Best Camera under $500 Reviews for 2016

best_camera_under_500_reviewsWith 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.

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 dollar mark.

Top Rated Digital Cameras under $500

 Sony DSC-RX100Canon SX720Nikon D3300Sony a5000
sony_dsc-rx100-reviewscanon_powershot_sx720_hs_review100_nikon-d3300100_sony-alpha-a5000-review
Rating (4.6 / 5)
(4.5 / 5)
(4.8 / 5)
(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.One of the best allround cameras. Wireless, Intelligent zoom and Image StabilizationA 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
Chassis
Point-and-shootPoint-and-shootDSLR
Mirrorless
MP
20.220.324.220.1
Sensor size116 sq. mm
24.71 sq. mm
357 sq. mm
357 sq. mm
Weight
8.5 oz.
9.5 oz.
15.1 oz.
9.5 oz.

Canon PowerShot SX720 HS

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Canon PowerShot SX720 HS

Feauture packed affordable camera. Excellent performance in a variety of shooting environments whether shooting stills or video

Megapixels: 20.3
Sensor size: 1/2.3 inch
Weight: 9.5 oz
What we like: Lightweight camera with an amazing optical zoom. 3″ LCD viewfinder
What we don’t: Doesn’t support RAW capture.

Pros

  • Pocket-sized camera capable of (almost) DSLR quality shots
  • Intelligent zoom and IS system stabilizes shots on the fly
  • Wireless connectivity makes it easy to get your photos and video off your camera in a flash

Cons

  • Lightweight camera body makes stabilizing long distance shots almost impossible freehand (even with IS technology)
  • Onboard memory and storage will need to be upgraded ASAP for those that want to shoot full 1080p HD video
  • Built-in microphone and flash system should both be upgraded by more serious enthusiasts

Canon really continues to surprise with their “shooter” style cameras – compact cameras that are much better than smartphones but not nearly as bulky as DSLR options.

You won’t be able to hot swap lenses with this camera, but you’ll get amazing shots from it time and time again without any real extra effort, either.

Sony DSC-RX100 review

Sony DSC-RX100 Review

Sony DSC-RX100 Review

Feature-packed compact camera aimed at photographers who require portability

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 on our list.

A bargain at this price, included is a fast Carl Zeiss lens, a 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 2016 version also includes an electronic viewfinder, the original 2012 X100 does not, but it’s still a fantastic point and shoot camera.

Nikon COOLPIX P900 Digital Camera

nikon_coolpix_p900_digital_camera_review

Nikon COOLPIX P900

Shoots full HD 1080p video, built-in Wi-Fi, NFC, and GPS, with manual exposure control

Megapixels: 16.76
Sensor size: 1/2.3″
Weight: 31.71 oz
What we like: Easier to carry than a full chassis, takes a nice long range shot.
What we don’t: Slow to focus, doesn’t support RAW capture.

Pros

  • Next generation COOLPIX camera from Nikon shoehorns DSLR technology into compact frame camera
  • 83X optical zoom and optical VR technology are game changers
  • Onboard 16 megapixel CMOS sensor helps you capture amazing photos in any light situation

Cons

  • At the top end of most amateur’s budget comfort zone
  • Nikon branded accessories to flesh out this camera can be pretty expensive (especially lenses)
  • Manual controls take some time getting used to

For years and years now, the folks at Nikon have been producing some of (if not THE) world’s best affordable camera and camcorder technology – and this camera is no exception.

The image quality is great, the extension options are fantastic, and the accessory ecosystem for Nikon products is second to none.

Canon PowerShot SX710 HS

canon_powershot_sx710_hs_review

Canon PowerShot SX710 HS

Compact camera with a whopping 40X zoom lens. 3″ LCD and high definition 1080/60p video recording

Megapixels: 20.3
Sensor size: 1/2.3″
Weight: 9.5 oz
What we like: For a budget camera has nice resolutions and quality. Very small and light considering what it can do.
What we don’t: No viewfinder.

Pros

  • Canon cameras are known for their legendary build quality and durability
  • Included lens pairs perfectly with CMOS 20.3 megapixel sensor that performs beautifully in every lighting situation
  • Capable of capturing full 1080p HD video

Cons

  • Oversize LCD readout can get pretty cluttered with all of the different menus and options
  • Feels a little bit bulky in the hand
  • Built-in flash is okay for amateurs but won’t “cut the mustard” for professionals

When you buy a Canon camera, you know exactly what you’re getting into:

  • Incredibly high-quality construction materials
  • Top tier image capturing components and glass
  • Easy to use camera features that help newbies get professional photo results right out of the box

All of that is going to be possible when you decide to move forward with hits particular Canon.

Designed to give rookie photographers all of the image and video capturing technology that professionals need without breaking anybody’s budget, this is a top of the line camera that does double duty as a barebones HD video camera as well.

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ70

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Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ70

Megapixels: 17
Sensor size: 1/2.3″
Weight: 21.38 oz
What we like: Supports RAW capture. Great zoom.
What we don’t: Optical Image Stabilization could be better.

Pros

  • Full body allows for professional image capturing components without compromise
  • Category class-leading 60x optical zoom capabilities
  • Dolby Digital Directional Microphone captures crystal clear sound

Cons

  • Not as capable of other full body DSLR options
  • A little bit on the heavier side of things
  • Definitely battery and power hungry – you’ll need a backup for sure!

Lumix may not have the same kind of brand name recognition as some of the household name cameras on this list with non-professionals, but pro shooters know EXACTLY what this brand brings to this table.

A great DSLR for those that don’t want to fork over the money that “Cadillac” brands require, this Lumix is a great place to start for budget focused amateurs.

Canon PowerShot SX520 16 Digital Camera

3_-_canon_powershot_sx520_hs_review

Canon PowerShot SX520

Megapixels: 16
Sensor size: 1/2.3″
Weight: 15.6 oz
What we like: Very versatile compact, light, nice flash, great zoom.
What we don’t: Difficult keeping subject in focus at full zoom.

Pros

  • Canon PowerShot lineup has always been popular with consumers and professionals
  • Super easy to use right out of the box with customizable controls
  • Image quality (stills and full 1080p HD) are world class

Cons

  • Not a full frame DSLR, though the price tag is right up there with those kinds of cameras
  • Lenses can be a little bit tough to get set up, especially those with unrecognized autofocus features
  • Zoom Framing Assist works well but can too intrusive for those looking for more control

Another Canon camera on our list, if you’re looking for a relatively compact camera that offers a lot of the benefits of a DSLR without the full frame size, you’ll need to look no further than this PowerShot!

Designed and developed from the ground up to be able to take advantage of all the lenses and accessories Canon has pioneered, getting this camera setup the way you want it isn’t a challenge.

Best DSLR under $500

Canon Rebel T5 Review

Canon Rebel T5 review

Canon Rebel T5

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 lower in price.


Nikon D3300 Review

Nikon D3300 DSLR review

Nikon D3300

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 has 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.

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 in its price range including a kit lens.

What makes Sony’s a5000 one of the best mirrorless cameras 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 touchscreen, 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.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Review

panasonic_lumix_dmc-fz200_reviews

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200

Megapixels: 12.1
Sensor size: 1/2.3 inch
Weight: 21.3 oz
What we like: Sharp and detailed images for a bridge camera, records video @ 1080 60p.
What we don’t: Menu layout could be improved.

Pros

  • Top tier image quality from a name brand you can trust
  • Included 24X lens is made my legendary camera and lens company Leica
  • Full color and rich 3” LCD display makes shooting on the fly a breeze

Cons

  • Not quite as feature rich as some of the bigger camera companies in the business
  • A little bit heavier than most would expect from this form factor
  • Setup can be a touch on the difficult side, especially with somewhat unclear instructions

For years and years now the folks at Panasonic have lagged a little bit behind their biggest competitors in the DSLR space (Nikon and Canon in particular), but with this new option, they’ve really come right out of the gate swinging for the fences.

This camera takes b-e-a-utiful pictures, crystal clear and full of depth and color.

There are a lot of other cameras out there that promise more megapixels, but at the end of the day, the image processing power combined with the Leica lens make this something really special.

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.

Conclusion
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?