Cheap Digital Camera Reviews:Casio Exilim, Sony Cybershot, Olympus VG and Panasonic Lumix

by KayLaura

A personal review of 4 very good, digital, point-and-click cameras that we owned in a month's time that are under $200.

It's hard to choose a good camera...

...So we tried four!

We knew we wanted a camera that was under $200; preferably around $100.  We wanted a camera with a digital video mode and one that had a quick photo response and would capture the moment we wanted and not one 5 seconds later.  Here is our story.

The Casio Exilim EX-ZS Series

What happened was our camera of 2 years finally died on us and so we needed to replace it.  It was the second Casio Exilim camera that we had purchased in the past 5 years.  Both lasted us about 2 years each; the average time a mid-line, point-and-click camera lasts these days.  We liked the first Casio Exilim so much that when it died we just bought the same camera again, except after 2 years technology had increased it's mega pixels, making it a better camera.  But after 2 more years the second one also died so we decided to try another brand to see if we liked something else better.

Here is the Casio Exilim; a very good camera:

Casio Exilim EX-ZS10 Black 14 MP Stylish and Slim Digital Camera with 5x Wide-Angle Zoom and ...

Casio Exilim EX-ZS10 Black 14 Megapixel Stylish and Slim Digital Camera with 5x Wide-Angle Zoom and 720p HD Video Capture

Casio Exilim EX-H5BK 12MP Digital Camera with 10x Zoom with CCD Shift Stabilization and 2.7 ...

Casio Exilim EX-H5 12.1 Megapixel Compact Camera - 4.30 mm-43 mm - Black EX-H5BK Digital Cameras

Only $149.98
Casio Exilim EX-ZS5 Pink 14 MP Stylish and Slim Digital Camera with 5x Wide-Angle Zoom

Casio Exilim EX-ZS5 Pink 14 Megapixel Stylish and Slim Digital Camera with 5x Wide-Angle Zoom

Only $129.95

What we liked about the Casio Exilim

It is a very sturdy feeling camera--it feels solid

It is very stream lined and thin and fits easily in pocket

It's menu is very easy to navigate

It takes a really good picture-sharp quality

It takes really good digital video

It has digital video recording at the touch of a button

It switches quickly back and forth between video and still shot

It has a rechargeable lithium battery that holds a charge for a long time

The photo delay was short

It comes in different colors

It was recommended to us by a camera "techy"

Really good price for such a good and easy camera

What we disliked about the Casio Exilim

It broke after 2 years

Both times it broke it was a break in the lens operation.  The camera got bumped or dropped when the lens was open and it prevented the lens from opening and closing properly thereafter.

The sound during the playback mode was hard to hear

The second camera we bought always displayed a "processing; please wait" signal after each shot.  We couldn't figure out how to adjust the settings to get rid of that delay.

Panasonic Lumix ZS10

The next one

After the second Casio Exilim broke we decided to try a different brand.  We bought it from Costco because they have a good return policy and we weren't sure we were going to like the Panasonic Lumix even though we spent almost an hour choosing a camera in the store.  It was recommended by the Costco employee and seemed like it was going to be a good camera.  It was almost $100 more than the Exilim but had a touch screen and seemed more high-tech.

Panasonic DMC-FH25K 16.1MP Digital Camera with 8x Wide Angle Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.7 inch ...

The LUMIX DMC%2DFH25 shoots high%2Dquality 16%2E1 megapixel images and combines a 28mm wide%2Dangle%2A1 LEICA DC lens with a powerful 8x optical zoom to take amazing photos%2E ...

Only $399.99
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8 14.1 MP Digital Camera with 16x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized ...

14.1MP images16x optical zoom720p HD video recording24mm ultra-wide angle LEICA DC lens3" 230,000-dot high-resolution LCDIntelligent Auto mode and Power Optical Image ...

Only $199.99
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8 14.1 MP Digital Camera with 16x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized ...

The LUMIX DMC-ZS8 camera features a versatile 24mm ultra-wide angle and powerful 16x optical zoom LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR lens and Intelligent Resolution technology which adds ...

Only $189.97

What we liked about the Panasonic Lumix

The photo delay was short

The camera color was red; something different and fun for us

It was a touch camera and easy to scroll through the pictures

It had a good play back mode

What we disliked about the Panasonic Lumix

It felt very cheap--not solid feeling

It was thicker than most point-and-click cameras and we never stuck it in our back pocket.  We used the camera case it came with.

The touch screen was sensitive and would take pictures we hadn't intended it to take

It was very difficult to find and get to the digital video mode.  We ended up not taking as many videos as we did with the Casio Exilim because by the time we got to the record mode the "moment" had passed.

The menu was difficult to navigate

It would take a lot of reading of the owners manual or scrolling through the menu to figure the camera out; not an easy learning curve.

It didn't seem like it was worth the price point we bought it at--too expensive


I decided to return the camera to Costco because we didn't like it.  Unfortunately, at the end of a field trip with my daughter, the camera fell out of my purse and was run over by a car.  That didn't break the camera entirely; just broke the screen but to fix it cost almost as much as to replace it.  And Costco's "great" return policy doesn't cover accidental damage.  Bummer!  We only used that camera for 2 weeks.  It was like flushing $200 down the drain!

The Olympus VG Series

I went to Best Buy for my next camera.  Don't think we are spoiled.  We have 5 kids and had birthdays and holidays coming up and couldn't miss capturing all the great moments.  So we HAD to replace our broken camera(s).

After about only 20 minutes of testing out the different cameras in the $100 price range, the employee told me the Olympus was the best in that category.  I had decided that you never really can tell a good camera until you've used it for a couple of days.  Best Buy actually does have a really good return policy, but it costs you.  You can purchase an "insurance" plan for your device and if it breaks for any reason--including accidental damage--they will replace it.  So I bought the Olympus VG-120 and also the return/replace plan and took it home to give it a go.

Olympus VG-120 14 MP Digital Camera, 5X Wide-Angle Optical Zoom (26mm), 3" LCD,(Red)

14 Megapixels, 5x Optical Zoom, 3.0 LCD, 720P HD Movie, Magic Filters, Intelligent Auto

$190.00  $74.99
Olympus VG-120 14 MP Digital Camera, 5X Wide-Angle Optical Zoom (26mm), 3" LCD,(Silver)

14 Megapixels, 5x Optical Zoom, 3.0 LCD, 720P HD Movie, Magic Filters, Intelligent Auto

Only $190.00

What we liked about the Olympus VG-120

It had video record mode that was quick and easy to get to

It was thin and fit in your back pocket

It was one of the cheapest digital cameras on the market, especially for the amount of mega pixels it has.

It had a rechargeable lithium battery

What we disliked about the Olympus VG-120

The photo delay was really bad.  When we would push the "click" button, it would take a few seconds to focus before actually taking the picture.  It never captured the moment we wanted.

The picture quality just wasn't great.  Often quite blurry.

The menu was located on the top of the camera on a turning button and was confusing.  Too many options at your finger tips

Didn't seem like a quality camera, even at it's low $100 price point.  Especially as we compared it to the Casio Exilim that was also at that price point.  A far inferior camera.

A quick return

Thankfully, we were able to return this camera.  We only owned it for a week and Best Buy's return policy was as good as it sounded.  A week was the soonest I could fit it in my schedule to make the drive back to Best Buy to return it.  We wanted a "cheap digital camera" as in "not expensive" camera, not a "cheap" as in "poor quality" camera.

Maybe I'm not the best person to review this camera since I only owned it for a week but that alone says something about the camera.  It only took me one day to decide I didn't like it.  At least with the Panasonic Lumix there were things I liked about it and I kept wanting to like it and it took me about 8 days to decide that I actually didn't like it.  The Olympus VG-120 is one of the cheaper digital cameras with a decent amount of mega pixels but we decided we would rather pay a little more for a better quality camera.

The Sony Cybershot

At last

At Best Buy we spent a little more time and "test drove" a lot of their cameras that fell in the under-$200 price range.  The Sony Cybershot 16 mega pixels camera was what we ended up getting it.  It cost about $50 more than the Olympus but it seemed like a better camera.

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W530 14.1 MP Digital Camera with Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 4x Wide-Angle ...

Combining a variety of intelligent, easy-to-use features, the Sony W530 DSCW530 Cyber-Shot Digital Camera makes it a breeze to shoot life as it happens. Capture landscapes ...

Only $189.99
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W570 16.1 MP Digital Still Camera with Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 5x Wide ...

Blending rich features and value all wrapped up in a slim design, the Sony W570 DSCW570 Cyber-shot Digital Camera features a powerful 16.1-megapixel CCD image sensor to ...

Only $189.99
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-WX9 16.2 MP Exmor R CMOS Digital Still Camera with Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar ...

Start snapping better photos with the Cyber-shot DSC-WX9 Digital Camera, featuring a 16.2-megapixel "Exmor R" CMOS image sensor that brings out the best in the Carl Zeiss ...

Only $149.99

What we like about the Sony Cybershot

It is thin and small and fits in your back pocket

The photo delay is really short and we are able to capture the right moment

The menu is really easy to navigate

The video mode is quick and easy to switch over to

The pictures are clear

It has good menu options such as face detection, panoramic shooting and photo editing

It was the right price and feels like a "cheap digital camera" as in-not expensive and it takes good pictures and good video.

Rechargeable Lithium battery

What we dislike about the Sony Cybershot

I often confuse the on/off button on top with the "click" button on top.  They are too similar in their design.

You can't delete your whole memory card at once.  You have to delete by date taken or individually or by manually selecting each photo to be deleted.  Takes a long time.

In Conclusion

Our two favorite cameras were the Casio Exilim and the Sony Cybershot.  They are about equal in price and in operation and function.  They are about the cheapest digital camera you would want to purchase if you are looking for any sort of good quality.  And even at their low price point of around $100, they have high mega pixels and have video recording.

So what's the next camera we will buy when our Sony dies?

I guess that will depend on if it lasts longer than 2 years.  If so, it will have proved itself to outlive the Casio Exilim and we'll stick with the Sony.  If not, we will return it to Best Buy because we bought the 2 year insurance return plan and we will likely buy the Casio Exilim again because it really was a great camera.

Updated: 02/23/2012, KayLaura
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Only logged-in users are allowed to comment. Login
katiem2 on 02/23/2012

Great info, thanks. As we launch our summers, with summer camp and travel a good cheap camera is exactly what we need to relax and enjoy those carefee outings.

You might also like

Digital Cameras for Kids

We offer a dynamic range of funky and unique digital cameras which are suitab...

Canon G13 aka PowerShot G1X

The long waited for Canon G13 will be marketed under the name Canon PowerShot...

Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...