Best Cameras Under $500
While it might seem improbable to find a decent camera under $500 either for a gift this coming holiday season or a treat to yourself, it's not impossible. There are good cameras out there with many of the necessary trimmings, not to mention a few bells and whistles you'd want in a great camera that beginners and casual shooters will appreciate.
These may not be the cameras photographers' dreams are made of, but with some touting features like built-in Wi-Fi, 4K video capture, and in GoPro Hero 7's case, HyperSmooth enhanced stabilization and TimeWarp shooting, they're small investments that are worth a lot, not only if you just need a trusty camera to capture your memories with, but also if you're looking into trying your hand at photography.
With these cameras at under $500, you'll get more than your money's worth.
Canon EOS Rebel T6
Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 18MP | Viewfinder: Optical | Display: 3.0" LCD (920K dots) | Max Burst Shooting: 3fps | Video Recording: 1080/30p
PROS: Built-in Wi-Fi, good low-light performance
CONS: No 4K video, no tilt screen
Canon's entry-level DSLR is anything but. Equipped with an 18.0 Megapixel CMOS image sensor and the DIGIC 4+ Image Processor for highly detailed, vibrant photos and videos even in low light. Built-in Wi-Fi1 and NFC2 connectivity make it easy to share, print, or get your favorite pictures up on select social media sites. Easy to use and simple to share with, the EOS Rebel T6 delivers high image quality ideal for smartphone or digital point-and-shoot camera users looking to step up their imaging game.
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Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 24MP | Viewfinder: None | Display: 3.0" LCD (1,040K dots) | Max Burst Shooting: 6fps | Video Recording: 4K/15p
PROS: 4K video capture, Touchscreen LCD
CONS: Slow AF, slow power up
This mirrorless camera is more than just a retro beauty, though that detail might appeal to many young things. It's also packed with a few practical features including a 180-degree tilting LCD screen great for vlogging, eye detection AF for portraits, macro mode for macro photography, 4K video capabilities that might be limited to 15fps but is still useful for video shooters, and a battery life of 450 shots per full charge for the shutter-happy photographers.
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GoPro HERO 7 Black
Sensor size: 1/2.3-inch | Resolution: 12MP | Viewfinder: none | Display: 2.0" Touchscreen LCD (920K dots) | Max Burst Shooting: 30fps | Video Recording: 4K/60p
PROS: HyperSmooth, TimeWarp
CONS: Low resolution, battery issues
If you're looking to shoot high quality stills, this little camera isn't for you. But if you're looking to shoot awesome videos, especially action ones, then this one packs a punch with cool features that will enhance the videos you create without you needing to improve you video skills. Just mount it, and you'll be able to shoot HyperSmooth videos thanks to its enhanced stabilization at 4K/60p as well as TimeWarp videos for hyperlapse effects, take portrait mode stills and SuperPhoto for HDR, and live stream your stuff. And those are just a few features.
Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 24.2MP | Viewfinder: Optical | Display: 3.0" LCD (920K dots) | Max Burst Shooting: 5fps | Video Recording: 1080/60p
PROS: Great battery life and image quality
CONS: No 4K video, no Wi-Fi, fixed screen
There are a number of entry-level DSLRs on the market, a few better than others including Nikon's D3500, which at less than $500 delivers impressive image quality that newcomers to the photography world will undoubtedly appreciate and greatly makes up for the fact that a few key pieces are still missing. It also has an amazing 1,550 shots per full charge battery life that will prove useful when you're still learning the craft.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III
Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 16MP | Viewfinder: Electronic | Display: 3.0" LCD (1040K dots) | Max Burst Shooting: 8fps | Video Recording: 4K/30p
PROS: 4K video, in-body image stabilization
CONS: AF not for action shots, poor noise reduction
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is small, lightweight, and easy to use with a touchscreen and shortcut buttons. It packs a punch--greater than many DSLRs that are much more expensive, in fact--yet it also comes with a revised menu system designed to help new photographers with the advanced features and creative modes. If you're looking for a powerful mirrorless with 4K video capabilities and ability to do in-camera long exposures (perfect for astrophotography), this is the camera for you.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX99
Sensor size: 1/2.3-inch | Resolution: 18.2MP | Viewfinder: Electronic | Display: 2.95" LCD (921K dots) | Max Burst Shooting: 10fps | Video Recording: 4K/30p
PROS: 4K capabilities, 30x optical zoom
CONS: Pricey for a compact
You can always trust Sony to design excellent cameras with surprising features. Take Cyber-shot DSC-HX99, for example, one of very few compacts that can take on some entry levels on the market, what with its 4K video capabilities, its remarkable 10fps continuous shooting, a fast AF, Wi-Fi connectivity, and a whopping 24-720 mm zoom, all packed in a tiny camera that's probably smaller than your smartphone. Pro users will also appreciate the control ring for manual control.