A $200 Camera for Every Need

Budget-minded shoppers rejoice! Not only can you get a new digital camera for $200 or less, but there's a camera for almost anyone at that price: pocket megazooms, feature-filled cams, wide-angle shooters, fashionable designs, and waterproof models. Here's what's coming soon or already on sale.

MOST ZOOM FOR THE MONEY: Kodak EasyShare Z915 ($200)

Most budget compact cameras max out at a 3X or 4X optical zoom, but the Kodak EasyShare Z915 cranks that baby up to a 10X optical zoom. Granted, you don't get much on the wide-angle end (35mm), but this 10-megapixel model does feature optical image stabilization, an automatic mode that adjusts in-camera settings to optimize them for the shooting environment, and the ability to run on AA batteries. The Kodak EasyShare Z915 goes on sale in April for $200.


Pentax managed to pack a whole lot of camera into a very slim frame with the $200 Optio P70. This 12-megapixel ultracompact camera has a 28mm wide-angle lens, shoots 720p HD video, and throws in such handy features as a smile-triggered shutter, blink detection, face detection for up to 32 mugs per shot, and low-light image correction. It's available right now in red, white, and silver.

WIDE-ANGLE, NICE FEATURES, SLIM: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS15 ($200)

Not all 5X optical zoom cameras are created equal. The soon-to-be-released Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS15 offers a 29mm wide-angle Leica lens, great for budget-minded photographers who still want to capture dramatic landscape shots. For the $200 asking price, you also get Panasonic's revamped Intelligent Auto (iA) mode, which adds motion tracking and exposure optimization to an iA lineup that already included optical image stabilization, ISO optimization, face detection, and automatic scene selection. You can get it in blue, black, and silver any time now for $200.

WIDE-ANGLE, LOTS OF FEATURES, BIG LCD: Fujifilm Finepix J250 ($200)

Another wallet-friendly pick with a stunning amount of features for the price is the 10-megapixel Finepix J250. Its 5X optical zoom lens includes a 28mm film equivalent on the wide-angle end, and its 3-inch-diagonal LCD screen is a nice piece of hardware for reviewing and composing your shots. Rounding out the feature set are dual mechanical/digital image stabilization, automatic scene selection and optimization, face detection, and standard-definition movie recording. The J250 is available this month for that magical $200 price tag.

WIDE-ANGLE, FUN FEATURES, BIG LCD: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W230 ($200)

If you're willing to sacrifice a wee bit of wide-angle for a big LCD and some fun features, the 12-megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-W230 may fit the bill. You still get wide-angle--30mm on the wide end of its 4X optical zoom--but the 3-inch LCD, optical stabilization, and photo-sorting features of this camera look like draws, too. The W230 also offers some basic image-editing features and shoots standard-definition video clips. It's available in red, black, silver, and blue starting in April.

FEATURE-PACKED, BIG LCD: Samsung SL620 ($200)

The sharp-looking, 12-megapixel SL620 is Samsung's entry into the fray of feature-packed $200 cameras. Those features include a 5X optical zoom (35mm to 175mm), a 3-inch LCD, Smart Auto mode, a nifty photo-sorting feature, dual mechanical and digital image stabilization, face detection, a smile-triggered shutter mode, blink detection, and standard-definition video. The SL620 is slated to go on sale this month.

NICE HERITAGE: Canon PowerShot A1100 IS ($200)

An earlier model from Canon, the 8-megapixel PowerShot A590 IS, has been sitting pretty at the head of our Top 10 Point-and-Shoot Cameras chart for a while now, and with good reason: for a low price, it serves up great image quality, amazing optical image stabilization, and novice-friendly controls. We expect more of the same from the Canon PowerShot A1100 IS, which packs more megapixels (12) into a slightly smaller frame, but still has the ability to run on AA batteries. The PowerShot A1100 IS arrives this month with a $200 price tag.

SUBTLY FASHIONABLE: Olympus FE-5010 ($190)

If you value the look of your camera as much as the look of your photographs, the Olympus FE-5010 puts a subdued Mondrian spin on design. The specs are pretty good for the $190 price, too: a 12-megapixel sensor, a 5X optical zoom lens (36mm to 180mm), dual mechanical/digital image stabilization, Intelligent Auto mode, a 2.7-inch-diagonal LCD screen, in-camera editing features, and face detection for up to 16 subjects per shot. But back to the fashion: it's available immediately in black, blue, and--of course--plum.

NOT-SO-SUBTLY FASHIONABLE: Fujifilm Finepix Z30 ($180)

There is fashion, and then there is FASHION! The teen-geared, bling-encrusted Fujifilm Finepix Z30 is definitely the latter, and the specs show that it values form over function. It's not without substance, though: 10 megapixels, a 2.7-inch LCD, and a mode that captures images in rapid succession with the flash on and with the flash off. It also shoots YouTube-friendly video clips and offers digital image stabilization (no optical stabilization). It's available this month in pink, black, and orange.

WATERPROOF: Fujifilm Finepix Z33WP ($200)

And finally, for those of you who only find things worth taking photos of while you're underwater, there's the $200 Fujifilm Finepix Z33WP. It's submersible down to 10 feet underwater, but that's not the only trick in this camera's book. It also offers automatic scene selection and setting optimization, face detection (for mermaids and mermen?), red-eye correction (do fish get red-eye?), a motion-JPEG (30 frames per second) movie mode, and a 2.7-inch LCD screen. It's available this month in three colors: black, pink, and bright green.