Best Camera under $500 Reviews 2015 – 2016

best camera under 500 reviews
With the features of cameras continually improving and prices dropping lower, it’s now possible to buy a feature packed camera for less than $500. We roundup six leading models so you can find the best camera under $500.

Within this price point, you can buy a mirror-less interchangeable-lens camera, entry-level SLR, top of the range point-and-shoot, or even a bridge camera. If you want to quickly select the best camera under $500 check our comparison table for an easy way to select your preferred model.

Top Rated Digital Cameras under $500

 Sony DSC-RX100Canon PowerShot G16Nikon D3300Sony Alpha a5000
Rating4.6 Stars (4.6 / 5)
4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)
4.8 Stars (4.8 / 5)
4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)
Suggested For
Enthusiasts looking for a carry-everywhere camera. Developing photographers who don't want the cost and bulk of interchangeable lenses.If you like to shoot in RAW and need something more portable than a DSLR, check out the G16. Also has a brilliant viewfinderA beginner specifically looking for a DSLR experience who may want to eventually take a little control over shooting settings.
Best image quality of any camera in the same price bracket. Portable size makes it perfect to take travelling
Sensor size116 sq. mm
41 sq. mm
357 sq. mm
357 sq. mm
8.5 oz.
12.4 oz.
15.1 oz.
9.5 oz.

Read below for our reviews of the leading cameras under $500, with selections from brands like Canon, Nikon, Samsung, and Sony. We continually update our list as new models hit the market and price drops bring other great cameras below the $500 mark.

Sony DSC-RX100 review

Sony DSC-RX100 Review

Sony DSC-RX100 Review

Megapixels: 20.2
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Weight: 8.5 oz.
What we like: One of the top point-and-shoots on the market.
What we don’t: No electronic viewfinder.

If you are wondering what is the best point and shoot camera for under $500, look no further than the Sony DSC-RX100.

Sony has released three versions of the RX100, all great cameras if you require a compact camera to avoid carrying a larger setup. The latest RX100 III is priced at around $800, but late 2012 version of the RX100 sells for less than $500 and rivals any camera reviewed in our list. A bargain at this price, included is a fast Carl Zeiss lens, large sensor that produces high-quality 20.1-megapixel images, and RAW capability. All of these features are packaged in a lightweight and resilient body. The latest 2015 version also includes an electronic viewfinder, the original 2012 X100 does not, but it’s still a fantastic point and shoot camera.

Canon PowerShot G16 Review

Canon G16 review

Canon PowerShot G16 Review

Megapixels: 12.1
Sensor Size: 41 sq. mm
Weight: 12.4 oz.
What we like: A feature-packed compact camera.
What we don’t: We wish the image sensor was larger.

Our second pick in the point and click category is the Canon G16. This model is one of the best selling point-and-shoot cameras on the market in 2015. The lens specs are impressive with a maximum aperture of f/1.8, and the camera includes features such as Full HD 1080p video capability, optical viewfinder, in-camera HDR and panorama modes. With its array of features and image quality, the PowerShot G16 is very portable but lacks a flip-out screen that was included on previous models like the G12. Overall the G16 is a good camera, but the Sony’s RX100 is superior because of its image quality.

Best DSLR under $500

Nikon D3300 Review

Nikon D3300 DSLR review

Megapixels: 24.2
Sensor size: 357 sq. mm
Weight: 15.1 oz.
What we like: Lightweight and a great value.
What we don’t: LCD screen is stationary.

Nikon’s D3300 is a great camera for anyone buying a model in the under $500 range. This DSLR camera offers a mix between image quality and simple user functionality. Compared to the model below, the D3200, Nikon have removed the optical low pass filter for improved sharpness. Also added is Nikon’s latest EXPEED 4 image processor, a lighter camera body, and 2-% lower weight 18-55mm VR II kit lens. Basically this all adds up to dazzling image quality in a lightweight body. For novice camera enthusiasts, the Nikon D3300 has automatic shooting modes to help you get great shots from the best dslr camera under $500.

Canon Rebel T5 ReviewCanon Rebel T5 review

Megapixels: 18
Sensor Size: 332 sq. mm
Weight: 15.3 oz.
What we like: One of Canon’s cheapest DSLRs.
What we don’t: Video quality could be slightly better.

Canon’s T5 is a leaner version of the best-selling Rebel T5i, which keeps it below $500 including an 18-55mm kit lens. This is a great camera selection of novice photographers and people making the upgrade from a point-and-shoot to a DSLR. Keep in mind the T5 doesn’t include the same features as its more expensive Canon cousin. As an example, the LCD screen is a different version to the advanced T5i, excluding a touch screen and doesn’t flip for video. The T5 can record video at 3 frames per second. On the positive side the T5 is slightly lighter than the T5i, and approximately $250 lower in price.

Best Mirrorless Camera under $500

Sony Alpha a5000 Review

Sony Alpha a5000 review

Sony Alpha a5000 Review

Megapixels: 20.1
Sensor size: 357 sq. mm
Weight: 9.5 oz.
What we like: APS-C image sensor.
What we don’t: No electronic viewfinder.

Sony’s Alpha a5000 is the market leader entry-level mirrorless camera, priced under $450 including a kit lens. What makes Sony’s a5000 the best mirrorless camera under $500 is the large APS-C image sensor and 20.1 megapixels resolution. In order to achieve a low price, the camera lacks an electronic viewfinder, so you’ll need to use the LCD screen to take your shots. The a5000 is great value for camera lovers who want quality images for a reasonable price.

Samsung NX3000 Review

Samsung NX3000 review

Samsung NX3000 Review

Megapixels: 20.3
Sensor size: 369 sq. mm
Weight: 10 oz.
What we like: LCD touchscreen and easy-to-use interface.
What we don’t: Fewer lens choices than other brands.

Samsung is still a newcomer to the digital camera market, but its NX3000 model is a fantastic entry-level mirrorless camera. It includes a large 20.3-megapixel image sensor, tilting LCD touch screen, and Samsung’s famous easy-to-use functionality. One of the models best features is the Wi-Fi connectivity, which integrates seamlessly with Samsung tablets and phones via the “Smart Camera” app. The NX3000 package doesn’t include the same lens quality of a Sony E-mount or Micro Four Thirds, but the Samsung NX300 camera with lens kit for well under $500 makes it one of the best mirrorless cameras.

As you can see from our article there are many brilliant cameras available for under $500.

If you still can’t make your mind up which type of camera to buy, these questions may help you.

  • Do you want to take professional images?
    • Yes, buy a DSLR or Mirrorless camera
  • Are your photos typically taken in social settings, indoors or close to the image target?
    • Yes, buy a Mirrorless or Point and Shoot. DSLR’s are bulky to carry and not required for most average shots.
  • Will you predominantly travel with your camera?
    • Yes, buy a Mirrorless or Point and Shoot. As above, it’s very difficult to carry around a DSLR on vacation.
  • Do you want photos that look better than your friends?
    • Yes. Buy a DSLR. The camera itself won’t make you a better photographer, but it will help you achieve many of the popular images effects which indicate an expensive camera. If you don’t buy a DSLR buy a camera which can handle a lens with a low ‘F’ number.
  • Would you like to take photos underwater?