For beginners, a smartphone or a compact camera is enough to capture some pretty pleasant photos or video footage. However, as time goes on and your skills improve, you’ll need to upgrade your equipment to keep up. A lot of folks getting started are often looking for the best DSLR under 500 dollars.
While mirrorless cameras are the top-of-the-line cameras on the market, the prices are often too high in some cases to be affordable to a novice photographer or videographer.
In this case, the best transitional camera is a DSLR. They are professional and more advanced enough to teach you more about photography and elevate your skills.
At the same time, the tech has been around long enough that there are older models at an affordable price.
Additionally, manufacturers are more attentive to beginners than ever before. The mindset being, appeal to them with a lower spec camera at an affordable price to acclimate them to the brand and they’ll be loyal as they upgrade their gear. So, with all these companies competing for your attention, what is the best DSLR for you?
Well, the you in the question is what it’s all about. It really just depends on you and what you need. Therefore, we compiled a list of different entry-level DSLRs at a price range of under 500.
We will cover a wide array of cameras so you’re bound to find one that suits you. To make things easier, towards the end of the article, we’ll also take a look at the basic features a DSLR should have.
Best DSLR Under 500
So let’s get started with the list and jump right in with the Nikon D3400!
Nikon’s D3400 has been incredibly popular thanks to its outrageously low price. At a price tag of less than 500, you’re getting a great camera with a plethora of features as well as some neat accessories.
An Entry-level DSLR doesn’t mean you’re getting bottom-of-the-barrel products. Instead, whatever tech the high-end cameras were equipped with is slowly replaced and made obsolete by newer technology.
Therefore, specs that were worth thousands of dollars are now being installed in cameras for half the price.
The design of the D3400 is quite intuitive. Unlike the larger high-end DSLRs, this baby is small in size and light in weight.
This makes it easy on the hand and to carry around. Some were worried that the smaller size meant a compromise in ergonomics. That’s not true handling and using this camera is extremely comfy.
In terms of image quality, Nikon equipped the D3400 with a 24.3MP sensor. They didn’t skimp on the processor as they added in a high-tech one.
What this leads to are stunningly great images that are dense with detail. The high level of detail enables you to zoom and crop images to your liking without losing much quality.
The auto-focus here won’t blow any minds. However, a decent 5 fps continuous shooting is good enough for a novice photographer.
Speaking of which, there’s a neat feature called the guide mode which teaches novice photographers how to take shots in different situations.
When it comes to battery life, the D3400 performs excellently. You can take a little over 1000 shots per single charge which is far more than mirrorless cameras can offer. Another selling point is the 18-55mm zoom lens which comes bundled with the camera.
It’s a nice addition that unlocks a whole new world of possibilities for creative shots. The D3400 also features Nikon’s Snap-Bridge twitch allows you to transfer images using Bluetooth to another device.
The Nikon D3400 is an excellent recommendation for all novice photographers looking to get their first interchangeable lens camera. Thanks to its light build and ease of use it is a perfect leap from smartphones and compact, making for a smoother transition.
- Snap Bridge Bluetooth Connectivity
- 24.2mp dx format CMOS sensor
- Expeed 4 image processor
- No optical low pass filter. Bluetooth specification version 4.1. Wi-Fi functionality eye fi...
- Native ISO 100 25600; 5 fps shooting. Compatibility information: c firmware v. 1.10 and later (...
Canon has always been accused of being somewhat unreachable for novice photographers. They offer great cameras with impressive features but that comes at a steep price.
Well, with the release of the EOS 4000D, Canon is trying to offer great value for everyone with a limited budget. So, let’s see how successful they are.
This is a great camera for novice photographers who can’t splurge on a thousand dollar or more DSLR. One of the main benefits of owning the EOS 4000D is that the crazy amount of lenses that are compatible with this thing. You’ll have no problem finding any type of lens for any budget level.
In terms of performance, the EOS 4000D is equipped with an 18MP cropped sensor and a DIGIC4+ image processor. While these specs won’t blow anyone out of the water, that’s not the point here.
The point is getting professional-grade photos out of an affordable interchangeable lens. It doesn’t matter how many pixels or how much detail a camera can get you if you’re not trained to use it. That said, the EOS 4000D offers some great-looking images.
On the video side, the EOS 4000D can record in full 1080p HD for up to 30 frames. This setup works best for static shots. Say for example, if you film Youtube videos in your room.
You also have 2.7inch LCD and Wi-Fi connectivity for an easier time extracting your files. The battery life isn’t too shabby, standing an approximate 500-shot per charge. Lastly, the camera only supports one memory card slot, so that’s something to consider.
The EOS 4000D is especially beginner-friendly thanks to its simplified controls and menus. However, the camera allows enough manual control, in order to allow its owners to customize it to their liking as they improve their skills and knowledge. This gives the EOS 4000D a longer life in the hands of serious photographers.
Overall, the EOS 4000D is a great entry-level DSLR that can take great-looking images. Its streamlined controls and menus are a clear move on Canon’s part to appease novice photographers. We just recommend you shop for some lens in order to unlock its full potential.
- Canon EOS 4000D DSLR Camera(International Version)- 18.0MP APS-C CMOS Sensor,DIGIC 4+ Image...
- Canon EF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 DC III Zoom Lens - EF-S-Mount Lens/APS-C Format, 28.8-88mm (35mm...
- SanDisk 64GB Ultra UHS-I SDHC Memory Card (Class 10) - 64GB Storage Capacity , Class 10 / UHS-I ,...
- 58MM 0.43x Professional HD Wide Angle Lens (w/Macro Portion)- Easily screws on to the front of your...
- Camera Gadget Bag , 50 inch Tripod, High Capacity Spare Battery, Lens Cleaning Brush Pen, Lens...
Moving away from Canon and Nikon, we decided to shed some light on another company, Pentax. In June 2013, Pentax announced the K-50, an entry-level DSLR with similar specs to a mid-range camera with only a few features stripped for a lower price tag.
The K-50 utilizes a 16.3-megapixel resolution sensor which although not as dense with detail as some other cameras on this list is enhanced by supplemental features which balance out the image quality in the end.
An area where Pentax’s offering trumps other cameras in this range is its sharp and steady autofocus system thanks to the SAFOX IXi+ 11. The K-50 also films video in full 1080p HD with the added benefit of image stabilization, a feature seldom found in DSLRs of this range.
The K-50 has a 3 inch LCD that, although only marginally bigger than the EOS 4000D, feels bigger and clearer.
There’s also built-in flash which means you won’t have to invest in a flash accessory until you’re more comfortable with the camera and know what you want.
The camera utilizes a single SD/SDHC/SDXC SD card slot for storage. IT does however offer wireless file transfer to other devices. Thankfully the camera is chargeable with a USB cable.
The K-50 is well built and designed. It is smaller than the average DSLR which is either a godsend or a curse depending on your hand size.
A benefit of the small size is that the camera controls and menus are easily accessible at the tip of your fingers with only minor hand adjustments required for certain tasks.
The K-50 lives up to its entry-level label by keeping the menus to be relatively straightforward and easy to get used to. You will never need to get back to the user manual.
Overall, the K-50 is a great alternative to all the Canon and Nikon DSLRs on the market. It’s a perfect beginner-friendly camera that has a lot to offer to novice photographers.
This one is especially recommended for those looking for a very compact and light DSLR to carry around.
- 16 MP APS-C CMOS Sensor. A high performance 16 megapixel APS-C CMOS image sensor strikes the perfect...
- ISO Speeds up to 51200. High sensitivity shooting up to 51200 ISO range improves noise performance...
- Eye-Fi Card Compatibility with Eye-Fi wireless SD cards, the user can send images to a smartphone....
- Innovative In-body Shake Reduction (SR) Mechanism. The PENTAX in-body, sensor-shift Shake and Dust...
- Weather-sealed, Dustproof, Cold proof Design. With 81 weather seals your K-50 ensures use in any...
Going back to the industry giants for our last recommendation we have Nikon. While the company is making strides in improving the specs and performance of each new release they put out, the price tags certainly match the advancement of the equipment.
For beginners, however, we recommend older but capable and affordable models, such as the D5300.
The D5300 offers some intriguing features that no other camera of its age or price range does. For one it’s built with a 24.2 MP resolution sensor, which puts it in competition with newer and more expensive models.
Additionally, the combination of that and an EXPEED 4 processor ensures a sharp image quality that is dense with detail. It also supports full HD video recording at 1080p.
The D5300 is a reliably built camera. Its ergonomics and build quality are up to par with mid-range cameras and even some high-end ones. The viewfinder and LCD are large and comfortable for the eye to read.
The menus are a little dense and have a bit of a steep learning curve for beginners. The D5300 is equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity for a smoother file-sharing experience. It also has a built-in GPS and a microphone to support video recording.
Overall, the D5300 is an affordable camera that rivals some of its newer competition. Thanks to an impressive sensor and image processor it delivers great-looking images and video quality.
Add to that the plethora of features that are usually absent from cameras in a similar range and you have yourself a perfect DSLR for beginners at a ridiculously affordable price.
- 24MP DX-format CMOS sensor with no optical low-pass filter
- 39-point AF system with 3D tracking and 3D matrix metering II
- 5 frames per second continuous shooting
- ISO 100 - 12800 (Expandable to 25600)
- 3.2" Vari-angle LCD with 1,037,000 dots
What to Consider Before Buying
Let’s take a detailed look at the features you should consider when thinking about purchasing a DSLR camera.
The sensor size is more about setting your expectations straight when getting a DSLR. There are two popular sizes, full-frame, and APS-C sensors.
While full-frame results in better image quality because the sensor size is larger and thus can fit in more information, it’s unheard of for an entry-level DSLR. What you’ll find 99,99% of the time is an APS-C or a cropped sensor.
There are two things that you’re DSLR should have in this area. First, there’ll be more dials and buttons for things like exposure settings in addition to the auto modes we all know from compact cameras.
Second, most cameras will have a guide mode which is like a beginner’s tutorial to get you accustomed to the menus.
DSLRs are geared towards beginners, so they’ll usually be more compact than a high-end camera. That is not to say you should get a cheap plastic toy for a camera.
Instead, We recommend you get a polycarbonate DSLR. That’s because they absorb shocks better and thus are more durable.
This is vital for any camera you buy, regardless of the range or type. As you get comfortable with your camera you’ll want to experiment and get more out of it.
Thus, you’ll want to have a wide range of lens support.
Other things like light or flash, will largely depend on the company and camera, don’t feel bad if they’re not included.
Best DSLR Under 500 – Conclusion
That’ll be all for our guide on the best cameras under 500. In the past, such prices were unheard of for professional cameras. Things have changed now since the beginner market has grown large enough to entice companies to compete over it.
We hope that our selections will help you find the camera for you. Just remember that the price or specs of a camera are not very important for a camera to be good.
You can get great images out of almost any camera. It’s the photographer who makes the camera not the other way around. Good luck!