Get insider access
Preferred store
Your browser is not supported or outdated so some features of the site might not be available.

The 5 Best Cameras Under $500 - Summer 2024 Reviews

Updated May 01, 2024 at 09:05 am
Best Cameras Under $500

There's no denying that photography can be an expensive hobby. Cameras that retail for under $500 brand-new are a rare breed, and of course, with smartphone photography becoming more and more impressive by the year, sticking with the camera you already have in your pocket is usually the most cost-effective option. That said, there's nothing like the feel of a camera in your hands, and the lenses available for interchangeable-lens cameras can open up your creative options considerably. So, while most cameras are a financial commitment, you aren't totally out of luck with budget options. Of course, especially price-conscious buyers who are willing to forego the latest camera tech and features can find used models on eBay or at retailers like AdoramaB&H Photo Video, KEH, or MPB.

We've bought and tested over 100 cameras, and below, you'll find our top camera recommendations under $500. If you're just starting in photography, check out the best beginner cameras we've tested.

  1. Best Camera Under $500

    A budget of under $500 won't get you too far in today's camera market unless you decide to buy used, but it will get you a Canon EOS Rebel T7/2000D. This simple DSLR from 2018 is the best camera that you can still buy new for under $500. Part of Canon's entry-level Rebel lineup, the T7 is a good option for beginner photographers thanks to its simple design and intuitive menu system. It may have a more rudimentary autofocus system than mirrorless alternatives like the Canon EOS R100 below, but this camera is built around a high-resolution APS-C sensor that can capture excellent images, especially when paired with a good lens.

    At this price point, you can naturally expect a cheaper, more plasticky build quality compared to pricier models like the Canon EOS Rebel T8i/850D, and you won't get features like 4k video capability or an articulated screen. For the money, however, the T7 is a great starter camera. There's also a wide stable of compatible EF and EF-S lenses to choose from if you outgrow the kit lens or want to try different photography styles. If you're willing to stretch your budget, you can also consider some of the best cameras under $1,000.

    See our review

  2. Best Mirrorless Camera Under $500

    If you're set on a mirrorless camera, the Canon EOS R100 is one of the few new options worth considering at this price point. While it's pretty bare-bones compared to more expensive models, with a fixed screen that lacks touch functionality and limited 4k video capabilities, this is one of the rare modern mirrorless cameras that's actually accessible to budget consumers. With a solid 24-megapixel sensor at its core and a simple user interface with plenty of auto and creative shooting modes, this is a solid starter camera for the money. Since it's part of the RF mount system, you can also easily upgrade to a better body down the line.

    If you can stretch your budget, we recommend opting for the Canon EOS R50, which is one of the best mirrorless cameras under $1,000. The R50 is similar to the R100 but has a few added benefits that make a difference, like a better autofocus system, a fully articulated screen, and better video specs. Having said that, if you're on a tight $500 budget, the R100 will still get you good image quality, an easy-to-use interface, and, most importantly, get you out there shooting.

    See our review

  3. Best Beginner Camera Under $500

    If you've never used a camera, one of the best options under $500 is the Nikon D3500. Though it's discontinued now, you can find this model and older models in the D3000 series for under $500 if you buy used. The D3500 is a fantastic choice for beginners thanks to its dedicated 'Guide' shooting mode, which walks novice users through the basics of photography so they can learn as they go.

    That aside, the camera also has a very solid sensor for its class, so you'll get sharp photos with pleasing colors and plenty of detail. It also has plenty of lens options, with a wide range of compatible DX and FX lenses available if you want to expand your kit. That said, this is a simple camera without a lot of the features found on newer models. For instance, if you want to dabble in 4k video recording, you're better off getting an alternative like the Canon EOS Rebel SL3/250D, although it lacks Nikon's interactive Guide Mode.

    See our review

  4. Best Vlogging Camera Under $500

    Vloggers looking to upgrade from their smartphones without breaking the bank can check out the DJI Pocket 2. This unique pocket camera has a built-in three-axis stabilized gimbal, making capturing buttery smooth handheld footage incredibly easy. Its 1/1.7-inch sensor is larger than most smartphone or pocket camera sensors, resulting in solid overall video quality and improved low-light performance compared to the original DJI Osmo Pocket.

    While it doesn't have as many frame rate options as similarly portable action cameras like the GoPro HERO10 Black, it can still record 4k video at up to 60 fps and even has a slow-motion recording mode that can record at up to 240 fps in 1080p. Throw in an active tracking feature that automatically follows subjects as they move around, and you've got a great little vlogging tool for those on a budget.

    See our review

  5. Best Superzoom Camera Under $500

    An all-in-one bridge camera can be a great cost-effective alternative for those who want a DSLR-like shooting experience without the complexity and added cost of additional lenses. Though it's been discontinued and is harder to find, the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 is one of the best bang-for-your-buck superzoom cameras you can get under $500. While its build quality leaves something to be desired, the camera is still fairly comfortable to shoot with. It also includes a ton of extra features, including a '4k PHOTO' mode that lets you pull stills out of 30 fps video clips and creative shooting modes for macro and nighttime photography.

    That said, the big selling point of this camera is its built-in lens. It has a very long zoom range that lets you shoot everything from close-ups to landscapes to far-off subjects like birds and wildlife. Just be aware that the camera's small sensor means you won't get the same level of image quality as most of the cameras mentioned above. Still, this is a great choice if you need a cheap zoom camera for casual sports or family photography. If you're looking for something more compact, the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 is the best point-and-shoot camera under $500, though, like the FZ80, it's been discontinued and may be harder to find. 

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Canon EOS Rebel T100/4000D: The Canon EOS Rebel T100/4000D is similar to the Canon EOS Rebel T7/2000D. It's a bit cheaper and uses the same sensor, so it's a solid choice if you need to save a few bucks. However, it isn't as solidly built and has a smaller, dimmer LCD screen. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. May 01, 2024: We've added a reference to the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 as a compact alternative to the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80.

  2. Mar 04, 2024: We've removed the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 because it's been discontinued and is hard to find in stock.

  3. Jan 16, 2024: Renamed the Canon EOS R100 to 'Best Mirrorless Camera Under $500' and moved the Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D to the top spot.

  4. Nov 15, 2023: Touched up article text for clarity.

  5. Sep 20, 2023: Replaced the Canon EOS M50 Mark II with the Canon EOS R100 as the 'Best Camera Under $500'.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cameras and best point-and-shoot cameras under $500 for most people, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).

If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our reviews for cameras under $500 in price. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.