The Best Camera Under 500 – A 2018 Detailed Review
Photos and videos are the currencies of the digital generation. Without a good camera, you’d end up being locked out of the joys that come with Vlogging, Instagramming and so forth. And even if you’re not into social media, the best camera under 500 can help you capture those precious moments like a pro.
In the following review, we’ll compare 10 different camera using metrics like:
Our goal is to provide you with meaningful and actionable insights. So, enjoy the read.
Table of Contents
- The Best Camera Under 500 – A 2018 Detailed Review
- 10 Best Camera Under 500 Options Compared Table
- The best Cameras Under $500 in 2018
- 1. Nikon D5300 DSLR Camera with 24.2 MP.
- 2. Canon EOS Rebel EF-S Rebel T5 Camera
- 3. Sony RX100 Compact Digital Camera with 20.2 MP CMOS Sensor
- 4. Nikon D3400 AF-P DX Nikkor
- 5. Canon EOX Rebel T6 DSLR Camera
- 6. Olympus TG-5 V104190BU000 Waterproof Camera
- 7. Canon Powershot SX60 Model #954B001
- 8. Sony a5100 Mirrorless Digital Camera
- 9. Canon PowerShot SX720
- 10. Canon PowerShot SX530 Digital Camera
- The Buying Guide
- Final Thoughts
10 Best Camera Under 500 Options Compared Table
Worry not; we’ll keep the reviews as simple as possible. Best of all, you can still take advantage of the comparisons chart below to make a quick but informed choice.
The best Cameras Under $500 in 2018
1. Nikon D5300 DSLR Camera with 24.2 MP.
The Nikon D5300 is probably the best DSLR camera you can find with a budget of under $500. Why so? Because, first off, it comes with a 24.2-megapixel power. In other words, you can use it to shoot high-quality and printable images.
Its CMOS sensor works seamlessly and goes a long way to make your photography better. That’s in addition to its 39-point AF system which does a superb job of 3D tracking and metering.
Worth noting is that the D5300 provides you with a 5 FPS. Of course, that may not be good enough for fast action shooting but it certainly helps.
We’d recommend using this kind of camera for formal shooting events. For instance, you can use it for weddings, birthday parties, baby bump shoots and so forth.
As long as you can control the movements of the subject, you can capture award-winning shots with this. However, if you’re not in a position to guide the movements of your subject, you may want to look for a camera with a higher FPS.
Moving on, this Nikon camera provides you with an ISO 100- 12800 (which can be expanded to 25600). That’s quite high. In fact, you can use this camera to shoot great images even in dimly lit areas or when the evening is approaching.
As you might be aware, the higher the ISO, the higher the light sensitivity of the camera gets.
Moving on, this piece of equipment boasts an LCD display. The good thing about this display is that it can be adjusted to suit different tilted angles. On top of that, the LCD display provides 1,037,000 dots which is a pretty high resolution.
And as far as image resolution is concerned, you’ll be stunned to learn that this unit comes with a 1080p. That’s the dependability you need to capture HD video images.
2. Canon EOS Rebel EF-S Rebel T5 Camera
Who said you have to break the bank to get a functional camera? The Canon EF-S piece of wonder is meant to offer you all the power you need on a low budget.
Picture this – the rebel comes with a powerful 18 megapixel CMOS sensor. Just to mention, an 18MP sensor is capable of delivering professional photo shots.
Of course, the lower the MP, the lower the quality of your shots is likely to be. But 18MP isn’t really low and so we think the T5 remains a good bet.
If anything, it comes with a DIGIC 4 image processor which does an incredible job. Then its standard zoom lens further expands your picture taking possibilities.
And in case you’d like to shoot some videos with this, you’d be glad to learn that it’s a 1080p unit. At 1080p, you can rest assured to capture some HD movie content. This is way better than some overpriced 720p models can offer.
But of course, 1080p is still below 4K quality. So, if you’re after a cheap camera for 4K video content you may need to widen your search.
Another downside of this piece of equipment is that it provides you with 3FPS. That’s quite a slow shooting speed. However, the only time you’re likely to notice this issue is when you try to use this unit for fast action shots.
In a nutshell, if you’re looking for a simple camera for recording day-to-day events with, the T5 would be a superb choice. However, if you’re looking for a versatile unit that can be pushed to the limits, this might not be it.
On a positive note, this camera provides you with an ISO range of up to 12800. That’s way above our minimum recommendation of 1600. As such, this is a great device to use even when faced with poorly lit conditions.
3. Sony RX100 Compact Digital Camera with 20.2 MP CMOS Sensor
Packing a 20.1-megapixel sensor, the Sony Vario-Sonnar stands out with its ability to deliver award-winning shots. That’s despite its small stature which also makes it incredibly portable.
Moving on, this unit has an ISO range of 125 – 6400 but with the capacity to be expanded for up to 25,600. That makes it an ideal choice for low light shooting.
What about fast action shooting? Well, the Sony Vario-Sonnar performs way better than any other cam reviewed so far. That’s because it delivers an incredible 10FPS. Of course, 10FPS may still not rival what some high-end cameras for live concerts offer but it’s definitely quite something.
We’d particularly single out this camera model for its versatility. It can be used for both slow and fast action scenarios. At the same time, it’s affordably priced and armed with a powerful CMOS sensor.
Best of all, if used for record videos, the Sony delivers an incredible 1080p output. That’s fantastic especially for anyone looking for HD content.
The icing on the cake is that this camera is quite tiny yet rugged. Its body, for instance, is tough and well built. The housing itself is made from aluminum. As you know, aluminum is quite tough yet light in weight.
So, we’d go for the Vario-Sonnar any day. Its photo quality even in low-light conditions is nothing short of incredible. Above all, the camera fares well even in burst mode.
You would have to work really hard to find a flaw with this device. However, it would be incorrect to say that it’s flawless. For instance, some users have so far complained that it drains battery power within hours.
4. Nikon D3400 AF-P DX Nikkor
Maybe you are looking for a powerful camera that’s best suited for well-choreographed photo taking sessions. Well, in that case, we’d like to single out the D3400 for you.
Armed with a 24.2-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor, this under $400 camera is built to stun. As we’d mentioned, the moment your camera’s MP is beyond 20MP, you can look forward to stellar quality.
We’re glad to confirm that this camera not only conforms to that requirement but also exceeds it. And to top it all up, it provides an EXPEED 4 image processor.
At 5FPS, though, we think it may not be the best pick for fast action photography. That’s why we specifically said that we think this unit is best suited for well-choreographed photography.
Are you a versatile photographer? Well, we’re sorry to burst your bubble but this may slow you down when a fast burst mode is needed. In that case, we’d recommend the Sony RX100.
Looking to capture some wonderful videos for your Vlogging channel? The D3400 achieves and exceeds the requirements. In fact, you can confidently use it to 1080/60p FHD video content.
Most importantly, the device’s motor is smooth and quiet. What’s more? It has a strong autofocus system which comes in handy when you need to take great quality shorts with awesome accuracy.
And what about simplicity? There’s no doubt that the photos captured using the D3400 are superb and lifelike. Indeed, the device’s freeze fast-action makes it the go-to choice for still photos.
Our editors found this, also to be the best camera under 500 for capturing portraits. Perhaps the best part is that you can comfortably use the D3400 to share images through WiFi and Bluetooth.
5. Canon EOX Rebel T6 DSLR Camera
Who said you can’t find a cheap camera that can capture RAW images? The T6 is one of the few, affordably priced units that can do that.
So, if you’re waiting for the right expression on someone’s face or looking forward to capturing some beautiful sunset shots, the T6 is your best friend. Its startup speed is quite great plus the machine also comes with a speedy AF.
We liked the fact that this unit has virtually no shutter lag. And, therefore, if you’re looking for a machine that doesn’t skimp on quality, we’d suggest you go for this one.
However, we’re a bit concerned that it comes with a 3.0 FPS. That’s quite low. The manufacturer recommends it for recording the action on the soccer field but we tend to think otherwise.
Its powerful sensor makes it superb for high-quality portrait shots. Indeed, you can confidently use the EOX to capture all the right expressions on your subject’s face.
However, the camera would definitely struggle when faced with continuous shooting tasks. Other than that, everything else from its ISO range to its auto white balance seems great.
In fact, the T6 comes with a built-in food mode. This gives you all the freedom you need to change the scene type or ambiance of your shots. Are you looking to exercise your creative energy? Get the T6 and you’ll be quite happy with the options it offers you.
6. Olympus TG-5 V104190BU000 Waterproof Camera
What exactly defines you as a photographer? If you’re one of those photographers who prefer to go beyond the obvious, the TG-5 is a must-have.
It’s, however, best suited for outdoor use than any other use. This explains its rugged design. Can you imagine that it comes with a waterproof casing which keeps it safe even as deep as 15ft under water?
And there’s more. The TG-5 is crushproof for up to 220 lbf, shockproof for up to 7ft and freezeproof for up to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Who else can beat that?
So, there’s no disputing that this is a wonderful camera for outdoor lovers. So whether you’re heading out to climb the Kilimanjaro or pondering on the option of a Scuba dive in the Maldives, go for the TG-5.
Beneath the hood is a powerful 12-megapixel image sensor. This works great for low light shots and also works quietly.
Its high-speed lens makes it a perfect bet for capturing instant shots. And its powerful processor makes it a reliable choice for microscope modes and raw capture.
One indisputable fact about this unit is that it’s the ultimate king of the jungle. And as you know, the jungle has its surprises. Fortunately, the Olympus makes sure you’re always ready all thanks to its 20 FPS burst shooting power.
Yup, you’ve read that right. The TG-5 offers twice as much burst shooting power as the Sony RX100 and almost 7 times as much FPS as the Canon EOX Rebel T6.
In fact, it’s surprising to see that the Olympus goes for an under 500 price tag. This begs the question – what are its weaknesses?
Well, the TG-5 isn’t infallible after all! Some users have raised issues with its WiFi connectivity. We’d like to concur with that fact. In our experience, its WiFi works best with cell phones as opposed to PCs. Its user-interface is yet another letdown. We found it to be somewhat clumsy though still tolerable.
7. Canon Powershot SX60 Model #954B001
The Olympus TG-5 may be great for outdoor photography but it can’t rival the kind of video recording power the SX60 from Canon has. Armed with a superior 1080p FHD capacity, this piece of equipment does an incredible job of capturing realistic shots.
That’s all thanks to its built-in ultrasonic motor, 3.5mm external microphone (optional), and Voice Coil Motor (VCM). Therefore, you can count on this handy device to do an incredible job at all times. That’s made even better by the presence of a dedicated movie button.
User experience is yet another thing that catapults the SX60 miles ahead of the pack. Its Apple iFrame format makes it a computer-friendly pick at any day.
So, even after a tiring day in the fields, you’re bound to have an easy time transferring all the images for editing.What’s more? This unit is designed in such a manner that it keeps all your images small. So, even if you’ve captured quite a few RAW files, it’ll still downsize them for easy emailing and uploading.
In other words, if you know how to use it, this can be a superb time saver. What’s more? It’s designed to support both Windows and Mac applications which give you the power to control the quality of your content.
Its 16.1-megapixel sensor and a 60FPS make this one of the most versatile pieces of equipment reviewed so far.
However, its ISO range isn’t that superb. In fact, we’d suggest to the good guys from Canon to completely get rid of the 100 ISO limit particularly for exposures that exceed one second.
In fact, the main reason why this great camera missed out on the top position is that its low light performance is below par. Had Canon taken care of the ISO issue, this camera has the potential to take over the low-price segment of this market.
8. Sony a5100 Mirrorless Digital Camera
This is a mirrorless camera meaning it’s slightly different from the DSLR cameras. Typically, DSLRs are huge and clumsy. Mirrorless cameras like the a5100 are, on the other hand, recommended as pocket cameras.
That’s because they tend to be incredibly light in weight. They’re also best suited for minimalistic use.
Zooming in to the Sony a5100, it’s clear that it provides a 1080p image recording power. That’s in addition to it coming with a superior 24MP image sensor.
So, whichever way you look at it, this is a superb digital camera. Its image and video recording power come second to none.
That said, you need to know how to utilize this power for you to get the most out of it. This is further complicated by the fact that this machine offers 6FPS.
In other words, it’s likely to disappoint you if you use it for fast-action shooting. For that reason, we’d recommend the Sony a5100 for capturing portraits, images of landmarks or videos for personal use.
9. Canon PowerShot SX720
The good things in life come in small packages – that’s exactly what the SX720 stands for. Despite its small stature, it packs a 20.3 megapixel CMOS sensor.
That’s enough to rival any other mid-range priced unit on the market. And what’s more? It comes with a DIGIC 6 image processor which goes a long way to deliver great images even in poorly lit conditions.
Its 40X optical zoom, though not the best in the market, does a good job. It particularly excels when paired up with the machine’s intelligent IS which helps bolster image stabilization.
Another awesome attribute of the SX720 is that it has the power to capture a spectacular 1080p video quality. Its stereo sound power stands tall at 60p. How cool is that?
For enhanced user-friendliness, the SX720 comes with a 3-inch LCD screen. This packs a remarkable 922,000 dots effectively allowing for easy viewing even under wide angles.
Planning for a family vacation? The PowerShot SX720 won’t let you down. In fact, it’s NFC and WiFi is worth dying for.
10. Canon PowerShot SX530 Digital Camera
Whether you want to experiment with images that are seemingly out of reach or up-close shots, the SX530 is the in thing. It boasts a comfortable grip complete with an advanced zoom framing assist.
Apart from that, this device stands out with its reliable wireless connectivity. Indeed, this feature transforms image sharing into a simple and seamless activity.
On top of that, we fell in love with its video capturing power. Yes indeed, this cheap camera provides you with a decent 1080p video recording power. Its 16-megapixel sensor also comes in handy when you have to capture great shots in low light conditions.
Moving on, this camera boasts a 50X optical zoom. That’s all the power you need to zoom in and get hold of all the tiny details that can make your photographs stand out.
Let’s also not overlook the machines incredible handheld grip. This makes it a boon for anyone who’d like to capture great shots comfortably.
Another awesome fact to note about this system is that it houses an HS system. This provides you with all the tracking power you need to excel even when shooting in dimly lit rooms. Its ISO range of up to 3200 makes it a conservative choice.
Of course, we’ve seen cameras with a higher ISO range. But who said you need a really high ISO to excel? In fact, in some cases, it the ISO is too high, you might end up with grainy shots.
So, we genuinely think that this unique camera would not disappoint. But in order for that to happen, you need to be in a position to know how to make good use of the features it has in store for you.
The Buying Guide
Looking for a comprehensive cheap camera buying guide? Look no further. Below is a simplified guide to help you make an informed choice.
DSLR vs. Mirrorless Camera
DSLRs are quite popular and that’s mainly because they come with interchangeable lenses. They, therefore, present you with more growth opportunities going forward. On the flipside, though DSLRs are tricky for newbies to use. Mirrorless cameras, on the other hand, are pretty light in weight and tiny. They’re also incredibly easy to use. However, they may limit your growth potential since they offer no room for upgrading the lenses.
ISO controls matter because of light sensitivity. As you know, light conditions may vary from time to time. However, we generally recommend going for at least ISO1600. Worth noting, however, is that a high ISO often means more noise in some cases.
Our basic recommendation, in this case, is that you should go for a unit with at least 15MPs. Such an MP would enable you to capture quality shots at any day. Anything between 10 and 15MP would also be great but not stellar.
If you’re planning for an outdoor photo shooting escapade, we’d recommend investing in a weatherproof camera. Generally, your camera’s housing should be well made. You may want to insist on getting a camera whose body is built from aluminum for added durability and lightweight.
Which One Is Best For You?
There’s no one-size-fits-all as far as cameras are concerned. However, if we were to pick our favorite among these 10, we’d go for the Sony RX100. That’s because it offers a superb balance of features. In fact, it enjoys raving reviews from its users. The RX100 is also pretty versatile.
So, the next time you head out to shop for the best camera under 500, remember not to compromise. Our reviews contain all the guidelines you need to make an informed choice. So, go ahead and take advantage of it to land some awesome deals.