Best Cameras Under $500

If you thought that the best cameras under $500 would be a piece of poor quality plastic, think again! The best camera isn’t always the most expensive, and many major manufacturers have made a point of complimenting their entry-level offerings with many high-quality cameras that offer a sophisticated imaging experience. This is especially true for the best and cheapest cameras we know today.

How is this possible? There are two main reasons for this: First, cameras are generally becoming more and more sophisticated over the years and new models are being launched. This is the kind of rising tide that lifts all boats, because features that were once only seen on the best DSLR cameras or the best mirrorless camera models are now an expected standard, even on entry-level cameras. Features such as Wi-Fi, high definition video, sophisticated autofocus, and much more: all standard today!

Best Cameras Under $500

The exact choice of these devices depends on your needs and intentions, but the following models have one thing in common: they are all outstanding products in their respective categories. Now, let’s have a look at the best cameras under 500 dollars.

1. Nikon D3500

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While you’re still learning and deciding what type of device is best for you, choose a device that’s simple enough to understand right away and affordable enough that you can change your mind and change it later if you decide you need something different. The D3500 is the entry-level model in Nikon’s DSLR lineup, but it has a 24.2MP sensor that is as good as a camera at twice the price, and it offers a very good continuous shooting speed of 5 fps for a beginner’s camera.

The Guide mode will help beginners get started and understand the basics, but the D3500 has all the manual controls you need to become familiar with photography while improving your skills. It sometimes comes a little cheaper with a non-VR (unstabilized) kit lens, but it’s certainly worth paying a little more for the VR version. Overall, this is one of the best cameras under 500 dollars.

2. Canon EOS Rebel T7

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This is the second cheapest Canon DSLR, and although it’s basic, it’s a perfect camera for a student or a cash-strapped beginner who just wants to get started. It has a 24-megapixel sensor, which is still pretty good for an APS-C sensor camera, although this model doesn’t have Canon’s dual-pixel AF CMOS system, so if you use the rear monitor to compose your shots, the autofocus will be a slower contrast-based system.

This camera doesn’t allow you to shoot 4K videos, nor does it have a variable angle screen, so if you can afford the extra, we recommend switching to the Rebel SL3/EOS 250D. This camera is only available with a body, but if you don’t have a Canon lens, it’s better to buy it with an 18-55 mm IS II lens. Overall, this is one of the best cameras under $500.

3. Panasonic Lumix GX85

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Incredibly good value for money, with or without its small 12-32 mm zoom kit, the Panasonic Lumix GX85/G80 incorporates a host of high-tech features in its compact size. These include 5-axis image stabilization, light speed AF, post-focusing, and ultra-high-definition 4K for photos and videos, just like Panasonic’s high-end cameras. A high-resolution electronic viewfinder is also integrated on the back of the camera, as well as a tilting touch screen. If you want a camera that offers many features and performance but is small in size and reasonably priced, this is the ideal choice. It’s a great camera for traveling, and its price also makes it great for beginners. Overall, this is one of the best cameras under 500 dollars.

4. Canon EOS Rebel T100

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Canon has spent some time filling the bottom end of its DSLR range recently, creating many interesting options for first-time users and those working on tight budgets. One of the most affordable options is the Canon EOS Rebel T100, which is even lower priced than the EOS Rebel SL7 shown above. It’s a beginner’s DSLR that does just about everything you need for an incredible price, including a lens kit. Also known as the EOS 4000D, the T100 isn’t very sophisticated, but for the money, you get a decent camera with 18MP resolution and 3fps burst shooting, as well as access to the incredible stability of Canon lenses. Overall, this is one of the best cameras under $500.

5. GoPro Hero9 Black

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The latest addition to the GoPro range is the best GoPro to date. The main feature of this new model is the front color LCD screen, which allows you to frame yourself during vlogging, when used as a webcam, or simply for sales. The resolution is also improved, with a capacity of 20 megapixels for photos and 5K for videos. The latter will be excessive for many, but it also allows you to take 14.7 megapixels of photos, which might be hard to resist.

At 2.27 inches, its rear screen is larger than the previous GoPro Hero8 Black, and its Hypersmooth 3.0 video stabilization system is incomparably smooth. Thanks to its removable lens cap, you can also add a Max Lens Mod accessory to the Hero9 Black, which will bring some GoPro Max-style features, including 360º Horizontal Horizon Lock and SuperView Max ultra-wide 155º mode. Overall, this is one of the best cameras under 500 dollars.

6. DJI Osmo Action

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The features and price of the DJI Osmo Action make it obvious from the outset that this is an attempt to reduce the price of the GoPro HERO7. Does it work? Like everything else, it’s complicated. The front screen is a godsend, the stabilization is as smooth as the HERO’s, and it’s reasonably priced. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect; there are some high-resolution lag problems, the application can be unreliable, and the Hero’s video is a little flatter, which counts in the professional field when it comes to the score. For an affordable alternative to the HERO7 Black, the Osmo Action is one of the best cameras under $500.

7. Sony A6000

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Although it is now almost six years old, the A6000 is still one of Sony’s best cameras for beginners. Sony still manufactures it, so it will not disappear in the foreseeable future. It also undercuts the newer models A6100, A6400, and A6600 in price. With the design of the compact camera in APS-C format and access to Sony’s interchangeable lenses, it is a small body that makes a big impact. The resolution of the 24.3MP image sensor is very good, although the 1,440k dot resolution of the electronic viewfinder is somewhat weak by today’s standards, and the tiltable 921k dot screen also feels quite cramped.

It lacks the ability to record 4K movies, and it doesn’t have the high-tech AF of Sony’s latest A6000 series cameras, but if you can live without it, the solid build quality, image quality, continuous shooting, and autofocus performance are better than you would ever expect from its price. Overall, this is one of the best cameras under 500 dollars.

8. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mk III

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The digital revival of Olympus’ analog OM range has been very popular with enthusiastic photographers, and with the OM-D E-M10 III, the company has provided those on a tighter budget with a solid entry point to the series. This model builds on the impressive features of the Mark II OM-D E-M10, and once again features a 16MP sensor, a 2.36 million dot electronic viewfinder, a 3-inch touch screen, and a five-axis image stabilization system. But now you also get 4K video – and a much more sophisticated autofocus system. It’s a great mirrorless camera for beginners – small, lightweight, and easy to use. And for the money, it looks great too! Overall, this is one of the best cameras under $500.

9. Olympus PEN E-PL9

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Well, while the E-PL10 is a very good camera in itself, the fact is that it is a disappointingly minor update to the E-PL9, so much so that the old camera probably offers better value for money. The E-PL9 is a high-performance street, vlogging, and fashion camera. It has a 180-degree screen for vlogging and 4K video recording, although when it came out, we were a little disappointed that Olympus kept its old 16.1-megapixel sensor instead of replacing it with its latest 20.4-megapixel sensor.

The Olympus E-PL9 is of excellent quality despite its compact and lightweight construction, and its small size makes it ideal for travel photography, especially when combined with Olympus’ remarkably small 14-42mm EZ “pancake” lens. Overall, this is one of the best cameras under 500 dollars.

10. Panasonic Lumix ZS100

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Compact pocket cameras with 1-inch sensors are desirable for their image quality, but rarely offer lenses larger than about 100 mm. The one exception to this rule is Panasonic’s Lumix ZS100, which combines its 20MP 1in sensor with an amazingly long 25-250mm f/2.8-5.9 optics. It’s true that it’s a bit bulkier than the average compact, and not very bright at its telephoto end, but if size and telephoto range are your priorities, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something more suitable.

And that’s just the beginning; with a small electronic viewfinder, 4K video recording, a “Raw shooting” mode, and a five-axis OIS system to help maintain image sharpness and video stability, it has a lot of qualities outside of its main features. Plus, with the release of the ZS200, its price has dropped even further! Overall, this is one of the best cameras under $500.

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