Choosing an affordable, high-quality camera can be tough. To help, we put together a guide of the 5 best beginner cameras under $500. These are all interchangeable lens bodies from an array of our favorite brands including Fujifilm, Nikon, Sony, Canon, and Panasonic. Scroll down to see example photos, pictures of the cameras, and a comparison chart of all 5 cameras.

Looking for some pricier options? We recommend you check out our list of the best beginner cameras under $1,000.

Best Beginner Cameras Under $500

SpecsFujifilm X-T100Nikon D3500Sony Alpha a6000Canon EOS Rebel T7Panasonic LUMIX G7
Type:MirrorlessDSLRMirrorlessDSLRMirrorless
Processor:X Processor ProEXPEED Image ProcessorBIONZ X Image ProcessingDIGIC 4+ Image ProcessorVenus Engine 9 Image Processor
Autofocus Points:9111179949
Sensor Size:24.2 MP24.2 MP24.3 MP24.1 MP16 MP
FPS:6 fps5 fps11 fps3 fps8 fps
Video:Ultra HD 4KFull HD 1080pFull HD 1080pEOS 1080p Full HD4K UHD Video
Video FPS:15 fps 60 fps 60 fps30 fps30 fps
Screen:3” tilting LCD3" 921K-dot display (does not tilt)3" tiltable LCD3" LCD (does not tilt)3.0" tiltable LCD
Mount Type:X MountF MountE-mountEF-SMicro Four Thirds
Included Lens(es):N/A18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR16-50mm f/3.5-5.618-55mm IS II14-42mm f/3.5-5.6

1. Fujifilm X-T100 Mirrorless Digital Camera

  • Price: $499.00
  • Included Lenses: n/a
  • Key Specs & Features
    • Sensor: 24.2 MP APS-C CMOS III Sensor
    • Frames Per Second: 6 fps
    • Video: Ultra HD 4K Video
    • Screen: 3-way Tilting LCD Screen

The X-T100 is one of the best looking and most powerful models on our list of the best beginner cameras. Coming in just under the limit, this $499 body is decidedly worth the investment. It’s tilting 3-way screen is great for those who aren’t super confident in their point-and-shoot skills. Plus, its impressive 24.2 MPs and HD 4K video put it on par with some of its more expensive alternatives.

2. Nikon D3500 DSLR Camera

  • Price: $499.95
  • Included Lenses: Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens
  • Key Specs & Features:
    • Sensor: 24.2 MP DX CMOS Sensor
    • Frames Per Second: 5 fps
    • Video: Full HD 1080p
    • Screen: 3″ 921K-dot display (does not tilt)

Ah, the Nikon D3500—a classic, safe choice for people just starting out in photography. It’s reliable, feels sturdy in your hands, and comes with a versatile 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens. We recommend this camera for people who prioritize function and value over frills. You can read our full review of the Nikon D3500 here.

3. Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera

  • Price: $498.00
  • Included Lenses: 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 lens
  • Key Specs & Features:
    • Sensor: 24.3 MP APS-C sensor
    • Frames Per Second: 11 fps
    • Video: Full HD 1080p
    • Screen: Tiltable 3″ LCD

Next on our list of the best beginner cameras under $500 is the Sony a6000. This camera boasts the best photo quality on our list with a 24.3 MP APS-C sensor. While it doesn’t match the T-100’s 4K video, its full HD 1080p is certainly nothing to overlook. We recommend the a6000 to those looking for a sleek, powerful, pocket-sized mirrorless camera with a lot of potential (and the included 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 lens doesn’t hurt either).

4. Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR Camera

  • Price: $399.00
  • Included Lenses: EF-S 18-55mm IS II Lens Kit
  • Key Specs & Features:
    • Sensor: 24.1 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) Sensor
    • Frames Per Second: 3 fps
    • Video: EOS Full HD
    • Screen: 3.0” LCD

Much like the Nikon above, the Canon Rebel T7 is a reliable DSLR that’s ideal for learning the basics. It boasts a respectable 24.1 MP CMOS sensor and a wide ISO range of 100-6400 (H:12800) to capture high-quality photos in low-light situations. In addition to the T7, this bundle comes with an 18-55mm lens that’s great for both day-to-day and wide-angle situations.

We recommend that you also check out the previous model: the Rebel T6. It doesn’t have the same quality as the newer T7, but does come with two kit lenses.

5. Panasonic LUMIX G7 Mirrorless Camera

  • Price: $497.00
  • Included Lenses: 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens
  • Key Specs & Features:
    • Sensor: 16 MP Live MOS Sensor
    • Frames Per Second: 8 fps
    • Video: 4K UHD Video
    • Screen: 3.0″ tiltable LCD

Last but not least on our list of the 5 best beginner cameras under $500 is the Panasonic LUMIX G7. While this camera may not have the highest quality sensor for photos (16 MP) it does boast 4K video! This is a major perk for anyone looking for an affordable, entry-level vlogging camera. We recommend this bundle for anyone interested in graduating from a smartphone to something more powerful and adaptable.

Choosing A Camera

What’s in the box?

It’s important to decide what you want to get out of this $500 investment before you choose a camera/bundle.

For example, the Alpha a6000 has a 24.3 MP sensor; that’s a relatively large sensor for an entry-level camera. On the other hand, the Canon EOS Rebel T6 has a smaller (yet still respectable) 18 MP sensor. But, the T6 comes with two kit lenses.

So, would you rather invest in a camera that has a larger sensor and no lens or one with a smaller sensor that comes pre-bundled with two lenses?

There is no wrong answer necessarily—it’s entirely up to you based on your budget, the kind of photography you want to do, and the equipment you already own.

Brand Loyalty

Many photographers choose a camera brand, stick with it, and represent it with a level of fanaticism usually reserved for feuding sports fans. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Thanks to lens converters and adapters, you can shoot with Fujifilm and get that nice Sony lens you’ve had your eye on.

However, we do recommend choosing a camera brand you want to grow with. If you’re interested in the Sony a6000, check out the company’s latest releases; are people excited about Sony’s new offerings or are they sharpening their pitchforks and getting ready to storm the corporate headquarters?

Like any investment, it’s important to do a little homework before committing.

We hope this roundup of our favorite cameras under $500 helps your decision-making process! Feel free to reach out to us with questions via the comment section below.

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