI 4K ACTION CAMERA AT AMAZON

Recommendations on Buying a Camera under $200

Compact cameras have advanced a lot in recent years, bringing decent image quality and good looks to very accessible prices.

When spending under $200 on a digital camera, it’s important to limit your expectations somewhat. In this kind of price range, you can’t expect dslrs or mirrorless cameras which can deliver pro-level image quality.

However, if you stick to the compact cameras listed in this roundup, you should expect image quality that is better than your mobile phone, and in some cases, the blurring of backgrounds and low light photography is also possible – things that mobile phones traditionally struggle with.

If you’re after a camera under $200 for a specific use, like underwater photography or action (first-person-perspective) photography, your options are a little limited. However, as long as you stick to our recommendations, you’ll be happy with your purchase.

A final word – with compact cameras, it’s an unfortunate truth that the more you spend, the better quality of image you can expect to get out of it. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, but if your budget allows for it, look more towards the best cameras under $500, the best compact cameras, or even the best mirrorless cameras. This level of camera will stand you in better stead if you’d like to take up photography as a hobby.

If however all you want is a cheap and cheerful camera to stuff in your back pocket for everyday use or on holiday with the family, these cameras under $200 will serve you well and not make a dent in your bank account :-)

Leave your recommendations for other cameras under $200 in the comments, and if you enjoyed this post, remember to support Shotkit by signing up to the newsletter here and Sharing on your social networks!

Disclaimer: Some of the products in this article include affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission if you choose to purchase. (Your purchase price is of course not affected.) This helps pay for the running of Shotkit and my time invested into creating posts such as this. Thank you for your support!

PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK