The 10+ Best Cameras Under $500 in 2024

March 21, 2024
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Many beginners in photography might think you must spend a lot of time on a camera to take fantastic photos. But as of 2024, that’s not true anymore. There are plenty of outstanding, budget-friendly options out there.

Here at Looxcie, we’re eager to introduce you to cameras that won’t break the bank, all under $500, because we believe in making photography accessible to everyone without needing a hefty investment.

While the market has its fair share of affordable cameras, the ones I’ve chosen to highlight are particularly great deals. They offer you the most value for your investment and are reliable companions as you advance in your photography journey.

What are the Best Cameras Under $500 in 2024?

In my search for the finest digital cameras under $500, I’ve picked out top performers that might slightly stretch the budget when a lens is included. Yet, each camera stands out for its exceptional build quality, image performance, user experience, and value for money. They often surpass expectations, offering a premium feel and results without the hefty price tag.

For those who have a bit of wiggle room with their budget, I suggest exploring my guides on the best mirrorless cameras for both beginners and professionals and the most affordable full-frame cameras. These guides delve into slightly pricier options that pack more features for the photography enthusiast.

While DSLRs and compacts still dominate, investing in the latest mirrorless technology can be a smart move to future-proof your photography gear. Below, I’ve listed a couple of choices that fit tighter budgets.

1. Sony a5100 with 16-50mm Lens – The Ideal Beginner Mirrorless Camera

The Sony a5100 is a standout choice for those venturing into mirrorless cameras without exceeding the $500 mark.

Starting with image quality, the Sony a5100’s 24.3-megapixel sensor paired with the BIONZ X image processor promises stunning, high-resolution photographs.

One key advantage of the Sony a5100 is its compatibility with interchangeable lenses on the Sony E-mount system. These lenses allow you to go from wide-angle to telephoto zoom, expanding your shooting versatility.

Sharing your creations is a breeze with the camera’s integrated Wi-Fi connectivity.

However, it’s worth considering all options, including the Sony a5000 + 16-55mm, which better suit your needs. I recommend exploring the other cameras listed here before finalizing your purchase.

In conclusion, while the Sony a5100 shines as the premier mirrorless option under $500, other models may offer specific features that align more closely with your photographic style and requirements.

2. Canon EOS M100 with 15-45mm Lens: Top Pick for Canon Beginners

Delving into the specs, the Canon EOS M100 might not seem as tech-savvy as our top Sony choice. Yet, more than specs are needed to capture the whole picture when selecting the ideal camera.

Canon’s beginner-friendly mirrorless model includes wider lenses, making it a prime candidate for those keen on astrophotography or capturing expansive landscapes. The Canon EOS M100 is among the best cameras, and it is under $500 for newcomers eager to explore these genres.

One of Canon’s standout features is its color rendition. Many photographers swear by Canon for its superior image quality, favoring it over competitors for the vivid and true-to-life colors it produces.

Moreover, the EOS M100 presents an affordable gateway into photography, with the possibility of finding this model second-hand or refurbished, further lowering the entry cost.

For those requiring 4K video capability, upgrading to the Canon EOS M200 is a feasible option. It still costs under $600, especially if you’re open to refurbished or used models.

3. Fujifilm X-T10: A Budget-Friendly Gem for Fujifilm Enthusiasts

Fujifilm stands out with its rich heritage in film photography, making its budget-friendly X-T10 a fantastic choice for those transitioning from film to digital. The X-T10 is particularly notable for its film simulation modes, designed to replicate the look and feel of classic Fujifilm stocks in digital format.

The camera’s live preview function lets you see simulation modes in real-time. The tiltable rear screen also makes composing shots from various angles easy without uncomfortable stooping or stretching.

While the Fujifilm X-T10 is more accessible price-wise than other models on this list, it does come with a trade-off in terms of resolution, offering fewer megapixels than some Sony and Canon alternatives. However, for those drawn to Fujifilm’s distinct aesthetic and filmic heritage, the X-T10 offers compelling value and a unique photographic experience.

4. Panasonic LUMIX ZS100: A Top Pick for Varied Photography Needs Under $500

The Panasonic LUMIX ZS100 breaks into our list as one of the first to offer 4K video capabilities and a high frame rate of 50 fps, making it an excellent choice for those seeking quality video performance without a hefty price tag. This mirrorless marvel is surprisingly versatile, packing considerable video and photographic prowess within an affordable framework.

The real highlight, however, might be its lens. Crafted by the renowned Leica, the lens boasts a 25 to 250 mm equivalent focal length, striking a delicate balance between wide and zoom capabilities. While its specs find a middle ground compared to others, its performance and value far exceed its price point, making it more than just an average choice.

5. GoPro Hero 11: The Ultimate Action and Outdoor Camera Under $500

For enthusiasts of outdoor sports, aquatic adventures, or capturing the thrill of the hunt, the GoPro Hero 11 emerges as the go-to camera for under $500. Renowned for its robust build and long history of satisfied users, it excels in capturing dynamic action shots and immersive outdoor videos.

The GoPro Hero 11 is designed for adventurers with advanced features like star trail capture, time-lapse video, and automatic recording timers. Its waterproof construction distinguishes it from most mirrorless cameras, providing unparalleled versatility for harsh or wet environments.

The primary consideration with the GoPro Hero 11 is its departure from traditional camera operation, which may not align with the goals of those looking to delve deeper into photography skills or familiarize themselves with conventional camera setups.However, capturing high-energy and spontaneous moments in the great outdoors takes an effort to beat the convenience and capabilities of the GoPro Hero 11.

6. Nikon COOLPIX P900: Supreme Zoom for Birding and Wildlife

For those passionate about wildlife or bird photography, the Nikon COOLPIX P900 is a standout choice. What sets this camera apart is its remarkable zoom capability. With an 83x optical zoom, it’s impressive at this price point, allowing you to capture detailed images of distant subjects.

But the zoom doesn’t stop there; with digital enhancements, it extends up to a whopping 332x. This level of magnification brings you closer to even the most elusive wildlife, offering a unique opportunity to capture detailed shots from afar.

The COOLPIX P900 boasts a ‘bridge camera’ design, mimicking the look and feel of a traditional DSLR. This makes it an excellent option for beginners eager to transition to more professional-style photography without the complexity, though it’s worth noting that this model is bulkier than some of the other cameras listed.

7. DJI Pocket 2: The Ideal Vlogging Companion Under $500

The DJI Pocket 2 reimagines the compact camera segment, offering an alternative to the action-centric GoPro series. Designed explicitly for vloggers, influencers, and content creators, it shines in daily use scenarios.

It can shoot 4K video at 60 fps and provides a range of zoom levels and built-in effects, including glamour filters similar to those on popular social media platforms. This functionality makes it incredibly versatile for creating engaging content on the go.

DJI complements the Pocket 2 with various accessories, ensuring you have all the tools necessary for content creation right from the start.

While the DJI Pocket 2 has its advantages, there’s an ongoing discussion about whether it’s the best choice compared to a GoPro or a traditional camera, highlighting the variety of user needs and preferences. Each has unique advantages, but for those focused on vlogging and creating content for YouTube or social media, the DJI Pocket 2 offers compelling features tailored to those needs.

8. Olympus Tough TG-6: The Ultimate Camera for Rugged Adventures and Macro Photography

The Olympus Tough TG-6 is designed to endure almost any challenge you present, showcasing its robust build and durability. Waterproof up to 15 meters, shock-resistant, freeze-proof, and able to withstand up to 220 pounds of pressure, this camera is a solid choice for anyone venturing into extreme conditions.

Beyond its toughness, the TG-6 shines in its macro photography capabilities. It’s been a surprise hit in this area, with some macro shots ranking highly in photography contests. This makes it an excellent choice for adventurers and those interested in the detailed world of macro photography.

If you’re exploring options outside the Sony or Canon ecosystems and need a camera that can handle the rigors of adventurous photography, the Olympus Tough TG-6 is a standout choice.

9. Sony Handycam HDR-CX405: The Filmmaker’s Budget-Friendly Companion

For those passionate about filmmaking, capturing live music, or creating high-quality home movies, the Sony Handycam HDR-CX405 emerges as the top pick. This camcorder records in full HD at 60 fps, offering excellent video quality for various projects.

It is designed specifically for video recording and supports high-quality video file formats, making it a better choice for serious video work than standard digital cameras. The Handycam HDR-CX405 allows for a deeper exploration into the art of filmmaking and is perfect for capturing the essence of live performances.

However, it’s important to note that an external microphone will be necessary for professional-grade audio, particularly in loud environments like concerts. While the built-in mic is adequate for casual use, more is needed to meet the demands of high-quality live audio recording.

10. Canon EOS Rebel T7 + 18-55mm Lens: Best DSLR Photography Under $500

For those starting their DSLR journey without wanting to splurge, the Canon EOS Rebel T7 is a stellar option. It boasts remarkable battery life among budget cameras, offering up to 500 shots per charge. This endurance is particularly impressive for a DSLR, highlighting that despite the rise of mirrorless cameras, DSLRs hold their ground with unique advantages.

The Rebel T7 represents an affordable path into sophisticated photography, making high-grade DSLRs more accessible, especially on the second-hand market. Plus, the Canon EF lens lineup offers a range of budget-friendly options to expand your photography toolkit.

11. Logitech Brio 4K Webcam: Top Streaming Camera Under $500

Designed with streamers in mind, the Logitech Brio 4K Webcam is the top pick for Twitch and YouTube enthusiasts. Key features for streamers, like compatibility with various platforms, 4K resolution, and a stable connection, are all boxes this webcam ticks.

Although there may be other picks for traditional photography or videography, its live-streaming performance is exceptional. This webcam is an affordable option for high-definition streaming and excellent for Zoom meetings, offering an outstanding balance of quality and cost.

The Bottom Line

I hope this guide has steered you towards finding an exceptional camera that fits within your budget.

Not so long ago, a $500 budget might not have stretched far in the camera world. However, with technological advancements and decreased material costs, it’s now entirely feasible for photographers to discover fantastic cameras while maintaining their finances.

Any of the cameras recommended here provides a solid starting point. You can stick with the kit lens initially, but investing in a lens with a larger aperture (a ‘faster’ lens) could significantly enhance your photography. It could capture finer details and allow for lower ISO settings in low light—situations where cameras in this price range typically face challenges.

Ultimately, the most important thing is having a camera ready to capture the world around you. So, grab your gear and start exploring the art of photography!


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