Battle of the Best Cameras Under 300 2019 – Our Review/Test Results

If you have never purchased a camera before or if it’s been several years, then chances are good that you’ll be amazed at the number of options that are available today. How do you sort through all of the choices to find the best camera for you? Perhaps even more importantly, how can you stick to a relatively modest budget?

The reviews presented here are designed to be a guide to the pros and cons of some of the most popular compact digital cameras that are available today. Best of all, each of these models typically is priced at less than $300. This makes it easy to stick to a budget while still enjoying outstanding performance.

With any one of these models, you’ll find that you are snapping beautiful shots in no time.


Kodak PIXPRO AZ421 Astro Zoom Digital Camera

Kodak PIXPRO AZ421 product image

Kodak has been a pioneer in the field of photography since the beginning of the twentieth century. It’s nice to see the company still offering reliable products like the PIXPRO AZ421 after all these years.

Called the Astro Zoom Digital Camera, this is one model that deserves its name. It has the equivalent of a 42x optical zoom. For a camera of this size, category and price, that is an impressive specification.

The Astro Zoom shoots 720p HD video and has a three-inch LCD screen on the rear. However, this camera is a bit heavy when compared with other compact offerings on this list. Tech fans also won’t like that this model has no Wi-Fi connectivity.

Pros

  • Excellent zoom capabilities
  • Extremely easy-to-use interface
  • Decent-sized sensor

Cons

  • Heavy when compared to other compact models
  • No Wi-Fi connectivity

Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80

Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80 product image

This is a great camera from a reliable manufacturer. At this price point, it boasts an impressive number of features that you might expect in a more expensive model.

The lens is particularly notable. It’s a built-in that has a zoom range that goes from 20 mm up to 1200 mm. That is incredible for such an affordable camera. Moreover, this model has a nicely sized 1/2.3″ MOS sensor. This is even more important to image quality than the 18.1-megapixel count.

You get to choose between images in JPEG and RAW format. The maximum size is 4896 X 3672 pixels. In this market segment, it is rare to see the ability to shoot in RAW format. That alone might convince you to choose this model.

As an additional inducement, this camera records 4K UHD video. Most cameras in this class don’t have this function. The longest video you can record comes in at just under half an hour. A built-in mic ensures that the video picks up crystal-clear sound.

Tech geeks are bound to love that this camera is Wi-Fi ready. This means that images and videos can quickly and easily be sent straight to your computer or smartphone.

Pros

  • 4K video capability
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Impressive sensor
  • Great lens

Cons

  • Novice users may find the interface difficult

Samsung WB350F Digital Camera

Samsung WB350F Digital Camera product image

If you like retro styling, then this may be the perfect choice for you. Also, this is an extremely affordable model, yet it delivers some very nice images.

Nitpickers will be quick to note the relatively small sensor, which may not deliver the sharpest, clearest photos when compared with other entries on this list. Nonetheless, many users are impressed with the 21x zoom wide-angle lens. Wi-Fi connectivity is available on this model, and this Samsung camera is capable of HD video recording.

With Samsung Link, you can seamlessly connect this camera to other Samsung devices. On the back of the camera is a three-inch hybrid touch display. It has nice, sharp lines, but some users note that the screen is a little too sensitive, resulting in accidental changes to settings.

Pros

  • Tremendous zoom
  • Pocket-sized for perfect portability
  • Wi-Fi connectivity

Cons

  • The touch screen makes it too easy to inadvertently change settings
  • The interface could be easier to use
  • The sensor is a bit small

Nikon COOLPIX A900 Digital Camera

Nikon COOLPIX A900 Digital Camera product image

If you’re looking for a compact camera that costs less than $300, you would be hard-pressed to do better than by choosing this model. Both the Nikon brand and the COOLPIX line enjoy great reputations in the photography world, so you can rely on this camera to deliver the performance you want.

Equipped with a 1/2.3″ BSI CMOS sensor and 20 megapixels, it’s easy to see why the A900 has so many fans. The built-in lens allows for a range between 24 and 840 m. That is the equivalent of a 35x optical zoom.

Like the Panasonic model on this list, the COOLPIX will shoot 4K UHD videos. Additionally, it has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology built in for easy file transfer.

If this camera has a downside, it is that the battery seems to drain quickly when not in use.

Pros

  • Good-sized sensor
  • Able to shoot 4K UHD videos
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology built-in

Cons

  • Too much battery drain when the camera is not in use

Sony Cyber-Shot DSCWX350 18 MP Digital Camera

Sony Cyber-Shot DSCWX350 18 MP Digital Camera product image

The Cyber-Shot line has been around for several years, and this is a typically excellent entry. Of particular note are the 1/2.3″ BSI CMOS sensor and the 18.2 megapixels. Maximum JPEGs of 4896 x 3672 pixels are possible. The sensor is totally respectable, delivering sharp lines and vibrant images time after time.

At 4.8 ounces, this is a pretty lightweight model that’s easy to carry around. You may even be able to slip it into your picket.

The lens is a fairly impressive feature with a range of 25 to 500 mm. Essentially, this is a 20x optical zoom, so not as extensive as other entries on this list. Videos can be recorded in full HD with the maximum length being just under half an hour.

Wi-Fi connectivity makes this model a favorite with tech geeks.

Pros

  • Optical SteadyShot provides reliable image stabilization
  • Excellent auto-focus
  • Built-in Wi-Fi

Cons

  • Could benefit from a more robust zoom range
  • The LCD screen has a low-res display

Canon PowerShot SX620 HS

Canon PowerShot SX620 HS product image

This new model is just slightly bulkier than the SX610 model that it replaced. Still, this will probably fit in your pocket, purse or anywhere else that you choose to stash it. It’s really lightweight, so it should not be a burden even on long treks.

Despite its small size and light weight, this PowerShot model takes excellent photographs. That is due to the 1/2.3″ BSI CMOS sensor, which gives captured images a resolution of just over 20 megapixels. This camera is particularly well-suited to low-light photography thanks to the DIGIC 4+ image processor. The processor also helps to capture better-looking images in situations that are too bright.

The lens ranges from 25 to 625 mm. With the optical image stabilization kicking in at the longest focal length, you can be certain of getting steady, crystal-clear shots.

When it comes to video, the PowerShot’s performance is merely adequate. It doesn’t help that the monaural sound recording really detracts from the overall quality.

The three-inch LCD screen on the back does not have touch capabilities. However, it is really high-resolution with 922,000 pixels. Built-in Wi-Fi makes transferring images and videos to other devices a snap.

Pros

  • A good-sized sensor for taking clear shots
  • Optical image stabilization is a big plus
  • The LCD screen has great resolution

Cons

  • Sound and video quality are only average

Nikon COOLPIX B500 Digital Camera

Nikon COOLPIX B500 Digital Camera product image

A true “bridge” camera, this model would be an excellent choice for anyone who isn’t quite convinced that they want to go full dSLR. This COOLPIX B500 will help you to feel like you’re shooting with a dSLR, but at a much more attractive price point and without some of the higher-level functionality that might not get used much.

As with many of the best compact cameras available today, this one has a 1/2.3″ BSI CMOS sensor. For the price, you’re probably not going to do better. One of the main advantages of this sensor is that it performs well in low-light conditions.

With a 40x optical lens, it’s hard to compete with this camera’s zoom capabilities. The zoom range goes from 22.5 mm up to 900 mm. That is pretty incredible for a camera in this category. Built-in vibration reduction guarantees that any small hand movements while taking pictures won’t interfere with the quality of the image.

You can shoot full HD videos with this camera too, relying on the four-axis hybrid image stabilization to ensure better quality. Use the built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC technology to easily transfer files to other devices. The LCD screen on the back features 921,000-pixel resolution for great clarity.

Some users have complained about issues with the Wi-Fi connectivity and the software that Nikon uses to connect to other devices.

Pros

  • Takes great pictures thanks to a reliable sensor
  • Wonderful LCD screen
  • Vibration-reduction technology ensures steady shots

Cons

  • Wi-Fi connectivity is sometimes questionable
  • Nikon’s app software is not the most intuitive

Olympus PEN E-PL6 Digital Camera

Olympus PEN E-PL6 Digital Camera product image

The mirrorless PEN EPL-6 is far beyond ordinary point-and-shoot models, but it doesn’t quite rank up there with pricier dSLRs. As such, it is a perfect bridge camera for photographers who want to take their skills to the next level.

Most noteworthy among this Olympus’ features are its outstanding autofocus system and modes for low ISO shooting. Another major plus is that this model uses interchangeable lenses. If you want to upgrade to a more serious lens, you can!

For the price, this camera is an absolute steal. You’ll get clear and vivid shots thanks to the big sensor. The camera offers Micro Four Thirds compatibility across the board and a pop-up flash. You also get the exclusive TruePic Image Processor in this camera so that you get excellent reproduction of color. The F.A.S.T. autofocus system and impressive stabilization mechanism promise clear shots that are always in focus.

At just a couple of ounces under a pound, some photographers may find this model slightly weighty. Also, the lens that it comes with isn’t terribly impressive. To get the best out of this camera, you may want to upgrade.

Pros

  • Excellent sensor
  • Wonderful stabilization capabilities
  • Interchangeable lens

Cons

  • Slightly heavy
  • May need to upgrade lens immediately

Canon PowerShot SX720 HS

Canon PowerShot SX720 HS product image

The excellent PowerShot SX720 is a solid choice in the mid-range camera market. Like many of the other models on this list, it features a 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor. Its effective megapixels are stated to be 20.3. That is really impressive in a camera at this price point. Also, this camera is equipped with the manufacturer’s DIGIC 6 image processor, so you can rest assured that all of your photos will pop with color and life.

The PowerShot SX720 comes with a 40x optical zoom. This translates to a focal length range of 24 to 960 mm. With the Intelligent Image Stabilization system, you can trust that your photos will always be crisp and clear regardless of how far out you zoom.

This camera is capable of capturing 1080p full HD video with stereo sound. It also boasts a three-inch LCD screen on the back that has 922,000 pixels for a clear, beautiful image.

Critics say that this model doesn’t perform so well in low-light conditions. However, it is Wi-Fi compatible if you want to be able to easily transfer images and videos to your computer and other devices.

Pros

  • A reliable sensor
  • An outstanding image processor
  • Wi-Fi compatibility

Cons

  • Not the best option for low-light conditions

FAQs for Purchasing a Camera Priced at Less than $300

When you start shopping around for a new camera, you will quickly discover that you could easily spend several hundred dollars purchasing just the camera body. Then, you could also buy an interchangeable lens, which similarly may run you a few hundred dollars.

A couple of decades ago, it may have been necessary to shell out big bucks in order to get a camera that offered great performance. However, technology has come a long way. You don’t have to spend several hundred dollars to buy a great camera that has everything you need.

If it has been a while since you were last in the market for a camera, then you may feel overwhelmed by all of the choices. Moreover, you may not be clear on all of the specifications that you should be considering. How important is ISO? Do pixel counts really matter? What does it mean for a camera to be “mirrorless?”

The reality is that no single specification will make one camera a clear and solid winner over every other model. Instead, it is a good idea to look at a variety of specifications and other factors that might be more subjective.

For instance, weight can be incredibly important when it comes to camera choice. A lighter weight model is easier to carry for long periods and puts less strain on your neck if you plan to wear it on a strap. However, what feels light to one person may seem quite heavy to someone else. That is why it is always advisable to try to look at, touch and pick up each camera model that interests you before you buy.

Additionally, if you pick up enough different cameras, you will discover that each one feels different in your hands. One may feel bulky while another one feels flimsy. One may seem to have been custom-sized to fit your hands. How easy is it for your fingers to reach and operate the various controls? Once again, these can be very subjective considerations.

There is another very good reason for going to a brick-and-mortar store to take various camera models for a test drive before you make a purchase. Cameras these days are really high tech. Like smartphones and tablets, you may have to navigate through a series of menus and options to get your settings just right. Depending on how you plan to use your camera, you may need to switch these settings frequently. As you play with the camera, consider how intuitive and easy-to-use the menus are.

Keep in mind that it is not necessary to get the newest, latest model of a camera unless you are a total tech geek who has to have the most up-to-date devices. A camera model from one, two or even three years ago may still offer excellent performance. Best of all, it also will probably cost you a great deal less.

Remember, unless you are a professional photographer who pays the bills with their camera, you have nothing to gain by purchasing a top-of-the-line model. A modestly priced camera that costs less than $300 can provide impressive performance without breaking the bank. You may even be able to get cool features like video recording and WiFi capabilities.

Why You Might Want a Camera Even Though You Have a Smart Phone

It is a question that people who own a dedicated camera hear with increasing frequency these days.

“Why do you need a camera? Your phone has a great camera!”

While it is true that some smartphones have cameras that are quite capable, the reality is that none of these can truly match the quality and functionality of a top-rated dedicated camera. Plus, some smartphones actually do not have good cameras, so if you want to photograph a special event, that camera phone can really leave you in the lurch.

The camera in a smartphone is a lot like the old “point-and-shoot” cameras that were so popular a few years ago. These were great entry-level models that were inexpensive and easy to use. The images captured with these cameras weren’t going to win any awards, but they served the purpose for family events and casual photography.

Smartphone cameras have several limitations, including the quality of the images that they capture. These phone cameras typically have a fixed, wide-angle lens that isn’t particularly useful for taking high-quality close-ups or zeroing in on far-away subjects.

The long and the short of it is that a dedicated camera simply offers you far more versatility. If you are hoping to capture shots that you’ll remember for a lifetime, you need more options than those that are available to you on a phone.

What’s the Deal with Megapixels?

One of the most prominent specifications that you’ll see on any modern camera is the number of megapixels it captures. A higher number of megapixels usually translates to better image quality, but only if you’re going to be blowing up your photographs to enormous sizes.

What is a great deal more important is the size of the imaging sensor. Bigger is always better in this regard, and this makes an enormous difference to the quality of the images that you get.

Should You Choose a Fixed or Interchangeable Lens?

When you buy a camera body that has an interchangeable lens, you may gain several advantages. Such camera bodies may be either mirrorless models or dSLRs so you’ll have a wide variety of options from which to choose.

If you have an older camera body with an interchangeable lens, then you always have the option of purchasing a newer, better lens to enhance performance. Moreover, you can buy a new lens to give your camera a narrower or wider angle of view. Photographers who frequently work in low-light conditions further may appreciate the ability to switch to a lens that has a wider maximum aperture.

sony camera lenses

Fixed-lens cameras may have their advantages as well. These models are either considered “bridge” cameras because they have long lenses and look a lot like dSLRs or compact cameras, which once were known as “point-and-shoot” cameras.

Frequently, fixed-lens cameras are smaller and lighter than those that have interchangeable lenses. Bridge models tend to cover an impressively wide zoom range that would be considerably heavier and more expensive in an interchangeable lens. Many photographers appreciate not having to swap out lenses to get the zoom and angle that they need.

Do I Want a Mirrorless or dSLR Model?

When you look into purchasing an interchangeable lens camera, you’ll quickly discover that you must choose between mirrorless models and dSLRs. DSLRs have gotten a lot of positive press, to the point at which many people believe that they are the ultimate in photography technology.

However, mirrorless technology has made tremendous strides so that images captured by these cameras are virtually indistinguishable from those taken by a dSLR. When choosing a camera, it’s important to keep in mind that the quality of the lens that you choose may make a much bigger difference than the camera body.

Advantages of a dSLR

When considering whether to purchase a mirrorless or dSLR model, you’ll need to understand the potential advantages of both. A dSLR camera has far better battery life than a mirrorless model. If you’re going to be out on long treks and expeditions where opportunities to recharge a battery are minimal, then a dSLR is the way to go.

All dSLRs are equipped with optical viewfinders that refresh quickly and have great clarity. Mirrorless models tend to have an electronic viewfinder, which may be referred to as an EVF, that doesn’t refresh as quickly, though this is changing.

Another possible advantage of the dSLR is that you can use a wide range of lenses with them. Even lenses from old film cameras are compatible. Because dSLR technology has been around for years, you’ll have an amazing variety of lenses from which to choose.

New dSLRs also tend to be a bit cheaper than mirrorless models. If you’re on a budget, this may be the better way to go.

Advantages of a Mirrorless Camera

Mirrorless models tend to be smaller and lighter than dSLRs. If you plan to carry your camera around with you a lot, then this may be an incredibly important factor. You may be able to get an Olympus or Panasonic model that has a Micro Four Thirds lens, which is really small when compared to the APS-C lens used by other manufacturers.

When shooting video is of primary importance, then mirrorless technology may be an excellent choice. The view through the LCD typically is better, and autofocus performance generally is improved without making a great deal of adjustments.

Not having a mirror makes real-time previews possible. Photographers may appreciate being able to watch as a long exposure builds or the ability to switch to different filters.

How Do You Choose Sensor Size?

While camera manufacturers may boast about having more megapixels, consumers who are in the know realize that the number of megapixels is nowhere near as important to image quality as the size of the camera’s sensor.

Simply put, the larger a camera’s sensor is, the less light will be required to take a great snapshot. The camera’s sensor is made up of photosites, which are light-sensitive spots that record the information that is seen by the lens. A larger image sensor similarly translates to more highly detailed photographs.

camera sensor sizes

If you do opt for a camera that has a larger sensor, then you also will be getting a bigger model that has a larger lens. This is necessary because that big sensor needs a larger camera body to house it while a bigger lens is required for casting an image of sufficient size.

Generally, the image sensor in a smartphone is quite small. That’s because your phone is not a dedicated camera, and it has many other functions to perform. A larger sensor simply will not fit in such a relatively small, multi-functional device.

If you are interested in producing any kind of effects with your images, then the size of the sensor similarly is critical. A larger sensor makes it possible to focus on one element in the image while leaving everything else blurry.

Is an Extra-Long Zoom Important?

If you have a camera with a really long zoom, then you’ll have all the possible bases covered. It’s vital to spend some time considering how you’ve used cameras in the past and what you’d like to accomplish with your new purchase. Are you taking up wildlife photography? Do you want to be able to capture high-speed sporting events? Will you be traveling and want to have a wide variety of choices?

A lens that offers an ultra-wide angle at less than 18 mm is great for taking shots of large scenes. Between 18 mm and 30 mm, you’ll be focusing on landscapes and group shots. The normal range runs from 30 mm to 70 mm, which is ideal for ordinary snapshots and portraits.

camera zoom levels

Telephoto lenses range from 70 mm to 300 mm. This lens may be ideal for portraits or sporting events. A supertelephoto may be required for capturing high-quality images of sporting events and taking photos of wildlife.

How Much Does Speed Really Matter?

Shutter lag used to be a major concern for photographers, but modern technology has largely eliminated this worry. Now, the emphasis is on the camera’s autofocus system. Is it fast and accurate enough to capture the kind of shots that you want to take?

camera iso levels

This is especially critical if you want to get outstanding action shots. Action photography will require best-in-class autofocus and continuous shooting capabilities that are really fast. You’ll want to look for a range between ISO 800 and ISO 6400 to give you the right level of performance.

Sources:

Best 4 Cameras Under $100 – Don’t Break the Bank

Inexpensive point-and-shoot cameras that are under $100 are designed for people who are looking for an entry-level experience. These cameras are predominantly purchased by those who normally use their smartphones to shoot.

Let’s be honest, over the past two years, smartphones have improved dramatically when it comes to the quality of their pictures. There are a number of digital photographs taken on smartphones that have found their way into national magazines.

That being said, there are a lot of limitations to what smartphones can do. The camera you get on an expensive smartphone is not going to have the versatility, detail, or ability to shoot and reduce lighting that you’re going to get from an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera.

For all of you who want to break away from using your smartphone as a camera and are hoping to try something a little bit more challenging, we have created a review of three point-and-shoot cameras that are under $100. As in our other reviews, we will divide the cameras into three categories.

We have what we feel is our best overall choice, we have our premium choice, which is a bit more expensive (not over $100), and we have our budget choice. We hope you enjoy the review. Please leave any comments you have for us in the comments section below.


Best Overall Choice: Sony’s Cyber Shot W800

Sony’s Cyber Shot W800

Sony’s Cyber Shot W800 is an entry-level camera designed by Sony. This is a great option if this is your first time getting out there and taking photographs. It’s perfect for people who are new to photography and want to see if it’s something that they would like to pursue in the future.

The predecessor to the W800 was the W710 that came out back in 2013. Like its predecessor, the W800 is perfect for people who want to do some casual shooting and want an inexpensive way to do it.

A person might think if they have a smartphone and the smartphone does a decent job of taking photographs, why would they want to purchase a point-and-shoot camera for under $100. The Sony DSC W800 is going to give you a lot of the functionality that you are just not going to get with your smartphone camera. And because of its cheaper price point, it’s not going to break the bank.

What’s nice is that we’re talking about a lightweight camera. So you can put it in your pocket and you can travel with it. It allows you to go out and take photographs in areas where you might not want to take out your $1,000 smartphone to get a shot.

From what we’ve seen, the Sony Cyber Shot DSC W800 has a lot of features that you wouldn’t expect for such of an inexpensive phone. First and foremost, it takes a nice picture. And it gives you a lot of features that you can use to get the most out of every single shot you take. We have seen that this camera offers more value for its money than you would expect.

One of the cool features that we would like to mention right off the bat is the 5X optical zoom. The camera has a 5 cm minimum macro focusing ability. Of course, the camera does not have optical image stabilization.

But that’s not really a surprise, especially when you look at the price tag of the camera as well as its limited zoom ability. What’s great about this camera is that it has a 20.10 megapixel sensor. This means that you can shoot 720P footage. It means that the camera has an ISO range of between 100-3200.

Sony’s Cyber Shot W800 5x zoom

You’re probably interested in how this camera performs. Something you’re going to notice right away is how quickly the lens extends once you turn on the camera. However, if you’re focusing to get a shot, you have to wait a couple of seconds for that focus to kick in. If you are in good lighting, the autofocus feature works beautifully. If you are in lower lighting, it struggles a little bit.

The highlight and shadow detail has a reasonable balance, something that you would expect from a camera under hundred dollars. The auto white balance is surprisingly reliable. You’re not going to get unwanted color cast introduced into your shot. Something else that really caught our eye was how minimal the distortion was and how sharp the corners looked. If you take a photograph that has high color contrast, you’re going to see a little bit of purple fringing.

Sony’s Cyber Shot W800 panel

The Sony DSC-W800 has a very nice finish and a sleek style. Although the phone itself looks like metal, it really is painted plastic. So you have to be careful with it because if you’re not careful, it can easily get scratched. We talked about the compact size of the phone.

It is 96.8 x 55.5 x 20.8 mm and weighs 125 g. So you can stick in your pocket and take it with you wherever you need to go. This is definitely not an high-end camera, but with a little luck and skill, you may find yourself capturing a few images that would make the pros jealous.

Pros and Cons

Things We Liked:
  • Mono microphone and mono speaker
  • Autofocusing system
  • Performs well in bright light conditions
  • Attractive style
  • Affordable price
  • Panorama shooting
Things To Improve:
  • It needs a viewfinder
  • Its LCD screen does not have the best resolution
  • The LCD screen is small
  • There is no wireless connection
  • We would like to see an improved light sensitivity with this camera

Premium Option: Samsung TL105

Samsung TL105

This camera was first released in 2010. Over the years, some improvements have been made to the model. The TL105 is a 12 megapixel camera. It has a 4X optical zoom and offers a 35 mm focal length. This camera includes double image stabilization functions.

That means that the camera takes advantage of digital image stabilization to reduce the blur effect in the camera. You can look at your images, frame them, and review them in the 2.7 inch LCD display that offers 230,000 dots of resolution.

The TL105 has face detection capability. The camera can do a skin smoothing and beautifying effect to the shot. The camera includes program auto mode as well as a host of features that let you adjust your image, even if you don’t have a full grasp on the settings that you’re looking to adjust.

Samsung TL105 tilt view

If you are the type of photographer who is on the go and you are looking to create something that has more of a fancy feel to it, you are going to appreciate the Fisheye and Lomo functions that this camera offers. With the touch of a button, you’re going to be presented with a host of photographer styles, ranging from normal to classic to negative. The idea is that you are able to take a picture for every occasion.

The Samsung camera comes equipped with HD video. You’re able to shoot and record at a resolution of 720P. To make things easier for you, the Samsung camera offers advanced scene recognition technology. Smart auto has been upgraded on this camera.

You can now use it with video or with your still images. You can automatically select one of the four pre-programmed settings to get the best footage that has the right exposure and the right color balance for the shot you’re going for.

Pros and Cons

What We Liked:
  • High quality HD video
  • Multiple camera modes
  • Easy to use controls
  • Sleek design
Things to Improve:
  • Does not work as well in low light as we had hoped
  • Small LCD screen

Budget Option: Polaroid IEX29-RED HD 18 MP

Polaroid IEX29-RED HD 18 MP

This budget Polaroid is a slim and compact option that could be just what you are looking for. This is a point-and-shoot camera that you can find for well under $100. The camera has an 18 megapixel sensor. The camera does not come equipped with image stabilization. However, it is a digital camera, so you’re going to get a relatively stable shot.

Polaroid IEX29 black

The ISO range of this camera is between 100 and 400. We’re talking about a basic camera, but it is going to give you the ability to shoot a decent shot. With this camera, you have the ability to shoot at a four stop faster shutter speed.

The majority of the point-and-shoot cameras you’re going to find for under $100 are going to be limited to 720P HD. This is exactly what you get with the Polaroid iE X 29. This camera comes equipped with a built in flash. The flash is going to give you just enough light so that you don’t have shadows. It’s nothing spectacular, and it’s definitely not on par with the flash of the other cameras we’ve reviewed.

The camera has an LCD screen that is 2.7 inches. It’s kind of small, especially since there is no viewfinder. The LCD screen is the only thing that allows you to compose your shots.

Polaroid IEX29 with accessories

Pros and Cons

What We Liked:
  • This is a basic point-and-click camera that is easy and fun to use
  • It has a flash and built-in stabilizer, allowing you to take photos in just about any light
  • 18 megapixel photo resolution is a plus
Things to Improve:
  • It’s an inexpensive camera, so it’s made from inexpensive parts. A common problem that we’ve observed is the power button failing to function after around 700 pictures
  • The autofocus feature is not as responsive as we would have liked

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What is the best camera for beginners?

A: The answer to that question is going to vary depending on what your end goals are. There are a number of DSLRs that will give you a better shot than what you are going to get with your smartphone. These cameras are a step up from your smartphone when it comes to image quality.

They might have the same number of megapixels as your smartphone camera, but they have a larger sensor, which leads to superior results, especially when you are dealing with low performance light.

Even an entry level DSLR camera is going to provide you with increased manual control, including the ability to change lenses, which is going to make it easier for you to tackle a number of projects. Many of these cameras have auto modes that make it a lot easier for you to get the shot you want until you learn more about the controls and feel more comfortable with it.

The more features you get with your camera, the more expensive it is going to be. If you are a beginner, you need to ask yourself, what features do you really need? A number of the cameras that we’ve reviewed above are great for point-and-click shots.

They are going to give you a better shot than what you are going to get from your cell phone. But if you are looking for a camera that’s going to grow with you, you may want to purchase one that’s a little bit more expensive. Check out the review we did on mirrorless cameras to find more options.

Q: Can a cheap camera produce good results?

A: Yes. Many people seem bent on getting a pro level camera. But ask yourself, do you really need all of the features that a pro level camera offers? Lighting, composition skills, and technique will make a bigger difference in the overall feel of your shots than a new camera.

Just think, there are a number of photographs from smartphones that have been published in photography magazines. Something that is more important than the quality of the camera is the quality of the lenses. You cannot get the full advantage from the camera if you don’t have good glass. Having a good lens can make a simple camera look better than a professional one.

For More Camera Goodness Check Out:

Sources:

4 Best Mirrorless Camera Reviews 2019 – Our Test and Results

Smartphones have changed the way that people look at taking photographs. They have had a noticeable effect on the sale of point-and-shoot cameras. This is because with a smartphone, you can take stellar images, even though you have a small lens and small sensors.

Clearly, the stage was set for a another revolution in the world of point-and-shoot camera technology. It seems that mirrorless cameras are the next step. Major camera companies including Canon Nikon and Sony have released mirrorless cameras over the past few years.

By getting rid of the mirror that is usually inside high-end cameras, the lens is closer to the sensor, which in turn makes a number of innovations possible.

how mirrorless technology works

In this review, we are going to look at what we consider to be three of the best mirrorless cameras on the market. As with all of our reviews, we offer cameras in three categories. The first is the best overall camera. The second is a premium camera for those who are looking to spend a little bit more.

Finally, we will offer our budget camera. Our budget camera is not selected simply because of its price. We’re looking for a camera that offers good quality at a decent price. After reading our review, we ask that you leave any comments or questions you have in the comments section below. So let’s get started.


The Best: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7

The Panasonic G7 is in the direct line of descent of one of the first commercial mirrorless cameras. However, its strength comes not from the fact that it is a mirrorless camera but instead from the fact that it is a non-specific camera that has an interchangeable lens.

For this reason, when you look at the camera, you feel like you have a small DSLR in your hands. You have the control points that you would expect a camera of this caliber to have and then some. For example, you may be surprised to know that this camera has twin control dials as well as a multitude of buttons and switches, allowing you to refine each shot to get exactly what you want. One of the benefits that comes from this being a mirrorless camera is that you are able to take advantage of the completely articulated touch sensitive screen.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 2

When you look at the camera’s specifications, you realize that we are not talking about something that’s going to be considered cutting-edge. However, it does offer 16 megapixels and 4K UHD video. Another feature you’ll find on the G7 is focus peaking as well as zebra headlight warnings. You don’t get this feature on other cameras in this price range. These last two features make it a lot easier to shoot a video that you can use, even in a commercial setting.

In fact, the video features of the G7 are something that attract a lot of people, even those who have no desire to shoot video. For example, it offers Panasonic’s 4K mode. This is an option that lets you record video in one second chunks.

The video is recorded to the memory card as soon as you hit the shutter button. So you get the best of both worlds. On the one hand, you get to shoot the moment that you want, but since you’re getting one second shots, you’re more likely to get what you are looking for.

G7 lenses

You can see that with this camera, Panasonic is hoping that customers who would otherwise purchase DSLR cameras but want something that gives them a little bit more control opt for the G7. The price point means that first time mirrorless camera buyers get a quality product at a price they can afford.

The Panasonic isn’t necessarily the most attractive camera out there, but it does provide a lot of the features that diehard photographers are looking for. It’s a small camera that packs a punch, especially when you think about the features and the lenses that it offers.

Pros and Cons

What We Like:
  • Superb handgrip
  • Excellent EVF
  • A touch screen that’s very responsive
  • An electronic shutter that allows silent shooting and rapid shutter speeds
  • 4K video and 4K photo
Areas to Improve:
  • We felt that the previews and 4K mode had a low resolution
  • When you look at the dials and buttons, everything has a plastic feel to it
  • The processing speed on the 4K mode could be faster

Our Premium Pick: Nikon Z7

In August 2018, Nikon released two full frame cameras. The Nikon Z6 and its big brother the Z7. The major difference between the two cameras is that the Z7 has 46 megapixels whereas the Z6 only has 24. For its price, we feel that the Z7 is one of the most well-rounded mirrorless cameras on the market. It has the power and specifications to make it able to capture stills and videos. When you look at the quality of the video and the quality of the stills, you are going to be impressed.

What’s nice about the Z7 is that if you have used some of Nikon’s DSLR cameras, you’re going to be familiar with how it functions. However, since it is a mirrorless camera, it’s a little bit smaller and has a lighter body. Nikon introduced their new Z-mount as the basis for the Z7 and Z6 cameras.

Nikon pulled out all of the stops as this is the first time that they have brought a full frame mirrorless camera to market. It is 4K capable. Some of its features include:

  • 45.7 megapixel full frame BSI – CMOS sensor
  • On sensor phase detection
  • Shoots up to nine FPS
  • UHD 4K capture up to 30 P
  • Snap bridge Wi-Fi system
  • Bluetooth
  • Allows to PC transfers

A major mistake would be thinking that the Z7 is just the D850 without a mirror. Sure, there are similarities between the two since both are built by the same manufacturer. But what makes the Z7 stand out is how it differs from its predecessors. Nikon focused its energy on making small refinements beneath the surface to make the Z7 stand out.

As an example, the Z7 has a larger mount. This allows for some flexibility in lens design. It has a more powerful processor than previous cameras. A neat feature designed to help you avoid shutter shock is the electronic first curtain shutter mode. It is off by default but easy to enable.

We think that the new Z-mount is worth some attention. It is a lot shallower than the previous F-mount. The design for the F-mount was something that was first introduced in the 1950’s with the idea of accommodating a mirror.

When you look at the Z7 body, you see that it only has a 16mm flange-back distance from the mount to the sensor. This means that just about any lens you need can be adapted to work on the camera. If you still have a lot of lenses from your F-mount cameras, don’t worry. With the release of the new body, Nikon also released F to Z mount adapters.

Nikon Z7

Behind the mount, you find the Nikon BSI CMOS sensor. There are some similarities between this new chip and the chip that was in the D850, which most believe was a mixture of Nikon and Sony technologies. What makes this chip stand out is that it offers IOS 64 mode while simultaneously offering on sensor phase detection pixels. What’s really neat about the Z7 is that it allows continuous shooting at a rate of 5.5 frames per second.

Pros and Cons

What We Liked:
  • 45.7 megapixel full frame image sensor
  • Tilting touch LCD
  • 4K video
  • 90 percent autofocus sensor coverage
  • Resistant to dust and splash
Areas to Improve:
  • We would like to see a larger selection of native lenses
  • Only has one memory card slot
  • A shallower buffer depth than what we would’ve liked

Our Budget Pick: Olympus PEN E-PL7

Olympus PEN E-PL7

As a 16 megapixel camera, the Olympus PEN E-PL7 is equipped with a Micro Four Thirds sensor. This is a stylish camera that is a great alternative to the more expensive cameras that Olympus offers. When you look at this camera, you can tell that Olympus was focusing on creating a camera that the casual user would be able to enjoy while simultaneously taking pictures that they would be proud of. We can honestly say that this camera can take pictures that can stand toe to toe with some of the more expensive cameras from Olympus.

Since it is a less expensive camera, you’re going to notice that some of the physical controls are not as solid as you might like. However, the camera as a whole is solidly designed. It has what many would describe as a classic or a ritual feel to it. It’s part metal and part plastic.

The majority of the frame of the camera is made out of aluminum. So when you have it in your hands, it feels solid. The parts of the camera that are plastic have a leather effect on them. You really feel that this camera could take a beating and keep going forward.

Olympus PEN E-PL7 aluminum

The camera is a little bit on the smaller side. It is 114.9 x 67 x 38.4 mm in size. The camera weighs approximately 35.7 g. If you have larger hands or if you have a unique shooting style, the Olympus E – PL 7 might feel a little small for you. On the other hand, it might be exactly what you need.

Olympus PEN E-PL7 aluminum top view

The screen on this Olympus camera is pretty good. It’s three inches across and offers 1.04 million dots of resolution. It is a touchscreen, allowing for touch to focus.

Something you might find a little bit awkward is that this camera has a tilt mechanism that has the screen flip out underneath the body rather than above. The people at Olympus say that this design allows for better selfies.

However, when you actually have the camera in your hand and are dealing with the screen, it feels awkward. All in all, this is a camera that is designed to be a little less expensive for the casual photographer while allowing someone who is transitioning into a professional photographer to still take photographs that they are happy with.

Pros and Cons

What We Liked:
  • A nice touchscreen
  • Attractive retro design
  • Surprisingly good sensor performance
Areas to Improve:
  • We were very disappointed with the video capture
  • This camera is not made for individuals with larger hands
  • The tilt under feature of the screen was frustrating

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Are mirrorless cameras better?

A: Mirrorless cameras are lighter, more compact, offer better video, and are usually faster. Of course, there are some drawbacks. This includes the fact that you have access to fewer lenses. Traditional DSLR cameras have a wider body and more lenses have been designed for that body type. They also have an optical viewer so that you can use them in lower light. But the trade-off is that DSLR cameras are bulky. Conversely, mirrorless cameras are thinner, less complex, and offer a stellar picture.

Q: Do mirrorless cameras take better pictures?

A: Mirrorless cameras, especially those that are more expensive, have on chip focus sensors. This means that they can shoot better video. A traditional DSLR camera cannot take advantage of phase detection while the mirror is up and they are recording. This means that in a traditional camera, the contrast detection focus method is going to be less accurate than what you would get with a mirrorless camera.

Q: Are mirrorless cameras silent?

A: A lot of the DSLR cameras you purchase will have a quiet mode. They do this by separating the sound of the shutter from the slapping sound made by the mirror. This makes things a lot quieter, but it’s nothing compared to the silent mode you will get on a mirrorless camera. Since there is no mirror, the mirror slap disappears entirely. You can even use the settings to completely eliminate the sound of the shutter. When you take a photograph, the only sound you’re going to hear is the shooting aperture closing.

For more info check out this video

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4 Top Choices for Software to Organize Your Pictures 2019

Whether you take photographs as a part of your profession or you do so well as a hobby, you will likely take hundreds, if not thousands, of photographs every single year. Advances in modern technology mean that we are no longer confined to taking photographs on film. There now exists the ability to store our photos digitally using memory cards. Depending on the size of the memory card, you can hold hundreds or thousands of photos on each card.

Anyone who used to primarily take photographs using film but now uses digital means understands that storing photos digitally has made the world an easier place to take pictures in. It has become easier to access photographs, it encourages creativity, and it reduces clutter. However, when it comes to cataloging and indexing your photos, the digital revolution has created a challenge.

One of the biggest frustrations that many photographers have is trying to sort their way through hundreds of folders of photographs with the hopes of finding the one shot they were looking for. Sure, Windows Explorer does a decent job of helping us organize and catalog our photographs. But as a photographer, I’m sure there have been times when you thought that there has to be a better way.

Well, there is. In the same way that there have been improvements in the memories used in cameras, there have also been advancements in technologies designed to complement this extra memory. These are referred to as photo organizers.

When you look online, you’ll see an endless supply of these programs. Which one is going to work the best for your needs? Well, the answer to that question is going to vary depending on exactly what you’re going to do. We have looked at a bunch of digital photo organizers and have selected three that we feel stand out from the rest.

If you have read some of our other reviews, you will understand our format. First, we will talk about the product we feel is the best overall. Then, we look at one product that might fall in the premium range. Finally, we will discuss a budget product that will be beneficial if you are working with limited resources. As always, if you have questions or comments about our reviews, feel free to let us know in the comments section that we have included below.


Our Best Overall Pick: On1 Photo Raw

In November 2018, On1 Photo Raw 2019 was released. This is a high-quality program that is designed as a standalone program. It can be used regardless of the level of the photographer. If you are a complete novice, the program is intuitive enough to get you going right out of the box. If you are a professional, there are enough tools to allow you to professionally edit your photographs. The goal is to help you achieve the best possible image.

The 2019 version of this program has a lot of nice upgrades. Still, a lot of the features that users loved from the previous versions are being used. One thing that you are going to notice right off of the bat is that there has been a change to the user interface.

One complaint that users had about previous versions is that there were different modes that you had to switch as you processed your image. All of this has been streamlined and is now easier to use. You are able to access everything from the same window.

One of the nice things about ON1 is that they have always been attentive to their users. They listen to what their users want through their feedback, and they try to make improvements based on that feedback. As we mentioned, in the previous models, you would have to wait for a chance to get saved and then move from one module to another when you were editing your photo.

For example, you would have to move to the layers module, but that would mean that the non-destructive settings you used when creating your image were lost. In the newer version, you have access to the settings from the start of the editing process all the way to the end.

on1 photo raw setting

Many of the adjustments that you will make to your photograph are now found under the effects tab. You can simply click “Add Filter” and a pop-up will appear that has a number of filters that you can use. This idea isn’t completely new. In the past, the locations of the filters were split between the “Develop” and “Effects” modules.

So you would find yourself switching back and forth, depending on how you were using them. With the 2019 update, all of the effects are in one place. You will be happy to see that they have also included some new effects that you’re going to like.

on1 photo raw setting effects

Another change that you’re going to notice if you’ve used previous versions of this photo organizer is that the toolbar is now found on the left side. At first glance, you might think that there are not as many tools as there were before. That’s not the case.

There are all the tools that you enjoyed in the previous versions as well as a few more. All you need to do is click on a tool and then look at the top of the window. You’re going to find the settings for the tool you’re using as well as similar tools, allowing you to select the ones that you need.

on1 photo raw tools

One of the fun new tools you will enjoy is the “Text Tool.” This allows you to add text to your images, make a fun meme, or do other designs. There is even a stellar option for putting watermarks on your work.

If you are currently using Lightroom to catalog your digital photos, you may be hesitant to switch to Photo Raw 2019. You might be worried that all of the cataloging you did in Lightroom will be lost. You don’t have to worry about that anymore.

The 2019 version of this program has some awesome AI algorithms that allow you to migrate your photographs from Lightroom without losing how you’ve had your photos catalogued or your descriptions, labels, orientation, etc.

photo raw lightroom

Other advancements in the 2019 version of Photo RAW make it easier for you to edit HDR images. While the ability to edit HDR images was available in other versions of the software, you can do it a lot faster now.

One of the major pluses we feel that this program has over those offered by Adobe is that you pay a one-time fee. Monthly subscriptions add up very quickly. Over the course of one year of monthly subscription payments to Adobe, you will have paid more than what you would have paid if you simply purchased Photo RAW. With Adobe, you do not end up owning anything.

We feel that a lot of thought went into the development of this program. It’s clear to see that ON1 truly cares about their users and have tried to build a program that is tailor-made for their needs.

Pros and Cons

Things We Liked:
  • High-quality filters
  • A number of tools to fine-tune your images
  • Lens profile adjustment
  • The ability to migrate category information from Lightroom
Things to Improve:
  • The program lacks online sharing for windows
  • No features to do Geotagging or face tagging
  • We found that some of the operations in the program were a little bit slow

Our Premium Pick: Adobe Lightroom

lightroom logoAdobe Lightroom is photo software that is designed to help you manage and control your workflow. The software is now available in two applications. There is the Adobe Lightroom CC as well as Classic CC. We’re going to focus on the Classic CC version in this review as it is the gold standard for organizing your photographs, making adjustments, and doing output printing.

There are a number of products that are competing for the marketplace, but none have been able to provide exactly what Adobe Lightroom has. It offers a smooth workflow, an intuitive interface, a great way to organize your photos, and a wide range of adjustment tools.

lightroom catalog

Adobe Lightroom is a lot faster than the other products of its type on the market. It offers face recognition, it integrates with mobile tools, and it offers lens profile-based corrections as well as lighting and color corrections that you are not going to find anywhere else. It is very rare to see a review of Adobe Lightroom where the product is not given a near perfect rating.

Adobe Lightroom takes advantage of separate modes for organizing your photos or for adjusting them as well as other functions. You are able to activate or deactivate different modes on the top left of the screen when you’re in the program.

Adobe Lightroom supports camera raw file conversions for all of the major DSLR high-end digital cameras. This program uses a database, which Adobe refers to as its catalog. This way of organizing and cataloging photographs makes a lot of sense, especially if you have a huge photograph collection that consists a lot of large images. You’re able to store the database files apart from the actual image files.

Adobe Lightroom has a cool tethering feature. This lets you tether the camera to your computer via a USB or a firewall cable. You can have complete control over the shutter release from your computer.

Adobe Lightroom’s library mode provides you with the ability to organize your photos, group pictures into collections based on thumbnails you select, or use Smart Collections that allow you to group photographs based on whether or not they meet certain criteria.

lightroom smart collection

Lightroom has a nice face detection program. You are able to start finding the faces of certain people throughout your entire catalog or can find a face on an as-needed basis. You are able to assign a name to a person’s face and then can search for that individual throughout your entire collection.

If Adobe Lightroom is not sure, it may provide a number of faces that look similar, giving you the chance to weed out the ones that are incorrect. You’re able to use this information to create smart albums based on a person’s name or a person’s face, or you can even use the map mode to make selections based on geo-locations.

When it comes to performance, it’s good to remember that Adobe Lightroom is going to rely on your computer’s graphic processor to make adjustments to photographs. If you have a decently powered computer, you’re not going to be waiting too long for any of Lightroom’s operations. The program’s start of time has also improved. It takes around eight seconds to get the classic version of this program up and running.

Adobe Lightroom classic is considered to be the gold standard when it comes to photo organizing and editing. It is a well-loved program that has been used by professional photographers for a number of years. It is likely to continue to be at the head of its class.

Pros and Cons

Things We Liked:
  • Amazing photo management/organization
  • Face detection features
  • A number of fine tuning tools
  • A product built on years of experience
  • Works with mobile apps
  • Camera and lens-based corrections
Things to Improve:
  • Although faster than previous versions, the import is still slow
  • Paying the monthly subscription means that you’re always paying but never own the product

Our Budget Pick: Magix Photo Manager

magix photo manager

This is an inexpensive file management program that has a number of time-saving features. It does great at getting rid of duplicate images, and it makes it easier for you to compile and filter your photographs. The batch processor allows you to update the metadata on a number of photographs simultaneously. There are also a host of shortcuts for tasks that include organizing, optimizing, archiving, and presenting.

You are able to share your photographs directly from Magix to a number of social media sites. Emails can be sent directly from the photo manager, including photographs that you have stored and organized. This program has very few editing tools, but you get some of the basics.

magix photo manager editing

This program definitely does not have the editing features that you’re going to find on the other software is that we have reviewed. But you can use it to do simple things like tagging and storing your images as well as looking at the metadata of your photographs.

Pros and Cons

Things We Liked:
  • Simple interface
  • Free software with the ability to upgrade to a premium paid version
  • · Excellent program for beginners
Things to Improve:
  • Limited editing tools
  • You cannot share your photos directly to YouTube
  • Limited support

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: How can I organize my photos and make them easier to find?

A: When you save your photographs, your camera is going to automatically assign them a generic name and number. It is best for you to personally name each photo and save them in a specific place in your computer’s hard drive. Take advantage of keywords and tags to describe what is in the photo. A number of the photo organizing programs we’ve reviewed have a face recognition feature. You can use those to organize your photographs by face.

Q: What is the best file format to save your photos in?

A: You usually start by importing RAW files to your PC. From there, you have more than 20 file types to choose from. JPEG is the compatibility standard. Whether you’re going to use it in print or social media, JPEG will work. PSD is the Photoshop format. This allows your photo to be compatible across Adobe products. PNG is a file type that preserves your image without loss in image quality. These are just a few of the more popular file formats to save your photos in.

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