We take a look at the best digital cameras under u00a3300, and find some fantastic bargains...
If you’re looking for a new camera you don’t have to spend a small fortune on getting something good. With a host of DSLRs, CSCs and compacts out there for a bargain price, we take a look at the market and find the very best digital cameras under £300…
Street price: £279 w/ 18-55mm lens
The Canon EOS 1100D slots into the EOS for beginners range and is aimed at those who fancy taking their first steps into the world of DSLR photography.
Under the Canon EOS 1100D’s hood is a 12.2MP sensor. This is partnered by a DIGIC 4 processor and provides an ISO range of 100-6400. Despite its nine-point AF system not offering as many focus points as some of the latest DSLRs, a single cross-type sensor features in the centre for fast AF acquisition when shooting in both portrait and landscape orientation.
Though it has a plastic finish, the Canon EOS 1100D is a great camera for those looking to buy into a system and improve their technique. It’ll also deliver better image quality that you’d expect by upgrading from a compact.
Best for: Those wanting to step up to more serious photography
Street price: £289 w/ 18-55mm lens
While it has been usurped by the Nikon D3200, the Nikon D3100 is still a great option for those looking to get their first DSLR. Designed to appeal to beginners, it’s built-in Guide mode asks you about the picture you want to take and automatically optimizes settings for the scene, with pre-loaded sample images showing what will happen to the shot should you change the aperture or shutter speed.
Overall, the Nikon D3100 is a great option for those starting out in photography, backed-up by one of the most comprehensive lens line-ups out there.
Best for: Photographers who may need a helping hand with their first DSLR
Street price: £269 w/ 14-42mm lens
Although it may have been superseded by the G5 and G6 models, the Panasonic Lumix G3 is a great buy for anyone looking for an interchangeable-lens camera that’s not as bulky as a DSLR.
At its core is a 16MP Live MOS sensor that’s tucked behind the Micro Four Thirds lens mount. Compatible with Panasonic’s range of 20 G-series lenses, there’s also the option to attach Olympus optics when you feel it’s the right time to expand the system beyond the standard 14-42mm kit lens.
Capable of recording HD video and clear audio with its inbuilt stereo microphone, the high-resolution (1.4m-dot) EVF comes in handy for composing images in the more traditional way.
Best for: Interchangeable lens photography without the bulk of a DSLR
Street price: £249 w/14-42mm lens
The Olympus PEN E-PL3 is just a little bigger than most compacts, but this CSC packs in a Micro Four Thirds 12.3MP Live MOS sensor with an ISO range that tops out at 12,800.
Another Olympus staple is the sensor-based image stabilisation system that also means handshake can be countered whatever lens is attached to the camera.
The metal finish delivers a quality feel, the AF is pretty fast (in Single AF mode at least) and unless you’re going to be shooting at high ISOs a lot, the 12.3MP chip delivers pleasing results. Even though it’s been superseded by the E-PL5, the E-PL3 still has a lot going for it.
Best for: High-end performance in a compact body
Street price: £229
Fractionally larger than a pack of cards, the Sony WX300 manages to cram a 20x optical zoom lens within an ultra-petite body. The zoom range is equivalent to a 25-500mm focal length in 35mm terms – making it ideal for anyone who fancies a small, but powerful camera that’s capable of zooming right in to the heart of the action.
Thankfully there is Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation built in to reduce hand shake and another neat feature is the 10fps frame rate.
Overall, the Sony WX300 packs in a lot within an extremely small body and is a very attractive option for those wanting a long zoom from a camera that’ll slide into a pocket or bag with ease.
Best for: The ultimate in pocketability
Street price: £299
The Canon PowerShot S110 is one of our favourite pocket-sized compacts that’s perfectly suited for those looking for a quality compact with creative control.
The Canon Powershot S110 sports a 12.1MP sensor and DIGIC 5 image processing engine. The 5x optical zoom covers a decent range of 24-120mm, with a four-stop lens-based IS system.
The Canon Powershot S110 delivers just the right balance for colour, and exposures are pretty consistent.
There’s no doubt the Canon Powershot S110 is one of the most polished true pocket-sized compacts available.
Best for: Compact size with advanced functionality