TOP 8 Budget digital cameras for both photography and video

Are you thinking of investing in a good multipurpose camera (photography and video)? One that will not require you to break a bank but still better than your smartphone camera? Before you fork over your pennies, remember that we all have different needs and expectations when it comes to photo and video cameras. These may include; cost, battery life, the camera’s ability to capture striking moments with ease on your travels, ability to take sharp photos of your toddlers’ milestones or professional photos and video for your organisation’s project as it progresses. Here are some cheap camera picks of professional videographers and photographers and their reviews

A photo taken with a Gopro Hero 7 Black in Zanzibar – Photo by Museruka Emmanuel

How to Choose a Camera

Often friends consult us on which cameras they should buy as they venture into the photography and video world. In some cases, it is people looking to spend on a high-quality compact camera. In others, it is someone looking for a smaller alternative to their Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR), perhaps to take on their travels. Shopping for the best digital camera can be overwhelming; here is what you should look out for;

  1. Your budget will be the quickest way to narrow down your needs
  2. The different types of cameras available
  3. The features and the quality that matches your needs

According to several reviews of camera owners, here are the eight best budget cameras you can choose from;

1. Sony RX100 IV — $900

According to Mark Cersosimo, a community video producer, this camera was the best for capturing photos of his 10-month-old son.

“Infants move unpredictably and fast, therefore focusing the camera is a must. Which made this the perfect option,” he stated in his review on Amazon. Here is why he thinks this camera delivers on such a task.

  • It is fast. In Cersosimo’s words, “Lightning fast.” This does not only apply to the focus but also switching between the features, such as the menu, playback and modes. 
  • The burst mode is also incredibly fast. It is critical for a photographer to have a fast frame burst mode, to capture that baby’s smiley face which flickers on and off in seconds. It has 24 frames with continuous focus. For those of you who do not speak camera jargon, this is crazy fast!
  • It is a touch screen.
  • It is also durable and reliable.

Additional advantages include different functions and excellent quality of video shooting. “This is undoubtedly one of the best affordable cameras in this class. I have shot incredible footage with this camera that has been licensed for television ads. It is also tiny that it fits in my pocket. Even though I have soaked it wet and dropped it countless times, it keeps working flawlessly. Also, one battery lasts me an entire day,” Cersosimo adds.

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2. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III $799

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is a high-quality compact system or mirror-less camera, with an extensive feature set including a good viewfinder, a tilting touchscreen and shooting modes designed to suit novice and experienced photographers.

“I have been shooting with Olympus for nearly two years and have fallen in love with the overall package. The smaller image sensor is in the grand scheme of things, it is of far better quality than your phone or any point-and-shoot camera on the market. Pair that with the in-body stabilisation and this camera will be a better solution than most options at its price for beginners and shooting in low light situations,” Andrew Griswold’s review reads.

However, the one thing holding this camera back might be the kit lens. This can, however, easily be answered by purchasing the body alone and, then, searching for a secondary lens. 

“With a great overall build, simple menu system, fast focusing and 4K video footage, this camera packs a punch for both pros and beginners,” Griswold adds.

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3. Fujifilm X-T200 – $700

The Fujifilm X-T200 is designed for both photographers and videographers. It is beefed up with an electronic viewfinder (EVF) and a large 3.5inch vari-angle touch-screen.

“When I looked at replacing my Canon, I wanted something that was of lightweight, without sacrificing the quality of the images I had grown used to with the DSLR. I liked the aesthetic of the Fujifilm and it had the features I was looking for. It also shoots with a bigger lens strapped to the front. The controls have also become of second nature to me, since I have spent a lot of time behind it. I find the colours on pictures I take with this camera much better compared to my old Canon,” Wasim Ahmad, a vlogger on Kai W, said in his review.

However, this too comes with a challenge of the kit lens and the materials. The kit lens can, however, be easily replaced. But the lightweight the owner enjoys comes at the cost of the materials, unfortunately. The camera is also mostly plastic and does not feel like it would survive a fall. But, better materials and weatherproofing would make it more expensive, which would defeat the budget purpose anyway.

“For the case of video, I would argue that this is where this camera makes the most significant case for itself. While it is not rugged or feature-packed enough for professional filmmakers, everyone will find the video features of this camera quite pleasing. I shot a bit of 4K video with it and, coming from someone who is used to the clarity and pleasant image quality of Panasonic Micro-Four-Thirds cameras, I would say the footage competes easily with more video-centric cameras,” Ahmad adds.

On the audio side, the Fujifilm thoughtfully packs a USB-C to headphone adapter to monitor sound. There is also a microphone input, something that is often stripped out of more entry-level cameras. That said, the audio quality from the built-in microphone is merely “fine”. 

Smartphone users used to tapping their way to a photo will love the large screen feature on this camera. Vloggers who need to see what they are shooting when the lens is pointed at them will love it too.

4. Canon EOS Rebel T6/EOS 1300D – $500

Professionals usually reign supreme when it comes to quality, durability and value for money. For many years, Canon has dominated the camera industry with its wide range of cameras and lenses that have redefined photography in more ways than we can imagine.

Make no mistake, if you are jumping from a compact camera or smartphone, then the quality of the 1300D’s images will impress, despite its age. One of Canon’s biggest releases is the EOS Rebel T6; an entry-level DSLR that even professionals say is worth every penny.

“In good lighting, this camera takes very nice photos right out of the box. The colours are pleasant and punchy, albeit with a tendency to over-saturation, which can look heavy-handed. In low light, skin tones tend to render a bit green as, but this can easily be corrected in post-processing software. Detail rendering at pixel-level is also not great, something that is not helped by the cheap kit lens it has,” Allison Johnson stated in her review of the machine.

The Rebel T6’s closest competitor is the Nikon D3300, which boasts of better battery life at 700 shots, has higher resolutions and a maximum burst rate of 5fps. But, it does not have a built-in Wi-Fi or NFC, yet it is far more expensive than the Rebel T6. The Rebel T6 also offers full HD (1920 x 1080) video recording, and you can take manual control of video, with 30, 25 and 24fps frame rates available.

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5. Nikon D5300 – $599

This is the best cheap camera that allows users to take clear pictures, thanks to its 24.2 megapixels and built-in Wi-Fi and GPS modules. It will help you to create your own photographer’s vision and share it with others.

“I love this camera! I am just a beginner who finally decided to take the plunge and get a DSLR. I went back and forth between this and a Canon T4i, but, finally, I chose this after a lot of research and reading tonnes of reviews. I like how small and comfortable it is and the reviews seem to point to better image quality over the Canon, with no anti-aliasing filter and better low-light performance. I, however, struggled with giving up on the touch screen on the Canon. I also find the battery life decent. I also got the 18-140 kit lens, based on the reviews,” reads one of the reviews on Amazon. 

6. Canon EOS Rebel T8i / EOS 850D – $890

The T8i was recently launched as the newest and highest-performing Rebel camera on the Canon line-up. The Canon EOS T8i delivers professional-grade image quality in a compact, lightweight, feature-filled and easy-to-use body, at an affordable price.

For a beginner DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel T8i is packed with all the features that you would need for professional photography. It may be basic for the pros, but this camera has enough photo and video features that allow for seamless shooting while keeping functionalities simple for a beginner.

“The main reason I bought a T8i was that it could do the 4K 24P clean HDMI out. I was going to go with the 90d, but Canon refuses to fix the 24P clean out the bug (outputs as 30P even though 24P is selected). My workflow is blu-ray, which means I need 24P. After considering dropping Canon altogether, I decided to stick with the T8i,” a reviewer noted.

This is the perfect camera to get back into things, the settings are designed to “do it for you” which can be annoying but, after some learning, it is still passable and the image quality is excellent, not to mention filming in 4k is a real plus.

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7. Canon PowerShot SX420 IS$229

Powershot SX420 is called a Bridge camera, which means it offers better image quality than a compact camera and it is smaller than a regular DSLR, but looks like one. It has an amazing 42x Optical Zoom. That combined with a sharp lens and optical image stabilisation, all placed in the small and light body, is what makes you fall in love with this camera.

It also captures 720p HD video, with clear sound. The PowerShot SX420 IS camera also lets you record highly detailed 720p HD video, at up to 25 frames per second with clear sound. Imagine the fun and excitement of being able to shoot high-definition video with your compact digital camera. This is a good starter camera and it features enough zoom for far away shots and enough depth for wide-angle shots. 


8. GoPro Hero 7 Black – $249

“I am often asked whether GoPro cameras make good travel companions and whether you can take a GoPro exclusively and leave the larger traditional cameras at home. I should also make it clear that I am talking about when you are not creating the photos for clients, editors or stock agencies. All of those have a different level of quality and technical requirements that GoPros, mostly, cannot meet—at least, not yet. GoPros have a lot going for them that make them an attractive option to throw in the backpack for a travel adventure. And, while I am focusing here on using them for photos, their video quality is excellent for the price and size. They are small and light, rugged and the image quality is remarkably good. And they are very easy to use,” a vlogger on Stoked For Travel said.

One great advantage of the GoPRO is that it is so rugged and portable. And, of course, it is an action camera at heart. GoPRO is best for videos and only decent for photos. Therefore, if you are getting it just for still photography, there are probably more dedicated travel cameras you can choose from.

A photo taken with a Gopro Hero 7 Black in Zanzibar – Photo by Museruka Emmanuel


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