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Best Digital Camera For The Money  
Everything You Need to Know to Get a Great Digital Camera at a Great Price
Top Five for the Money (Based on our Frugal5 Formula)
How do we pick these products? We spend many hours doing unbiased research to only give you the highest rated products at the best price. We first come up with a list of features, which you can see below, that we feel the majority of people will need. We then look for the highest quality products with these features and only show you the top five with the best value. Our mission is to provide you with the best five options based only on the facts. Don't see the product you were thinking about getting? Click here to calculate it's frugal score.
Rank12345
Product
Panasonic Lumix SZ7Panasonic Lumix ZS20Panasonic Lumix ZS15Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-WX150Nikon COOLPIX L810
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Product Rating
 
 
 
 
 
Great
 
 
 
 
 
Amazing
 
 
 
 
 
Great
 
 
 
 
 
Great
 
 
 
 
 
Great
Average Price
 
 
 
 
 
Cheap ($130)
 
 
 
 
 
Cheap ($219)
 
 
 
 
 
Cheap ($189)
 
 
 
 
 
Cheap ($222)
 
 
 
 
 
Cheap ($199)
Frugal5 Score
Details
9.0
8.7
8.7
8.5
8.4
Additional Info
Max ISO Sensitivity
6400
6400
6400
12800
1600
Features Needed
Digital Zoom
- 20x Intelligent Zoom
- 40x Intelligent Zoom
- 32x Intelligent Zoom
- 20x Clear Image Zoom
- 4x
Face Detection
HD Video Recording w/Stereo Sound
- 1080p
- 1080p
- 1080p
- 1080p
- 720p
High Megapixels (Min. 12)
- 14.1
- 14.1
- 12.1
- 18.2
- 16.1
Image Stabilization
Large, Sharp LCD Screen
- 3 Inch With Auto Brightness
- 3 Inch, 460K-dot Smart Touch-screen
- 3 Inch With Auto Brightness
- 3 Inch LCD
- 3 Inch Ultra High Resolution
Multiple Scene and Shooting Modes
- 16 Scene Modes
- 18 Scene Modes
- 17 Scene Modes
- 15 Scene Modes
- 20 Scene Modes
Optical Zoom (Min. 8x)
- 10x
- 20x
- 16x
- 10x
- 26x
Wide-Angle Lens
- 25mm Ultra Wide Angle
- 24mm Ultra Wide Angle
- 24mm Ultra Wide Angle
- 25mm
- 22.5mm Wide Angle
Features Not Needed
3D Capability
Built-in Memory
- 70 MB
- 12 MB
- 70 MB
- 50 MB
GPS
Rechargeable Battery
Touchscreen LCD
What You Need To Know In 5 Minutes

Everyone has special events and they want to remember them as well as possible. These days, sharing pictures of your experiences is one of the top things to do online.  Cell phone cameras have come a long way in the last few years, it's common to have an 8 megapixel camera at your fingertips at all times. Cell phone cameras can give you some great pictures however they have a lot of short comings.  8 megapixels is great but most point and shoot cameras these days have at least 12.  The biggest downfall of cell phone cameras is the zoom.  They have no optical zoom at all, it's only digital.  This means that the software just zooms in on where you want which won't provide crystal clear images when compared to an actual zoom lens.  Digital cameras also have better sensors, flashes and image processes.  

Point and shoot digital cameras can be extremely hard to shop for.  The market is so saturated and people throw out all these different technical terms.  What is important, and what does all this stuff mean?   

The first term you hear a lot is megapixels. Images are composed from millions of pixels and a megapixel is just 1 million pixels.  The higher the megapixels usually means the clearer and larger the image is.  This however doesn't always mean better pictures.  You also need to have a great image sensor and processor.  The ISO setting determines the sensitivity level of the sensor.  Basically the higher the ISO the better it will be in low light but the trade off is that the pictures will be less clear then a lower ISO setting.  This also means that the lower the ISO, the clearer and darker the picture will be.  After the sensor captures the image it goes to the processor to actually get converted to a digital image.  It's very important that the camera has a high quality processor in order to fix the imperfections like blur and noise.

Optical and digital zoom are other common terms you hear.  Like described above, optical zoom means how close the lens can zoom. Optical zoom doesn't effect the image quality.  Digital zoom takes an image and zooms in on it which will effect the image quality by making it less clear.  Optical zoom really comes in handy if you go to a sporting event or concert and want to get a clear close up picture of the action.  The higher the zoom the better.  A wide angle lens is also a great feature to have because it allows you to capture more of the scene in the picture. 

Pretty much all digital cameras record high definition video.  The best quality is 1080p which most cameras come with.  720p also provides a very clear picture.  The newer cameras also come with stereo sound recording which will allow you to capture high quality audio.

The software in digital cameras is really amazing.  Face detection software allows you to capture peoples faces with very high clarity by adjusting exposure and focus.  It will also do things like remove red eye.  All cameras come with image stabilization software which will help you get a clear picture when either you or your target is moving.  Most cameras come with easy to understand scene modes.  For example, if your taking a night picture just go to the night scene to automatically adjust the camera to give you the best night shots.  There are also settings like burst mode that will allow you to take multiple pictures with one button press and panoramic mode which will automatically connect multiple pictures into one panoramic picture.

There are some features that you just don't need. Some cameras come with 3D capability, GPS and a touchscreen display.  They're all neat features but it's not worth the extra money.  It's not going to help you get better pictures.  

The top digital camera brands in no particular order are Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony.  They all make very good cameras but we found time and time again that Panasonic cameras had the best overall value.  

You need to buy a digital camera that has at least 8x optical zoom, at least 12 megapixels with HD video recording.  You also need a great clear LCD screen, wide-angle lens with great software that will detect faces, zoom digitally and give you preset scene modes so you don't have to manually change the settings.  Don't even think about getting a camera without these features and don't pay more than $220 or you got ripped off.  We highly recommend the Panasonic Lumix line.

Features You Need
Digital Zoom, Face Detection, HD Video Recording w/Stereo Sound, High Megapixels (Min. 12), Image Stabilization, Large, Sharp LCD Screen, Multiple Scene and Shooting Modes, Optical Zoom (Min. 8x), Wide-Angle Lens
Features You Don't Need
3D Capability, Built-in Memory, GPS, Rechargeable Battery, Touchscreen LCD
What You Should Pay
Between $129.99 - $222.00
Top Of The Line Price
Over $1,000.00