Best DSLR Cameras Under $500

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Best DSLR Cameras Under $500

If you are looking to break into professional photography or simply want a camera that can take stunning images of your friends or family, inexpensive DSLR cameras are quickly becoming the go-to product to use. While they may not offer the same wealth of options as some of the highest-end cameras, they are more than capable of producing images that can rival those of all but the most expensive pieces of equipment.

Figuring out which DSLR camera is right for you can be tricky. That is why we have put together a helpful buyer’s guide so you know what to look for. Then, we provide a list of 5 of the best DSLR camera under 500, so you have a solid reference for what is available.

Our Best DSLR Cameras Under $500 in 2023

The Best DSLR Cameras Under $500 Reviewed

Pentax K-3 SLR Camera (Best DSLR cameras under $500)

The Pentax’s k-3 DSLR camera is designed to offer excellent image clarity, functionality, and versatility, even under challenging shooting situations. It offers an assortment of advanced features, APS-C CMOS sensor, which makes it suitable for both amateur photographers and professional shooters alike.

With its high-res CMOS sensor, the K-3 offers excellent picture quality, even without an optical AA (anti-aliasing) filter.

AA filters work by breaking up light into different wavelengths (frequencies). The K-3 doesn’t have an AA filter, however, it still produces very few “false” colors due to its high-resolution sensor. Even though there may be some slight false color, it’s hardly noticeable.

With its dedicated battery grip and wide selection of Pentax lenses and flashes, the K3 delivers superior image quality even when shooting in challenging environments. Its weatherproof design ensures you can take pictures in any kind of weather condition.

The Pentax’s k-3 has a maximum sensitivity of ISO 51200, minimal image noice, and high precision metering due to its 86,000 RGB lighting system. This results in perfectly exposed images, even in low-light situations.

When shooting movies, our advanced image capture system takes four consecutive shots at 4K resolution and combines them into one single shot. It uses an impressive number of modules and focuses using up to 27 autofocus points.

Thanks to its high-speed data transmission, the K-3 has an amazing ability to capture every detail from fast-moving subjects. It even lets you shoot up to 8.3 images per second! With the dedicated Blue Card, you can wirelessly connect to a smart device and transfer images and controls. So you can quickly share photos and videos with friends and family without having to worry about cables.

The K-3 has two SD card slots and a USB 3 port. It also comes with an X-sync flash, an external microphone, and a new AF (autofocus) mode. There’s a dedicated AF mode switch on the camera body.

PROS

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

CONS

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

Nikon D5500 DX-format Digital SLR (Best Nikon DSLR under $500)

The Nikon D 5 500 was released in 2015 as the successor of the D 5 300.

It’s an excellent choice if you’re looking for a simple camera that gives good results.

The new D5200 features a 24.2 MP CMOS sensor without an optical low pass filtering system. It also includes the EXPEED 4 Image Processor for faster processing speeds. This combination allows for excellent low light performance.

It offers up to five stops for post-production adjustments, as well as continuous picture taking at 5 fps, making it just as quick as its previous version. With a 100 shot buffer in JPEG.

The Nikon D55000 shoots 1080p full HD video at 60 fps (or slower) in the MPEG-4 file type. It also adds the flat picture profile, which borrows features from the d750.

Its low light performance is also excellent. It surpasses the capability of its previous version. So you can expect clearer and usable images and videos from ISO 100 to ISO 3200.

It has an optical viewfinder for composing shots, a 39-point autofocus system with phase detection technology, and a 3D Tracking system for capturing moving subjects.

The camera also includes a focus magnifiaction function for those who prefer manual focus, and the touch screen display makes it easy to zoom in at the desired point. It also offers an impressive 820 shots per charge, which is excellent for this type of camera.

With its 3.2-inch screen, the D5500 is the first Nikon DSLR to offer a touch-sensitive display for quick access to camera functions. It also has an intuitive interface that allows you to perform most functions using just one hand. And because it uses a large 3.2-inch touchscreen, it offers a wide range of customization options.

The camera features an optical viewfinder (OVF) just like its predecessor, but with a new proximity sensor and the capability to display grid lines when you compose your pictures.

It has a built in Wi-Fi sensor, a built in flash, a mic, HDR exposure, and a USB port which can also be used as a battery charger.

The improved ergonomics, interface and battery life makes the Nikon D5500 a good choice for beginners and enthusiast photographers alike.

PROS

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

CONS

  • 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.

The Canon EOS Rebel T6i is an excellent choice for beginners who want to start taking pictures. It has a high-quality 24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, which allows you to shoot beautiful images even when shooting outdoors. Its DIGIC 6 processor ensures that you can quickly snap shots of fast-paced events.

The Canon EOS Rebel T6is camera is perfect for taking pictures of yourself and sending them to your loved ones via social media networks or email. It has Wi-Fi so you don’t need an external device to share your images.

It’s integrated Near Field Communication (NFC) technology makes file transfers and device connection faster than ever before.

With wireless capabilities, you can easily take pictures from afar. You can use them to shoot selfies or capture special moments with friends. There are several types of features available on the device, so you’ll be able to achieve the right look for any occasion.

The Canon EOS Rebel T6i is an amazing camera that shoots gorgeous full HD videos with the touch of a button. It has a simple design that lets you quickly take pictures and record videos without having to think too hard.

If you want to take your photos or videos to the next stage, the T6i camera is a good option. It has an advanced autofocus (AF) sensor which allows it to capture images at high speeds, even when the subject moves.

You’ll get amazing images and videos with the touch screen of your phone. The Vari-Angular Touch Screen 3.0 inch Clear View II LCD Monitor is very clear and easy to operate. With its capacitive display, it feels just like operating your favorite mobile device. Your photos and videos will come out crystal clear.

The Canon EOS Rebel T6i has a lot of fun creative filters, which let you preview your images before you shoot them. You can use these filters to create artistic photos, and even play around with different styles.

PROS

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

CONS

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

Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR 24.1MP DSLR Camera

Best Canon DSLR camera under $500

This camera is perfect for photographers who want to make beautiful pictures of family and friends. This camera has a large 24.1 megapixel CMOS sensor. This allows you to get great pictures of people, animals and things. You can also use this camera to shoot HD video. The camera has a bright optical viewfinder. So you don’t have to bother looking through the screen to see what your picture looks like. This camera has an advanced autofocus system that lets you focus on subjects quickly and accurately.

PROS

  • 24MP image sensor.
  • Raw support.
  • Wi-Fi-enabled.
  • Inexpensive.

CONS

  • No image stabilization.
  • Fixed rear LCD without touch input.
  • Slow 3fps burst rate.

Canon EOS 4000D / T100 Digital Camera with EF-S 18-55MM F/3.5-5.6 III Lens + Basic Accessories Bundle

Best Budget DSLR under $500

The Canon EOS Rebel T100 / EOS 4000D is a simple camera that doesn’t include extras. However, it does take sharp photos that are clean and low in noise, with a fairly good dynamic range. Its autofocus system is good for stills as well. Although not the most comfortable camera to hold, it has an excellent focus speed and tracking.

PROS

  • Lightweight.
  • Affordable price tag.
  • Simple to use.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi

CONS

  • No 4K video.
  • Dated 9-point AF.
  • Small and low-resolution screen.
  • No touchscreen.
  • No image stabilization.

Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera

Best for Beginners

Show the Best You’ve Got. The Canon EOS Rebel T6 is ideal for smartphone and digital point-and-shoot users who want to step up their photography game. It is equipped with an 18 megapixel CMOS image sensor and the DIGIC 4+ Image Processor for high resolution and vivid images even in low light. Whether you’re out on an adventure hike or capturing candid shots of your friends at a late night outing, the EOS Rebel T6 can help you take photos you’ll want to show off. Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity enables you to share your best work with friends and family or even post them to select social media sites. A bright, easy to use and simple to share camera, the EOS Rebel T6 helps you produce stunning images that are sure to impress.

PROS

  • Good photo and video quality, definitely better than those of a point-and-shoot.
  • Raw capture support.
  • Wi-Fi and NFC.
  • On-screen shooting guide.
  • High-resolution display.

CONS

  • A bit slow for a family camera.
  • Dated image sensor.
  • Cannot autofocus when recording video.
  • Slow burst mode.
  • Fixed rear display, and no touchscreen support.
  • Just 18MP resolution.

Buyer’s Guide

Sensor:

The sensor is arguably the most important part of a DSLR camera. The size and quality of the sensor will directly impact the overall image quality of the shot. Granted, understanding other settings can improve image quality as well, but all things equal, larger and better sensors will produce superior shot image quality.

Size

For DSLR cameras, sensors will generally come in one of two sizes: APS-C and Full Frame. As the name suggests, full frame is the largest sensor size for DSLR cameras while APS-C sensors are a little bit more than half the size of full frame sensors. However, this affects more than simply the shot’s cropping size.
The size of the sensor will generally determine how much light the camera can capture which translates to sharper, more detailed images. However, the larger the sensor size, the more expensive the camera, so you will need to balance what you actually need before investing in a camera with the largest sensor.

Type

DSLR cameras come with one of two types of sensors: CMOS or CCD. These two types of sensors function differently in such a way that there is a clearly superior type–the CCD. However, the gap between the types of sensors is quickly narrowing.
Ultimately, the CCD makes a direct conversion from analog to digital signals. This allows for a more accurate signal translation and reduces the amount of image noise–especially in low-light settings. Of course, CCD sensors have been around far longer than CMOS sensors, the latter of which will likely soon catch up to the more mature sensor.

Resolution

Despite what manufacturers say, megapixels are not the most relevant factor when choosing a camera–regardless of the camera type. While there are some notable exceptions to this premise centered specifically around different niches of photography, the overwhelming majority of photography types do not require the most megapixels.
That being said, if you intend to shoot large frame shots, like landscapes, or extreme close up shots, like with bird or certain floral photography, you will want to make sure your camera offers a large number of megapixels. However, unless you plan to blow your images up for large prints, most other types of photography do not require megapixels beyond the 16 mp range.
It is also important to note that not all megapixels are created equally. Showing once again why the sensor is one of the more important components of a DSLR camera, larger sensors are able to better translate the light of the pixel, producing superior image quality with less grain in lower light conditions.

Exposure

For an amateur photographer, the exposure settings are not necessarily all that relevant. Find a camera with automatic tuning functions and a wide range of exposures, and you should be able to take excellent photographs without too much input or specialized knowledge on your end.
However, professional photographers and dedicated enthusiasts will require a camera with a wealth of exposure settings that each offer a wide range of options and fully manual control. The three primary exposure settings of a camera are aperture, shutter speed, and ISO sensitivity.

Aperture

The aperture of your DSLR camera will ultimately determine how much light is allowed to pass through the lens and onto the sensor. However, unlike the sensor itself, the aperture will shift in size to produce a different image style without inherently affecting the image’s quality.
Aperture is measured in f-stops with the rating displayed in f/”#”, like f/22 or f/3.1. It is important to note that the larger the number after the “f,” the smaller the aperture. In terms of quality, the widest range of apertures is generally considered the best with exceptionally small apertures being necessary for incredibly focused and detailed images.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed, and its importance, will often matter more depending on the type of photography you shoot. The slower the shutter speed, the more light is exposed to the sensor. However, slower shutter speed will also often result in blurred images if the subject is moving.
If you simply want to take a family photo at a holiday gathering indoors, you can leave the shutter speed on a lower setting to take a better shot in the lower light conditions. However, taking a picture at a child’s sporting event will almost certainly require a quick shutter speed to prevent the details of the moving subjects from blurring together.

ISO Sensitivity

ISO will affect how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light. Keep in mind, this feature provides a range to allow different settings–much like the other qualities of a camera’s exposure. As such, the maximum and minimum ISO sensitivities are key qualities to look for.
Much like aperture and shutter speed, the ISO sensitivity affects how much light your sensor can read. However, unlike the prior two qualities, the ISO sensitivity does not control the light before it hits the sensor and instead alters how the sensor responds to the light.
Ultimately, the ISO sensitivity can help most in the extreme light settings where your subject is either extremely bright or exceptionally dim. Regardless, a good rule is use as low of an ISO sensitivity setting as you can to prevent image noise and produce a sharper shot.

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AUTHOR
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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