Best Camera Under 500 (2020): What to look out for and what to buy

Cameras capture the best moments of our lives: birthdays, holidays, special celebrations of all kinds. While photography has become more and more assessable with the use of smartphones, many still rely on cameras for their photos. Professional cameras can cost thousands of dollars, and cheap cameras leave the image blurry. For quality photos, you shouldn’t have to break the bank or settle for less.

Below, we’ll examine the best cameras on the market going for under five-hundred dollars.

Best Camera under 500

 

Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR Camera

Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR Camera

 

Coming from Canon, the EOS Rebel T7 is a sleek black camera small enough to fits most hands sizes. Its compact design makes it perfect for mobile use while still delivering professional looking photography. This makes it the best choice for those wanting a travel camera. The device can easily be slipped into a purse, backpack, or even a large coat pocket.

The screen size is three inches, allowing for a clear view of the 24.1 megapixels resolution photos. With a continuous shooting speed of three frames per second, you’ll be sure to get just the right shot. Due to its low noise feature, photos will come out crisp and vivid. You will be able to work the focus both manually and with an auto function, giving your preferred style and be able to switch whenever you choose. The EOS Rebel T7 is easy to navigate thanks to its on-board feature guide and outer layout.

Beyond photos, the camera can also record videos with Full HD 1080/30p. Video capture resolution is at FHD 1080i. The device implements an optical viewfinder and a 9Point AF to help you take the perfect photo and video. Both photos and videos have an ISO of 6400 with high sensitivity. This will make your shots clean and bright looking. Lights and shadows appear well on this camera, giving your photos depth. The Wi-Fi camera connect feature allows you to share your shots with friends and family when used with the Canon Camera Connect app that is downloaded to your smartphone. From there, you can send out your photos and videos to anyone.

The EOS Rebel T7’s optical zoom feature leaves a bit to be desired, capping off at a 3.05 multiplier. This is in comparison to other cameras of similar price that have an optical zoom of a 16.60 multiplier or higher to take the photographer in extra close. This does not prevent the EOS Rebel T7 from being a fine camera perfect for those looking to share their memories with the world.

Best DSLR Camera under 500

 

1. Canon EOS 4000D DSLR Camera

Canon EOS 4000D DSLR Camera

 

Similar to the EOS Rebel T7, there is Canon’s EOS 4000D DSLR camera. The two are nearly identical in appearance, both being small black cameras good for transporting. While being a bit cheaper, the EOS 4000D still comes with the three frames per second of continuous shooting. The focus also has the option of being manual or auto, depending on your preference. Like the EOS Rebel T7, this camera has WiFi compatibility, allowing for easy sharing. The videos taken with this camera will have the resolution of FHD 1080p.

The EOS 4000D seems like a good camera for those just starting photography. There are not many bells and whistles to this device, which is also good for those looking to use it for quick snapshots during special occasions. While extra features are nice, if they are never used, there is not much reason to pay extra money for them.
The EOS 4000D is a small camera. Its only 0.96 pounds, with the dimensions of 5.08 x 4.02 x 3.03 inches, and has a screen size of 2.7 inches. Due to the lightness, the camera may not fit comfortably in all hand sizes. The max resolution and optical sensor resolution for the photos caps off at 18.0 megapixels.

2. Nikon D3500 24.2MP DSLR Camera

Nikon D3500 24.2MP DSLR Camera

 

Next up is the Nikon D3500 24.2MP DSLR camera. For photo resolution and optical sensor resolution, the Nikon D3500 offers 24.2 megapixels. For video, the camera keeps the standard FHD 1080p. The optical zoom will also deliver on a 16 multiplier. This makes the camera great for photoshoots that call for a bit of distance, such as outdoor adventures. While the other cameras could not go beyond three frames per second, the Niko D3500 can push even further and give five frames.

When it comes to wireless communication, the Nikon D3500 uses Bluetooth for the transfer of data. This may be off-putting for those who are looking for Wi-Fi communication. The camera’s focus type is permanently set to auto and does not allow for a manual option. If you’re about to head outdoors, the Nikon D3500 might be the right camera for you.

3. Panasonic Lumix FZ80 4K Digital Camera

Panasonic Lumix FZ80 4K Digital Camera

 

Rounding off our list of DSLR cameras is the Panasonic Lumix FZ80 camera. This camera has a long zoom and 4K video technology for Ultra HD photography. The video capture resolution will be 4K UHD 2160p. The image stabilization is going to be an optical base, and the viewfinder is the electronic type. This camera has an incredible 60 multiplier for its optical zoom and allows for fantastic shots from afar. Like the Nikon D3500, this makes the Panasonic Lumix FZ80 great for outdoor and travel photos. Its low-light performance also allows you to have photos taken at night or in dark areas. Its ergonomic grip keeps the camera in your hands as you take your shots.

This screen size is a good three inches. The Panasonic Lumix FZ80 also has the unique feature of having Depth From Defocus for its focus type. With the Post Focus feature, you can change the focus point after taking the photo. Focus Stacking also allows you to select several focus points. Unfortunately, the max resolution is 18.1 megapixels, and the optical resolution is only a bit higher at 18.9 megapixels. While the resolution is not as strong as some of the other cameras on the list, the Panasonic Lumix FZ80 still has fantastic options for those looking for a camera with interesting features and powerful zoom.

Best Mirrorless Camera under 500

 

1. Canon EOS M100 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Canon EOS M100 Mirrorless Digital Camera

 

Starting off our list of mirrorless cameras is the last from Canon. The EOS M100 Mirrorless Digital camera comes with the same features expected from the Canon brand. The screen is three inches wide, the optical sensor resolution is 24.2 megapixels, the optical zoom of 3.00 multiplier, and the video capture resolution is FHD 1080p. The Wi-Fi connection is found on the device as well. Appearance-wise, the camera has the dimensions of 4.30 x 1.40 x 2.60 inches and a weight of 0.67 pounds.

The camera is good for beginners with its Creative Assist feature, which walks the user through its settings and how they affect the image. A Self Portrait mode is available, allowing you to take photos with your friends. With its simple use and characteristics, the EOS M100 is good for everyday use.

The viewfinder is a bit different from others on this list being a flexible LCD. While not as fancy as some of the other cameras, the EOS M100 still delivers suitable photography and is great for those who are first starting.

2. Sony RX100 20.2 MP Premium Compact Digital Camera

Sony RX100 20.2 MP Premium Compact Digital Camera

 

The Sony RX100 20.2 MP Premium Compact Digital camera lives up to its name, being one of the tiniest cameras on the list. The camera only weighs 0.53 pounds and has dimensions of 4.00 x 1.41 x 2.29 inches. With its compact design, the device is capable of even fitting into a pants’ pocket. The image resolution is a good 20.2-megapixel resolution on a three-inch screen. For video resolution, you can expect the standard FHD 1080p. The camera can also capture ten frames per second. Even in low light, it can still capture clear details.

Despite its small size, the Sony RX100 comes with an assortment of features, such as an Optical SteadyShot™ to help prevent blurry photos even when moving. The focus type will be automatic. This camera does not come with a viewfinder in its standard model, and users will have to rely on the back screen to aim shots. The RX 100 is a camera for anyone looking to easily slip their device in their pocket or purse and go.

3. Sony Alpha a5100 HD 1080p Mirrorless Digital Camera

Sony Alpha a5100 HD 1080p Mirrorless Digital Camera

 

Similar to its cousin, the Sony RX100, the Sony Alpha a5100 is another compact camera for those looking for portability without sacrificing function. Starting with the basics, the camera has an image resolution of 20.1 megapixels and a video resolution of FHD 1080p. This is all wrapped up in a device that is 4.33 x 1.42 x 2.48 inches and 0.59 pounds. Like the RX100, the Alpha a5100 does not include a viewfinder, and the user will have to look through the three-inch screen when shooting a photo or recording a video. For selfies, the camera allows you to flip the screen up, so it faces you as you shoot.

On this camera, the focus does include a manual option and has a few handy characteristics to help you with your photography. This includes a Superior Auto mode, Picture Effect settings, and an Anti-Motion Blur mode. Like the Sony R100, the Alpha a5100 is the choice for anyone who wants a grab-and-go camera.

What to Look for When Picking a Camera

Picking out any type of technology can be a stressful business, especially when you are unfamiliar with the terminology. What is “resolution”? What is “megapixels”? Does the difference between the viewfinder type matter? Your quest for the perfect camera needs to start with information, so you don’t buy a piece of technology that doesn’t fit your needs.

Resolution and megapixels are a good place to start when you’re looking at a camera’s capabilities. This is because this will dictate how clear your image is. Every digital image is made out of pixels. Your computer screen is made of pixels, and one megapixel is equal to one million normal pixels. Resolution is defined by how clear and detailed an image is, and good resolution will call for a higher pixel count. Now, this doesn’t mean you should pick a camera based on its megapixels. All camera list here will give you a clear image for most situations. If your planning on stretching out or cropping your image, then you might want to start looking at the photo’s resolution. The pixel count can also affect printing if you’re increasing the photo beyond’s its resolution. This can make the printed copy look fuzzy or pixelated.

Having discussed photo resolution, we should now look at how this influences video. For full high-definition video, you will need the video resolution to be 1080p. This number is pulled from the 1,080 pixels presented vertically across a screen. 1080p is also referenced as 2K at times, but both stand for the clarity of the video. It’s now considered standard to have 1080p for a video, and you should not invest in a camera for video recording if it doesn’t meet this standard.

The viewfinder is an important, but often overlooked, piece of equipment for a camera. In a basic sense, the viewfinder is the piece of the camera you look through to aim your shot. This is a bit easier than using the screen when taking photos. There are two basic types of viewfinders: optical and electronic.

Optical viewfinders use a glass prism to reflect your photo subject into your sight. Electronic viewfinders come with a small screen inside them that records the image. There is a bit of a back and forth between what is the best viewfinder to find, and honestly, it will depend on the photographer’s taste. Optical viewfinders can have a bit of hump due to the space needed for their prism; however, when you aim through this one, you will know how the photo will exactly look like. Electronic viewfinders have improved with technological advances, but can still be bad at keeping up with fast-moving objects. The best trait of electronic viewfinders is that it can alter the elements of the photo, such as exposure and filters, as you take it.

Your options for focus type comes down to either using manual or auto type. The names are a bit obvious to how the camera will function. With manual focus, you will need to alter the lens yourself. With auto, the camera will find the sharpest image in the shot. Deciding between the two will be a matter of taste; though, finding a camera with both is always a nice option. Autofocus does give the user the advantage of not needing to worry about this element and is considered to be more accurate than manual.

Being able to share your photos and videos is also an important matter. Most photos and videos are taken to share with people. With technology, this is easy. Wi-Fi is a popular choice for cameras, and the option is included with many of the cameras above. For those wanting to avoid using the internet, Bluetooth can also be an option with some cameras. If you are picking up a camera, you should check its connection capabilities. Digital has become a popular choice for sending photos and videos, and there are not many options to have images printed anymore.

Final Thoughts

As you shop for your future camera, make sure you are picking out the options and features that work best for your needs. If you are ordering your camera online, you won’t have the chance to try it out as you would in a store, so it is important to meditate on what you want out of your device. While some cameras might have high resolution or amazing zoom, you may not need those characteristics for what you plan on utilizing your camera for. Because photography is a type of art, many qualities about it are based on taste and personal craft. Choosing between a DSLR or a mirrorless camera will be the first step, and this will lead you to question about which type of viewfinder. From there, its a comparison game to find what is best for you. If you are just starting with photography, it might be best to find a well-rounded camera, so you can have a chance to try everything.

Choosing a camera does not have to be difficult or expensive. There are always options out there to find the best device that fits your needs. While others might still turn to their phone for photo and video opportunities, there is still that special feel of using a real camera. Our list should provide a helpful guide at the different brands and their features out on the market today for less than five-hundred dollars. When looking for a camera, remember you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars. Good luck with your camera quest. There are affordable options that will still give you the high-qualities images your memories deserve.

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