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BEST CAMERAS UNDER $500

With the nature of computerized cameras consistently improving and costs falling, $500 or less can get you a great advanced camera in 2018. All inside this value run, you can get a section level computerized SLR, a mirrorless exchangeable focal point camera, a propelled simple to use, or even a superzoom. The following are our picks for the best cameras under $500, with alternatives from driving brands like Nikon, Canon, Sony, and Olympus. We will keep on refreshing this rundown as new models are discharged and value drops bring a portion of our top picks beneath the edge. For more foundation, see our correlation table and purchasing exhortation underneath the picks.

Digital SLRs Under $500
1. Nikon D3300 ($397 with 18-55mm lens)
Megapixels: 24.2
Sensor size: 357 sq. mm
Weight: 15.1 oz.
What we like: Nearly identical image quality as the D3400 below for $100 less.
What we don’t: No Bluetooth, although you can add a separate adapter for about $30.

The D3300 is one of Nikon's driving passage level DSLRs, offering great picture quality, an easy to understand interface, and an improved unit focal point that is lighter and more keen than past models. Above all, we cherish the worth: the D3300 is under $400 with a focal point, and will far outflank point-and-shoots and different cameras in its value extend. The facts demonstrate that you can get more highlights by venturing up to the D5000 arrangement, however that breaks the $500 obstruction (the second era D5300 is $529 at time of production, for instance).

It was a near fiasco between the D3300 and the D3400 for the top spot on this rundown, however our tipping point was cost. The D3300 is a noteworthy $100 less expensive, yet the more up to date form has about indistinguishable picture quality and doesn't accompany a tremendous hop in highlights. The facts demonstrate that the D3300 needs Bluetooth Connectivity (you can include a WU-1a remote connector for about $30 more), while the D3400 accompanies Nikon's Snapbridge. It likewise has substandard battery life, in spite of the fact that the blaze is significantly better, which is a decent bit of leeway for the individuals who as often as possible shoot inside and in low light. Basically both are incredible section level DSLRs, however we'll take the reserve funds on the D3300.

2. Canon EOS Rebel T6 ($449 with 18-55mm lens)
Megapixels: 18
Sensor size: 332 sq. mm
Weight: 17.1 oz.
What we like: A nice option for still photographers.
What we don’t: Fewer megapixels than the Nikon D3400 and D3300.

Canon’s popular Rebel series is a favorite among photographers and videographers on a budget. Unfortunately, with $500 you can’t quite crack the higher-end “i” models: the Canon Rebel T6i is $649 with a kit lens and even the T5i is $579. The Rebel T6 (no “i”) is a trimmed-down version with fewer megapixels, a simpler autofocus, and a fixed LCD that doesn’t tilt. But at only $449 with an 18-55mm lens, the T6 gets you a current digital SLR from one of the best in the business.

What do you sacrifice by going with the Canon Rebel T6? For those who plan on shooting mostly still photography, not as much as you might think. Many of the features on the pricier T6i and T5i such as the tilting LCD and STM lenses are designed with video in mind, and therefore aren’t much of a loss for those capturing stills. But we don’t like the drop in megapixels down to 18, which we think makes the Nikon D3300 above a more attractive option for about $50 less.
See the Canon EOS Rebel T6



3. Nikon D3400 ($497 with 18-55mm lens)
Nikon D3400 DSLR cameraMegapixels: 24.2
Sensor size: 366 sq. mm
Weight: 13.9 oz.
What we like: The whole package in this price range. 
What we don’t: Improvements over the D3300 were minimal.

In 2018, the D3400 is Nikon’s flagship entry-level DSLR and a solid value at under $500 with a kit lens. With this camera you get impressive image and video quality for the price including a 24.2-megapixel APS-C image sensor, Full HD 1080p video at a variety of speeds, and the ease of use that has helped make Nikon so popular. All in all, the D3400 is a no-brainer for those looking for an inexpensive DSLR that still gets the job done.

One consideration for buyers is that the D3400 is very similar to the older D3300 above. The most notable improvement on the newer model is Nikon’s SnapBridge technology for transferring images and videos via Bluetooth, and the D3400 also got a boost in battery life. With a $100 difference in cost from the D3300, you can’t go wrong with either model, and we appreciate the connectivity options and extended battery life of the D3400.
See the Nikon D3400



4. Canon EOS Rebel T5 ($362 with 18-55mm lens)
Canon Rebel T5 cameraMegapixels: 18
Sensor size: 332 sq. mm
Weight: 15.3 oz.
What we like: One of Canon's cheapest DSLRs at less than $400.
What we don't: Video quality could be better.

It’s pretty rare that you’ll find an interchangeable-lens camera for under $400, especially from a brand like Canon. The Rebel T5 isn’t loaded with features by any means—it’s at the bottom end of Canon’s Rebel DSLR lineup—but we love the bargain basement price. At just over $360 with a kit lens, it’s the cheapest DSLR on this list.

Why is the Rebel T5 so inexpensive? First, the rear LCD screen doesn’t have touch functionality nor does it tilt or swivel. Second, the T5 has a slow burst rate at only 3 frames per second. Finally, the autofocus is fairly basic with only 1 cross-type focus point. But we love the price, which is comparable to some point-and-shoots that don’t offer nearly the same image quality. If you’re comparing the T5 to the newer T6 above, the latter adds Wi-Fi and NFC along with a higher resolution LCD screen.
See the Canon EOS Rebel T5



Mirrorless Cameras Under $500
1. Canon EOS M10 ($499 with 15-45mm lens)
Canon EOS M10 cameraMegapixels: 18
Sensor size: 332 sq. mm
Weight: 10.6 oz.
What we like: Light and compact for travel.
What we don’t: No viewfinder and limited lens options.

Canon is relatively new to the mirrorless market, but we really like their M line of interchangeable-lens cameras. At around $500, the M10 has an APS-C image sensor, 18 megapixels of resolution, and a sleek design that weighs only 10.6 ounces for the camera body. In fact, it’s one of the lightest and most compact mirrorless cameras around, so it’s great for travel. More, the image quality will far surpass that of most premium point-and-shoots.

Keep in mind that the M10 does not have a viewfinder, meaning that you’ll have to line up your photos via the rear LCD. And although Canon’s collection of EF-M lenses is growing and some third-party manufacturers have even jumped in the mix, you won’t find a lot of fast, pro-grade options. There is a 22mm f/2 prime, but most other lenses are slower including the 15-45mm offered with the M10. And of note: the Canon M100 was released in fall of 2018, which features 24 megapixels of resolution, a newer processor, and a $600 price tag.
See the Canon EOS M10



2. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II ($499)
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II camera bodyMegapixels: 16.1
Sensor size: 228 sq. mm
Weight: 14.5 oz.
What we like: Impressive feature set for the price, including built-in image stabilization.
What we don’t: You’ll still need to add a lens.

Olympus has made some of the top mirrorless cameras on the market for years, but consumers have felt the squeeze when considering high-end models like the E-M1 Mark II and E-M5 Mark II. The E-M10 Mark II, however, is a much more affordable option that offers Olympus’s signature image and video quality for just under $500 for the camera body. With the E-M10 Mark II you get advanced features like built-in image stabilization, an electronic viewfinder, and fast shooting at 8.5 frames per second. Further, the price has dropped with the recent release of the Mark III, which we like.

What are downsides of the Olympus compared to the Canon M10 above? The biggest is price: the E-M10 Mark II is $499 without a lens, and going with the 14-42mm kit will push it up to $549. However, it’s worth noting that the Micro Four Thirds collection of lenses is varied and outstanding overall. If you’re willing to spend up a bit—or start with the kit lens and save for a specialty prime or zoom down the road—this is a fun camera and a great stepping stone.
See the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II


3. Sony Alpha a5100 ($448)
Sony Alpha a5100 camera bodyMegapixels: 24.3
Sensor size: 366 sq. mm
Weight: 10 oz.
What we like: Sony's cheapest mirrorless camera.
What we don’t: Fairly limited feature set.

We have good news for photographers on a budget: You can access Sony’s popular line of mirrorless cameras for less than $500 with a lens. The Alpha a5100 is the company’s leading entry-level model and a very attractive alternative to point-and-shoots in the same price range. For example, the image sensor on the a5100 is roughly three times as large as the Sony RX100 below, the autofocus is more advanced, and you get a range of E-mount lenses to choose from. The 16-50mm kit lens sold with the a5100 isn’t our favorite, but it’s a decent starting point nevertheless.

Don’t expect a ton of bells and whistles from the Sony Alpha a5100, especially compared to its mid-range siblings like the a6300 and a6500. The a5100 isn’t weather sealed, lacks a viewfinder, and doesn’t shoot 4K (you’ll notice these are common themes among entry-level interchangeable-lens cameras). But the image quality is impressive for the price, which combined with the compact size and easy to use functionality, make the a5100 a big seller year after year. Keep in mind that similar to the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II above, you will have to add a lens.
See the Sony Alpha a5100



4. Nikon 1 J5 ($497 with 10-30mm lens)
Nikon 1 J5 cameraMegapixels: 20.8
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Weight: 9.4 oz.
What we like: Super fast shooting speed and improved ergonomics.
What we don’t: Smaller image sensor than the mirrorless competition.

Nikon has limited mirrorless offerings, but don’t overlook the 1 J5. This camera lags behind in the models above in the size of its image sensor but makes up for it in features and functionality. With the 1 J5 you get extremely fast shooting at up to 20 frames per second, 20.8 megapixels of resolution, built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, and better ergonomics than past versions with an improved grip. In addition, the 1 J5 does not have an optical low pass filter like many of Nikon’s latest DSLRs, which results in better sharpness. If you can overlook the sensor (we should note that it is the same size as Sony’s popular RX100 series) the Nikon 1 J5 is a fun and very fast camera.

It's worth noting that the future on Nikon’s 1 series is far from certain. As expected, the company has been fairly quiet about its mirrorless lineup, and speculation has heated up about the possibility of a new Nikon full-frame mirrorless camera. But the 1 J5 was released in 2015, which is a long time in the camera world. There currently are around a dozen “1” lenses to choose from and it’s a nice system for sure, but we wouldn’t be shocked to see some changes down the road.
See the Nikon 1 J5



Point-and-Shoot Cameras Under $500
1. Sony RX100 ($448)
Sony DSC-RX100Megapixels: 20.2
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Weight: 8.5 oz.
What we like: Still one of the top point-and-shoots on the market.
What we don’t: No electronic viewfinder.

Sony’s RX100 series is borderline iconic in terms of premium point-and-shoots, with five models to choose from in 2018. The least expensive version also happens to be our favorite: the original RX100. This camera has a large 1” image sensor that produces high-quality 20.1-megapixel images, a fast Carl Zeiss lens, manual settings, and RAW capability, all packaged in a lightweight body. For around $450, that’s a whole lot of point-and-shoot.

What do the newer RX100 cameras have that the original does not? The RX100 V has an electronic viewfinder and shoots 4K video, and the lens has gotten faster at the telephoto end (f/1.8-2.8 vs. f/1.8-4.9 on the RX100). These admittedly are nice features but not worth doubling the cost or more in our opinion (the RX100 V is a whopping $948). Most importantly, image and build quality are very similar and the RX100 is less than half the price. For these reasons, it’s our top rated point-and-shoot under $500.
See the Sony RX100


2. Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II ($429)
Canon PowerShot G9 X cameraMegapixels: 20.2
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Weight: 7.3 oz.
What we like: Longer zoom range than the Sony RX100.
What we don’t: As with the RX100, no electronic viewfinder.

Sony dominated the point-and-shoot market for years, but Canon has come on of late with its “X” series of compacts. This camera has a lot of similarities to the Sony RX100 above: it lacks an electronic viewfinder and therefore you line up photos with the rear LCD. More, the lens is slower and has slightly less zoom range than the pricier G7 X Mark II. But the G9 X Mark II has a large 1” image sensor and packs a punch in terms of image quality. At only 7.3 ounces, this is a great little camera for travel and everyday use.

Last year, Canon released the Mark II version of the camera, with the original G9 X selling for $399 at time of publication. The cameras share the same 28-84mm f/2-4.9 lens, with upgrades including a newer image processor, Bluetooth connectivity, and a slightly lower weight (the older version is approximately 7.4 ounces). All things considered, the changes aren’t groundbreaking, but considering the excellent value of the Mark II, it's an easy choice.
See the Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II



3. Canon PowerShot SX720 HS ($273)
Canon PowerShot SX720 HS cameraMegapixels: 20.3
Sensor size: 28 sq. mm
Weight: 9.5 oz.
What we like: A well-rounded camera for under $300.
What we don't: Smaller image sensor than the advanced point-and-shoots above.

If you’re willing to move down to a smaller sensor, the Canon SX720 HS is a popular superzoom and a great travel camera on a budget. Most impressive is its 24-960mm of reach, which far exceeds any of the more expensive point-and-shoots above. You also get Full 1080p HD video capability and built-in Wi-Fi, among other features. In most conditions, the SX720 HS can produce quality images and you’ll barely notice it’s in your pocket.

If you don’t need the big zoom capability, we would at least consider spending up for a camera like the Sony RX100 above. The image sensor on the SX720 HS is considerably smaller than the RX100, and the lens and low light performance are inferior as well. But it’s hard argue with the price, size, and zoom range, which are what make the SX720 HS one of the more popular compacts on the market. And it’s worth noting that Canon has released the SX 730 HS, which adds Bluetooth functionality to the mix. But we don’t think the upgrades aren’t worth the extra $100+ in cost, which is why we have the older model here.
See the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS



4. Olympus TG-5 Tough ($399)
Olympus TG-5 cameraMegapixels: 12
Sensor size: 28 sq. mm
Weight: 8.8 oz.
What we like: Waterproof, dustproof, and freezeproof.
What we don’t: Small image sensor.

Generally, we hesitate to recommend “tough” cameras. The bottom line is that a big chunk of the money goes to waterproof housing and you end up with a small image sensor and meager components on the inside. Having said that, certain outdoor activities like surfing, rafting, skiing, or even a beach vacation can wreak havoc on your electronics. If you want a dedicated camera on hand but don’t want to think or worry about it, the new Olympus TG-5 is the top rugged point-and-shoot on the market in 2018.

Why do we prefer the Olympus TG-5 over other waterproof models from brands like Nikon and Fujifilm? In addition to being waterproof, dustproof, and freezeproof, the TG-5 has a very respectable maximum aperture of f/2 for low light and underwater photos. We also like the 25-100mm zoom range, which goes wider than most other comparable cameras at 28mm. It’s true that $399 is a lot to spend for a camera with a small sensor and without big zoom, but for those who expect serious exposure to the elements, the Olympus TG-5 provides the protection.
See the Olympis TG-5 Tough



5. Canon PowerShot SX530 HS ($249)
Canon PowerShot SX530 HS cameraSensor size: 28 sq. mm
Megapixels: 16
Weight: 15.6 oz.
What we like: Big-time zoom.
What we don’t: DSLR-like size yet with small image sensor.

If you’re looking for huge zoom at a low price point, check out the Canon SX530 HS. For less than $300 you get a massive 24-1200mm of reach along with image stabilization and Canon’s signature easy-to-use functionality. All in all, it’s a beast of a superzoom for travel photography and everyday use.

Why isn’t the SX530 HS higher on our list? Unlike the compact SX720 HS above, this camera is extremely bulky and feels much more like a DSLR than a point-and-shoot (it weighs a hefty 15.6 ounces). In addition, the SX530 HS has less resolution than the SX720 HS in terms of megapixels (16 vs. 20.3) and an inferior LCD screen. But you do get more zoom range, which is why many people choose a camera of this type in the first place.
See the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS

Camera Buying Advice
Deciding on a Camera Type
Features
Sensor Size and Megapixels
Our Recommendations
Accounting for the Cost of Lenses

Deciding on a Camera Type in the Sub-$500 Price Range
The good news for consumers is that you have all three choices when shopping for a camera in the sub-$500 price range:

Digital SLRs
Digital SLRs are the classic camera used by professional photographers and enthusiasts, although mirrorless cameras below are making inroads. Even in the sub-$500 price range, you can get an entry-level DSLR from Nikon or Canon including an 18-55mm kit lens. Prosumer and full-frame DSLRs are well out of reach from a cost perspective, but entry-level DSLRs are excellent for budding photographers.

Mirrorless Cameras

This moderately new type of camera was fabricated completely for advanced and brags DSLR-like picture sensors in a progressively conservative structure. You additionally get exchangeable focal points, offering more prominent adaptability than a simple to use that accompanies a joined focal point. The penances of mirrorless cameras are that the focal point decisions are as yet making up for lost time to DSLRs, the experience feels increasingly advanced including the pervasiveness of electronic viewfinders, and the expense can supplant a practically identical DSLR.

Point-and-Shoots

Point-and-shoots for the most part are less expensive than the cameras above—they accompany a connected long range focal point and a scope of highlights from 1080p video to Wi-Fi. They likewise have the littlest picture sensors, which is the reason numerous expert photographic artists decide on a computerized SLR or mirrorless camera. Notwithstanding the second rate picture quality, you can get a huge amount of highlights for under $500 in an exceptionally simple to-utilize bundle. Your DSLR or mirrorless camera decision will be moderately essential as far as usefulness, yet not so with a simple to use.

Highlights

Video

Video has turned into an exceptionally looked for after element, even at the passage level. The majority of the cameras on this rundown shoot Full HD 1080p, and just the Nikon 1 J5 shoots 4K (despite the fact that the quality is flawed). Shooting rates change contingent upon the camera model, and quality for the most part connects with cost. Everything considered, most cameras under $500 will shoot not too bad video yet not all that great as a lover or full-outline camera. The Canon Rebel arrangement specifically is known for video, however just the T6 and T5 made this rundown (the T6i and T5i are better alternatives for videographers, yet they are increasingly costly).

Burst rate

The individuals who shoot activity scenes will need a high burst rate, which is the measure of times each second that the camera will fire. Passage level DSLRs will in general have the slowest blasted rates (in the scope of 3 to 5 edges for each second), while point-and-shoots and mirrorless cameras can be ordinarily better, contingent upon the model. The Nikon 1 J5 is the quickest camera on this rundown at 20 casings for each second, while the Sony RX100 is entirely good for a simple to use at 10 edges for every second.

Back LCD

As the cost of a camera rises, the back LCD screen will in general get further developed. Contingent upon the model, you may discover a tilting or swiveling LCD and even touchscreen usefulness. What's more, the higher the goals on the screen, the simpler it will be to peruse and explore. This is a region where fabricates will in general trim highlights to set aside cash, however our top picks like the Sony Alpha a5100 and Nikon D3400 both have great, splendid LCDs at the cost. Point-and-shoots will in general have the littlest LCDs with minimal measure of usefulness, with the exemptions being at the high finish of the range.

Back LCD and electronic viewfinder

Back LCD and electronic viewfinder on the Olympus E-M10 Mark II | Karlis Dambrans

Viewfinder

For cutting edge picture takers, the viewfinder is integral to arranging a shot and ensuring center is right. Numerous section level cameras, in any case, do not have a viewfinder and these activities must be done through the back LCD. We will in general welcome this innovation and it makes making genuine photographs simpler and progressively exact. The majority of the computerized SLRs on this rundown have optical viewfinders, and the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II has an electronic viewfinder. The individuals who worth the piece part of photography should consider this component.

Remote, Bluetooth, and NFC Connectivity

In 2018, most new cameras accompany remote, Bluetooth, or both, enabling you to move pictures off your camera and post them effortlessly. Be that as it may, a few models on the rundown are past age cameras (this frequently is the explanation they are under $500). For instance, the Nikon D3400 interfaces with Bluetooth by means of the Snapbridge application, yet the more seasoned D3300 requires obtaining a different connector. The Canon Rebel T6 accompanies remote and NFC, yet the Rebel T5 doesn't. The uplifting news for shoppers is that this theme will end up outdated inside two or three years as practically the majority of the present section level cameras accompany some type of inherent remote.

Sensor Size and Megapixels

You'll see that we've included both sensor size and megapixel include in the specs for every camera just as on our convenient examination table. Sensor size—the surface zone used to gather light and other data for your advanced photos—is the more misjudged of two. Megapixels, the measure of little spots on the sensor (mega=millions), get considerably more promoting consideration yet really have less effect on picture quality.

We prescribe mulling over the two specs when settling on a camera purchasing choice. It's an intense call—you can get a section level DSLR with an enormous APS-C picture sensor at a similar cost as a devotee simple to use with an a lot littler sensor, yet the experience fluctuates essentially. The DSLR will create prevalent pictures, especially on the off chance that you intend to augment or print them, yet the simple to use will be stuffed with highlights, lighter, and progressively enjoyable to utilize. We place a higher need on sensor size over megapixels, however your proposed use for the camera should manage a ultimate conclusion.

Our Recommendations

With a $500 spending plan, we lean toward either a passage level DSLR like the Nikon D3400 or a very good quality simple to use like the Sony RX100. The D3400 is a spectacular DSLR for beginning and there are various Nikon DX-design focal points that can be included later at sensible costs. Only a couple of years prior the RX100 was the top minimal camera available and Sony has kept on producing new forms (they as of now on the RX100 IV, which costs an incredible $949). The greatest oversight on the RX100 is the absence of an electronic viewfinder, however with an additional huge sensor for a simple to use and a wonderful focal point, this camera is champ and an extraordinary worth.

Mirrorless feels like the for the most part touchy classification here—the unit focal points are nearly more fragile than their Nikon or Canon partners and the prime and zoom choices are progressively dispersed. The Sony a5100 is an incredible little camera, however the 16-50mm unit focal point comes up short and there simply aren't numerous modest Sony E-mount focal point choices. Group and Nikon offer even less focal point decisions. Despite everything we adore mirrorless when all is said in done, however the field improves in the $500 to $1,000 value extend and up.

Representing the Cost of Lenses

When looking over the main two classes above (DSLR or mirrorless), the camera regularly incorporates a unit focal point that will be functional however not a stick out. The 18-55mm pack focal points from both Nikon and Canon are extraordinary for escaping the entryway and shooting around town, yet as your photography aptitudes extend, you might need to include another prime or long range focal point or two (a great scene or picture focal point, for instance). This will send the all out expense of your pack above $500 and checking, yet on the off chance that you are extending your focal point accumulation, that is typically a decent sign.

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