Photography is notoriously expensive, and if you’re a beginner photographer or filmmaker, maybe you don’t want to spend over $300. We’ve compiled the best camera under 300 for any type of beginner filmmaking below.
10 Best Cameras Under 300 - Overview
Let’s dive into each of these cameras.
This Panasonic model is first on our list due its high popularity and ease of use. It has the largest zoom lens (equivalent of 20mm-1200mm) available in a consumer compact camera.
Its sound capabilities are also impressive. The microphone is designed to ‘zoom’ in an out with the lens, which is great if you are starting out and don’t want to purchase a sound system with your camera yet.
There is an iA, or Intelligent Auto, Mode, which lets you compose your videos with ease as the camera does all the work. A great feature for beginning photographers and videographers.
The FZ80 provides auto, manual, and RAW shooting. RAW is a file format that captures all image data on its sensor, which is useful when editing your footage later because you don’t lose any data to compression. If you’re curious, you can read more about RAW here. The back panel houses a command dial that makes changing exposure settings quick and convenient. Zooming to the full telephoto lens capability will allow you to capture subjects and landscapes very far in the distance, and track everything with ease. The stabilization system, even at this extremely zoomed in optic, also works very effectively at countering slight camera shakes.
- HD video and sound
- Dolby digital sound with built-in zoom mic
- Shoot full 1080/60p HD video with auto focus
- 60x optical zoom (20mm-1200mm)
This Panasonic model is a great first choice for beginner photographers and videographers. It’s a compact camera that packs in a lot of great features.
- Great first camera, especially regarding zoom and sound
- Dolby digital sound with built-in zoom mic
- Shoot full 1080/60p HD video with auto focus
- 60x optical zoom (20mm-1200mm)
- Extensive in-camera creative controls
- Composite plastic encasement feels slightly cheap
This Canon model has a powerful 25x optical zoom as well as intelligent IS (image stabilization) for practically shake-free photos. It’s great if you’re capturing on the fly shots without the aid of tripods or stabilizers. Image quality is incredibly stunning due to its 20.2 megapixel CMOS sensor.
The picture quality on full auto is great, even better if you set custom settings. Capture 1080p full HD videos with a smooth frame rate up to 30p. MP4 format is also available.
There is a large 3’’ LCD that allows for easy viewing. Remote shooting with the camera connect app is also available, as well as built in Wi-Fi and NFC to easily transfer images and video.
This is a very easy to use point and shoot camera that will power up and be ready to shoot in 2 to 3 seconds. It’s a compact model that has great image quality and stabilization. Disable digital zoom for improved clarity without worrying, as this camera’s zoom lens is incredibly powerful for a pocket camera. A great camera under $300 for those looking for amazingly stable videos and blur-free photos.
- Great image and video stabilizations
- 1080p full HD videos
- 25x optical zoom
- As it’s 4’’ wide, it will be difficult to manage if you have larger hands
The Nikon COOLPIX B500 is very easy to hold and transport and will allow you to take very high quality relative to its price point.
With this camera, you will be able to capture your surroundings from far away, with precision. This is made possible thanks to its 40X optical zoom and 80X dynamic fine zoom. Optical zoom refers to the true zoom capabilities you would get on a film camera lens, that allows for better-quality images versus digital zoom which is simply the in-camera zoom process that gives you the same result from editing and cropping the image in post-production. At any zoom range, there is optical VR(vibration reduction) that will assist you in getting steady shots.
Its Creative mode will be especially attractive to beginner photographers. This mode offers nine built-in preset modes that you can choose in-camera. You will be able to shoot beautiful Full HD 1080/60i (this means the 1920×1080 format) montages of parties or events. There is a Short movie show setting that will stitch together multiple video files, add special effects and even a soundtrack to give you a 30-second movie.
- Built-in Wireless (Wi-Fi)
- Face detection focusing
- Image Stabilization
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Unique creative filters
- Wireless Wi-fi connectivity
- Optical viewfinder
- 1920 x 1080 video resolution
- Plastic lens mount
This is a great point-and-shoot camera under $300. You can capture 720p HD video in stereo sound, and there is a 5x optical zoom and 28mm wide-angle lens with image stabilization. Image quality is superb given its 16 megapixel CCD sensor and Canon DIGIC 4 image processor.
The camera is small and lightweight, and will easily fit into your pocket. Smart Auto Mode will recognize 32 shooting environments and adjust your settings accordingly. This provides for point and shoot simplicity.
Batteries are replaceable, so you can use extra batteries and memory cards with ease. ECO Mode is available to reduce power consumption.
This Canon is a great point-and-shoot camera under $300. It would be a good choice for beginners who just want to use auto mode, or for those who would like to learn about different adjustments in a good quality camera.
- Smart Auto Mode adjust to almost any surrounding
- Image quality very high
- Lightweight and small
- Cords (to connect to your computer and possibly tv) come separately
This Olympus will last you years, potentially decades. There are many pro-level features in a camera priced under $300. 7x optical zoom, face detection, 2 types of image stabilization, a 2.7 inch LCD viewfinder where you can preview the shot on-screen. There is a 10 megapixel image sensor that captures detail well.
There are numerous exposure settings available, as well as in-camera editing, such as cropping and retouching. It is extremely easy to use and learn all of its functions, even for a complete beginner.
There is a Panorama feature that will guide you through taking three shots and stitching them together for you to produce a stunning panorama photo. The video records great sound as well.
This is the camera under $300 for you if you’d like a reliable camera that will last you years. It has stunning image quality, video sound, and can produce impressive panorama photos.
- Very durable and good quality
- Great learning point-and-shoot camera for a beginner
- Panorama feature creates impressive panoramas
- Flash may be too bright at times
If you’re planning a big trip or a frequent traveler, look no further than this Canon Powershot SX530. A powerful 50x optical zoom will allow you to capture details in stunning quality. 16 megapixel high sensitivity CMOS sensor allows for high quality images. There is also Full HD videos at 30p for smooth lifelike videos.
This camera is more lightweight and compact than an SLR, and easier to take with you while traveling. For the same zoom capabilities that this camera has, you would typically pay a lot more in most SLRs. Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC allow for easy wireless sharing of photos.
The Zoom Framing Assist technology lets you track your subjects and keep them in focus while shooting. Without this, your videos would come out extremely shaky without a tripod.
This is a great compact camera for traveling, as it has amazing photo and video taking capabilities, as well as a powerful zoom. It will give you high quality photos and videos without the expense of a professional camera.
- Great for photography and videography
- 50x optical zoom
- Compact and lightweight, easy to travel with
- Can’t shoot in RAW format
- Auto focus isn’t amazing
This one is for the adventurers who want to make great quality videos under $300. GoPro is the industry standard for adventure videography, and for good reason. Though it’s small, this GoPro can record 4K at 60 fps. It offers 4K, 2.7K, 1440p and 1080p resolutions and you can live stream 1080p.
This GoPro has great video stabilization to the point where you might not even consider getting a gimbal. It has a TimeWrap 2.0 feature that lets you take time-lapse videos in motion, which turn out really great and add heightened drama and scale if you’re snowboarding, surfing, or filming any adventure sports.
There is a built-in directional mic that delivers pretty solid audio, but you can also add an external mic to its 3.5mm mic port. You can control it with 14 voice commands that are really useful when you’re in the middle of doing something.
This GoPro is waterproof to 33 feet and WiFi enabled, so you can transfer videos with ease.
This is the camera for you if you want a high quality video camera under 300 you can take with you on adventures. It’s durable and has a host of features like voice commands and time-lapse to make it easier to capture your adrenaline shots in impressive and creative ways. If you’re an adventurer and want a durable camera, this is the best camera under 300 for you.
- Great image stabilization
- Perfect for adventures
- Waterproof up to 33 feet
- WiFi video transfer can be a bit slow
This slim Canon Instant Camera will fit in your pocket and is easy to take with you anywhere. Each photo has an easy peel-and-stick backing, so you can stick your photos anywhere on the go. There is a selfie mirror and auto flash. Each photo is printed using innovative ZINK (zero ink) printing technology, so no ink is actually required. ZINK paper is designed to withstand the elements, including smudges and water.
Buttons are well-labeled – power switch, shutter button, a button for picture size, and a reprint button. It produces high quality photos, and is a fun instant camera
Note: There are options to purchase with 20 or 50 paper packs. This is a fun and easy-to-use instant camera for all ages, that will give you high quality images you can peel and stick anywhere you’d like! It is the best camera under 300 for kids and adults alike who want a fun, high-quality instant camera.
- Great instant camera
- Easy to carry everywhere
- High-quality photos for an instant camera
Buyer's Guide - Best Camera Under 300
So how did we compile our list? The following are the most important things to consider when purchasing a good camera under $300.
The sensor is really important in determining the quality of the video footage. In the simplest terms, the sensor is a solid-state device that captures the light required to form a digital image. A better sensor means a better image.
Sensors are especially important if you’re filming in low-light setting as a small sensor won’t pick up as much detail and light.
The power of the lens will give you a lot of creative control over the scenes you’re shooting. You will have so much more versatility in capturing things far and wide with a good zoom lens. Alternatively, invest in some good lens that are compatible with your video camera to achieve different looks and feels.
Shaky footage is a dead giveaway of unprofessional filmmaking, unless that’s the aesthetic you are trying to achieve on purpose. All good video cameras have some in-built image stabilization, with some remarkably better than others.
Memory and Storage
It’s important to consider how much footage your camera can hold, especially if you plan on shooting for long periods of time. Usually more in-built storage means a more expensive camera, but then you need to buy less external storage cards. While it isn’t THE most important thing in terms of creating professional looking footage, it is something to consider if you’re deciding between two cameras of equal quality.
Some of the cameras we reviewed have great internal microphone systems. But in general, you want to get some external microphones going to best capture sound. It’s good to look at the camera’s native sound capability as well as the ports it has to connect external mics to.
So that’s it. Hopefully you know enough about how to choose the best camera under 300 for you to make an informed decision with our guide to the top video cameras under 300 available. Please email us if you have any suggestions or questions.
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If you liked this article, be sure to check out our guide to the best point-and-shoot camera under $500 and the best beginner camera.