Top 5 Budget Compact Cameras for under £100
There are plenty of budget compact cameras on the market, many of which cost under £100. Naturally enough, cameras at this end of the market aren't going to come laden with features, so don't expect to see things like built-in Wi-Fi, 1080p Full HD movie recording or manual controls at this price point. That said all of the best compact cameras for under £100 should still be capable of delivering a decent image for the money.
Given the choice on offer choosing the best compact camera for under £100 might seem like a daunting task, and there are many questions you'll want to ask yourself: which manufacturer would you prefer, what features do you really want, perhaps even what colours can you get it in? With that in mind, we've compiled a list of our top five compact cameras for under £100. All of the cameras on our list were readily available at the time of writing and can be found online for less than £100. Some of them initially cost over £100 but have since come down in price. Read on to find out what our top five budget compact digital cameras costing less than £100 are.
The SX150 IS cost closer to £160 when we reviewed it in January 2012, however it's price has since fallen and it can now be picked up for under 100 sheets. Indeed at the time of writing Amazon UK was offering the SX150 for just £80, although limited stock means you'll need to be quick if you want it at this price.
Built around a 14MP CCD type sensor, the SX150 further benefits from a 10x optical zoom that provides the 35mm focal range equivalent of 28-336mm. The lens gets Canon's own lens-based Image Stabilisation (IS) technology to help ensure sharper pictires and longer focal lengths and slower shutter speeds. The sensor is paired with a DIGIC 4 image processor that allows the SX150 to offer a standard sensitivity range of ISO 80-1600, although the maximum continuous shooting speed is a rather pedestrian 0.9fps. You can also shoot HD movies, although only at the lesser 720p HD Ready quality setting rather than the 1080p Full HD setting that's slowly becomming more commonplace with budget compacts.
On the back the SX150 is fitted with a 3in/230k-dot LCD display that's perfectly usable, but not anywhere near as sharp as the 460k-dot and 920k-dot displays of more expensive compact cameras. One further thing to bear in mind is that the SX150 is powered by two AA batteries rather than a custom Li-Ion cell. This may well appeal to some users, however you might need to factor in the extra cost of buying decent rechargeable batteries. Other than these minor quirks there's plenty to like about the SX150 - it takes a sharp image and produces bold, accurate colours while noise control at higher ISO settings is also pretty impressive.
WDC score: 85%
Released towards the end of 2012, the SZ5 was one of the first generation of compact cameras to offer integrated Wi-Fi technology for the wireless transferral of images. Launched alongside the more expensive SZ7, the SZ5 was intended to offer much of the same technology but at a discounted price. As with the Canon SX150 IS featured above, the SZ5 actually cost well over £100 when it was launched, however the price has now fallen to around £80-100.
At its core, the SZ7 is built around a 14MP CCD type sensor and Panasonic's proprietary Venus image processor, which allow it to offer a standard sensitivity range of ISO 100-6400. On the front you'll find a 10x optical zoom that offers the 35mm focal range equivalent of 25-250mm, which is pretty impressive for a sub-£100 compact. The SZ7's zoom further benefits from Panasonic's Mega O.I.S. stabilisation technology to help keep you images sharp at slower shutter speeds and longer focal lengths. There are, ineviatably, some comprimises though and one of these is the 3in LCD display which 'only' gets a resolution of 230k-dots. Movie recording is also limited to 720p HD rather than the sharper 1080p Full HD setting.
That said, the Wi-Fi connectivity is a real bonus, with the SZ5 able to transfer images directly to Panasonic's ‘LUMIX CLUB' service, as well as to social networks. You can also hook the camera up to your smartphone or tablet via the free Lumix Link app, which enables you to remotely control the camera using a mobile device, or to send transfered images from your phone/tablet. Image quality is pretty decent too, with the SZ5 producing pleasing images that are full of vibrant (but not overblown) colour. Edge sharpness could be a little better though, especially at telephoto settings. Noise meanwhile, is well controlled up to ISO 400, but does become increasingly apparant thereafter.
WDC score: 86%
The Fujifilm Z110 is proof that sub-£100 compacts don't have to look like uninspiring boxes. Hailing from Fuji's style-driven ‘Z' range of compact digital cameras, the Z110 is housed inside a metallic body and blends good looks with practical features. For example, not only does the sliding front cover protect the lens, it also acts as the main on/off switch - simply slide it open to power up the camera and start shooting and then slide it shut when you're done.
Employing a 14MP CCD sensor at its heart, the Z110 also gets a 5x optical zoom that offers the 35mm focal range equivalent of 28-140mm. Autofocus options are a little more advanced than is usually the case on a sub-£100 compact with the Z110 offering both single and continuous AF alongside a number of Face Detection options. On the back you'll find a 2.7in monitor with a resolution of 230k-dots.
The Z110 produces relatively good results when used in SR Auto mode, although the rear LCD does display recorded images a little warmer than they actually are. In addition to its stills abilities the Z110 can also shoot 720p HD video, albeit with sound recorded in mono.
WDC score: 87%
The L25 is a 10.1MP budget compact that's designed to be easy-to-use and easy-to-carry in equal measure. Released in the first quarter of 2012 alongside the slightly more refined L26, both models have now been suceeded by the L27 and L28 within the Coolpix range, however if you shop around online a L25 can still be picked up for around £60 or thereabouts. The 16.1MP L26 can also be found for much the same price.
Given it's price it comes as no surprise to find that the L25 lacks any fancy features, although it's pleasingly styled and does come in a variety of colours - red, black, silver and white. At its heart the L25 employs a 10MP CCD-type sensor that offers a standard sensitivity range of ISO 80-1600. The camera is, of course, fully automatic but with a generous range of settings that include Easy Auto, 18 Scene modes and a Smart Portrait mode to help keep poeple snaps sharp. In addition to still images, the LS465 can also record 720p HD movies.
In use, the contrast-detct autofocus system can feel a little sluggish, especially in dim light. The HD video recording is also a tad jerky when played back on the small, 2.7iin/230k-dot LCD display. Still image quality is actually pretty good at the lowest ISO settings although by the time you hit ISO 400 image qualitydoes begin to suffer. The top two settings of ISO 800 and 1600 are best avoided altogether. Still, for a simple snapper that's easy to use, the L25 is perfectly capable of delivering decent results in good light.
WDC score: 85%
Released at the end of 2011 with an initial retail price of around £130, the ST96 is a budget point-and-shoot compact that comes with a few eye-catching features not always seen at this end of the price spectrum. Chief among these is the camera's ability to record 1080p Full HD movies, along with a slightly higher than average sensitivity range of ISO 100-3200.
Built around a 14MP CCD sensor the S96 also gets a 5x optical zoom that offers the 35mm focal range equivalent of 26-130mm. Meanwhile on the back you'll find a 2.7in, 230k-dot LCD display. Unlike the vast majority of cheap compacts the ST96 uses MicroSD cards rather than standard sized ones, which might be something to factor into the cost should you not already have a spare one to slot inside.
In use, the St96 performs quite well, save for its tendendy to lock up in between flash charges; if you're shooting with flash then this is something to be aware of as you could otherwise miss a moment. The contrast-detect autofocus is quite snappy however. lmage quality is reasonably impressive taking the price tag into account. There is a loss of critical sharpness at the telephoto endand the top sensitivity settings of ISO 1600 and 3200 aren;t all that great either, however used at lower ISO settings in good light the ST96 delivers good image quality with realistic, if a little muted, colour reproduction.
WDC score: 87%
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