I Subjected Myself to the Cheapest Camera on Amazon so You Don’t Have To

I Subjected Myself to the Cheapest Camera on Amazon so You Don’t Have To

"Vintage" point-and-shoot digital cameras are all the rage among Gen Z today, and while you can cruise eBay to find something used to scratch that itch, what can you get for about the same money new?

To answer that question, I headed over to Amazon.com and typed in "Digital Camera" into the search box. Surprisingly, most of the listings that came up were not from any major brands, or any identifiable brand at all. In fact, it wasn’t until 10 listings down that I spotted a Nikon D3200. But the D3200 is $479.

My criterion was that it couldn't be a camera designed for kids. There were several no-name cameras that were in the $100 and under mark, but I set my sights on the bottom of the barrel, the $21.64 Yosoo Health Gear Digital Camera, Compact vlogging Camera. At least that's what I think it's called. It could also be the Acuvar 16MP Megapixel Compact Digital Photo and Video Camera or perhaps it's the EMVANV HD Digital Camera or maybe even the 01 Digital Camera Recorder, Vlogging Camera. Who knows? It all appears to be the same camera sold under different names without changes to the body at all. For the purposes of this review, I'm going to call it the Camera brand camera since that’s what's prominently written on the front of what could loosely be described as a camera.

Build Quality (If You Can Call It That)

Most people I showed the gold Camera brand camera instantly recalled the Canon PowerShots of old: boxy, deck-of-cards sized cameras that were ubiquitous in the mid- to late-2000s. They were the cameras that documented many a childhood vacation, wedding or family gathering. And it's clear whoever the manufacturer of this camera is channeling that nostalgia. I say "whoever" because the instruction manual provided no clue as to the provenance of the camera, nor did the minimalist packaging that the camera came in:

This was really the box the camera came in. Inside, the camera was packed in a bubble wrap sleeve, and it included a micro-USB cable for some reason and photocopied instructions.

The first hint that it's not a PowerShot is when you pick it up. Say what you will about how much of a commodity camera those Canons are, they at least feel solid and perform their basic intended function. The second I picked up the Camera brand camera, I figured out what I was in for. It's incredibly light, but in the cheap way, not the good way. The three AAA batteries that the camera uses weighed more than the camera. The battery door felt like it was going to fall off as I put the batteries in. And those batteries were good for about 155 shots. Ouch.

The rest of the outside of the camera isn't much better. The "lens" doesn’t move when powered on and it appears almost as if there's a webcam or some other similarly cheap imaging device glued into an enclosure that's supposed to mimic the look of a lens. I decided to open up the camera (which was held together by all of 6 screws) to take a look, and well, you can see for yourself:

The internals of Camera brand camera. Not much to see here.

It sure looks like a webcam with an incredibly small imaging sensor underneath. All of the silver and fancy bezel work is just for show. Your cell phone has no reason to fear the image quality of this camera.

There's a flash, but it’s not actually a flash but rather a small LED light that stays on continuously and isn't powerful enough to actually light anything. Light leaks from the top of the camera body when it’s turned on.

Out back there are black buttons with markings molded into them. One set is a "T" and "W." On the screen, it looks like these buttons zoom in and out, but they don't work and the image is always recorded at the widest angle no matter what you're looking at. And that widest angle is not so wide. I'd estimate about 40-45mm or so. There's the usual four-way controller, and OK button in the middle of that, a play button and a menu button.

The minimalist rear of the Camera brand camera.
Underneath, there's a tripod mount that's off-center and apparently made of plastic. There's a small slot next to that for an SD card. The photocopied sheet of paper that was posing as a manual inside the box said that it couldn't use larger than a 32 GB SD card, and so, I abided with a 16 GB card.


The camera handles, at best, poorly. The shutter button seems to function only 75% of the time, and it's not always clear what the rest of the buttons do. There is a menu, and most standard items are there, followed by some strange ones such as "frequency" and "screen saver" whose functions are not immediately clear. There's also the ability to add quartz dating to your photos, but that seems to turn itself on and off at random.

The screen, which isn't touch-enabled, isn't even positioned correctly in the body. Out of the box, you can see that the left side is cut off and so are some of the icons and text. Quality control over at Camera brand cameras must be stellar.

The screen isn't set quite right into the body, leaving a black bar on the right with icons and menu items cut off on the left.
The four-way controller, depending on the direction you push, will cycle through movies, still and audio recorder modes; adjust EV compensation (which, like the zoom, doesn't actually work); and adjust quality (which is awful, no matter what setting you use). One of the directions adjusts resolution, which, unlike the other functions, actually works, though the camera seems to max out at 10.2 MP, which is below its claimed 16 MP resolution that the camera proudly proclaims on the front plate. Additionally, the photos display some weird stretching by about 250 pixels on the wide end and also display some weird artifacts, even in perfect lighting. Here's how the Camera brand camera mangled a product shot of my EOS M6 Mark II:

This is an original, full-resolution file straight out of the camera.

There's about a half-second delay between pressing the shutter button and taking a picture. I'm not sure there's even any focusing going on, the screen is so low resolution. Playback is about what you'd expect, although to move through the pictures you use the up and down arrows rather than the traditional left and right arrows. There is no speaker on the camera, and so video and audio files will play without sound. You read that right: Audio files play without sound.

There are cameras that bring joy to the process of shooting. This does the opposite.

Image Quality

OK, so using the camera is a terrible experience. How is the image quality? In a word, terrible. If you need more words, horrible, no-good and awful fit as well.

This was a partly cloudy day, not really any challenge for most cameras. But as you can see, there's a stark difference between what my EOS M6 Mark II captured vs. what Camera brand camera captures. You can always dumb down a "real camera" image to look this bad, but you'll never be able to scale up with the Camera brand camera. This comparison is after I fixed the stretching on Camera brand Camera and cropped the photos to match.

The lens has an aperture listed on the front of f/1.1, but with no metadata recorded, it's hard to tell if that's accurate. It's also impossible to tell how fast the shutter speed is by the sound, and because the disassembly revealed that there is no mechanical shutter and the sound is a pre-recorded electronic shutter sound. Anecdotally, shutter speeds are probably along the slower end of the spectrum more often than not. Squirrelly kids proved difficult:

He wasn't even moving that fast, but Camera brand camera wasn't up to the task.
Even not-so-squirrely buildings proved a challenge for this camera. The detail you'd expect in a photo isn't there. I think that the Fisher Price kids camera I reviewed a few years ago did a better job. This is reminiscent of pre-iPhone cell phone camera days, and that's being generous:

I think I had a floppy-disk camera in 1998 that shot better photos than this.
While photos may not be the claimed 16 MP, video was actually better than the claimed specs on Amazon, coming in at 1080p rather than 720p. Sadly, the video uses a crude Motion JPEG codec and audio is recorded at 16 kHz, so your subjects will sound like they're talking out of a tin-can. Coupled with the video quality that is as poor as still image quality, and you have this:

The video seems to turn all the trees into some sort of greenish-brown blobs, and the stretching from still photos is also present in the video. There’s not much else to say. To pass this off as a camera in 2023 is a cruel joke.

All that said, when I showed the images to some of the Gen Z set, they remarked about how "cool" the photos looked.

I have no words.

What I Liked:

  • The camera subdivides the memory card into audio, photo and video folders, which is clearer than even professional level cameras which still use DCIM folders.
  • That's it. That's literally it.

What I Didn't Like:

  • Image quality is terrible.
  • Using the camera is an exercise in frustration.
  • Most functions of the camera don’t work.
  • Basically, everything about Camera brand camera.


There are at least four versions of this camera on Amazon.com. If you'd really like to subject yourself to this same torture, you can buy the one I did here. But don't. Really.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

Wasim Ahmad is an assistant teaching professor teaching journalism at Quinnipiac University. He's worked at newspapers in Minnesota, Florida and upstate New York, and has previously taught multimedia journalism at Stony Brook University and Syracuse University. He's also worked as a technical specialist at Canon USA for Still/Cinema EOS cameras.

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Wow. What a joke.

uummmmm .....ok.......



I need to buy an inexpensive point and shoot camera for my father. Hopefully in the $60 range, not higher.

He is not a photographer by any means, as he just takes pics of things to remember them by and to show family members what he saw.

He is 80 years old. He needs something very easy to use - technology confuses him and he has never even used a cell phone because it is completely confusing to him.

He needs something with a LOT of "zoom", as he often takes pics of tiny birds in the back yard that are over 100 feet away, and then tries to identify the birds via the photo. 5x or 7x zoom not nearly sufficient - he needs 10x or 12x at the very least.

He needs something that will last for the rest of his life, not some poorly built unit ..... because I don't want to have to have to buy him another camera after this one.

What do you recommend?


Tom, I'd recently resurrected an old point & shoot that still takes wonderful pictures; is beginner friendly but has features a more experienced photographer would also like. I suggest looking at the used market (ebay, for example), well within your price point. The camera I have is a Kodak Z950, but there's all sorts of similar used products out there. If interested in this camera, see https://www.photographyblog.com/reviews/kodak_easyshare_z950_review... and (for example)... https://www.ebay.com/p/100112425?iid=195633239568 - $33ish. This particular one looks like it needs a little cleaning/wiping, but there may be others in better condition?

That Kodak seems like it would fit the bill. Will probably pursue that. At 10x zoom it will be sufficient.

I just bought a Kodak Easyshare Z950 for my Dad on ebay for $24 plus $8 shipping. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

That is a tall order for anything in the $60, but if you're looking for something for life, Something like a Canon G3X has something in the range of 600mm of zoom, and would fit the bill, about $250 on the used market. $60 on the used market could by some very nice Powershots or Cybershots (Canon/Sony) but nothing with the kind of zoom you are looking for.

Thanks for replying. About 17 years ago I had a Sony bridge camera that had sufficient zoom. It cost $500 new at the time so I figure a used one would be so ancient that one could probably be found real cheap. But I forget the model name or number so I'm not sure what to look for.

I recent gave an old SX10IS to a friend of mine whose Pentax K1000 is caput. It features a 20x zoom and can be used in either a dumb point-n-shoot mode or more advanced modes. Even with a small 10MP sensor it managed to take pretty good pictures. You might look for one of these used, the price appears to be around $75 at KEH for the next generation SX20IS w/12MP sensor.


I think you’re way off base in your review. Mine just arrived via Amazon. I’m having lots of fun taking photos with it. It’s almost as cool as my 2MP mini camera (see photo) which has become my go to setup for street photography. The only issue I have with the “Camera” camera is that it didn’t come with a strap or wrist lanyard. It’s hard to carry it around with me as conveniently as I’d like and I’m always worrying that I might drop it and crack the lens or damage the precision focusing mechanism. But that’s my only complaint because it’s otherwise what I’m not using for landscape and night sky and nature photography.

The gold color is a nice, elegant detail that makes it fun to show off when I’m with my snobby photography friends. None of them can come close to this classy piece of technology.

Try to be more positive, please 😂

For a minute there, i thought this was serious.

Haha! Gotcha!

Due to a new comment bringing me back here, it's a whole lot better to go to a thrift/resale shop and buy a used 10mp Canon, for example, for $5 in the States/Europe rather than buying cheap crap that's not going to be used.

It you’re talking about the G7 or G9, those don’t hold a candle to the “camera” camera. They have all these useless features like an actual zoom, raw shooting, and good sensors. Don’t waste your money.

This article is about buying a brand new $5 piece-of-crap camera. I'm saying that if you want to buy a $5 camera, thrift shops sometimes have a decent, old 12mp Canon, Nikon, Fuji, etc. camera that would be infinitely better than that Amazon camera.

I think Keith is joking ...

Keith is totally joking. I do own a couple of horrible “new” cameras for the novelty of them but they’re, as expected, horrible. My canon G2 is better by a wide margin.