Best Camera Under $300

Photography is a fun and creative hobby that can eventually lead to a full-time career but getting started can be expensive.

Our top pick, the Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80 has everything a beginner needs.

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This guide will help you get started with the best camera under $300 so you can learn photography without breaking the bank.

Best Overall | Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80

The overall best camera you’re going to find under $300 is the Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80. This is a point and shoot camera that can capture things up close or far off in the distance. The convenient 3-inch LCD screen is touch enable, making it easy for newbies to use things like autofocus.

  • Body Type: SLR-like (bridge)
  • Max Resolution: 4896 x 3672
  • Effective Pixels: 18 megapixels
  • Sensor Size: 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
  • Sensor Type: BSI-CMOS
  • ISO: Auto, 80-3200 (expands to 6400)
  • Focal Length: 20–1200 mm
  • Max Aperture: F2.8–5.9
  • Screen Size: 3 inches
  • Max Shutter Speed: 1/2000 sec
  • Storage Types: D/SDHC/SDXC card
  • Format: MPEG-4, AVCHD
  • Dimensions: 130 x 94 x 119 mm (5.12 x 3.7 x 4.69″)

If you’re big into making videos too, this is a solid choice. It shoots crisp 4k video and gives you multiple different saving modes. One of the coolest features of this Panasonic camera is the low light capture.

On dark cloudy days or in rooms with less than adequate lighting, you’ll still be able to get well-lit photos. No one wants a grainy picture and you won’t be getting that will this camera.

It also has USB charging and Wi-Fi connectivity. This makes it super easy to snap some pictures and upload them directly to your phone to share with your friends and family. Comfort Grip and High-Resolution Viewfinder

This camera’s high-resolution 1,170K-dot viewfinder and rear touch-enabled 3-inch LCD display are clear even under bright light. The LUMIX FZ80 fits comfortably in your hand with an ergonomic grip and lightweight feel. Overall, it’s a nice camera to take with you on the go or just shoot at home.

Runner-Up | Nikon Coolpix B500

Nikon has come out with several different models of the Coolpix throughout the years but the B500 is easily one of the best on the market. You can expect to get incredible photos thanks to the maximum resolution of 4608 x 3456. This camera shoots full HD 1080p video, which is great for vloggers or video enthusiasts.

  • Body Type: SLR-like (bridge)
  • Max Resolution: 4608 x 3456
  • Effective Pixels: 16 megapixels
  • Sensor Size: 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
  • Sensor Type: BSI-CMOS
  • ISO: Auto, 80-3200
  • Focal Length: 22.5–900 mm
  • Max Aperture: F3–6.5
  • Screen Size: 3 inches
  • Max Shutter Speed: 1/4000 sec
  • Storage Types: MPEG-4, H.264
  • Format: SD/SDHC/SDXC
  • Dimensions: 114 x 78 x 95 mm (4.49 x 3.07 x 3.74″)

Even though it’s less than $300, the way the sensor is constructed allows for extremely clear image quality. You can also shoot at a variety of distances by using the 40x optical zoom that gives a wide focal range. If you don’t use a tripod, no worries! The lens on the Nikon Coolpix B500 has Vibration Reduction to reduce any appearance of camera shake.

Easily one of my favorite things about this camera is that it has Bluetooth low energy built-in, along with NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity. You can send photos to your phone, television, and other devices. This is perfect for photographers who want to easily send the photos from the device to their editor.

There are also 18 different scene modes built-in which is wildly convenient for the person just starting and learning the ropes. Lastly, the Nikon Coolpix B500 features three ED lens elements that allow the camera to deliver high-quality photos without costing you a fortune. 

Action Cam Pick | GoPro Hero 8 Black

When GoPro first hit the market, they revolutionized the way people made videos. Vloggers, hobbyists, and professional filmmakers couldn’t get enough of the incredible shots these tiny cameras get. The Hero 8 delivers smooth video and because it’s an action camera, it has three levels of built-in stabilization.

  • Body Type: VR/Action camera
  • Effective Pixels: 12 megapixels
  • Sensor Type: CMOS
  • Storage Types:
  • Format: H.264, H.265
  • Dimensions: 66 x 49 x 28 mm (2.61 x 1.91 x 1.12″)

If you’re wanting to get really good at time-lapsing, this is the camera for you. With the time warp feature improved from previous GoPro products, the camera will automatically adjust speed based on the motion it’s detecting. You can speed up or slow down this effect with a single tap.

The Hero 8 has a live burst feature that will record 1 ½ seconds before and after you shoot, similar to “burst” mode on the iPhone. This makes it easy to choose the best frame out of the lot. It’s also smart remote compatible and has everything you need already built-in. If you’re someone who spends a lot of time outdoors or you want to give a realistic POV as you work on a project, this action cam is the best choice.

Compact Travel Pick | Canon PowerShot SX720 HS

I like to think of the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS as a good starter camera for anyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re going on vacation, throwing a birthday party, or just snapping cute pictures of your pets. It’s incredibly compact, ergonomic, and can easily fit in your pocket or purse.

  • Body Type: Compact
  • Max Resolution: 5184 x 3888
  • Effective Pixels: 20 megapixels
  • Sensor Size: 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
  • Sensor Type: BSI-CMOS
  • ISO: Auto, 100-3200
  • Focal Length: 24–960 mm
  • Max Aperture: F3.3–6.9
  • Screen Size: 3 inches
  • Max Shutter Speed: 1/3200 sec
  • Storage Types: SD/SDHC/SDXC card
  • Format: MPEG-4, H.264
  • Dimensions: 110 x 64 x 36 mm (4.33 x 2.52 x 1.42″)

It has a built-in 40x Optical Zoom that makes it seamless to capture objects close or far from you. One reason why this is a fantastic travel camera is because of the built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity. This means you can leave your laptop at home and edit the photos straight on your phone. You won’t need a USB cord, card reader, are anything in between.

With the help of the CMOS sensor and the DIGIC 6 Image Processor, this Canon camera delivers beautiful photos. There’s also a unique highlights feature that gives the user a mini slideshow of compiled photos and videos from each day. Overall, it’s a fantastic and compact camera that anyone would enjoy.

Waterproof Pick | Olympus Tough TG-5

Last but not least, the Olympus Tough TG-5 is the best waterproof camera for under $300. Not only is it waterproof, but it’s also shockproof, crushproof, freezeproof, and more. If you live in an extreme climate or like to take photos of epic adventures, this camera is your new best friend.

  • Body Type: Compact
  • Max Resolution: 4000 x 3000
  • Effective Pixels: 12 megapixels
  • Sensor Size: 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
  • Sensor Type: BSI-CMOS
  • ISO: Auto, 100-12800
  • Focal Length: 25–100 mm
  • Max Aperture: F2–4.9
  • Screen Size: 3 inches
  • Max Shutter Speed: 1/2000 sec
  • Storage Types: SD/SDHC/SDXC card (UHS-I compatible)
  • Format: MPEG-4, H.264
  • Dimensions: 113 x 66 x 32 mm (4.45 x 2.6 x 1.26″)

Another reason why this is the best camera for outdoor adventures is the imaging power it has. With a specialized image sensor and dual quad-core TruePic VIII Processor, it delivers stunning photos without a lot of noise or overexposure. The lens has an anti-fog feature and is also capable of shooting 4k video.

You’ll be able to shoot up to five frames with the touch of a button with this Olympus camera. On top of quality video, you can shoot raw images as well. Lastly, like the other cameras listed above, this incredible camera has built-in Wi-Fi capabilities, perfect for on-the-go.

What To Look For In A Budget Camera

It’s always a good idea to know a few things about a product before you shell out hundreds of dollars for it. Here are some of the main focal points you should be aware of when comparing cameras online or in person.

Megapixels/Image Quality

A camera’s resolution is measured in megapixels. The higher the megapixels, the better quality photo you’re going to get. The sensor plays a part as well when it comes to image quality. You can have a camera with fewer megapixels but a fantastic sensor, making up for the lack of megapixels. Professional cameras have 25 megapixels or higher, and you should never dip below 12 megapixels to ensure you’re getting clear and crisp photos.

Manual Controls

If you want to be in control, you’ll need controls. Many point and shoot cameras give you the basics without allowing you to customize things like ISO, aperture, and the like. Look for a camera that has plenty of manual controls if you’re looking to be more professional. On the other hand, if you’re just starting out and don’t care about the specifics, you may not need all of the extra controls and features.

Shooting Features

Speaking of features, there are several you should be on the lookout for. When you’re just starting out and getting into photography, these features will be crucial. Some of the most common features on inexpensive cameras are:

  • Auto
  • Scene
  • Manual
  • Video

Along with exposure modes like P, S, A, and M. You may also want to look out for continuous shooting and burst mode as well.