The Best DSLR Cameras Under $500 [Comparison]
Let’s face it. Not all of us have the cash needed to buy that $3,000 camera. Some of us don’t even have enough for that $1,000 model. Many professional photographers end up taking out a loan just for their gear. There is nothing wrong with that, but with technology advancing rapidly, prices are coming down on DSLR cameras.
There are superb quality cameras available at a lower price. We are going to review the four best DSLR cameras under $500. You heard me correctly. There are excellent choices available even if you are on a budget. There is no need to sacrifice professional quality because of price anymore. Let’s dive into these cameras so you can get the best bang for your buck.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
A buyer’s favorite, the Nikon D3300 is a great pick for a DSLR camera. It has a lot of power behind its sleek body and will surprise you with its picture taking capability. If you are looking for a DSLR camera under $500 that is sure to impress, look no further than the Nikon D3300. Its specifications will say it all.
- MSRP of $449.95. A steal for the professional-grade camera you are getting
- CMOS (23.5 x 15.6 mm) Sensor. Capture stunning photos and videos.
- 24.2 Megapixels. Large resolution so that you can print poster-size photos.
- Wide Range of Sensitivity
- ISO 100-12800
- Expandable to H: 25600
- Shoot in low lighting and still get crystal clear pictures
- 3″ LCD Screen. View your photos and options with ease.
- 5 fps Burst Rate. Shoot at a high speed so you never miss the perfect shot.
- 1080p Video at 60 fps. Great HD quality video with sound.
- Wi-Fi and GPS Capability. Get the optional adapter to upload photos, use a remote control, and utilize the GPS feature.
- Easy to Handle. Easy to pick up and go at 4.9 x 3.9 x 3.0 inches and 14.5 ounces.
Smartphone or device capability is essential to most users now. The D3300 can sync up with your device so you can upload your pictures or videos instantly. You can also use your smart device as a remote control so you can be in those group shots.
Built-in image effects and filters will let your creative side run wild. You can create stunning panoramas and portraits with this small but powerful little device. The D3300 has many options so you can get the picture you want.
It is small. We know we said that already but it really is handy. The D3300 is a wonderful camera to take on any trips or vacations. You can store it easily in a purse or bag and still get better photos than you can with most compact cameras.
What we don’t like
Some users have been frustrated with the lag time in the light meter. Meaning, if you go from light to dark photo opportunities, the light meter can take awhile to catch up. If you aren’t very patient, this is a big frustration point.
Buyers have noticed that taking action shots is not recommended. The D3300 will take decent photos but you have to sort through and erase the blurry images. If you are looking for a camera specifically for action shots, this is not the one for you.
The autofocus is mediocre. It does help but if your subject is moving or you don’t know the exact settings to use, you can end up with a blurry picture. This is all speculative because of setting differentiation. I would suggest reading about your camera and settings before using it so you have a better idea on how to operate it.
With the negatives being expressed, you need to look at what you are getting for the price. It is a very inexpensive camera for all of the bells and whistles. The majority of buyers are more than satisfied. Use your judgement to know if this is the right pick for you or not.
The Nikon D3300 is a great choice if you want a small camera that packs a mighty punch. You can use it for quick photos on-the-go or create beautiful panoramas on your family vacation. It is versatile and user-friendly. For the price, you can’t really ask for much more.
If you’re looking for more information, read our full review of the Nikon D3300.
Or if you’re already ready to buy this camera, head on over to Amazon now.
Using a small DSLR camera has never been easier. The Nikon D3400 is fast, lightweight, and produces stunning images and video. You will be amazed on how much better this baby works than your smartphone and it is not much bigger either.
If you are a professional, you will love the specifications. If you are a novice, you won’t have any trouble operating it. It has a little more oomph than the Nikon D3300 and hence the small price uptick. Let’s look at the differences.
- MSRP of $499.95. A little more expensive than the previous camera but still under $500.
- CMOS (23.5 x 15.6 mm) Sensor. The same as the D3300. Large enough to get beautiful shots. Small enough to keep your camera small.
- 24.2 Megapixels. Saturated in color and light, your photos will stand out among others.
- Sensitivity for Lighting and More. ISO 100-25600 leaves your options open for the types of shots you can take.
- 3″ LCD Screen. A glare-free view so you can just focus on your subject.
- 5 fps Burst Rate. Quick and effortless photos in an instant.
- 1080p at 60 fps Video Power. HDTV worthy video with a built-in microphone.
- Bluetooth Capability. Sync up your photos wirelessly and instantly with bluetooth technology.
- Lightweight and Travel Friendly. The same dimensions as the D3300 but ½ ounce lighter. (4.9 x 3.9 x 3.0 inches and 14 ounces)
It is a gateway camera. What do we mean by that? You can use the automatic modes and guide modes to hold your hand through every step you take. Once you start feeling more comfortable, get a little more creative and adjust the settings manually to get the desired results.
One word- Snapbridge. The D3400 will automatically upload your photos and videos to Snapbridge so you can share, edit, or just ogle them instantly. This is specific to Nikon and is a very handy app to have on your smart device. You can get lost in it for hours so beware.
Autofocus capabilities are on par for this price range. You can get shots that you might otherwise have struggled with. Combined with the 5 fps burst speed, you are sure to get photos you love no matter your experience.
Get creative. Different styles and settings are available for you to get more out of your pictures. Express yourself with cool new perspectives on your otherwise so-so photos.
What we don’t like
Alright, there is a lot of chatter about Snapbridge and Bluetooth issues on this camera. We hear you loud and clear. This is by far the biggest complaint on the D3400. Bare with me though. Nikon has put out some potential fixes for this like just using multiple SD cards instead of uploading. That’s not really a fix though. However, some users have claimed they got it to connect finally by forgetting the device in Bluetooth settings and then reinstalling it.
They have also said they are working hard to keep up with Apple technology and make seamless transfers easier. That being said, if this is the main purpose of you buying the D3400 over the D3300, it might be time to rethink. As of now, this issue has still not been fixed.
There really weren’t a whole lot of other negatives about this camera. Only you can be the judge of wanting to deal with the Bluetooth-Snapbridge issue. All other buyers have said the camera itself is excellent and photo quality is very good.
The Nikon D3400 is just a little bit better than the D3300. It performs well and delivers crystal clear photos and video. The D3400 is a great travel companion with its small size. You can get the professional photos you want at half the price. It just proves that you shouldn’t judge something by its size.
Canon EOS Rebel T6
The Canon EOS Rebel T6 is a beautiful piece of equipment. The beauty lies in the simplicity. It is reliable, durable, and has the basics for what you need to get quality pictures. Its specifications are straightforward and it’s a great camera to progress your talent with.
- MSRP of $449.95. A bargain without losing quality.
- CMOS (22.3 x 14.9 mm) Sensor. Great quality sensor to get the pictures you want.
- 18 Megapixels. Lush photos with razor sharp clarity.
- Sensitivity Options
- ISO 100-6400
- Expandable to H: 12800
- 3″ LCD Screen. 170 degree viewing angle so you won’t miss a thing.
- 3 fps Burst Speed. Little shutter lag to get the action shot you want.
- 1080p at 30/24 fps Video. Create studio-quality HD video.
- Wi-Fi and NFC Compatible. Seamlessly transfer to your smart devices or the cloud. Instantly share your photos and videos.
- Roadworthy Pal. All this power and creative energy is packed into a 5.08 x 3.99 x 3.06 inch frame and weighs only 15.52 ounces.
Over a dozen creative settings allow you to play until you get the picture you want. Add in their fun filters and you can see one picture many different ways. It doesn’t matter if you are experienced or not. The Rebel T6 makes it easy for you to get creative with the automatic or manual settings.
The feature guide is available for those with no or little photography experience. It will walk you through whatever you need, step-by-step frustration-free. The Rebel T6 is an excellent learning camera.
If you are on the professional or more experienced end, you will be delighted to know that the Rebel T6 is compatible with the full line of Canon EF and Canon EF-S lenses. Lenses are available for every setting, event, and creative flow you might find yourself in.
The DIGIC 4+ Image Processor creates a speedy system. You can have a frustration-free shooting session that is smooth and seamless. This also helps create beautiful pictures by focusing on the details.
What we don’t like
The bells and whistles aren’t there. That is one of the biggest complaints. It doesn’t have all the extras that you might want like an articulating screen. At the end of the day, it all depends on what you are looking for. If you want those extras, you may have to pay more for a different camera.
If you are looking to wirelessly upload your photos or videos to the computer, you might be in trouble. There have been complaints that while you can upload easily to a smartphone or smart device, the computer connection can be frustrating. Of course you could always upload to the Cloud and solve that issue from the get go.
The software is almost non-existent. You can download different software from the online store to your computer and upload it to your camera if you require it. They also don’t provide a manual but you can find that online. We’re not really sure why they decided that was a better option but it might have something to do with technology advancing and this might be the new normal.
The Canon Rebel T6 is an excellent choice. From beginner to expert, everyone can find the settings they want and deserve. You can really grow into this camera which we think is a feature that is often overlooked. It is versatile yet easy to run. What more can you ask for in a camera?
Canon EOS Rebel SL1
There is a lot to be said about a newer version of a classic. Sometimes they get it wrong, but in this case, Canon got it right. The Canon EOS Rebel SL1 is one of the best choices of DSLR cameras under $500 out there. An extra boost of power will take you a step further in your photo and video adventures. Let’s dive into the details.
- MRSP of $499.95. On the brink of $500 but for a good reason. They pack everything you need into this little machine.
- CMOS (22.3 x 14.9 mm) Sensor. Newly designed sensor to adapt to your video and photography needs
- 18 Megapixels. Extraordinary quality for such a small device.
- Stunning Sensitivity Settings
- ISO 100-12800
- Expandable to H: 25600
- 3″ LCD Screen. Smudge resistant and glare proof. Need we say more?
- 4 fps Burst Rate. Quickly get the shot you need at a moment’s notice.
- 1080p video. Automatic or manual control of HD Video taking at 30/25/24 fps.
- Touchscreen. This is an upgrade you will be thrilled with. Work this camera like your trusty smartphone but with better image and video results.
- Compact and Powerful. It is truly amazing how much power and finesse they can pack into this 4.60 x 3.57 x 2.74 inch and 13.06 ounce camera.
As if the specifications weren’t enough to win you over, there is more.
The DIGIC 5 Image Processor is one for the books. If you are looking for detailed and vibrantly colored images, look no further. The Rebel SL1 delivers. This is an excellent upgrade from the Rebel T6 and for only about $50 more.
Let’s talk about this touchscreen. We mentioned earlier that it is user-friendly like your smartphone. However, there is more to it than that. You can use two-touch to zoom in and out. The settings are easily found on the screen. On top of that, shutter release and focus are at the tip of your finger, literally. That is a major feat for this price and size of camera.
The 9-point autofocus system will leave you faint. The ability to track your subjects with ease and get the picture you want is the envy of all photographers. You too can have this with the Rebel SL1.
Scene Intelligent Auto Mode is really useful for those with limited experience in photography. Let the Rebel SL1 do the work for you by making the appropriate settings for your photo. If you want to do it manually, you can do that too.
What we don’t like
There was an overwhelming percentage of positive reviews on the Rebel SL1. That being said, there cannot be light without the dark.
One complaint was on the battery life. The Rebel SL1 seems to do average on battery life but if you need extended time for shooting, it is recommended to bring backup batteries.
There also have been a few situations where the camera was malfunctioning due to liquid damage. That is definitely on the side of user error but it is something to keep in mind if you are planning on bringing this camera along during any water, rain, or snow outings.
Ultimately we think this is the best camera for the price. You have so many additional features and amenities that you will be calling Canon up to pay them more. The Canon EOS Rebel SL1 is, and probably will remain, one of the best DSLR cameras under $500.
|Model||Nikon D3300||Nikon D3400||Canon EOS Rebel T6||Canon EOS Rebel SL1|
|Sensor||CMOS (23.5 x 15.6 mm)||CMOS (23.5 x 15.6 mm)||CMOS (22.3 x 14.9 mm)||CMOS (22.3 x 14.9 mm)|
|ISO Sensitivity||100-12800 (expandable to H: 25600)||100-25600||100-6400 (expandable to H: 12800)||100-12800 (expandable to H: 25600)|
|Burst Rate||5 fps||5 fps||3 fps||4 fps|
|Video||1080p at 60 fps||1080p at 60 fps||1080p at 30/24 fps||1080p at 30/25/24 fps|
|Wi-Fi||Requires optional adapter||No||Yes||No|
|GPS||Requires optional adapter||No||No||No|
|Dimensions||4.9 x 3.9 x 3.0"||4.9 x 3.9 x 3.0"||5.08 x 3.99 x 3.06"||4.60 x 3.57 x 2.74"|
|Weight||14.5 oz.||14 oz.||15.52 oz.||13.06 oz|
Which camera is best for me?
Once again, this is a tough question to answer because we’re not you. There are a few things to consider though, so let’s see if we can help you with this dilemma.
Are you a professional or have limited experience? If you are going to err on the professional side, you probably want either the Nikon D3400 or the Canon EOS Rebel SL1. They both have the settings and capabilities that you are going to want of the four.
For the novices, or those who are looking to take just fun pictures for the scrapbook, you will want either the Nikon D3300 or the Canon EOS Rebel T6. They both are incredibly user-friendly and have a guide to walk you through many situations.
There is also the question of your budget. Obviously the Nikon D3300 and the Canon EOS Rebel T6 are the least expensive, however not by much. If you decide you don’t need the extra perks of the Nikon D3400 or the Canon EOS Rebel SL1, then definitely go with one of the first two.
Finally, what are you looking for in a camera. This is the fundamental question you need to ask yourself no matter what kind of camera purchase you are making.
Are you wanting to upload photos with Wi-Fi? Do you want to use the camera for movie making? Are you buying a camera to capture your child’s soccer games? These are all questions that will lead you to the camera for you.
Which camera is best for beginners?
We think the best camera for beginners is a tie between the Canon EOS Rebel T6 and the Canon EOS Rebel SL1. They both have the capability to find the right setting for you and that is crucial for excellent pictures and video.
We do really like the Guide Mode on the Canon EOS Rebel T6 and think there is something to be said for a camera that offers a guide to help you until you feel confident on your own.
Which camera is best for professionals?
Another tie here. We think it is between the Nikon D3400 and the Canon EOS Rebel SL1. They both have excellent specifications. We do think that if you are a professional you are going to naturally lean towards the Canon EOS Rebel SL1. It just has an edge over the other three cameras with its higher specifications and quality that you are probably looking for.
Best DSLR Under 500 Dollars
These four cameras are the best DSLR cameras under $500. As we mentioned before, they all have both positives and negatives about them. When you are looking at a camera lower in price, you are going to sacrifice some bells and whistles. Luckily, you don’t have to sacrifice quality as well.
They all have specifications and extra features that can be tailored to your style. What’s the right camera for you? Hopefully this guide helped you sift through what you want and need. These aren’t just any cameras under $500. They are the best DSLR cameras under $500.
Ready to buy one of these budget-friendly cameras? Use the links below to purchase through Amazon.