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 2022
The Best DSLR Cameras Under $500 Reviewed
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.
- 24MP image sensor.
- Raw support.
- 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
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.
- Affordable price tag.
- Simple to use.
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- No 4K video.
- Dated 9-point AF.
- Small and low-resolution screen.
- No touchscreen.
- No image stabilization.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 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 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.
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, 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, 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.