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.
Our Best DSLR Cameras Under $500 in 2023
Here is a list of the best DSLR cameras under $500, so you have a solid reference for what is available.
Pentax K-3 SLR Camera (Best DSLR cameras under $500)
Price Point: Affordable
MegaPixels: 24.35 MP with an APS-C Sensor
ISO Capabilities: Ranges from 100-51,200
Fast Shooting: 8.3 Frames Per Second
Built Tough: Weatherproof with a Magnesium-alloy Exterior
Why Should You Opt for a Pentax K-3?
- Superior Image Capture
- Built to Last in All Conditions
- Broad ISO Range for Low Light Shots
- Convenient Dual SD Card Slots
- Built-in Image Stabilization
What makes the Pentax K-3 the best choice in the under-$500 DSLR market? This camera serves up extra features you’d typically find in pricier options. With a 24.35 MP APS-C sensor, this DSLR lets you enlarge photos without losing detail. Need to shoot in low light? The ISO range goes up to 51,200, allowing you to capture life’s moments no matter the lighting.
Outdoor enthusiast? You’ll appreciate the durable, weather-sealed, magnesium-alloy body. I’ve personally used this digital camera in the harshest conditions and it hasn’t let me down yet.
Why Do I Always Grab My Pentax K-3?
Great Image Quality
With the Pentax K-3’s dynamic range, say goodbye to washed-out skies or too-dark figures. Your photos will mirror the beauty you see in real life. Trust me, it’s like having a personal magic wand for your photos.
In-Built Stabilization for the Win
Who wants to carry a tripod everywhere? The Pentax K-3 comes with in-camera stabilization, making it easier to get sharp images even when your hands aren’t so steady.
This camera is up to any challenge, from fast-action sports to dimly lit rooms. An 8.3 frames-per-second shooting speed means you won’t miss the key moment in any scenario.
Any Downsides to the Pentax K-3?
Slightly Complex Menu
It takes a little getting used to navigating through the camera’s menus. But isn’t learning part of the fun in photography?
Limited Lens Options
The lens selection for Pentax isn’t as extensive as other brands. However, what they do offer is top-notch in quality.
Is the Pentax K-3 Right for You?
If you’re in the market for a high-performing, yet budget-friendly DSLR, you should definitely consider the Pentax K-3. Compared to other under-$500 DSLRs, this one delivers where it counts. It’s versatile, durable, and built to capture amazing shots in any condition.
Still on the fence? Well, did I mention it has dual SD card slots? This DSLR is more than a camera; it’s a reliable partner in your photography journey.
Nikon D5600 DSLR Camera: Best Value for Aspiring Photographers
Sensor: 24.2 MP DX-Format
ISO Sensitivity: 100-25,600
Shooting Speed: 5 frames per second
Video Capabilities: 1080p Full HD
Battery Lifespan: About 970 Shots
Why Go for the Nikon D5600?
- Excellent Image Quality
- Seamless Smartphone Connectivity
- Light and Durable Build
- Impressive Video Features
- User-Centric, Customizable Interface
Introducing the Nikon D5600, a budget-friendly DSLR that performs well beyond its affordable price tag. It’s a versatile tool that caters to a wide range of photography needs, whether you’re capturing stills or shooting video.
Tired of DSLRs that promise the moon but can’t even capture a decent backyard snapshot? This camera’s 24.2 MP sensor and expansive ISO range ensure crisp, clear photos in any lighting condition.
What Sets the Nikon D5600 Apart?
All-Day Shooting Comfort
Say goodbye to hand fatigue. The ergonomic design of the D5600 guarantees a comfortable grip for prolonged shooting. Who says you can’t enjoy comfort while capturing that perfect shot?
A Canvas for Your Creativity
The D5600 offers a range of artistic options for photographers looking to step up their creative game. The easy-to-navigate user interface and built-in filters make this digital camera a true joy for creative experimentation. With SnapBridge, you can share your favorite moments directly to your phone.
Video Shooting? No Problem!
Don’t underestimate this camera’s video prowess. While it’s primarily a photography tool, its 1080p Full HD video features are worth mentioning. From capturing memorable moments to vlogging, this DSLR handles it all, thanks to its user-friendly, touch-enabled, articulated screen.
What Are the Limitations?
If capturing fast-paced action is your goal, the D5600’s 5fps continuous shooting may not suffice.
Battery Drain with SnapBridge
Convenient as it may be, keep in mind that the SnapBridge connectivity can be a battery hog. Always wise to have a backup battery.
Who Should Buy the Nikon D5600?
If you’re an aspiring photographer looking for a high-quality yet budget-friendly DSLR, or an enthusiast seeking versatility without burning a hole in your pocket, the D5600 is for you. On the other hand, sports and wildlife photographers may want to look for models with faster shooting capabilities.
In the budget-friendly DSLR market, the Nikon D 5600 stands out for its versatility and robust feature set. It’s not just a camera; it’s a comprehensive solution for anyone looking to elevate their photography skills. So, why compromise on quality when you can have the best of both worlds?
Canon EOS Rebel T6i (750D): A DSLR for Every Photographer
Price Category: Mid-range
Sensor Specs: 24.2 MP APS-C CMOS
ISO Flexibility: 100-12,800, extendable to 25,600
Continues Shooting Speed: Approx. 5 shots/sec.
Focus System: 19-point cross-type autofocus
Video Capability: Full HD 1080p
Why Choose Canon EOS Rebel T6i?
- All-in-One Photography: Ideal for various photography styles, be it portraits or landscapes.
- Beginner-Friendly: Simple controls with advanced settings for more experienced users.
- Seamless Connectivity: Wi-Fi & NFC make photo transfers effortless.
- Articulating Touchscreen: Maneuverable screen for capturing challenging angles.
- Reliable Battery: Around 440 shots per full charge.
What sets the Canon EOS Rebel T6i apart in the crowded DSLR market? One word: versatility. This is the camera that offers high-quality image capturing without making things too complicated for beginners. Do you struggle with getting crystal-clear action shots? With its 19-point cross-type autofocus system, blurry shots are a thing of the past.
Key Features of Canon EOS Rebel T6i
The Rebel T6i excels in providing a straightforward user experience, while also offering manual controls for advanced photographers. Ever wanted a camera that evolves with you as your skills improve? This is it.
Touchscreen for the Win
Some may question the value of a touch screen on a DSLR. But once you’ve taken those hard-to-reach shots with this fully articulating touchscreen, you’ll understand its worth.
Easy File Sharing
Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC are not just smartphone features. In the T6i, they make moving photos to your gadgets a piece of cake. In today’s digital age, who doesn’t love instant sharing?
What Could Be Better?
Limited Video Camera Options
If 4K video is what you’re after, you may need to look elsewhere. The T6i offers Full HD 1080p, which is more than decent for casual videography, but may not satisfy professional needs.
As with most DSLRs, interchangeable lenses can be a separate financial commitment. Be prepared to invest a little more if you’re looking to expand your photography toolkit.
Who Should Buy the Canon EOS Rebel T6i?
This camera is ideal for those stepping into the DSLR world or even for mid-level photographers looking for a reliable, versatile machine. In a direct comparison to other sub-$500 DSLRs like the Nikon D3400, the T6i offers a more comprehensive package, especially for those who prioritize easy file transfers and a user-friendly interface. And in terms of customer service, Canon stands out with quick and helpful support.
Ready to elevate your photography skills? The Canon EOS Rebel T6i is geared up and waiting for you.
Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR Camera: A Beginner’s DSLR Dream Come True
Price Bracket: Affordable
Sensor Quality: 24.1MP APS-C CMOS
ISO Flexibility: 100-6400, extendable to 12800
Shooting Speed: 3 frames per second
Video Capabilities: Full HD 1080p
Why Should You Consider the Canon EOS Rebel T7?
- Budget-friendly with premium features
- Perfect for photography newcomers
- Delivers sharp 24.1MP photos
- Quick sharing through Wi-Fi and NFC
- Records video in Full HD
Thinking about stepping into the world of DSLRs? The Canon EOS Rebel T 7 is your entry ticket. It’s like the gateway drug of DSLRs: user-friendly, but with the potential to deliver high-impact shots that you’ll want to share instantly.
What’s So Great About the Rebel T7?
Ease of use is essential when you’re just starting out. Canon delivers with an intuitive design that even a complete newbie can navigate.
Performs Well in Varied Lighting Conditions
From indoor low light to capturing the night sky, the Rebel T7’s ISO flexibility makes it a versatile choice. Images stay crisp and clear, regardless of your surroundings.
Seamless Photo Sharing
Looking to post your newest shot straight to your social channels? The built-in Wi-Fi and NFC tech make sharing simple and quick.
The T7’s Full HD 1080p video capability is perfect for vloggers and casual video shooters. While not the top choice for professional video recording, it nails the basics.
How It Compares
Let’s pit it against the Nikon D3500, another strong contender in the entry-level DSLR category. Both have impressive sensor capabilities, but the T7 takes the cake with its Wi-Fi and NFC features.
The battery life is adequate but not awe-inspiring. For long shooting days, you’ll want some extra batteries on hand.
Additional Gear Costs
Be prepared to invest in an extra lens or tripod. Those costs can add up, so budget accordingly.
Who Is the Canon EOS Rebel T7 Ideal For?
The Rebel T7 is perfect for photography novices looking for an affordable but quality DSLR. It’s also a great choice for those who have some experience but are operating on a budget. Looking to shoot great photos without breaking the bank? The Rebel T7 is your go-to. Want to up your photography game without upping the difficulty level? This digital camera has your name all over it.
So, ready to make the move into DSLRs? With the Canon EOS Rebel T7, you’re set for a rewarding photographic journey.
Nikon D3500: The Ideal DSLR for Beginners and Budget-Conscious Enthusiasts
Price Bracket: Affordable
Sensor Specs: 24.2 Megapixels, APS-C CMOS
ISO Flexibility: 100-25,600 ISO Range
Video Capabilities: Full HD, 1080p at 60fps
Battery Endurance: Roughly 1,550 Photos per Charge
Why Opt for the Nikon D3500?
- User-Friendly Design: Tailored for newcomers
- High-Resolution Sensor: Captures vivid 24.2MP images
- Long-Lasting Battery: Top-tier within its price range
- Travel-Friendly: Light and compact design
- Cost-Effective: Best features on a budget
Planning to transition from smartphone camera to DSLR-quality photos? The Nikon D3500 should be on your radar. What’s the appeal? First, the sheer image quality is stunning. I once used a Canon Rebel T 5, and making the shift to the D3500 felt like a significant upgrade, even at a budget-friendly price.
What Sets the Nikon D3500 Apart?
Easy to Get Started
New to DSLRs? No worries! The Nikon D3500 comes with an easy-to-navigate interface. The ‘Guide Mode’ serves as a handy tutorial for those unfamiliar with DSLR settings. Trust me, it’s like having a mini photography course built into your camera!
Battery Life that Won’t Quit
Ever been on a trip and forgot your charger? With this camera, you’re in safe hands. One full charge lasted me two days of moderate shooting, roughly around 1,550 snaps.
A Camera for All Adventures
If you’re an avid traveler or just love outdoor photography, you’ll appreciate how easy this camera is to carry. I recently took it hiking and barely felt its presence in my backpack.
Stellar Image Quality
A 24.2MP sensor captures crisp, clear images, whether you’re shooting landscapes, portraits, or anything in between. I tested it in multiple environments—fast motion, low light—and it performed superbly every time.
Are There Any Drawbacks?
No 4K Recording
While Full HD is good, those desiring 4K video might find the D3500 lacking in this department.
Limited Wireless Connectivity
Although it offers Bluetooth, the absence of Wi-Fi can be a mild inconvenience if you’re keen on instant sharing.
Ideal For Whom?
If you’re entering the DSLR space but don’t want to splurge, this is your go-to. The Nikon D3500 offers a blend of simplicity and flexibility, ideal for photography novices yet satisfying for the more experienced.
Considering other options? Unless you really need advanced features, the D3500 holds its own when it comes to value for money.
Ready to elevate your photography without burning a hole in your pocket? The Nikon D3500 awaits!
Canon EOS 4000D / T100: The Budget DSLR for Beginners
Price Range: Affordable
Sensor Type: 18 Megapixel APS-C CMOS
ISO Flexibility: 100-6400, expandable to 12800
Shooting Speed: 3 Frames per Second
Video Capabilities: 1080p Full HD video
Why Opt for the Canon EOS 4000D?
- Budget-Friendly Yet High-Quality Images
- Beginner-Friendly Interface
- Compatible with Various Lenses
- Long-Lasting Battery Life
- Lightweight for Easy Portability
Are you a photography enthusiast eyeing an affordable but competent DSLR? Say hello to the Canon EOS 4000D. This isn’t just a camera; it’s a gateway into the world of high-quality photography. With its 18MP sensor and versatile ISO range, this camera is a steal for the price.
Think of it this way: Is it the best DSLR out there? Nope. But is it the smartest investment for budding photographers? Absolutely.
What Makes the EOS 4000D Stand Out?
Capture Fine Details
The 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor in this camera is remarkable. When I took it for a spin in Yosemite, the resulting images made me forget I was using a budget-friendly DSLR. The EOS 4000D competes well with higher-end models in terms of image quality.
Are you a beginner? No problem. The Canon EOS 4000D features an intuitive user interface that provides on-screen guidance. It’s like having a built-in mentor to ease your journey into photography.
Canon’s wide range of EF and EF-S lenses are fully compatible with the EOS 4000D. This feature ensures that as you upgrade your skills, you won’t need to upgrade your camera too soon.
Battery Life that Lasts
During my day-long shooting sessions, the battery life never let me down. But if you’re thinking of covering a long event, it’s wise to keep some extra batteries on hand.
This model is one of the lightest DSLRs I’ve ever tested. It’s so light that you might forget you’re carrying it during your outdoor adventures.
Are There Any Drawbacks?
The build quality is on the lighter side, which is a trade-off for its budget-friendly price. My advice? Protect it with a high-quality camera bag.
Manual Control Limitations
For seasoned photographers, the EOS 4000D may seem a bit restrictive in terms of manual controls. Quick setting changes aren’t its strongest suit.
Who’s the Canon EOS 4000D For?
If you’re making your first foray into DSLR photography and are seeking a cost-effective, quality camera, the Canon EOS 4000D is an excellent choice. It may not boast the high-end features of more expensive models, but it delivers a strong performance where it matters.
Still not convinced.
There are plenty of other DSLRs to consider. But if you’re seeking a great option that punches above its weight, look no further than the Canon EOS 4000D.
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.
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.
DSLR’s best 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.
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 birds 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.
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.
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, 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, a 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 will affect how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light. Keep in mind, that 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 extreme light settings where your subject is either extremely bright or exceptionally dim. Regardless, a good rule is to use as low of an ISO sensitivity setting as you can to prevent image noise and produce a sharper shot.
Alright, so you’re wondering which is the ultimate DSLR camera for under $500?
They have fantastic autofocus capabilities and are pretty user-friendly.
But let’s circle back to what we talked about earlier in our reviews: the need for a durable camera with exceptional low-light performance.
The Pentax K-3 nails it. It’s like the Swiss Army knife of budget-friendly DSLRs, ticking off all the must-haves in one go.
So, if your goal is to find a top-performing camera without breaking the bank, the Pentax K-3 is your go-to choice.
How’s that for a mic drop moment?