Best Cheap DSLR Camera Under $500 – Buyer’s Guide and Reviews

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Digital single-lens reflex camera combines the capabilities of optic lenses with digital image sensors to give you a crystal clear image. Capable of freezing down even the fastest images in the darkest conditions because of their incredible processors and features, DSLR cameras are professional quality tools the expands the horizons of creative people.

Nonetheless, DSLR cameras don’t have to be overtly expensive. With the top 5 DSLR cameras under $500 you’ll get an excellent product without burning away your checking account.

ImageModelItem DimensionsOptical Sensor ResolutionOptical ZoomPrice 
Canon EOS Rebel DSLR Camera Kit (Editor’s Pick)23.5 x 8.5 x 13.5 inches18 megapixels3x$$ Check Price
Nikon D3400 (User's Choice)3.86 x 4.88 x 2.99 in24.2 megapixels1.5x$$ Check Price
Pentax K-S1 DSLR Camera4.75 x 2.75 x 3.65 inches20 megapixels3x$$ Check Price
Sony ILCE DSLR Camera6 x 8 x 11 inches20.1 megapixels11x$$ Check Price
Fujifilm FinePix S8600 DSLR Camera3.19 x 2.56 x 4.76 inches16 megapixels36x$ Check Price
Canon Powershot SX60 HS3.65 x 4.5 x 5.02 inches16.1 megapixels65x$$ Check Price
Nikon D51003.82 x 3.11 x 5.04 inches16.2 megapixels3x$$$ Check Price
Nikon D33002.99 x 4.88 x 3.86 inches24.2 megapixels3x$$ Check Price
Sony Alpha SLT-a55 Camera3.62 x 3.35 x 4.88 inches16.2 megapixels3x$ Check Price
GordVE SJB21 Camera6.8 x 5.5 x 2.2 inches18 megapixels3X$ Check Price

Best DSLR Cameras Under 500 Dollars - Reviews

​Canon is one of the most famous camera companies in the world. Since 1937 they have been creating incredible products and the Canon Rebel is no exception. This product creates crystal clear images with its Image Processor and 18MP CMOS sensor. This sleek and sophisticated camera has an ISO range from 100 all the way to 12,800, making it great for working low light conditions.

Capable of video recording at Full HD 1080p, means you won’t lose any of those precious memories. Being wifi compatiable, this camera can wirelessly share images with a couple touches of the screen. This kit comes full with extra lenses, memory cards, a tripod, and much more.

Pros

  • Decent image and video quality
  • Face Detection feature
  • The accessories are useful

Cons

  • No Image Stabilization
  • Fixed LCD screen
  • The flash is not compatible with this camera

2. Nikon D3400 - Best DSLR camera for video

Nikon does it again and creates a smashing success with this powerful DSLR camera. Freeze even the quickest moments in time with the 24.2 megapixel sensor. Even low light conditions are no problem with the native ISO range from 100 to 25,600. The EXPEED 4 image processing makes sure you are getting the best image shot every time.

With stunning simplicity you can connect with any of your smart devices to transfer photos with the bluetooth connectivity. For added versatility this camera also comes with the ability to record in full HD 1080p at 60 FPS.


Pros

  • Sensor is very sharp
  • Really good video quality
  • Perfect for beginner
  • Battery life

Cons

  • Non touch screen
  • Focusing speed is low

​3. Pentax K-S1 DSLR Camera - Best for photography

​This stylish camera comes in sleek denim blue color. Not only is it pretty, but also creates beautiful images with its 20 megapixel sensor. Built in shake reduction and an ISO speed of up to 51,200 means you are getting wonderful photos regardless of the conditions.

Capable of shooting 5.4 frames per second of continuous shooting, means you’ll freeze even the swiftest moments in time forever. The built in features and additional lenses can let you control your creative life with the Pentax K-S1. Completely Eye-Fi and FLU card compatiable.


Pros

  • Good image quality
  • Compact design

Cons

  • Not the best video quality

4. Sony ILCE-3000K DSLR Camera - Compact and good for travels

​Sony is a Japanese company in a myriad of consumer electronics. They have taken this considerable experience and fastened one of the best DSLR cameras under $500. This ergonomically designed camera is capable of producing 20.1 megapixel images. To further cement the image quality is the is the Exmor APS-C sensor and an ISO up to 16,000 in sensitivity.

The grip of this DSLR camera fits the contours of the user’s hands perfectly, while the advanced noise reduction gets rid of unnecessary blurring. Comes with a complementary 18-55mm and 55-210mm lenses.


Pros

  • Giant Image Resolution, up to 5456 x 3632
  • Good for beginners

Cons

  • Standard lens is not quite good

​5. Fujifilm FinePix S8600 DSLR Camera - Best choice for beginners

One of the best cameras for its price range. Fujifilms proves that quality does not need to be sacrificed at the altar of affordability. Capable of producing a stunning 16 megapixel image, this DSLR camera can also produce a full HD 720p video recording. The 3 AA alkaline batteries give a total of 250-shots per life, meaning you’ll get all those shots seamlessly.

The FUJINON lense is capable of a full 36x optical zoom - the equivalent of having lenses from 25 to 900mm! The 3 inch LCD monitor is simple to use and big enough so you don’t have a problem going through the menus.

Pros

  • Compact Body
  • 36x optical zoom
  • Face Detection and autofocus works great

Cons

  • Camera zoom is quite slow
  • Don’t have a rechargeable battery

6. Canon Powershot SX60 HS – Best Zoom Camera

Canon Powershot SX60

The Canon SX60 HS features a molded plastic body that doesn't deviate too far from an entry level DSLR camera, regarding its frame and style. Although it is a bit large, it does have a robust feeling. It isn't high-end, but its features are all you need. The camera is a superzoom with a 65X zoom range. What else do you need for capturing things that are so far away?

Green - It has a large grip that gives you a secure hold while shooting. The 21-1365mm focal range equivalent is a great step from the previous model, SX50, which offered only 24-1200mm. At this range, the zoom is lengthier than most cameras. Nevertheless, Canon claims that the shutter speed is an equivalent of 3.5 stops.

The only setback in terms of features is the maximum aperture. At f/3.5 – 6.5, it is quite slow. This, however, hasn't limited the performance of the lens. It has minimal distortion, but the sharpness is excellent.

This particular Canon model takes vibrant photos that are incredibly detailed. The natural color reproduction from its 16.1MP CMOS sensor is ideal enough, though a small amount of grain noise is visible.

Pros

  • Amazing zoom range
  • Comes with decent handling
  • The build is robust

Cons

  • Lens is a bit slow
  • Doesn’t have EVF proximity sensor
  • Image quality is limited

7. Nikon D5100 – Best for Entry and Mid-level

Nikon D5100 review

The Nikon D5100 comes with a look typical to many other DSLRs. It looks bulky, but lacks the magnesium alloy that most high-end DSLRs have. The feel is a plastic-type and its grip has a stable design. It is the best option if you are looking for a mid-level device.

The camera comes with a 3-inch LCD and a Pentamirror viewfinder that has a 0.78x level of magnification with an almost full-screen coverage. Also featured is a 16.2-megapixel DX-Format CMOS sensor, which works together with its EXPEED image processor. The combination of the two allows you to shoot continuously at four frames per second.

The ISO sensitivity has a range of 100 – 6400, although if you want you can expand it to 25600. This way, you can take amazing images with noise reduction of up to ISO 800. When you get past this range, you will need to put in more effort to control noise and to retain detail.

One of its selling points is perhaps its autofocus sensor. It is a Multi-CAM 11-point system, which is comparably faster than in other DSLR cameras. The camera is also able to record full HD 1080p videos at 30 frames a second.

Pros

  • 3-inch swivel LCD screen
  • High-quality sensor
  • Impressive battery life and speed
  • Built-in filter effects and HDR
  • Full HD video recording

Cons

  • Relies on mounted lens, which doesn’t offer autofocus
  • Some people wish the popup flash was better
  • No micro-aligning of source images by the HDR

8. Nikon D3300 – Nice for Wildlife and Landscape Photo

Nikon D3300

If you are moving up to the DSLR arena and you need a solid entry-level camera, the Nikon D3300 is the unit to go with. It features a monocoque design, which is plastic-like with a beautifully textured thumb rest and handgrip.

Although the camera is almost similar to the D3200, changes in terms of image quality are inevitably conspicuous. This particular model doesn't have the optical low-pass filter, allowing it to capture lots of details with maximum sharpness.

It comes with a quality 3-inch LCD screen, 11 point autofocus, as well as a pentamirror viewfinder that offers magnification of up to 0.85 and screen coverage of 95 percent. Also, the camera combines 24.2MP DX-format CMOS sensor and a powerful image processor, the EXPEED 4. As such, in terms of clarity and image quality, the camera is exactly what a beginner needs. Continuous shots can be made at 5 frames a second.

The featured ISO range has a maximum of 12800, which can be expanded to 25600 with the best quality photos taken at ISO 400 and ISO 1600 range. It captures color quite well thanks to its auto white balance feature. It comes with easy to use controls and is also suitable for capturing full HD videos at 1080p resolutions.

Pros

  • Has great performance
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • Comes with a guide mode for new users
  • With compatible lens, you get amazing resolutions

Cons

  • Image noise is noticeable
  • AF lens is not the best in low-light
  • Fixed LCD screen
  • Kit lens require awkward manual focusing

9. Sony Alpha SLT-a55 – Camera with GPS

Sony a55 DSLR Camera

The Sony Alpha SLT-a55 Camera features a construction that is different from most conventional DSLRs. It is small in size, although not to drastic lengths, as it still offers enough body for a firm grip and holding as you shoot. The functions and buttons are the same as those of other DSLRs with an easy to understand menu.

The performance is amazing despite it being the first model in the Alpha series. It features an electronic viewfinder (EVF) with an incredible number of pixels and a field of view that is a true 100 percent. This is a beautiful feature, but the EVF also struggles in low light and the images may be a bit noisy and lacking in clarity and crispness.

The model also comes equipped with a 3-inch 920k-dot screen and a 15-point AF system, which makes focus quick. The 10fps burst mode is a nice addition. It functions in Speed Priority mode, which makes it exactly like an auto mode for fast image capture. However, if you want complete control of the camera, you can adjust the drive mode for the 6fps continuous burst.

The 18-55mm kit lens allows you to resolve image sharpness and detail at low ISO sensitivity. The unit's maximum ISO setting is 12800. At 1920 by 1080 video capture pixel, the Sony Alpha SLT-a55 Camera suffices for everything a beginner needs.

Pros

  • Comes with a good video capture resolution
  • Built-in EVF
  • Built-in GPS
  • Screen type is articulating

Cons

  • Doesn’t have a wireless connection
  • The battery life is low
  • Doesn’t come with AF Micro adjustment

10. GordVE SJB21 – Best Small DSLR Camera

GordVE SJB21

The GordVE SBJ21 camera is one unit that has so much to offer even for the seasoned DSLR users. It comes with amazing features that make it one of the best cameras with a great value for money. The camera is well-made and is lightweight enough for comfortable image capture.

The camera has an impressive CMOS image sensor, which features a design that preserves the sharpness and the crispness of the images taken with complete fidelity. With its 2.7-inch TFT screen, your operation and image viewing is even more comfortable. The configurations allow you to have image visualization with the same depth and detail as a high-quality camera.

The GordVE SBJ21 Camera has two zoom options; a 3x optical zoom and a 4x digital options. The lens f/3.0 – 5.5 is a bit low, particularly if compared to an entry-level DSLR unit. The zoom range is also a limitation if you are looking for something powerful. Its processing time isn't that great and at full range zoom, the image isn't that crisp as you would prefer.

Nonetheless, with the 18.0 megapixels, a built-in flash, the anti-shake function, face detection, and continuous shots, it is still an ideal beginner camera that can achieve a lot.

Pros

  • Both optical and digital zoom
  • Face detection, anti-shake, and other cool features
  • Good customer reviews
  • High-quality images at close range

Cons

  • Zoom range is a bit low
  • Slow processing power

Best DSLR Camera Under $500 – Buyer’s Guide

The DSLR cameras have for decades been the top choice for those who want to take photography to the next level. It doesn't matter whether you are pro or just starting out on photography, it is the best. Still, they are available in many sizes, zoom ranges, apertures, and many more features, which makes the choice of buying one that is right for you such a daunting task. So, what exactly should you consider while shopping for a single lens reflex camera?

Image Quality or Size of the Sensor

Most people only consider Megapixels when they are shopping for a DSLR camera, totally disregarding the size of the sensor. It is an important feature and it is important for you to know that each camera has an image sensor. Its function is recording everything that you capture then sends it to the memory storage or card. A camera with a bigger viewfinder takes better quality photos.

The largest sensor size camera is referred to as a full frame camera. At full frame, the sensor measures 35mm by 24mm. This is ideal for taking clear and sharp photos, but the only real catch is how expensive these types of cameras are, and is the reason why beginner-level cameras come with a design of crop sensors. They have a small size and are quite affordable.

Megapixels

Megapixels refer to the tiny dots that make the composition of your photo. When the image is made smaller, the pixels are squeezed together, making it look even better. But when you zoom in an object to take a photo, the pixels get sparse as a result of the bigger image. If you don't want your photo to be blurred or cluttered in the display, you shouldn't get a camera with low megapixels.

What this simply means is that megapixels determine the sharpness of the image, and is the reason why you would be better off with a camera with good megapixels. If you are looking to produce images with larger sizes, like the ones used in billboards, it is a factor that should be given a priority. You should, however, remember that the size of the image sensor also matters a lot as opposed to how people think megapixels is the only reason.

Camera Features

This involves all the body features the camera comes with. Size, for example. It shouldn't be too bulky or heavy, for purposes of portability. Other features you should consider include the travel, sports, landscape, night, and action photography characteristics. Some come with even better or more features like panorama, face detection, inbuilt guide, and auto scene intelligence among others.

Consider the LCD screen. The size, whether it is fixed or it swivels. Swivel types have a leverage during recording. There are other monitors that are very reflective, enabling them to perform even where sunlight is too much. It gives your eyes comfort when you take photographs at night.

Lens

The most common types of lens in most beginner and mid-level cameras is the kit lens; 18-55mm. There are even better beginner-level cameras with 50mm quality lens while others even provide telephoto lens. This wouldn't do much if you are a beginner. The 18-55mm kits lens is more appropriate. It will do everything you need it to for basic or even basic plus level shooting.

The best thing about the lens is that you can always change them. To enlarge the range and cover more distance, you can substitute is with 18-135mm lens. You can achieve so much more and even do other works that the other type wouldn't.

Quality of Video

If you are looking to capture videos in HD, you should look for a DSLR camera with 720p or 1080p resolutions, which are mostly two common HD types. Lower than that are the 480p, 360p and the lowest quality is 240p. These ratings are the definition of video quality. Luckily, most modern cameras can shoot in HD.

However, before choosing the quality of the video, you should examine the frame rate. For instance, if the frame rate is 30 frames a second with a 1080p camera, this type is the best for landscape photos, but not in a sports photo. Objects move faster and you need a higher fps.

Autofocus

Look for a camera with more autofocus points. Normally, the more the focus points, the better. You should also know that the autofocus is different as various types of AF points have better performance than others. Make sure that the speed of the autofocus can capture every action and type of picture you want to take.

Other Things to Consider

The low-light quality that the camera produces is another consideration. Give maximum ISO sensitivity a priority and go with the largest sensor size you can find. Whether the camera has a GPS or a Wi-Fi system is another thing to consider, although it isn't absolutely necessary. This depends on your preference. Your budget is another thing to pay attention to. You don't want to buy a camera that is way above your means. Luckily, all the above-reviewed products fall below the $500-dollar mark.

Conclusion

With several megapixels worth of image quality, built in anti-shake and noise reduction features, DSLR cameras are truly the best tool to use in crafting spectacular images every time. The large touch screens and built in optical processors are easy to use even for the biggest neophyte in photography

Not only this, but all these are the best cameras under $500, meaning you don’t have to take out a second mortgage to pursue your creative potential!

You don't have to make purchasing a DSLR camera harder than it should be. Choose any of the above-recommended units as they fit within your budget and all the features you are looking for. After a while of using them, when you have understood them better, you can upgrade to better lenses as well as other accessories to add in your photography sessions. If you want an entirely new camera, the guide on things to consider will offer you insightful information to get the best of them in terms of necessity.

Whether you will buy a new or a used DSLR camera, the above are the models to consider. We hope that the information in this article will make your research for the ideal DSLR camera more successful! Feel free to share.

If you need a tripod for your DSLR camera, keep eye on our Top 5 Tripods under $100 article.

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