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The Best Cameras Under $500 – 2023 Edition

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The Best Camera Under $500

People can often be turned off by the rather high price tag of the highest-end cameras. They see fancy kits that are well over a grand and their eyes just glaze over. Understandably, most people will just use the camera on their phone after seeing such a high cost. The great news is that cameras under 500 dollars are way more common than you may think. They come with loads of features and are a massive upgrade over your phone. If you are curious about what is the best camera under 500 dollars, then this guide will be of great interest to you.

Our Top Cameras Under $500 for 2023:

Best Mirrorless Cameras

Sony a5100 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Even though the Sony Alpha A5100 is getting a bit old, having been released almost 6 years ago, it is still an extremely compact camera with a lot of quality and high-performance specs to offer. It is difficult not to like it, especially given its very affordable price.

The Sony Alpha A5100 is a more compact and lightweight version of the Sony Alpha A6000. In terms of features and performance, the two cameras are very similar.

Though they boast the same features under the hood- a 24.4 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, the BIONZ X processing engine, 25 contrast-detection points, 179 phase-detection autofocus points, and a pop-up flash, they also both offer the same general image quality with their sensors.

The Sony Alpha A5100’s continuous shooting speed is significantly lower than the Sony Alpha a6000, at only 5.9fps compared to the a6000’s 11fps.

One of the great things about the Sony Alpha A5100’s fliped LCD screen is its ability of touch control. but, the Sony Alpha A5100 does not have a hot shoe for external attachments, and it also does not have a viewfinder. So, it can be more difficult to compose a photo in a crowded or brightly lit situation.

The Sony a5100 mirrorless camera is able to autofocus during video recording, and the phase-detection AF points track your face around the screen quite well.

It produces stunning JPEGs and RAWs at 24 MP, allowing you to print 300 dpi enlargements at around 20 x 13.3 in.

Sharing photos is easy and fun with the built-in WiFi and NFC. Simply install the Sony Play Memories App, then touch the camera to the phone for a connection. Your images will transfer quickly and easily, or you can control the camera remotely.


  • Affordable
  • Good image quality
  • Good beginners camera
  • Lightweight


  • limited touch screen capabilities
  • Lack of viewfinder
  • Lack of hot shoe

Canon EOS M100

The Canon EOS M100 is a budget-friendly compact digital camera that is perfect for beginners. It has a

compact body, but is packed with powerful semi-pro features and specs.

The M-100 is a great entry-level camera for those just starting out in photography. It may not be the most exciting camera for a seasoned photographer, but it is a great option for those just getting started.

This compact camera is marketed as a way to quickly and easily share great photos to social media at a higher level of quality than what is typically possible with a smartphone.

Although smartphones have some great cameras with great capabilities, the Canon EOS M100 largely delivers on its promise of being a very affordable photo creation tool, with the added bonus of being able to use interchangeable lenses – something that smartphones lack.

The Canon EOS M100 is a great choice for anyone looking for a high-quality camera on a budget. It comes with a full-blown APS-C CMOS sensor that delivers a beautifully sharp 24.2 functional MP resolution, making it comparable to some of the best smartphones on the market. But what really sets the M100 apart is its affordable price tag and additional features, which make it a great value for the money.

The interchangeable lens capacity gives you the ability to use different lenses to get the desired effect for your social media photography, while a low light capacity allows you to take clear and respectable photos even in dim lighting.

The Canon EOS M100 boasts a continuous shooting rate of 6fps, making it ideal for street or nature photography, as well as sports events.

Other features include the ability to handle shooting controls through the LCD touchscreen menu and a LCD resolution of 1,040,000 dots.

But, the Canon EOS M100 does not have an electronic viewfinder, which may be a drawback for some users. However, we absolutely love the camera’s minimalist physical controls, which make it very easy to use, even for beginners.

In terms of overall performance, the Canon EOS M100 is a great camera. Its dual pixel AF offers strong autofocus power for shooting on the fly and its maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 is decent enough in ideal lighting.

The Canon EOS M100 does a great job handling different lighting conditions, thanks to its ISO range of 100-25600. 

The EOS M100’s rather unique dual pixel AF offers only 49 phase-detection points, which is adequate for light action photography and still-life shooting but falls far short of what rivals like the Sony Alpha A6000 or A5100 can provide with their 179 phase-detection points.

The EOS M100’s ability to capture and edit RAW photos is another great feature that makes it easy to love. This is not a typical feature in many entry-level mirrorless cameras, making the M100 stand out among its competitors.

This Canon camera also comes with some image sharpening and noise reduction tools that, while not to everyone’s taste, at least let you edit a photo much better than a typical phone camera software package will allow and post it to social media quickly.

The Canon EOS M100 digital camera offers a standard range of video recording specs. These include Full HD 1080p at 59.94p/35 Mb/s, 1080p at 23.976p/29.97p/24 Mb/s, and 720p HD recording in similar frame rates. While it may not be the most advanced camera on the market, it is a reliable option for quick recording.

The Canon EOS M100’s charging system may be its biggest downfall. For some inexplicable reason, the camera cannot be charged via USB cable, which means you’ll have to lug around an extra battery charger.

In summary, the Canon EOS M100 is an excellent choice for any beginner photographer who wants access to advanced features from the start. However, if you’re interested in more serious action photography, you may want to consider a camera with an electronic viewfinder and slightly better performance.


  • Budget-friendly
  • Compact and Lightweight
  • Tilting and touch screen
  • Good beginners camera


  • No 4K video
  • No EVF
  • Lack of hot shoe

Best DSLR cameras

Pentax K-3 SLR Camera

Pentax’s k-3 DSLR is designed to provide excellent image quality, functionality and maneuverability, even in demanding shooting conditions. With its array of advanced features, the k-3 was the new flagship of the Pentax DSLR range at the time it was launched in 2014, it’s also good for expert users and professionals who demand the very best, although it has a cropped sensor.

The K-3 comes with a high-resolution CMOS image sensor with approximately 24 effective megapixels, making it ideal for capturing fine details and textures. Without an optical AA (anti-aliasing) filter, the K-3 makes the best use of its total resolving power for sharper images.

AA filters work by separating light into different frequencies and blurring outlines. The K-3 doesn’t have an AA filter, but it still produces very little false color because it has so many pixels. Even when false color does occur, it’s barely noticeable.

The K3’s dedicated battery grip and range of Pentax lenses and flashes benefit from weather and dust protection, perfect for reliable performance in demanding conditions. No matter the weather, you can use the K3 to capture previously unreachable worlds. The body has been constructed to withstand the elements, ensuring you can always get the perfect shot.

The new camera boasts a maximum sensitivity of ISO 51200, minimal image noise and high precision metering thanks to its 86,000 RGB light neutral system. This results in perfect exposure and beautifully natural results, even in low light conditions.

Our advanced movie mode captures a series of 4k images and compiles them for outstanding effects, utilizing the 11 autofocus module and 27 autofocus points for fast and accurate focus, even in difficult lighting conditions. With 25 cross-type sensors and two additional focusing modes, this camera is sure to produce stunning results.

You can easily capture every part of the action thanks to its high-speed data transmission, which allows for frame rates of 8.3 frames per second or up to 60 JPEG images (sets of 23 in a row). The dedicated Pentax blue card enables wireless connection to a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer by web browser, so the user can easily transfer images and control the camera remotely.

The k3 is equipped with a dual SD card slot and USB-3 connection. The K-3 is also equipped with an X-synchro flash, an external microphone to be connected for controllable sound, and a new AF button on the front for quick access to AF modes. A dedicated button on the cameras enables direct access.


  • Affordable
  • AF performance
  • Solid build
  • Weather-sealed
  • Great high ISO image quality
  • Dual SD card slots


  • AF performance is lacking
  • Lacks built-in Wi-Fi or GPS
  • No Articulating Screen
  • No Touch Screen

Nikon D5500 DX-format Digital SLR

The Nikon D 5500 was released in the spring of 2015 as the successor to the D 5300.

The Nikon D5000 is a camera that is designed for those who are looking for a step up from entry-level cameras, but who do not want something so advanced that it is difficult to use. This camera is perfect for beginners and enthusiasts who want to improve their image quality without sacrificing simplicity.

The camera features a 24.2 megapixel CMOS sensor without an optical low-pass filter and the EXPEED 4 image processor. This is a similar configuration as the predecessor, though Nikon has redesigned the sensor to increase the camera’s low-light performance slightly. The camera offers an exceptional dynamic range.

This camera provides up to 5 stops of latitude for post-production adjustments, as well as continuous shooting speeds of 5 frames per second, making it just as fast as its predecessor. With a 100 shot JPEG buffer.

The Nikon D5500 shoots 1080p full HD videos up to 60 frames per second, or slow-motion video in the mpeg-4 codec in the MOV format. This is the same as the predecessor. However, Nikon has now added the flat picture profile, a borrowed feature from the d750 for better post-processing adjustments.

The low-light performance is also good. With a native ISO range of 100-25600, it surpasses the capabilities of its predecessor. So you can expect clear and usable images and videos up to ISO 3200.

In addition, it features the same 39-point auto-focusing system with 3D tracking, making it a highly versatile and powerful.

The camera also features a focus magnification mode for those who prefer manual focusing, and the touchscreen display makes it easy to center the magnification at the desired point. Nikon has also improved the battery life for this model, and it is now rated at 820 shots per charge. This is excellent for this class of DSLR.

The D5500 features a 3.2-inch, very angled TFT LCD touchscreen that is touch sensitive. This makes it the first Nikon SLR to feature this convenient touch focus, touch shutter, pinch-to-zoom, on-screen control, and full menu navigation. The touchscreen also doubles as a custom control panel that is highly sensitive and easy to use.

The camera also has the same optical viewfinder as the predecessor, but with a proximity sensor and the ability to display gridlines when composing.

It has a built-in Wi-Fi sensor cleaning, a built-in flash, a microphone input, HDR exposure, bracketing, a built-in intervalometer, extensive raw retouching, and a USB port that can also be used as an AC input for continuous power.

The improvements to ergonomics, interface, and battery life make the Nikon D5500 an excellent choice for enthusiasts and beginning photographers.


  • Affordable
  • Lightweight and compact DSLR
  • Articulating touch screen
  • Optical Viewfinder
  • Improved battery life
  • External mic support


  • Lacks built-in GPS
  • No Anti-Aliasing filter
  • Lacks 4K UHD video

Canon EOS Rebel T6i (750D) Digital SLR

The Canon EOS Rebel T6i (also known as the Canon EOS 750D) was released in April 2015

It is an excellent entry-level DSLR for beginners. It is a small and compact camera. A great choice for anyone looking to take their first steps into photography. With its combination of excellent image quality, great performance, and well-thought-out controls, the Canon EOS Rebel T6i Digital SLR camera is a great choice for anyone wanting to get into photography.

The Canon Rebel T6i is a great camera for anyone looking to get into photography. With a high-resolution 24.2 megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor, you’ll be able to take stunning photos with ease. The camera’s DIGIC 6 processor also offers high resolution and low noise at high speeds, so you can capture fast-moving subjects without any issues.

The EOS Rebel T6i camera is perfect for sharing your photos with family and friends. With built-in Wi-Fi®, it’s easy to upload photos to social networking sites or email them to your loved ones.

it’s built-in NFC allows for quick and easy connections with a number of compatible Android smartphones, making it easier than ever to transfer files and connect with your favorite devices.

Wireless capabilities also allow you to remotely control the camera, which is useful for self-portraits and group shots or shooting from a distance. A variety of the camera’s expressive capabilities are available to you, making it easier than ever to get the perfect shot.

This camera is a stunning piece of machinery that can shoot gorgeous Full HD videos with the push of a button. With a design that is built for simplicity, the EOS Rebel T6i makes it easy to capture beautiful moments on video.

If you’re looking to take your photography or videography to the next level, the T6i camera is a great option. With its robust and sophisticated AF system, it’s able to focus quickly and accurately, even when the subject is in motion. This makes it a great choice for capturing fast-moving subjects.

You’ll get amazing pictures and videos with the touch of a finger. The Vari-angle Touch Screen 3.0-inch ClearView II LCD monitor is extremely clear and easy to use. With its capacitive technology, it’s just like using your favorite mobile device. You’ll love the sharpness, clarity, and convenience of the Canon EOS Rebel DSLR camera.

The EOS Rebel T6i camera is simple to preview and easy to shoot with its fun, creative filters. With effects like Grainy Black and White, Fisheye effect, Art Bold, Soft Focus, Water Painting, and Toy Camera,  you can explore your creative side and preview your results before you shoot.


  • Affordable
  • Small and compact
  • Great colors
  • Good autofocusing
  • Mic port
  • Builtin Wifi and NFC


  • Short battery life
  • No in-body Image Stabilization
  • Not Sealed
  • Main grip can be small to some

Nikon D5300

This camera is great for beginners who need help focusing on their targets. It has an intuitive 39 point autofocus system with 3D tracking and 3D matrix metering. To capture quick targets, there is an option for continuous shooting at up to five frames per second. The iso ranges from 100 to 12800 by default and can be upgraded to 25600 later if you choose. This allows you to get exquisite detail from your photos in even the worst lighting conditions.

The HD video recording can be shot at either 60, 30, or 24 fps. Whether you are shooting a movie or your child’s sporting event, you can select a setting that makes it look authentic. While rather compact, the D5300 has a rugged design that can be taken into the wilderness without worry. This makes it an excellent choice for documenting your adventures during hikes and enjoying other forms of nature. If you are serious about having professional quality images, then this camera is well worth considering.


  • Great low iso images
  • 5 fps burst speed
  • Intuitive menu
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Long battery life
  • 39-point AF system with 3D tracking


  • Not a camera for sports
  • Live view is very slow
  • Body only deal

Best Sports & Action Video Cameras

GoPro HERO11 Black

GoPro HERO 11 is a great camera for beginners. Its auto-settings make it easy to use, and you don’t have to worry about aperture, shutter speed, or ISO.

This camera is good for anyone who likes adventure. Whether they are surfing, hiking, or anything else, this camera is ideal for them. It is waterproof and dust resistant, so they can take it anywhere without worry. It’s also tough enough to withstand being thrown around or being dropped.

GoPro HERO11 Black is known for its ability to capture a wider range of colors with its 10-bit recording. You can shoot at 5.3K 60 fps, and you can also slow down video by 8 times its normal speed. The camera can produce higher-resolution 4K video at 4 times slower.

Video stabilization was made possible due to the latest and greatest in-camera video stabilization technology featured in the HERO11; even with a simple tripod and the GoPro’s default stabilization, the capture will be that smooth.

Even if the camera tilts while recording, your horizon will stay level thanks to the built-in Horizon Lock feature. With HyperSmooth 5.0, keeping the horizon steady and consistent is easier than ever – even when your camera does a full 360° rotation.

The HERO 11 has flip-out camera mounting fingers and interchangeable lenses. Not only that, but you’ll also get features on the Creator Edition like:

  • Media Mod
  • Enduro Battery
  • Light Mod
  • VARTA hand grip

All your existing accessories should work if you want to use them for your workout.

With the HERO 11, if you are someone who enjoys hiking or wants to take amazing underwater shots, this compact camera is your perfect choice.

The GoPro video camera is versatile and can be used in a variety of different ways to suit beginners. It’s also ideal for those just starting out.


  • New and enlarged 8:7 sensor
  • Automatic and easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Intuitive
  • Durable


  • Low-light performance is not the best
  • Need extra accessories to improve performance.

How to choose the best camera under 500 dollars

The best camera under 500 dollars will be different for every person. Before searching for a camera you must determine what you will be using it for most often. Each model has its own set of advantages that suit different environments and scenarios. Are you hoping to start a business? Are you wanting to keep track of your travels on a fun trip? Do you plan on shooting professional-quality videos? These are the types of questions to ask yourself before shopping around. Let’s discuss the different types of cameras to get you acclimated with your available options.

What are the different types of cameras?

green leaf tree under blue sky

DSLR Cameras

These are the big and fancy cameras that most people picture when they think of a standalone camera. These cameras feature both a body and a lens. The lens can be switched out for different ones that are better suited for particular lighting conditions and movement speeds. In order to take a photo, you will need both parts and they must be compatible with each other. If you plan to use a different lens, do research to ensure it will actually fit the body.

DSLRs also have a mirror that helps you see through the lens as you are lining up your shot. When you activate the shutter, the camera takes a digital photo of the scene you are looking at. It uses a sensor to record everything that you see. The larger the sensor, the better the low light performance. The lens and the sensor are the two biggest factors in image quality. If you want to pursue photography as a profession, you are going to want a DSLR.

Mirrorless Cameras

If you want something less bulky than DSLR, check out mirrorless cameras. As the name implies, these devices don’t have a mirror on the side. The bodies are smaller as well which contributes to the compact design. The downside is that they often have smaller sensors as well. This makes them less equipped to handle low light conditions and have a more narrow field of view. Mirrorless cameras are great for anyone dabbling in photography and want to keep their first purchase simple.

Point and Shoot Cameras

These cameras are incredibly small and easy to use. The portability of these devices allows you to carry one in your bag or purse without any hassle. If you want to take a picture of something, you can pull it out quickly and get much better image quality than from your phone. That said, the quality is noticeably weaker than a DSLR or mirrorless device. This is primarily due to the small lens and sensor. These lenses cannot be replaced and tuck into the body when not in use. Point and shoot cameras are great for anyone who just wants to take photos as a fun side hobby.

Sports and Action Cameras

action camera - three people skydiving

If you want to record a point of view video during physical activity, then try out a Sport and action camera. These nifty devices clip onto your clothes or hat and record everything you see. They are designed primarily to stay on even during intense snowboarding descents or rocky mountain climbs. Since you can’t hold a traditional camera steady during these events, these are the only option for such endeavors.


There are several candidates that can all claim the title of the best camera under $500. They are all fantastic pieces of equipment in their own right and as mentioned above the one that suits your needs the most, is the one you should pick. That being said, there is one camera on this list that provides the greatest all-around value and I suspect that a majority of readers will ultimately choose it.

The Sony a5100 Mirrorless Camera comes in clutch in a variety of situations and can be used by both amateurs and experts alike. The impressive image quality and host of video recording options make it a sight to behold. It is lightweight and compact at the same time.

For the runner-up, a great DSLR that delivers professional quality photos in every situation is the Pentax K-3 SLR Camera that is designed to provide excellent image quality, functionality, and maneuverability, even in demanding shooting conditions.

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Hey there, my name is James and I am the creator and editor of this site. I have been photographing for the past 20 years and my mission is to simplify this misunderstood art of taking and processing photographs I love. I invite you to say “hey” on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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