best digital camera under 500 dollars

Are you searching for the best digital camera under 500 dollars but got lost in all the brands and camera models? Don’t really know how to choose? I’ve got you covered!

It’s true that when your budget gets a little more comfortable, you suddenly have a lot of options and it only makes it harder to choose. Should you choose a point and shoot? A mirrorless camera? A DSLR?

I quite struggled to choose my best pick, between the Canon EOS M10 mirrorless camera and the Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR. Both are great cameras and I believe they both offer great value for money. I ended up choosing the M10, because I feel its technical specifications are a little more recent, and for under $500 you can only get a refurbished Rebel T6.

That said, if you dream of getting a DSLR, by all means get the Rebel T6! These refurbished cameras are certified to be exactly like new, and the user reviews seem to confirm that we can trust this.

These of course are not the only good cameras in this price range. I have selected below what I think are the top 7 best cameras under 500 dollars you can get in 2018, followed by a guide to help you make a wise choice. Let’s go!

The 6 Best Cameras Under 500 Dollars for 2018

Canon EOS M10 Mirrorless Camera KitOur Top Pick

The Canon M10 is a great compact mirrorless camera that is packed with functionality. Its 18 MP CMOS sensor coupled with the recent DIGIC 6 processor result in a very good image quality and a camera that isn’t lagging every time you press a button.

The ISO sensibility is great, expandable to 25600, which greatly helps in low light conditions. The continuous shooting is quite good at 4.6 fps, enabling you to get the perfect shot of fast-moving action.

Connectivity is good with both Wi-Fi and NFC available, making it easy to transfer pictures, control the camera remotely or even print your images remotely.

Like many cameras of this level, it offers lots of scenes modes and creative adjustments for your pictures – but is able to shoot RAW pictures as well.

Just like for DSLRs, a wide range of lenses are compatible and offer a good versatility.

Last but not least, another great feature of this camera is its touch screen that can tilt up to 180°.

If you are looking for a camera that I both very compact and powerful, this one is a serious option you should check out, and it’s my top pick!

 Quick Specifications

  • Type: Mirrorless Camera
  • Dimensions: 3 x 4 x 1 in / 7.6 x 10.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Weight: 0.9 lbs / 408 g
  • Resolution: 18 MP
  • ISO: 100 – 25600
  • Video: Full HD 1080p

Pros

  • Small and Lightweight
  • Good quality optics
  • High ISO sensibility
  • Flexible LCD touch screen
  • Continuous shooting with 4.6 frames per second
  • DIGIC 6 Image Processor
  • Good connectivity
  • Full HD video

Cons

  • No port for external microphone

Nikon D3400

At just under 500 dollars, the Nikon D3400 is a really great entry-level DSLR. Thanks to its high quality Nikkor optics, the EXPEED 4 image processor and a 24 megapixel resolution, this camera is capable of shooting beautiful, sharp images.

Its high ISO sensibility (up to 25600) makes shooting in the dark easier with sharper pictures.

It also offers wireless connectivity with the Bluetooth SnapBridge system, allowing you to connect your camera with up to 5 devices, sharing images and backing them up. However, Wi-Fi is not available.

As for the video, it is very satisfying with a full HD 1080p quality, but we can regret that there is no external microphone port.

The Nikon D3400 was designed with simplicity and ease of use in mind, and it’s a great option for a first DSLR, or if you want superior image quality without breaking the bank.

 Quick Specifications

  • Type: DSLR (APS-C)
  • Dimensions: 88 x 2.95 x 3.86 in / 12.4 x 5.1 x 7.6 cm
  • Weight: 0.87 lb / 395 g
  • Resolution: 24.2 MP
  • ISO: 100 – 25600
  • Video: Full HD 1080p

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • Good image quality
  • Continuous shooting with 5 frames per second
  • SnapBridge Bluetooth system
  • Full HD video

Cons

  • No Wi-Fi
  • No external microphone port

Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera Kit

This bestselling DSLR from Canon is normally costs a little over $500, but Amazon now offers refurbished cameras that are certified to work like new and come with a warranty. It’s a great opportunity to get your hands on this wonderful piece of technology at a lower price!

This 18 megapixel DSLR camera is a great choice for beginners, as it offers interesting features and good performance (with the DIGIC 4+ processor), with ease of use and affordable pricing.

The wireless connectivity is good with both Wi-Fi and NFC available, so you can easily connect this camera with your smartphone or your tablet to control it remotely or share images.

The Rebel T6 also records full HD 1080p video which is now the norm for most cameras (when they don’t shoot 4k).

The ISO sensibility is not bad – but not impressive, expandable to 12800. But typically, the pictures get quite noisy when you go above 1600.

Overall, the Rebel T6 is a very good option as an entry-level DSLR available for under 500 dollars!

 Quick Specifications

  • Type: DSLR (APS-C)
  • Dimensions: 4 x 8.8 x 6.6 in / 12.7 x 20.3 x 15.2 cm
  • Weight: 3 lbs / 1.36 kg
  • Resolution: 18 MP
  • ISO: 100 – 12800
  • Video: Full HD 1080p

Pros

  • Good image quality
  • Continuous shooting with 3 frames per second
  • Wi-Fi and NFC wireless connectivity
  • Full HD video

Cons

  • ISO performance not too bad but not amazing

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Digital Camera

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 is not a DSLR but a bridge point & shoot camera. It is an interesting option for those who want an all-in-one camera and do not wish to be buying new lenses in the future.

Right off the bat, what catches the attention with this camera is the great 24x optical zoom, offering a very good versatility. It is equivalent to a 25-600 mm lens! Moreover, this lens opens at f/2.8 which is a great asset in low light, along with the Optical Image Stabilizer.

The technical specifications are generally fine but not impressive – a 12 MP resolution, ISO up to 6400. However, the continuous shooting more is very good, at 12 frames per second.

The video recording is satisfying as well, with a full HD 1080p quality.

The Lumix DMC-FZ200 is a nice little camera for people who don’t feel ready for a DSLR yet (or don’t feel like going into DSLRs), highly versatile and great for travel.

 Quick Specifications

  • Type: Point & Shoot
  • Dimensions: 33 x 4.92 x 3.43 in / 11 x 12.5 x 8.7 cm
  • Weight: 1.3 lbs / 589.6 g
  • Resolution: 12.1 MP
  • ISO: 100 – 6400
  • Zoom: 24x optical zoom
  • Video: Full HD 1080p

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • High quality Leica lens
  • Great zoom
  • Many scene and creative modes
  • Continuous shooting with 12 frames per second
  • Optical Image Stabilizer
  • Full HD video

Cons

  • Only 12 MP
  • ISO only up to 6400

Sony DSC-RX100 Digital Camera

The Sony DSC-RX100 is a compact point & shoot camera with great capabilities that you can slide in your pocket. Many creative modes are available, as well as interesting functionality such as panoramas or HDR pictures.

But if you prefer to control the settings of your camera, manual and semi-manual modes are also present, which is really cool. This camera also shoots RAW pictures, if you are into post-processing.

For fast moving scenes, the continuous shooting mode is very good, up to 10 frames per seconds.

The ISO is a little limited, capped at 6400. But that’s OK because the the Carl Zeiss lens opens to f/1.8 which is VERY bright! As a result, good quality low light images are much easier to get. Sony’s SteadyShot image stabilization helps even getting that non-blurry, low light photo.

The only thing that I find truly limiting in this camera is the optical zoom, only 3.6x.

The Sony RX100 is a good option if you are looking for a good quality, feature-rich compact point & shoot camera.

 Quick Specifications

  • Type: Point & Shoot
  • Dimensions: 41 x 4 x 2.29 in / 3.6 x 10.2 x 5.1 cm
  • Weight: 0.53 lb / 240 g
  • Resolution: 20.2 MP
  • ISO: 100 – 6400
  • Zoom: 3.6x optical zoom
  • Video: Full HD 1080p

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Strong metal body
  • High quality f/1.8 Carl Zeiss lens
  • Automatic, semi-automatic and manual modes
  • Shoots RAW images
  • SteadyShot image stabilization
  • Continuous shooting with 10 frames per second
  • Wi-Fi & NFC wireless connectivity
  • Full HD video

Cons

  • Small zoom
  • ISO only up to 6400

Panasonic Lumix FZ80 Digital Camera

Designed with travelers in mind, the Panasonic Lumix FZ80 is quite similar to the FZ200 described above, but with generally superior specifications.

The first thing that catches the attention is a huge 60x zoom, definitely the big selling point of this camera.

The second thing that catches the attention is the 4K video recording, which is most welcome because the majority of cameras in this price range only offer full HD.

About $400 for these features alone is already good value!

On top of that, it offers an interesting focus stacking and “post focus” functionality that allows you to change the depth of field of your image (in focus / out of focus parts) after your took the picture. This is done through the 3” touch screen at the back.

The more usual functions and features such as image stabilization, various automatic and creative modes, wireless connectivity… are also present.

Overall, it’s a good camera with up-to-date features (such as the 4K video) and a good value for money.

 Quick Specifications

  • Type: Point & Shoot
  • Dimensions: 13 x 4.69 x 3.71 in / 13 x 11.9 x 9.4 cm
  • Weight: 1.36 lbs / 617 g
  • Resolution: 18.1 MP
  • ISO: 80 – 6400
  • Zoom: 60x optical zoom
  • Video: 4K at 30 fps

Pros

  • Very versatile
  • Phenomenal 60x zoom
  • 4K photo burst function
  • In-camera USB battery charging
  • Optical Image Stabilizer
  • Touch screen
  • RAW format is supported
  • 4K video

Cons

  • Durability is questionable as reported by quite a few users
  • Image stabilization is much less effective when using the zoom
  • ISO only up to 6400 in extended mode

Nikon COOLPIX B700 Digital Camera

The Coolpix B700 is like a Nikon version of the Panasonic Lumix FZ80 above, sharing the same key features: a 60x optical zoom and 4K video capture. The Nikon, however, records video sound in stereo which is a noticeable improvement.

Another positive point for the Nikon Coolpix B700 is its 3” touchscreen that is totally rotatable.

Nikon’s SnapBridge connection system and app allows you to connect your camera to your smartphone or tablet.

On a negative side, the ISO sensibility is really quite limited, at 1600. It is fine for most cases but it is well below what other cameras offer.

In spit of this weak ISO sensibility, I believe it’s worth choosing the Nikon Coolpix over the Panasonic, if it’s the kind of camera you’re after.

 Quick Specifications

  • Type: Point & Shoot
  • Dimensions: ‎4.9 x 3.3 x 4.2 in / 12.5 x 8.5 x 10.7 cm
  • Weight: 1.26 lbs / 570 g
  • Resolution: 20.2 MP
  • ISO: 100 – 1600
  • Zoom: 60x optical zoom
  • Video: 4K at 30 fps

Pros

  • Very versatile
  • Great 60x zoom
  • Good quality Nikkor optics
  • Flexible touch screen
  • SnapBridge connectivity
  • Supports the RAW format
  • 4K video with stereo sound

Cons

  • Weak ISO sensibility

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Factors to Consider When Choosing my Camera?

The first thing to consider is what type of camera you want. Buying a point & shoot or a DSLR is not the same experience. You can check below for more explanations about the different types of cameras.

Image quality: Obviously, that’s an important one. Usually, for about 400-500 dollars you can expect a good image quality and the cameras are equiped with decent image processors. If you like more control, make sure that manual modes are present and that RAW format is supported by your camera, to allow proper post-processing.

Video quality: This may or may not be a priority to you, but for this price range, you can expect 1080p full HD video which is pretty good. As you have noticed from the camera descriptions above, some models even offer 4K video capture, which is of course even better. If you are shooting a lot of video, another factor to consider is the quality of the sound. Is the microphone very basic? Or stereo? Does the camera have a port for you to plug a better, external mic?

Low light performance: This one is both important and difficult to assess. The problem comes the fact that the camera needs more exposure time to correctly expose a scene in low light. If during that time you move the camera (which is inevitable without a tripod), the image is blurred. That said, cameras have different ways to counter this.

It can be by increasing the ISO sensibility. If you are planning to shoot many pictures in the evening for example, it can be useful to have high ISO available. However, a nasty side effect of high ISO is a noisy image. But a noisy image is always better than a completely blurred image.

Most cameras have a built-in image stabilization, and each brand has develop their own system. They can save your picture in slightly challenging conditions, but if it gets really dark or if you zoom a lot, they will only work to some extent.

The best is to have a bright lens (that is able to open very wide – think numbers like f/2.8, f/1.8…). These lenses are able to let much more light in, directly cutting the exposure time and allowing you to get sharp images without even needing to increase the ISO. For DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, you can always buy brighter lenses later, but for point & shoot cameras it can be a buying decision factor.

Wireless connectivity: If you are one of those who enjoy connecting your camera to your phone and sharing your images, you should check that the proper connection systems are included in the camera (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC)

Features & Functionality: Nowadays, most digital cameras are really packed with a whole variety of functions and features. Don’t get into a race for the most features, just look at what you intend to use and make sure your prospect camera does these well.

Point & Shoot? Mirrorless? DSLR?

It’s easy to get lost in all the types of cameras available on the market nowadays. Which type should you choose? There are advantages and disadvantages to consider, and it all comes down to personal preference and how you will use your camera.

Point & Shoot cameras have a built-in lens that can’t be changed. It means that optics quality, maximum aperture, maximum zoom… are all definitive. They can take the form of very compact cameras you can carry in your pocket, or larger small DSLR-like cameras with an ergonomic grip on the side and usually an impressive zoom. This type of cameras is mostly aimed at beginner photographers, who just want nice pictures without too much hassle and without getting into buying extra lenses.

DSLRs are the most professional type of cameras, with interchangeable lenses. Generally, they have the most advanced technology and are highly versatile thanks to a large variety of specialized lenses enabling you to get exceptional, high quality images.

Mirrorless cameras are a bit in the middle, like the best of both worlds. DSLRs use a small mirror to project the image from the lens into the viewfinder. In mirrorless cameras, as their name suggests, this mirror doesn’t exist and they are equiped with an electronic viewfinder instead, when they have one. Often, the screen is used to frame the pictures.

Mirrorless cameras, like DSLRs, use interchangeable lenses. They ally the versatility of DSLRs and the portability of point & shoot cameras.

So which one should you get?

Again, it depends on your priorities. Want the absolute best image quality and lens versatility? Get a DSLR.

Want a very good image quality but it’s also important that the camera is very portable? Get a mirrorless camera. Mirrorless cameras are getting really good and can rival many DSLRs in terms of image quality.

Want a hassle-free camera that does most of the work for you? Get a point and shoot camera.

Why Don’t You Display Prices on This Page?

Well, at least you know that all these 7 cameras are below $500. I chose not to state clear prices here simply because prices vary all the time. It would be impossible to keep them up to date so instead of risking to display false information, I prefer to give you a link for you to check the latest price of the camera you like.

How Did You Choose Your Top Pick?

As I said earlier in the introduction, I hesitated between the Rebel T6 DSLR and the M10 mirrorless camera, and ended up chosing the latter for slightly superior specs. The top pick is the camera I feel gives you the best quality and the best features for the best price – the best value for money.

Again, it’s not an exact science and just my personal opinion, that’s why I show you 7 cameras on this page and not only my top pick – because your opinion might differ from mine.

Final Thoughts

That’s it for this article, I hope that it helped you find the best digital camera under 500 dollars that you were looking for. Cameras can get much, much more expensive than that but already for that price you can get something solid and reliable.

I tried my best to select the top cameras. Even if they are not perfect, I am confident that they can satisfy your needs.

Disclosure: Exploration Junkie is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

If you purchase an item on Amazon through the affiliate links in this page, this website will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps us keeping this site ad-free, and it helps you say thank you if our content is useful to you 🙂


Did you enjoy this article?

Subscribe today and receive free updates straight in your inbox. No spam, ever!



I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )

0 Comments

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

CONTACT US

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Sending

©2018 ExplorationJunkie

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?