We've compiled a list of the ten best cheap cameras available from the major brands on the market today: all of which can be purchased for less than £200.
With manufacturers cramming more and more high-end technology into their beginner-friendly compacts, it's easier than ever to pick up a decent entry-level compact on a tight budget, and here's the proof.
When shopping for a cheap compact camera, you don't necessarily have to compromise on style or functionality: learn what to look out for and you can pick up a real bargain.
Decide what it is that you enjoy or would like to photograph the most. If it's people, you want a model that offers a Face Detection system, decent flash and a range of portrait modes; whereas beginners looking for a wallet-friendly travel companion will value a bigger optical zoom lens for example.
At this price point, around 4-5x optical zoom is the standard, but - as the list on the next page proves - you can pick up the odd budget compact with a more generous focal range.
ATTRACTIVE: Look out for stand-out features such as the 10x optical zoom the Olympus VR-310 has to offer
At this end of the market, cameras tend to cater for complete beginners, so expect an abundance of automatic shooting modes and little in the way of manual controls. HD movies (720p) have become the standard in this price bracket, however the odd model at the higher end of the scale might offer a higher resolution mode.
HIGHER RES: 720p HD movie modes are commonplace in this sector of the market, but stretching your budget slightly can bag you a higher resolution mode
LCDs tend to be of lower resolution and size in comparison to more expensive models, with the average being around 2.7" with a 230,000-dot resolution. As there's typically no optical viewfinder on offer as an alternative, it can pay to shop around for a model with a screen that offers a higher resolution - of which there are a few to choose from closer to the £200 mark. Tech-savvy photographers can also explore several touch-screen models that are available in this budget price bracket.
IN TOUCH: Tech-savvy photographers might be tempted by some of the touch-screen models on offer in this price bracket. Be aware that some are more responsive than others, however. Try before you buy
In comparison with pricier products, cheaper cameras often have a slower speed of operation, so be sure to read up on your chosen model's performance or - better yet - visit a store and try it out before you commit to a purchase.
When it comes to image quality, don't be fooled by a high resolution sensor - more megapixels doesn't necessarily mean better pictures. Due to the small size of the sensors used in these compacts, cramming more pixels onto them can sometimes result in a worse performance, particularly in terms of noise, so approach with caution. Something around 12-14mp is usually more than adequate.
Finally, build quality. Many of the modern entry-level compacts or cheaper cameras now offer either high-grade plastic and/or metal casings and even a degree of weather-proofing in some cases, so there's no need to settle for something that feels cheap and flimsy just because you're on a budget.
OUTDOOR SHOOT: Many budget models offer very good build quality and stylish designs. If you're the type of photographer who needs something more robust, however, there's a handful of models - such as the Ricoh PX - that offer weatherproofing in this price range too
Now you know what you're after, read on to find out our top ten.