A category almost as crowded as New York subways in rush hour. An opening that will help you begin your journey as a photographer — beginner cameras on a small budget.

With so many brands with hundreds of different cameras and thousands of additional features, it gets difficult to choose just one. This is where this list might help you. Whether you want a proper DSLR-like feel or you are looking for something small and portable, this list of top cameras under $400 has you covered.

Let’s dive in!

Best Cameras Under $400 that Perform Well for 2020

Our list of the best cameras under $400 provides options that can complete simple photography tasks and some advanced ones too. The price point is great if you’re on a tight budget. 

1. Canon EOS Rebel T6

Also known as the Canon EOS 1300D, the Rebel T6 is a good start for a beginner photographer. The older brother of the new Rebel T7, the T6, is built with an 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, Canon’s DIGIC 4+ processor, and built-in WiFi for transferring photos quickly. What this means is that you get a larger-than-average sensor, which will give you excellent image quality.

However, one drawback you should keep in mind is that this 18 MP sensor is almost a decade-old technology. It limits the range of light and shadows your photos show compared to other cameras. The sensor’s age will be especially apparent in low light, making the Rebel T6 a less than ideal street photography camera.

The distinctive advantage of a DSLR camera is that you get an OVF, an optical viewfinder, and the ability to put on different lenses. The T6 will not only give you the feeling of using a lightweight DSLR, but will also allow you to see the scene as it is through the OVF. In contrast to the OVF is the EVF, which is an electronic viewfinder.

The disadvantage of the T6 OVF is that it has a coverage of only 90-95% and won’t show the edges of the image that will be captured. But this is not a problem for most photographers because the edges can be cropped in photography software.

The T6 will also not show how changes in camera settings affect the final image in real-time, which can be useful as a beginner.

The Rebel T6 also offers a 9-point autofocus system and 1080p video in 30 fps. Although these are features that most beginner DSLRs offer, a disadvantage of the T6 is its live view focus, which is slower than the competition but not a deal-breaker. Most photographers prefer the OVF.

The 18-55 mm kit lens is a great value for the price and includes image stabilization. Landscape photography enthusiasts will love the shorter focal range in order to capture a wide area.

You can choose the Rebel T6 for its pleasing colors and excellent image quality. But for photographers who demand more than just the bare minimum, and are not deeply attached to a DSLR-style body, there are certainly better but expensive options.

2. Sony Cybershot DSC RX100

The Sony RX100 is an excellent choice if you are looking for a portable travel camera. The DSC RX100 boasts of a 20 MP 1-inch sensor, which is much smaller than an APS-C sensor but doesn’t significantly compromise image quality.

What’s great about this point-and-shoot camera is its pocket-friendly body and an easy to use interface. You can customize the controls the way you want, but the intelligent auto mode with accurate face detection features means that you can also leave the camera set up the way it is.

Add to this a very compact Zeiss 28-100 mm non-interchangeable lens with image stabilization, and you have a perfect family camera for all situations.

The Cybershot RX100 will also appeal to the more-demanding enthusiast crowd because of the ability to shoot RAW, full manual modes, multi-shot noise reduction, and decent continuous autofocus capabilities. You can even use it for shooting casual sports or your pets running around since the RX100 can shoot at 10 fps: which is far more than what the Canon T6 offers.

The camera also comes with the usual beginner camera gimmicks like picture effects and creative styles like B&W, Sunset, Landscape, etc. An incredibly useful feature for fun travel photography is the sweep panorama.

The camera comes with basic video features as well, 1080p at 60 fps is a welcome addition, along with the option of using fully manual settings.

Apart from the lack of a tilting touchscreen LCD, WiFi and Bluetooth, there are no real downsides to the RX100. The pricing is right, and comparing it with other bodies in this class of point-and-shoot cameras shows that it gives you more bang for the buck.

3. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300

Panasonic FZ300 is a bridge camera that literally bridges the gap between a DSLR and a compact zoom camera.

At the heart of the FZ300 lies a 12.1 MP 1/2.3″ sensor, which is slightly behind the competition. However, Panasonic has included a Venus image processor and the 49-point autofocus system — Panasonic’s latest technology back in 2015 and still works well.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 camera under $400