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Top five best cheap compact cameras for 2017

By Ryan Shaw

We round up the top-scoring compact cameras costing less than £200 to help you find the perfect cheap camera to suit your needs.

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A cheap compact camera can be an inexpensive way to capture happy snaps, record impromptu videos or zoom in on distant landmarks. However, it's worth finding a model that not only takes great shots, but is simple to use, too.

There isn't much difference when it comes to the shape and size of compact cameras, but selecting the right model is dependent on what you want to do with the camera. We've selected five of the best compact cameras available for less than £200 in 2017 in the table below, from models with a large optical zoom to waterproof and lightweight cameras.

These top-performing cheap compact cameras we've tested at Which? can give their more expensive rivals a run for their money. If you're looking for a fantastic point-and-shoot model that won't break the bank but still takes great pictures, you'll find the best models listed here. Additionally, it's worth knowing which compact cameras to avoid. As a result, we've highlighted some Don't Buys you should steer clear of.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access by taking a £1 Which? trial.

Best cheap compact cameras

Canon Ixus 285 HS
Today's best price £145.63
Which? score 71%
Reviewed Feb 2016
Picture quality:
4 out of 5
Image stabilisation:
5 out of 5
Video image quality:
4 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Resolution:
Member exclusive
Weight:
Member exclusive
Optical zoom range:
Member exclusive
Video resolution:
Member exclusive

A tiny camera that packs a serious punch, it’s small enough that you can easily forget that it's there, yet it takes great photos. But what is the zoom like and does the image stabilisation work well to keep things steady?

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX60V
Today's best price £179.00
Which? score 71%
Reviewed Jun 2014
Picture quality:
4 out of 5
Image stabilisation:
5 out of 5
Video image quality:
4 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Resolution:
Member exclusive
Weight:
Member exclusive
Optical zoom range:
Member exclusive
Video resolution:
Member exclusive

An update to the previous iteration, this compact camera includes a monstrous 30x zoom, a 20.4Mp sensor, plus built-in wi-fi and GPS. The image stabilisation holds up well, but how does it compare with rival cameras for picture quality? Our test lab delivers the essential verdict.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX350
Today's best price £155.00
Which? score 69%
Reviewed Jun 2014
Picture quality:
4 out of 5
Image stabilisation:
5 out of 5
Video image quality:
4 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Resolution:
Member exclusive
Weight:
Member exclusive
Optical zoom range:
Member exclusive
Video resolution:
Member exclusive

A well-priced compact camera with a 18.2Mp sensor, massive 20x optical zoom, HD video and built in wi-fi; this small camera looks like a particularly tempting holiday purchase. But how did its photo quality hold up under the strain of our test lab? We reveal all.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX220
Today's best price £145.19
Which? score 67%
Reviewed Jun 2014
Picture quality:
4 out of 5
Image stabilisation:
4 out of 5
Video image quality:
4 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Resolution:
Member exclusive
Weight:
Member exclusive
Optical zoom range:
Member exclusive
Video resolution:
Member exclusive

A compact camera with an 18.2Mp sensor, 10x optical zoom and HD video recording; it claims to offer good-quality photos without breaking your camera-buying budget. Our test lab delivers the verdict on its photographic quality.

Canon IXUS 190
Today's best price £133.22
Which? score 65%
Reviewed Mar 2017
Picture quality:
4 out of 5
Image stabilisation:
5 out of 5
Video image quality:
3 out of 5
Ease of use:
4 out of 5
Resolution:
Member exclusive
Weight:
Member exclusive
Optical zoom range:
Member exclusive
Video resolution:
Member exclusive

One of the slimmest compact cameras available, this is an easy-to-use camera with a 20Mp image sensor, 720p video recording and built-in wi-fi for sharing your images. We sent it to our test lab to find out what the image quality is like. Read on for our expert opinion.

Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct at June 2017.

Not found the right product for you? Browse all our compact camera reviews.

And here are two cheap compact cameras to avoid

The worst compact cameras from our testing not only take terrible-quality photos and video, but they're cumbersome to use and have limited features. We've seen compact models with flimsy and easily breakable camera bodies, tiny and fuzzy LCD screens for framing or reviewing shots, and snail-like shutter speeds. Make sure you don't waste your money on sub-par cameras.

Worst cheap compact cameras

Vivitar ViviCam XX128
Today's best price £33.00
Which? score 35%
Reviewed Oct 2016
Don't buy
Picture quality:
2 out of 5
Video image quality:
2 out of 5
Ease of use:
2 out of 5
Resolution:
Member exclusive
Weight:
Member exclusive
Optical zoom range:
Member exclusive
Video resolution:
Member exclusive

With a cheap price, this simple point-and-shoot camera comes with a 20Mp sensor, 4x optical zoom and a 2.7-inch LCD screen for framing and reviewing your shots. It will appeal to shoppers on a budget, and it promises to be a fantastic first-time camera - but is it worth it? We put it to the test to find out whether it's worth buying.

Polaroid iX828
Today's best price £57.99
Which? score 27%
Reviewed Oct 2016
Don't buy
Picture quality:
2 out of 5
Video image quality:
2 out of 5
Ease of use:
2 out of 5
Resolution:
Member exclusive
Weight:
Member exclusive
Optical zoom range:
Member exclusive
Video resolution:
Member exclusive

Billed as an inexpensive camera, this camera includes a 20Mp sensor, 8x optical zoom and claims it can capture high-quality photos. It's lightweight, weighing only 110g, and you can easily hold it in one hand, but what's it like to use day to day? We sent it to the lab to find out.

How to choose the best compact camera

Choosing a compact camera can be easy, as long as you know what you're looking for. Camera specifications are typically an excellent indicator of how a camera will perform in different shooting scenarios, and here are just some of the key criteria worth keeping in mind before you select your next camera.

  • Megapixels (Mp) - Even a 5Mp camera can produce good prints at 4x6, 5x7 or 9x10 inches, which are the kind that easily fit in a photo frame. Most cheap digital cameras offer at least 12Mp, but it's worth considering models around the 18-20Mp mark.
  • Zoom - Digital zoom enlarges the pixels in an image after it has been taken. With optical zoom, a camera’s lens magnifies an image for much sharper results – 5x optical zoom is the minimum acceptable standard, but the best models offer 12x zoom and above.
  • Build quality - Some digital cameras may be pocket-sized and lightweight, but you shouldn’t have to settle for one that feels flimsy. Be sure to choose a camera with a metal or high-density plastic casing. Also, be sure to also look for solid, well-placed buttons, so the camera is easy to use one-handed.
  • Image stabilisation - This helps reduce any blurriness in photos that’s caused by shaky camera movement. The best cheap digital cameras will produce sharp images regardless of how difficult they were to capture.
  • Wireless - Some digital cameras now offer wi-fi or Bluetooth for wirelessly transferring photos to your mobile phone or tablet. Most manufacturers now offer free apps to help with this process; some even allow you to use your phone as a remote control or geotag your shots with location information (so you don't have to remember where you took the photo).
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