We believe you will agree with me that it’s really hard to get the best camera but cheap when you are just starting out your photography career or trying to record your best videos.
Even though the prices are continually falling and the quality keeps becoming better, there are still numerous digital video camera options of varying designs and standards.
Because of the many competing brands, it has been very difficult for beginners to find the best one.
So we have come up with this list of 13 best cameras under 500 to help you make a buying decision. Don’t worry about the price point (500 is a starting number anyways), technological advancements have allowed the production of cheap digital cameras which are as powerful as the feature-rich options.
- Product Summary
- Review of 13 Best Cameras Under 500
- 1. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS40S (Travel Photography)
- 2. Canon Powershot SX720HS (Family, Vacation and Small Parties)
- 3. Nikon 1 J5 Mirrorless Camera (Best For Pre-game Portraits, On Field Close-ups)
- 4. Sony DSC-RX 100/B ( Entry-level Photographers and Enthusiasts)
- 5. Canon Powershot G9X (Best For Travel Photography)
- 6. Sony Alpha a5000 (Best For Personal Photos and Movies)
- 7. Nikon D3200 (Best For Hobby Photography)
- 8. Canon EOS rebel SL1 (Best For Daily Walk-around)
- 9. Olympus PEN E-PL6 (Professional Photography)
- 10. Olympus TG-4 (Best For Underwater Filming)
- 11. Canon EOS M10
- 12. Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D (Body Only)
- 13. DJI OSMO Action
- Which One To Make Decision On?
- What to choose – Interchangeable or fixed lens?
- What is the difference between sensor size and megapixels (MP)?
We have reviewed topnotch devices under this category to ensure you get the best budget for your money.
Our review is focused on key specs and styles for these cameras, to help you get the exact device that will solve all your needs. The following is the highlights of the digital cameras we have reviewed.
|Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS40S||DSLR||CMOS||18.1||30X||0.53 pounds|
|Canon Powershot SX720HS||compact||CMOS||20.3||40X||8.6 pounds|
|Nikon 1 J5||Mirrorless||CMOS||20.8||3x||0.51 pounds|
|Sony DSC-RX 100/B||DSLR||Exmor CMOS||20.2||3.6X||0.53 pounds|
|Canon Powershot G9X||compact||CCD||20.2||3x||0.46 pounds|
|Sony Alpha a5000||Mirrorless||APS-C||20.1||3x||0.59 pounds|
|Canon EOS rebel SL1||DSLR||CMOS||18||3.1X||0.9 pounds|
|Olympus PEN E-PL6||DSLR||CMOS||16||3X||0.72 pounds|
|Olympus TG-4||DSLR||CMOS||16||4X||0.54 pounds|
Review of 13 Best Cameras Under 500
If you are looking for a good cam with some nice feature and capability when you are completely fresh or want to save a few hundred bucks, then $500 and under is a good beginning budget.
Just like many of our digital camera reviews, this article will help you make the best buying option.
We have detailed the key features of the selected digital cameras so as to save you time and resources. Each of the camera has a unique factor that makes it better, ensure you understand what you want and go for the option that matches your needs best.
You will see that we have made a good mix of best mirrorless , video DSLR and even point-to-shoot camera for just under $500 so as to give you a wider scope. We believe you will find this review helpful and you will be able to converge to one excellent photographic tool.
1. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS40S (Travel Photography)
The dominance of Canon and Nikon has led to the underrating of Panasonic as a brand in photography. But this has not stopped the company from producing versatile range of extremely well-designed and powerful cameras.
In fact if you are searching for a perfect pocket-sized gear which is featured-rich look no further than Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS40S.
This video camera supports improved feature control thanks to its lens-mounted control ring. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS40S stands out because of its deluxe leica 30X (times) super zoom lens which is stabilized to deliver crisper stills and superior HD videos.
Its interaction with the external components is also awesome because of WI-FI, GPS AND NFC features which allows seamless and easier connection to your mobile or computer devices.
Panasonic Lumix also presents a powerful sensor with 18.1MP, exposure and autofocus control functions as well as a wider ISO range. The camera is well-stocked with factors that can compete with smartphone cam in the current market.
This camera has received positive reviews in most of the online outlets, and can be categorized as one of the best based on its quality and the value it gives. Most the customer are satisfied with its size and some are even describing it as a computer that takes photographs.
|Tiny and stylish.|
Can record in RAW format
Powerful super zoom lens
|Doesn’t have a separate charger.|
2. Canon Powershot SX720HS (Family, Vacation and Small Parties)
If you are looking for a good one for family vacations, special moment and parties then this camera offers one of the best options.
Canon Powershot SX720HS shows an incredibly versatile 40X (times) optical zoom lens (24-960mm), which helps you to capture crisper close-up portraits for all your special moments. Its DIGIC6 image processor combines perfectly with the 20.3MP sensor to deliver stunning photos and quality full HD videos.
What fascinates most about this camera is the way it automatically compiles a small highlight reel of all the images and clips taken in the day giving you the freedom to enjoy a short story of your best moments.
Because of its CMOS sensor, Canon SX720HS is able to work well under low-light conditions. It also features an intelligent image stabilization for perfect stills and quality videos shooting. You will be able to get used to it thanks to its fixed 3-inch LCD which allows easier use.
If you like sharing and uploading clips, you will find great comfort using this camera because it has both WI-FI and NFC connections.
Canon powershot SX720HS is the perfect choice and price for anyone looking fora compact and lightweight video camera. In fact most of its customers have found this device to be the best in terms of zoom power and design. Most of them are happy with the value it has, with its ability to capture and share quality photos earning rave reviews.
|DIGIC6 image processor.|
Built-in WI-FI and NFC technology.
Supports remote shooting.
High-sensitivity CMOS sensor.
|Lack an eye-level viewfinder.|
3. Nikon 1 J5 Mirrorless Camera (Best For Pre-game Portraits, On Field Close-ups)
Despite being less aggressive in the number of best mirrorless cameras they offer, Nikon has done a commendable job on this one for just under 500.
The Nikon 1 J5 is notable amongst the crowd for its improved ergonomic and fast shooting speed. This camera is masterfully designed to offer an incredible combination of portability, image quality, versatility and creativity.
The size is small enough to be carried in any outing and its performance in low-light can only be rivalled be few compact cameras in the market.
It’s also capable of capturing images accurately thanks to the cutting-edge AF system and its easy-to-use1800 tilting touchscreen. With the 20.1MP, this device captures photos in dazzling resolution and its BSI processor enables faster shutter speed.
Nikon 1 J5 utilizes the new EXPEED 5A image processor technology to give every photo a smooth tone, rich color and crisper details. The device allows you to shoot at a range of ISO up to 12,800 without making a lot of noise.
It’s easy to see why most of the customers, who have used this video camera, are exceedingly happy. This amazing little gem from Nikon offer great price for every penny spent and its improved ergonomics leaves a lot to be desired.
|Very versatile and fast in capturing images.|
EXPEED 5A image processing.
WI-FI and NFC connectivity.
Creative control and outstanding handling.
|Smaller image sensor.|
4. Sony DSC-RX 100/B ( Entry-level Photographers and Enthusiasts)
Sony DSC-RX 100/B is a terrific camera that’s is liked by many professionals and enthusiasts for its sleek design.
This camera is a force to reckon with in this category because it’s highly durable and lightweight. It features a 20.2MP exmor 1” CMOS sensor which is capable of capturing quality images with stunning details.
The highlight for this classy tech is the use of the fast Carl zeiss lenses which are able to deliver refined background. Sony DSC-RX 100/B also allows you the freedom to save your results in high-quality RAW format, compact JPEG or even both at the same time. Talk of video capture, Sony DSC-RX 100/B creates extra-smooth and clear full HD videos.
This devices is also highly sensitive with an ISO range 125-6400, this means you are able to shoot in nearly all lighting condition. The best thing is the auto ISO mode is able to automatically determine the right setting. As though that’s not enough, the range can be expanded manually thanks to its complete creative control.
Most of the online customer are happy about the size of this camera with some describing it as the complete state-of –the-art pocket camera. It’s difficult to fault this little gear and that’s why it has impressed all even the professionals in the industry for a price of under 500.
|Customizable function button.|
High speed auto focus.
Multi-frame noise reduction.
Features a memory recall mode.
Has an optical steadyshot for blur-free videos.
|Doesn’t have an electronic viewfinder.|
5. Canon Powershot G9X (Best For Travel Photography)
Canon powershot G9X is one of the simplest camera in terms of features.
G9x is lightweight, ultra–slim and pocket-size that can be comfortably carried everywhere. It features a 20.2MP CMOS sensor which combines perfectly with its DIGIC6 image processor for a faster operation and stunning image quality. Its intuitive LCD touchscreen has an improved user interface for easier and quicker settings changes.
This device is capable of performing well even in low-light thanks to its sensitive ISO range of up to 12800.
It also captures full HD clips which can be conveniently played back on HDTV through its HDMI output. If you like sharing your post production, worry not, this camera has built-in WI-FI and NFC for easier connection with tablets and smart phones.
When all these elements are combined with its extended zoom range, they make Canon powershot G9X the complete travel camera.
All the online outlets you will find most customer giving positive reviews about this camera. Most of the customers are happy with the way it combines great qualities in its small package and price. The only downside to this photographic tool is its comparatively smaller sensor, otherwise it’s faultless.
Lightweight and ultra-slim.
Built-in WI-FI and NFC.
DIGIC6 image processor.
Fast continuous shooting.
|Smaller sensor size.|
6. Sony Alpha a5000 (Best For Personal Photos and Movies)
Mirrorless cameras are fast becoming serious competitors to all the DSLR camera. In fact the improvement they have recorded is almost convincing the public that they are already versatile and powerful enough.
This is the case for Sony alpha a5000, it has every advantage you would want in a mirrorless DSLR in its point-to-shoot compact design.
Its 20.1 MP exmor APS-C sensor has the capability to capture all your special moments in incredible details. The camera also captures full HD movie in stunning 1920 by 1080 resolution, all this can be done at a choice of cinematic 24p fps or the standard 60i.
If you fancy shooting your children at a play or sports event then you will be fascinated by its 4 fps. This is suitable for both professional and enthusiasts thanks to its well-articulated controls. Its LCD touchscreen can tilt by 1800, an aspect that makes taking photo and selfies look very easy.
If you like sharing photos and videos, this Sony A5000 will aid your desires thanks to its WI-FI and NFC connectivity. The gear is also highly compatible with the PlayMemory apps. This app helps you to personalize your device by adding features of your choice.
This camera has many fascinating aspects for new photographers and the price has been the reason it’s widely accepted as the best point-to-shoot. Most of the people who have bought or used are happy with what it offers.
|Has a flip-out screen|
WI-FI and NFC connection.
Built-in pop-up flash.
Tiltable LCD touchscreen.
Has a hand-held twilight mode
|Lacks an electronic viewfinder.|
7. Nikon D3200 (Best For Hobby Photography)
If you are looking to have fantastic times doing photography as a hobby or as a profession then Nikon has offered this best camera to get you started.
Nikon D3200 features a whopping 24.2MP resolution CMOS sensor packed in lightweight and small body. The Nikon presents the best value of any DSLR under this category.
It not easy to find a camera in this category possessing key factors like the movie flip-out screed and in-built HDR, but this little buddy offers both.
You may be tempted to think the camera is wrongly placed due to the features which matches some of the high-end devices. This device has menu guides that will help you to get through all shooting scenarios easily. Actually it’s one of the most user-friendly DSLR from Nikon, making it perfect for beginners.
It capture quality images in both JPEG and RAW format, and its capability to record full HD videos makes it a near perfect devices. Nikon D3200 also displays a special button dedicated to point-to-shoot recording, for the more advanced users there is a manual control.
This Nikon has been widely accepted and this can be attested by the number of positive reviews it’s receiving around the web.
|Has a flip-out screen for movies.|
Capable of recording in both JPEG and RAW format.
Avails manual control for the advanced users.
8. Canon EOS rebel SL1 (Best For Daily Walk-around)
Canon EOS rebel SL1 will offer you the similar image quality like the one its high-end counterparts offer.
This is one of the smallest DSLR in the Canon line-up and it offer the best value for your money. The two most fascinating features of this camera is its low weight and compact size.
It has a 24.2MP, CMOS (APS-C) sensor which combines perfectly with its wide ISO range 100-6400 to produce stunning photos and aid recording of full HD 1080p videos. This aspects combines perfectly with the DIGIC6 processor to help the camera work faster. It is also equipped with a high-speed continuous shooting to ensure you never miss any of your special moments.
SL1 has slower autofocus with fewer fps but makes up for this flaws by offering irresistible image quality. This, coupled with its lightweight package makes it the perfect everyday walk-around camera.
It’s fun and intuitive screen allows quicker accessibility to settings when needed. This LCD is sharp, responsive and bright, delivering clear and accurate color at ease.
The camera has claimed its position as the best compact, appropriate size and lightweight DSLR in this category. This fact is evidence by the many positive reviews it has received around the web. The only drawback is its slower auto-focus and compatibility to fewer lenses.
|Lightweight and compact.|
3-inch clear view touchscreen.
High-speed continuous shooting.
High image processing speed (DIGIC6 PROCESSOR).
|Slower autofocus.Few frames per second.|
9. Olympus PEN E-PL6 (Professional Photography)
We cannot fathom how a camera of this caliber is still available at this price range.
It’s the cheapest of all the micro four thirds available in the market and offer the best image quality amongst its competition. The gear has an optimized 16.1MP live CMOS sensor that maximizes its performance
in any shooting or light condition.
This device allows you to shoot at maximum aperture even in high-light condition thanks to wide range of ISO and superior shutter speed. Olympus PEN E-PL6 has a special truepic VI processor which features a real color technology for better color gradation and reproduction. This technology also offer greater recovery time when taking shots allowing you the freedom to capture all your moments.
You will also be able to easily take selfies because of the 1700 degrees tiltable screen. Focusing off-center is now easier and faster thanks to its quick touch focusing. With this camera, you will also say goodbye to all blurry output as its 3 axis image stabilization is top notch.
You can join the happy global customers by acquiring this device. Most of them are happy with the great value offered by the camera at such a reasonable price (under 500).
|1700 degrees tiltable touchscreen.|
3-axis image stabilization.
Has a faster image processor
Longer battery life.
|Very light on some key features.|
10. Olympus TG-4 (Best For Underwater Filming)
Do you like shooting underwater and want a waterproof camera?
Then getting the Olympus TG-4 is inevitable. This device can be used underwater up to the depth of about 15 meters and still perform better than using the point-to-shoot in their water proof cases.
The combination of features of this Olympus is unmatched, first this rugged device allows you to shoot in RAW format. Then its 16.1 MP BSI CMOS sensor combines well with its TRUE PIC VII processor to deliver photograph with crisper details and bright colors.
Shooting underwater is always challenging but you can ease all that pressure with the aid of high-speed lenses. This enables you to work optimally but capturing blur-free shots in this challenging environment. If you like sharing photos and videos (on Youtube or any social platform), you will find ease of use with this device thanks to its WI-FI connectivity.
This camera is liked by customers who love to take action shots and video in challenging environments. All around the web, positive reviews keep flowing thanks to the value and price offered by this pretty cool device.
|Has powerful macro modes.|
Superior rugged technology for adaptability in all conditions.
Ability to capture in RAW format.
F2.0 high-speed lens
|Image quality is not on par with other underwater cameras.|
11. Canon EOS M10
If you are looking for a compact camera for personal or professional use, you can check Canon EOS M10. The unique design and features of Canon EOS M10 make it ultra-simple for you to capture great photos and short clips.
The build quality of great, something you can expect from a reputed brand like canon. Though this camera is made of plastic, it feels sturdy. However, let us mention here that it is not waterproof.
Another factor of Canon EOS M10 worth a mention is its new kit lenses. Though EOS M10’s body is much petite, the lens is lighter and smaller.
It has a collapsible design, which means you can easily pack it in your travel bag without occupying much of a space. Also, it weighs just 150 grams making it a perfect companion while traveling through a challenging terrain.
It has a 15-45 mm focal length, which, we feel, is quite acceptable for landscapes, street photography, and portraits.
Contrary to what you would expect from a basic kit lens, this one is not particularly fast. It offers a maximum aperture of f3.5-6.3.
It provides 3.5 stops for the image stabilization and has a decent lower-light handheld lens. These characters will allow you to keep the shutter open a bit longer without making your photos unclear or blurry.
Another feature we really liked about this camera is its screen turns back in a full 180-degree angle on a single hinge. We feel this is a great benefit for you if you love to capture lots of selfies. It also auto-switches to a selfie mode when you twist the screen around toward the right position.
Now, talking about resolution, we must admit we are quite impressed. It delivers an 18-megapixel “fixes” the pitfalls in the AF performance.
In terms of image quality and clarity, you can trust Canon EOS M10. It has an 18-megapixel APS-C sensor that will enhance the quality of photos and clips. We found the clarity almost comparable to what you can achieve with the DSLR-cameras.
The processing brain is a DIGIC 6 that lets it shoot at 4.6fps. With Wi-Fi and NFC on-board, it makes up for a great camera for a range of purposes including vlogging, traveling, and capturing Instagram photos.
Looking at the customer reviews, Canon EOS M10 seems to be a great choice for both personal and professional users. The reviews are encouraging and express satisfaction.
We feel Canon EOS M10 is a great gear to have for beginners at $500 budget as it provides an all-around package at a competitive price.
Things we liked
- Compact design
- 49-point phase-detection system
- 18-megapixel APS-C sensor
- Wi-Fi and NFC
Things we didn’t like
- It is not waterproof
12. Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D (Body Only)
The price of a camera is not as important as its quality and functionality. As a matter of fact, quite a number of products assign their prices according to the quality and functionality of that product. When it comes to quality and functionality, this camera is embedded with many fascinating features which makes it outstanding among its pairs.
A DSLR camera with a small body, lightweight and easy to carry about. Some people are of the opinion that a product is only authentic when it’s solid and weighty. That’s a fallacy! In fact, that’s in the olden days. Products are now made lighter to ensure portability.
Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D has a dual pixel CMOS AF system with 24.2 Megapixel. This accounts for its image quality. It also has a lens mount with a three-inch touchscreen (1040,000k dots). You get the chance to enjoy a continuous shooting speed up to 5fps and high definition video at 1080p. Other amazing features include an optical viewfinder, updated DIGIC 7 processing engine, Bluetooth, Wireless & NFC for easy transfer of data and microphone attached to accompany its media abilities.
Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D is a great camera for beginners. However, it is not the latest Canon camera but it has its place among the top best canon cameras in 2019.
And if you add a bit extra on your budget, you can get a pretty decent lens to go with it.
- It has a small body which accounts for its portability.
- A dual pixel CMOS AF system
- Full HD video quality.
- Excellent image quality
- No 4k video
13. DJI OSMO Action
Every camera has what its best used for, some for distant or while some for close-range shots. This DJI Osmo Action is great for action shooters. It is a great camera for outdoor recording. For capturing unforgettable moments when sightseeing. All Thanks to the super-advanced stabilization system which enables it to make an incredible video recording of your most cherished adventure. No one came to the pool with you? Don’t worry you can still capture nice images while in water due to its waterproofing feature which supports about 11m deep into the water. A DJI Osmo Action camera with about 12 megapixels for everyday use. One of the best cameras you can get below $500. Also, DJI Osmo Action has a maximum video resolution at 1080p Full HD. This is why it stands out when it comes to vlogging. Not to leave out some other basic features of this wonderful camera which includes: a sensor of 1/2.3 inch, 4k video resolution and a lens of 148 degrees point of view. It is an incredible camera for outdoor photography. You can enjoy the view from two ends- front and rear. With this dual LCD feature, you can take a good shot from both ends. It is highly recommended for beginners.
- 4k video resolution
- Zoom in range of 8x
- Available and easily accessible
- Dual screen
- Highly improved stabilization system
- Waterproof feature
- No viewfinder
- Not ideal for professional use.
Which One To Make Decision On?
There are so many choices at different price when it comes to buying the best camera under $500.
Making an informed decision will require you to consider all your need and research extensively to find your perfect match. This can only happen if you are aware of the key factors to look for in a good digital cam under this category.
But before then you should be able to differentiate between point-to-shoot, DSLR and mirrorless cameras.
- Point-to-shoot cameras
These cameras have smaller image sensors, attached zoom lenses and some other key camera features like WI-FI connection. They are most preferred by beginners because they are very easy to use.
- DSLR cameras
The digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras combines the mechanism and optics of SLR with superior digital image sensor instead of a photographic film. This makes this camera the best for many enthusiast and professionals.
- Mirrorless cameras
This is a new breed of cameras in the market. They present a more compact form and a DSLR-like image sensor in one package. These video cameras offer great flexibility and price because of their interchangeable lenses.
The following are some of the key character you should check before buying a mirrorless camera.
- Get the one with the capability to shoot 1080p video, keep in mind that it’s difficult to get one with 4K video capability in this category.
- The best option should have a burst rate of at least 3 to 5 fps.
- It would be perfect to select a camera with a tiltable touchscreen.
- Due to technological advancement, the best one in this category would probably have an electronic viewfinder.
What to choose – Interchangeable or fixed lens?
After knowing the difference between point-to-shoot, DSLR and mirrorless cameras, the next thing to know is what lens to choose – interchangeable or fixed lens.
1. Interchangeable Lens
Flexibility-wise, nothing can compare with interchangeable lenses. This is because it helps the photographers/videographers to achieve the effect and style they want.
There are wide varieties of lenses available and some of the options you have are wide-angle, telephoto, micro, and fisheye lenses. Each type of the lens has different effects on every camera model and brand (no matter Nikon or Canon). So to ensure the compatibility between the lens and your camera, always check your camera specifications.
2. Fixed Lens
The interchangeable lenses may be helpful, but changing lenses every time can be stressful. This is the reason many still choose fixed-lens cameras instead of DSLR cameras.
Well, what’s not to like? It’s light, portable and reliable. Traveling light made easier with this camera on-hand.
It may have some limitation, but these limitations can turn into a good challenge for every photographer to be more creative and strategic.
Note: Interchangeable and fixed lens both produces high-resolution image quality. So, whichever you choose, you’ll still end up getting the shot you wanted.
What is the difference between sensor size and megapixels (MP)?
This is one of the most frequently asked question. You should know that, despite being heavily advertised the megapixel of your camera has less impact on the quality of image produced.
Then, know that sensor size dictates the surface area the camera uses to collect lighting and other important details of digital photographs. On the other hand pixels are the tiny dots that are found on the sensor.
Taking all advantages into consideration we appreciate the fact that every video camera has a highlight and a minor drawback. That’s nature!
However, for the best buying choice under 500, we’d recommend the Sony alpha a5000 as the best device out the list.
- First, it has a tiltable touchscreen which goes well with selfie lovers and it WI-FI connectivity supports instant sharing.
- Secondly, the camera has a built-in pop-up flash and is able to capture full HD movies in both cinematic mode and standard 6i. We cannot fail to mention its fast continuous shooting speed of up to 3.5fps.
- Finally you can be able to personalize your device by adding more feature from the PlayMemory apps.
All these features, combined with its lightweight, best price and compact design makes it a near perfect device for this category.