What’s the Best Camera under 500? 12 Cameras Reviewed
We all get excited about acquiring new stuff and a camera is no exception. Think of all the precious memories you are going to capture for future reference!
However, choosing a camera is not as easy as it may sound and it is likely that the pricing may intimidate you because these devices do not come cheap.
Worry not; we are here to help you pick the best camera under 500. The ideal camera should be:
Keep it here if you want a good camera on a budget.
- Quality Cameras under $500: Comparison List
- Best camera under $500 reviews 2021
- 1. Nikon D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera
- 2. Sony RX100 20.2 MP Premium Compact Digital Camera
- 3. CanonPowerShot SX530 Digital Camera
- 4. Nikon D3400 w/ AF-P DX 24.2MP Camera
- 5. Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera
- 6. Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera with 3-Inch LCD
- 7. CanonPowerShot SX720 HS
- 8. Sony a5100 16-50mm Interchangeable Lens Camera
- 9. PANASONIC Lumix FZ300 Long Zoom Digital Camera
- 10. Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Digital SLR Camera
- 11. GoPro HERO 7 Camera
- 12. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Mirrorless Camera
- How to Choose a Camera on a Budget
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Verdict: Which One Wins?
- Final Thoughts
Quality Cameras under $500: Comparison List
It’s now time to explore some of the leading cameras available in this budget range. We’ve kept the list short and sweet.
Best camera under $500 reviews 2021
1. Nikon D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera
This Nikon D5300 is an excellent innovation from its predecessor the D5200. The thing with this one is that it has big upgrades that attract serious beginner photographers.
Besides that, it has a high-resolution sensor that is key to giving out quality images.
One of the upgrades we are talking about in this camera is the high-resolution 24.2 Megapixels sensor.
In addition, there is a squeezed EXPEED 4 image processor for improved battery life and for better JPEG image quality.
On the flip side, many customers have always complained of hearing the autofocus sound even when they least expect it, which can be disturbing.
This Nikon D5300 camera comes with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity that allows you to Livestream on Facebook as you take videos.
Additionally, the model of the camera looks quite straightforward to many customers, and that means many people will not have difficulties using the camera.
On top of that, you will enjoy taking images and viewing them on the much improved 3.2-inch LCD.
2. Sony RX100 20.2 MP Premium Compact Digital Camera
This camera might be the best one to go for, especially when you’re a professional photographer looking for a compact tool for the job.
The cam is quite reasonably priced. It has the features to justify its pricing and above all is often ranked among the most reliable choices at this budget range.
Sony RX100 has features that helps you to make even ordinary pictures look professional.
Additionally, the cam will also help you add effects such as High Contrast Monochrome, Soft Focus, Rich-tone Monochrome, Toy Camera, Partial color, and many more.
The quality of images by this camera are claimed to be full of depth and very crisp as it picks even finer details such as the time that the photo has been taken.
On the downside, the camera does not have an effective zoom feature. It is said to buffer as you are trying to zoom in.
The camera is known to have the capability of capturing wide shots automatically.
This is because as soon as you press on the press button, it shoots and stitches the various the photos together into a beautiful single image.
Furthermore, the camera comes with Full HD 1080/60p that gives quite good videos. Also, it has a 7.2x clear image digital zoom.
3. CanonPowerShot SX530 Digital Camera
The Canon PowerShot SX530 comes with a massive zoom lens and some additional good ease-to-use features.
Many people might like to refer to it as a round camera as it can capture portraits (For both people and objects)
This camera is based on a 1/2.3 format that is popular for using CMOS sensor that measures typically 1/2.3 inches.
Besides that, the camera stands out amongst the many cameras that are compared to it due to the classy zoom feature as it features a 4.0x digital zoom.
The downside of this camera, however, is that it does not come with a viewfinder. This means that the images are composed using the fixed rear LCD screen which isn’t a touchscreen though.
The Canon SX530 has dimensions of 4.72 inches by 3.22 inches by 3.62 inches. It weighs around 15.6 ounces.
The autofocus on this camera's lens features nine autofocus points, which you will find distributed evenly on the screen.
Overall, the camera has outstanding image quality and technical specifications.
4. Nikon D3400 w/ AF-P DX 24.2MP Camera
The Nikon D3400 can be the best camera for any beginner as it has very easy-to-use features.
Additionally, the camera has good looks as it has been made with a compact body and an excellent system.
This camera is well-known for its superb battery life. You can take quite a significant number of shots with a single charge.
Furthermore, the camera is very compact and lightweight. This gives you room to carry it wherever you go as it is very portable.
The camera has excellent single-shot performance, and this feature does not come with many cameras.
However, this cam has a downside in which it does not come with a touch-screen feature, and also there are poor connectivity options.
The camera comes with the EXPEED 4 image processor for improved battery life and on top of that to give good JPEG images.
Moreover, the camera has a 24.2 Megapixels DX-format CMOS sensor that helps in getting clear quality images.
Also, the device comes with a Snapbridge Bluetooth connectivity with a specification version 4.1 and a Wi-Fi Functionality Eye-Fi Compatible.
5. Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera
This T6 camera by Canon has been aimed at those entry-level photographers because it is very easy to use.
Besides that, the most notable features of this camera are its connectivity to smartphones and tablets and the high-resolution LCD.
When you are looking for a DSLR camera to shoot high-quality photos than your smartphone can, then this Canon T6 Camera might be what you want.
It will come in handy even when you are on a tight budget because, despite it going for under 500 dollars, it is one of the cheapest cameras compared to the others in this review.
Furthermore, the Canon T6 camera provides quality images, especially for entry-level photographers, mostly in terms of color.
Its connectivity capabilities are also very advanced and have been innovated from its predecessor Canon camera. With the feature, you will be able to connect easily to your phone.
The T6 comes with an 18 Megapixel CMOS (APS C) image sensor, which is supplemented with DIGIC 4+ Image Processor to provide excellent quality and speed.
The camera has 9 point AF system and Al Servo AF that provide impressive autofocus performance and hence accurate results.
6. Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera with 3-Inch LCD
This camera comes with additional features as it can give you your GPS coordinates and the temperature of the place you are.
The camera is also very durable, as some claims say that you can hit this camera with 220 pounds force without crushing it.
This Olympus TG-5 camera is a good mid-range camera as it comes with 12 Megapixels to provide quality images.
Additionally, the camera has been made to be waterproof up to 50 feet. It is regarded as drop-proof up to seven feet since it has been made using a compact and tough material.
The camera comes with the same features as FinePix XP80, except for that it captures clearer images and also produces HD video recording.
On the flip side, though, the Olympus TG-5 camera is considered more expensive than most cameras in the review.
The camera comes with a bright F2.0 high-speed lens, which makes it very unique.
In addition, it has a Dual Quad-Core TruePicvill image processor and other special features that enable quick flashes.
The camera is made waterproof, and you can use it up to 50 feet in the water comfortably with no worries.
7. CanonPowerShot SX720 HS
This camera comes with a 40x optical zoom lens, which translates to 24-960mm in 35mm terms.
Besides that, the camera also has a 1/2.3-inch type CMOS sensor, which has 20.3 Megapixels, and this translates to giving you quality images.
The Canon PowerShot SX720 HS comes in a slim design, which is remarkable as it is hard to think the camera features a 40x optical zoom housed in here.
In addition, the camera is made of brushed metal, which makes it look very stylish. The rounded corners of the camera add to its sleep appearance
Furthermore, you will get a rubberized grip section on the front of the camera that gives your finger room to rest on.
However, the camera does not come with an SD card to save the captured images and videos.
The camera has a strong optical zoom and intelligence IS. This helps in the improvement of image stability so you can capture quality images.
Also, the camera comes with built-in Wi-Fi and NFC to allow easy sharing and transferring of images and videos.
The 20.3 Megapixels CMOS sensor with DIGIC 6 image processor is vital in delivering good image quality even when in low light.
8. Sony a5100 16-50mm Interchangeable Lens Camera
The Sony A5100 is one of the oldest entry-level cameras that you can still find in the market.
Even after being in the market for quite a while; however, this camera can be a good reason for you to stop using your phone in taking photos.
The camera is mad, with its lens optically stabilized. This sometimes might bring about a lack of stabilization in the body itself.
Besides that, this camera is relatively small and does not have masses of buttons and dials, which makes it easy to learn and use.
With this camera, you can shoot up to 1080p, 60 frames per second.
On the downside, the camera does not come with a viewfinder feature.
The Sony A5100 comes with an ultra-focus with 179 AF points and 6Fps.
In addition, the camera can record Full HD 1080/24/60P videos that can go up to 50 MB/s.
Also, the camera is compatible with several Operating systems. They include Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and Windows Vista SP2-6.
9. PANASONIC Lumix FZ300 Long Zoom Digital Camera
This Panasonic Lumix FZ300 has a superzoom option that is attractive to photographers who like taking photos from a very long range.
Also, they are very portable and small to fit in your pocket so as you can carry it anywhere you go.
The camera has 4K video and 4K photo capabilities. In fact, it’s quite ideal for continuous shooting all thanks to its 30 frames per second rating. This enables you never to miss any moment captured on video.
Besides that, the camera also comes with a 24x zoom with Full zoom range F2.
In addition, the aperture is used to allow enhanced low light shooting, meeting the stringent quality standards established by Leica.
However, this camera does not come with an SD card, which is supposed to be sold jointly. Instead, you are supposed to buy it separately.
The camera comes with 12.1 Megapixels high sensitivity MOS sensor that is perfect for ensuring that you will capture quality images.
Also, the camera has been made to be dustproof and splash-proof. This is because of its tight seals on its every joint.
10. Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Digital SLR Camera
The Canon EOS Rebel SL 2 camera is a unique camera for beginners or newbies as it comes with a resolution of 24.0 MP.
The camera is believed to come as a replacement for their older Canon 100D.
The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 has the dimensions of 48.03 inches by 36.61 inches by 27.56 inches and weighs about 453 grams. This is quite portable, right?
Moreover, the camera is regarded as one of the lightest as the average weight for entry-level cameras is supposed to be 539 grams.
Talking about its thickness, the camera is thinner than other cameras in the market as it is only 70mm thick.
On the flip side, the camera has very minimal numbers of focus points at 9. Many people could articulate the camera doing better than this.
The camera comes with a fast and accurate Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus complete with phase detection. This is a plus one for the camera.
The camera also comes with built-in Wi-Fi and NFC and built-in Bluetooth technology, which makes sharing of photos, either to other devices or online easier.
Besides that, you will also enjoy the Full HD 60p display feature and External microphone input both which are quite helpful.
11. GoPro HERO 7 Camera
With the notable added functionality and features, the Hero 7 might be the perfect camera for pressing the button and shooting any subject you are willing to capture.
Additionally, the camera is very small as it hardly gets bigger than your palm, enabling you to carry it anywhere you wish to.
The Hero 7 Camera by Go-Pro has improved stabilization as it comes with both electronic image stabilization and optical image stabilization features.
Besides that, you will notice an improved audio quality in the videos you will capture using the camera as it comes with much-improved microphones.
The camera also allows for Livestreaming, for you can easily connect with the Wi-Fi network or alternatively with your mobile phone network.
However, the camera has a poor battery life that has not been improved from the previous model.
The camera is made waterproof, and this makes you have the freedom to capture your best moments, even on very wet conditions or under the water.
In addition, the video stabilization feature is just impressive as it predicts your movement and corrects the camera shaking to deliver smooth footage.
12. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Mirrorless Camera
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II is one camera that you can trust when you want versatility.
The camera also comes with various customization options and buttons that help in bringing out the best when you start capturing moments.
The camera has a built-in five-axis image stabilization that allows you to take quality photos even when your hands are shaking.
Furthermore, the camera has 8.5 frames per second burst shooting.
On the downside, the camera does not have a microphone input hardware that assists in voice capturing during video shooting.
The camera comes in silent mode. This means that any shutter sounds are disabled.
Moreover, the camera comes with many customizable buttons. In addition, you will be able to view anything you capture through the tilting touch-screen display.
How to Choose a Camera on a Budget
True, you may not get advanced features in an affordable camera but here are some basic factors you need to consider prior to making your purchase.
How does the camera feel in your hands? This is an important factor to consider especially if you will be using yours a lot.
You want something that feels comfortable in your hands so ensure that you pick an ergonomic camera.
There is a common misconception when it comes to the term ‘weatherproof’. A camera that is said to be splash proof, rainproof, or weatherproof, is not waterproof.
What weatherproof means is that all the buttons and seams of a camera are sealed to resist light splashes, mist, and rain. This means that it will be spoilt if submerged.
If you want a camera that can be used under water, you should be looking for the term ‘waterproof’. Such cameras cost a little bit more though so they may be out of our price range.
No one wants a bulky camera weighing them down unless they are shooting movies or music videos. Affordable cameras are usually meant for casual shooting and for that reason, you want something lightweight.
Several features differentiate great cameras from good ones and the lens is one of these features. You want a camera that allows you to swap lenses so that you have several creative options to pick from.
Some point-and-shoot cameras come with great optics, but that can never compete with the versatility that interchangeable lenses offer.
The fact that you are getting an affordable camera does not mean that it should fall apart easily. You do not need to replace your camera every now and then because then it beats the whole purpose of being on a budget.
You want a camera that is fabricated from resilient material especially when it comes to the body such that your camera has a higher chance of survival even after falling down.
GPS and Wi-Fi
Given the role of social media in today’s society, Wi-Fi is almost a compulsory feature on modern cameras. If you want the convenience of sharing your content straight from your camera to your social media, you want to get one with in-built Wi-Fi.
When it comes to GPS, not many cameras have this feature pre-installed. However, some manufacturers have add-ons if you would like to have the feature for your camera.
Keep in mind that this feature will significantly drain your camera battery as well.
Your camera of choice needs to have a straightforward menu that is easy to use. While cameras are different,it should be easy to navigate the menu system without having to constantly consult the user manual.
No one wants a complicated menu that even discourages the owner from using.
This is an important factor to consider depending on your style of photography. For instance, if you’ll be out there shooting portraits or generally dealing with situations whereby the subject doesn’t move randomly, it’ll be ok to get a camera with low frames per second e.g. 5FPS.
However, if you’re into wildlife photography, shooting soccer matches and other fast moving objects, it’s important to get a fast shooting camera. Usually, the higher the FPS rating the better e.g. 15FPS and above.
Frequently Asked Questions
Usually, we get numerous questions about affordable cameras and while we cannot address all of them here, we have answered a few commonly asked ones that can help you get a clearer picture.
How do I decide what camera to buy?
Buying a camera is a huge and important decision hence the need to be careful. First, you want to have a realistic budget in place.
Next, you want to decide what type of camera you want from the two major options; Point-and-shoot or DSLR.
The last step involves listing down the features you want in your camera.
Are mirror less cameras better than DSLR?
Mirror less cameras are faster, lighter, and compact, which makes them a good choice for shooting videos.
However, this will limit your access to accessories and lenses.
On the other hand, DSLRs have the upper hand when it comes to lens variety and optical viewfinders that function better in low light.
Nevertheless, they are bulkier and more complex.
Verdict: Which One Wins?
Considering our in-depth analysis, we can confidently say that the Nikon D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera stands out as the best camera in this review. You might be asking yourself why this specific camera. Well, this camera comes with a 24.2 Megapixels sensor, which is among the best when you need quality images.
Besides that, the camera also boasts an EXPEED 4 image processor, which not only helps the camera improve its battery life but also is essential in having better JPEG image quality. For this and many other unique features possessed by this camera, we would confidently advise you to choose it any time.
Being on a limited budget should not mean you giving up on owning a camera or pursuing your photography career.
The only thing is that you have to be prepared to forego some features that can only be found in high-end cameras.
You can get a camera for 500 or under that will produce decent images and offer you the basics required for casual photography.
We believe that this guide is a useful tool that will help you choose a camera on a budget that will still offer the functionality you need.