Best discounted cameras

If you're shopping for a discounted, end-of-line camera, you've come to the right place! At Camera Labs I write in-depth reviews of cameras but understand you're busy people who sometimes just want recommendations of the most outstanding products.

So here I'll cut to the chase and list the best discounted cameras around right now. I've fully tested each one and there's links to my reviews for more details.

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Pocket super-zoom: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 / ZS7 review

Panasonic’s Lumix TZ10 (or ZS7 as it’s known in North America) is the successor to the enormously popular Lumix TZ7 / ZS3, and like that model, packs a super-zoom range into a compact form factor. The TZ10 / ZS7 inherits the 12x (25-300mm equivalent) optical zoom, compact body and detailed 3in screen of its predecessor, along with its 720p HD movie modes. New to the TZ10 / ZS7 are manual control over exposures, improved stabilisation and, the ultimate travel companion, a built-in GPS receiver to pinpoint the locations of your shots and ensure the clock is always telling the right time; a built-in database even displays the city and country name, along with nearby landmarks. Another classic, but compare with Sony's HX5 below.

Pros: 12x stabilised zoom with 25mm; 720p video; GPS.
Cons: No altitude info from GPS and database not upgradeable.
Overall: One of the best all-round compacts around.

Pocket super-zoom: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 review

Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 is the company's first pocketable super-zoom camera and it's hit the ground running. It features a 10x (25-250mm equivalent) optical zoom, a Full HD 1080i movie mode, very fast burst shooting at 10fps and a built-in GPS which can pinpoint the locations of your shots. The HX5 also exploits its fast burst shooting in modes which combine multiple frames to reduce noise, or automatically generate panoramas with a simple sweep of the camera. Despite also recording altitude details, the GPS feels less integrated than the TZ10 / ZS7 above, but overall it's a highly compelling pocket super-zoom camera.

Pros: 10x zoom, 1080i video, 10fps burst, GPS, clever modes.
Cons: GPS less integrated than TZ10 / ZS7. Limited manual control.
Overall: A great all-round compact that's packed with innovation.

Nikon D5000 - full review / video tour in HD / (latest version: Nikon D5100)

The D5000 is Nikon’s upper entry-level DSLR, and successor to the D60. It features the same 12.3 Megapixel sensor as the higher-end D90, along with its 720p HD movie recording and 11-point AF. Continuous shooting isn’t quite as quick, but still very respectable at 4fps. The screen may also not be as large or detailed as the D90, but it is fully articulated allowing you to compose at unusual angles. The D5000 also inherits the easy-to-use interface of the earlier D60, making it ideal for beginners, although it’ll also suit enthusiasts on a budget. Be sure to compare with the Canon EOS 500D / T1i though.

Pros: Great quality images with low noise; articulated screen.
Cons: No AF for older lenses; user interface slow for experts.
Overall: A beginner-friendly but feature-packed DSLR.

Canon PowerShot SX20 IS - full review / video tour in HD / (latest version: Canon PowerShot SX30 IS)
The PowerShot SX20 IS is Canon's 2009-2010 super-zoom. It retains the 20x optical zoom, flash hotshoe, stereo sound, AA battery power and fully articulated 2.5in monitor of the best-selling PowerShot SX10 IS, but boosts the resolution to 12.1 Megapixels, adds 720p HD movie recording and tops it off with an HDMI port. As before, the DIGIC 4 processor offers AF tracking, efficient video compression, and a neat self-timer mode which exploits face detection to wait for a new person to appear before starting the countdown. It’s an impressive spec, but there’s still no RAW, and the continuous shooting is even slower than before (perhaps to greater differentiate the SX1 IS, below). It’s still Highly Recommended, but compare closely with Panasonic’s FZ38 / FZ35.

Pros: 20x zoom, flip-out screen, flash hotshoe, HD video.
Cons: No RAW recording; slow burst mode.
Overall: One of the best super-zooms, but compare with FZ38 / 35.

Panasonic Lumix FZ38 / FZ35 - full review / video tour in HD / (latest version: Panasonic Lumix FZ45 / FZ40)

Panasonic's Lumix DMC-FZ38 / FZ35 is the 12.1 Megapixel super-zoom successor to the popular FZ28. It keeps the compact light-weight body, 18x optical zoom range, 2.7in screen and RAW recording of its predecessor, but boosts the resolution, offers the choice of encoding formats for its 720p movies along with stereo sound and manual exposures, improves both the AF and stabilisation, adds face recognition (where it can remember specific individuals), and throws in an HDMI port too. Once again these may represent a minor upgrade over its predecessor, but given the earlier FZ28 was one of the best super-zooms around, it places the new model in a very strong position. A superb choice, but compare closely with Canon’s SX20 IS which boasts a 20x zoom, flip-out screen and flash hotshoe.

Pros: 18x zoom, RAW recording, HD movie mode.
Cons: Fixed screen, no flash hotshoe.
Overall: One of the best super-zooms, but compare with SX20 IS.

Canon EOS 450D / Digital Rebel XSi - full review / video tour / (latest version: Canon EOS 500D / T1i)

Canon EOS 450D / Digital Rebel XSi - front view Canon EOS 450D / Digital Rebel XSi - rear view Canon EOS 450D / Digital Rebel XSi - top view
Canon’s EOS 450D / Digital Rebel XSi offers a step-up from entry-level models like the EOS 1000D / XS without spending too much extra. Benefits include 12.2 Megapixels, a stabilised kit lens, 3in screen, 3.5fps continuous shooting, a decent viewfinder, 14-bit A-D conversion and RAW files, along with accurate Live View with the choice of two AF systems and supplied PC remote control software. It’s a lot of DSLR for the money.

Pros: High quality images, accurate Live View, kit lens with IS.
Cons: Live View not as quick as the A330 and the screen is fixed.
Overall: A desirable step-up from entry-level DSLRs.

Nikon COOLPIX L20 - full review / (latest version: Nikon COOLPIX L22)

Breaking the $100 USD price point, the Nikon COOLPIX L20 is one of the cheapest compact cameras from a reputable brand. It features 10 Megapixels, a 4x zoom, a generous 3in screen, and despite the low price, a great-looking body, especially in the red finish. The L20 is aimed at those who don’t want to know the technicalities behind photography – it really is a point-and-shoot, operating in Auto at all times. It’s a good choice for those on a tight budget who value simplicity, not to mention a significant and classy step-up from the cheap models aimed at kids if you want to treat the little ones in your life to something a bit more special.

Pros: Inexpensive; very simple operation; fast flash recycling.
Cons: No image stabilisation; limited control and information.
Overall: If this is your budget, the L20 represents your best bet.

Olympus E-520 - full review / video tour / (latest version: Olympus E-620)

Olympus E-520 - front view Olympus E-520 - rear view Olympus E-520 - angle view
The Olympus E-620 may be the latest model, but the older E-520 remains a feature-packed DSLR with a compelling specification. You get 10 Megapixel resolution, built-in stabilisation which works with any lens you attach, 3.5fps continuous shooting, a 2.7in screen with Live View, and one of the best anti-dust systems around. The viewfinder may look a little small and the 3-point AF system is fairly basic, but there’s little else to complain about. The newer E-620 adds a number of enhancements, most notably an articulated screen, but if you don’t need these extra features, the older E-520 remains a great choice and better value than ever. If you want a great DSLR at a low price, it should be high on your list.

Pros: Built-in stabilisation. Live View. 3.5fps. Great anti-dust.
Cons: 3-point AF system. Relatively small viewfinder.
Overall: A feature-packed and capable DSLR for the money.

Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 - full review / video tour / (latest version: Sony Alpha DSLR-A230)

Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 with battery grip - rear view Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 - front view Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 - top view
Sony revamped its entry-level DSLR range in early 2009, but most of the differences were cosmetic, which means the original models remain great choices. Arguably the most compelling of all is the cheapest model, the A200, which has fallen in price to become one of the best value DSLRs around. It offers 10 Megapixels, built-in image stabilisation which works with any lens you attach and 3fps continuous shooting. The A200 might not have Live View, but is good value considering you're getting 10 Megapixels and built-in stabilisation. It's a good choice for a first-time DSLR buyer on a budget, although also consider the Olympus E-520, above.

Pros: Built-in stabilisation. Accurate battery meter. 2.7in screen.
Cons: No Live View; noisier than rivals at 800 ISO and above.
Overall: Good value DSLR with 10 Mpixels and stabilisation.

Canon EOS 40D - full review / video tour / (latest version: Canon EOS 50D)

Canon EOS 40D - front view Canon EOS 40D - top view Canon EOS 40D - rear view

Canon’s EOS 40D was launched as a semi-pro model, but steady discounting following the launch of the 50D has seen it fall to a mid-range category where it offers terrific value. The 40D features 10.1 Megapixel resolution, tough build quality with weather-sealing, fast 6.5fps continuous shooting, anti-dust facilities, a PC Sync port for studio lighting, and Live View with full remote control from your PC or Mac using supplied software. This all adds up to a camera which handles with supreme confidence. It may not feature the higher resolution, VGA screen or HDMI port of current semi-pro models, but remains a highly capable DSLR we can whole-heartedly recommend. It's the fastest DSLR in its class and a bargain for anyone who wants fast shooting at a 'low' price.

Pros: Quick handling; Live View; anti-dust, PC control.
Cons: ‘Only’ 10 Megapixels; non-VGA screen; no HDMI.
Overall: Pro DSLR features and handling at a mid-range price.

Nikon D300 - full review / video tour / (latest version: Nikon D300s)

Nikon D300 - front slant view Nikon D300 - top view Nikon D300 - rear view

Nikon’s D300 looks almost identical to the D200, and shares the same superb build quality, but under the hood are a raft of improvements. These include 12.3 Megapixels, 6fps shooting, a 51-point AF system, 3in screen with VGA resolution, Live View, a viewfinder with 100% coverage, and an HDMI port. There's additionally AF micro-adjust and in-camera correction of chromatic aberrations. The D300 may be a year older than the Canon EOS 50D, but remains a very tough rival and one of the most feature-packed DSLRs in this category. If you're after a step-up in handling and features - albeit with similar image quality - over the D90, this is an ideal choice. Do compare closely with the Canon EOS 50D though.

Pros: Superb build. Quick handling. VGA screen. HDMI.
Cons: No self-timer or histogram in Live View.
Overall: A superb DSLR, but compare closely with Canon 50D.

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