The range of cameras available in the market today is massive and growing at warp speed. And this can be pretty overwhelming for a budget as well as a first time buyer. It doesn’t matter whether you are a semi-professional photographer looking for a second, “just in case” camera or a complete beginner who wants to indulge in photography beyond the point and shoot basics; when you are looking at a budget range between $450 to $500, or maybe even slightly cheaper, your best bet is to go with a DSLR model.
A camera with a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) has many advantages compared to a digital Polaroid or point and shoot which fit under the cheapest camera model category. For one, in this price bracket, it definitely gives you the best image quality one can ask for. It has one zoom lens that every camera comes with but of course it is not your sole option.
A DLSR gives you the flexibility to change lenses if you want to further improve your image quality. And not just that but various lenses can give you a variety of effects from wider angles to sharper focus on your subject with a more blurred background.
Of course, extra lenses require an additional investment but it is always nice to have the option rather than immediately look to upgrade the entire camera.The biggest benefit of a DSLR is fast shutter speed that enables you to capture moving objects without blur.
This is a highly useful feature for photographers who like to venture out as well as stay-at-home photo bloggers.
So check out the top 7 best digital cameras in this range and select the one most suited to your needs.
#7) Nikon D40 6.1 Megapixel Digital SLR – Price $400
Being one of Nikon’s smallest and easiest DLSR cameras to use, it makes no compromises on the quality and sharpness of images and general performance which can be played back on the 2.5 inch display screen. It has a light weight bodyof 5.4 pounds making it number one as far mobility goes.
While its minimum to maximum ISO is 200 -1600, its offers an automatic shutter-speed priority and aperture priority along with a pop-up flash to bring you the best of low light and super bright areas. With a 6.1 megapixel resolution, exceptional handling speed and a user friendly menu that is designed based on natural intuition, it’s a significant upgrade from the high end of point and shoot cameras with all the outstanding detailed captures and technological features of an DSLR.
But one of its stand-out features surely has to be its fast 0.18 second start up, making it clicking ready from the get go, combined with super speedy shutter response and rapid shooting action of 2.5 frames per second up to a 100 pictures. With that, it’ll be practically impossible to miss a moment!
#6) Canon Rebel XS DSLR– Price $499.99
The Canon Rebel XS is a great camera for “serious beginners” as it boasts of 10.1 megapixel resolution CMOS sensor which can capture enough detail for high quality photo and poster prints. For extra clarity and maximized performance, this camera also has an inbuilt DIGIC III Image processor for stills and recordings while its 2.5 inch LCD display and viewfinder, though smaller than other screens in this range, is still pretty convenient to capture images.
It comes with an EF-S 18-55 mm lens, live view, Auto Lighting Optimizer, 7 point wide area auto focus sensor with auto stability for shaky circumstances and can capture up to 3 frames a second. And just when you thought this was enough, it has a EOS integrated cleaning system which removes any dust that settles on the lens using ultrasonic vibration, activated automatically every time the camera is switched on and off.
Even though this camera doesn’t have any internal memory storage, it’s fully compatible with SD/SDHC memory cards up to 32 GB.
#5) Pentax K-50 16MP Digital SLR Camera – Price $469.95
While brands like Sony, Canon and Nikon come faster to the mind when thinking of DLSR cameras, Pentax has its specific advantages over the rest. It’s relatively unknown name in the beginner photography circuit should not be mistaken for its high performance and features, some of which match the top level of what DSLR’s have to offer.
The Pentax K-50 is a great mid-range camera that prides itself on durability and advanced functionality while still looking pretty stylish. Its available in three bold colors, is super light in weight at 4.7 pounds and is ergonomically designed to be handled by people very young to old.
Its 16 megapixel resolution CMOS (APS-C) sensor gives you fast continuous shots at an amazing 6 frames per second while covering the DSLR basic properties like in-body shake reduction, 4 point advanced Auto focus module and a high range of exposure setting going up ISO 51200 for high sensitivity and low lit subjects. Its full 1018p HD video capture enables clear visuals and noise reduced sound especially great for the indoors.
Of course, post your image capture, you can experiment with a wide selection of creative tools and filters and use its eye-fi card compatibility for sharing images quickly and conveniently.
Additionally it has a PENTAX- original weather sealing for extra protection in high levels of wind, humidity and extreme temperatures making it a wonderful travelling companion.
#4) Canon EOS Rebel SL1 DSLR with 18-55mm STM Lens – Price $499
Considering its small size and lightweight, don’t underestimate this camera’s enormous performance ability. The Canon EOS Rebel SL 1 has an 18 megapixel resolution CMOS (APS-C) sensor and DIGIC 5 Image Processor that can deliver superb image quality for this price range.
Ideal for people stepping up from compact or point and shoot cameras, it has an impressive ISO range from 100 to 12800 that is further expandable to 25600 when set of Hi. This is just for still captures.
For video exposure, its ranges from 100- 6400 which is expandable to 12800 in dim lit locations and fast moving subjects. Furthermore, its EOS Full HD Movie mode with Servo auto focus along with Canon STM lenses can also shoot continuously up to 4.0 frames per second which only adds to its precision of capturing movement.
All this can be shot using its Optical viewfinder that is displayed on a bright 3 inch LCD touch screen that also enables you to easily use Creative filters in real-time display, to apply effects on images post capture.
#3) Sony SLT-A58K DSLR Kit with 18-55mm Zoom Lens– Price $448
For the price range it is in, the Sony SLT- A58K is a great camera in that it has taken the best features of its previous models as well as some technological advancements of models in a higher price end and combined them all in to one great gadget.
Thanks to a 20.1 megapixel resolution APS-C sensor and CMOS technology, the quality of images even when printed are incredibly detailed and sharp. This is also due to its Translucent Mirror technology that enables ultimate speed and precision while shooting stills and videos alike.
Its wide range of ISO from 100 to 16000 lets you shoot in extremely low light conditions as well as direct sun-like bright conditions while its Exmor sensor reduces all possible noise automatically.
It’s body is designed for relatively easy handling with a large 2.7 inch screen that can be tilted up or down for high and low angle shots. Combined with a built-in Lock on 15 point Auto focus and object tracking sensor that maintain accurate focus on moving objects, ensures you never miss shooting a moment again.
#2)Nikon D3200 24.2 MP CMOS SLR with 18-55mm– Price $496.95
This phenomenal entry level DSLR camera by Nikon is essentially designed for comfort, intuitive use and durability. Its relatively light weight and compact body makes it user friendly as it lets you track and click using just the 3.0 inch LCD screen of the viewfinder.
A great first time investment in this price, its 18-55 mm zoom lens along with a whopping 24.2 megapixel resolution, CMOS DX-format sensor significantly reduces your effort of manually setting it and simply allows you to focus on your subject and compositions. Additionally its 11 point Autofocusing is surprisingly fast while its wide ISO range of 100- 6400 lets you shoot in very low lit and super bright areas without a flash. And if you put the ISO on the Hi -1 setting, its equivalent to ISO 12,800!
This camera also has a WU-1a wireless mobile adapter meaning you can immediately send your images to your smartphone using a simple app.
#1) Nikon D5200 DSLR– Price $499.99
The D5200 DSLR from Nikon is designed for the supremely creative photographer. You don’t have to be a professional but simply passionate. The body of this camera is supreme in ergonomic design as its Vari-angle display lets you swivel its 3 inch screen in just about any position and direction. It also has a built-in high-dynamic range (HDR) that takes two shots in different exposures and then blends them in to one amazingly sharp image.
With 24.1 megapixel resolution CMOS DX-format sensor, ISO range of 100- 6400 (expandable to 25,600) and even high quality Full HD video recording, this camera is able to capture the most vivid of details with immense sharpness and clarity, fit to print in very large sizes.
There is an additional option of special effects that enable you to get really creative with your compositions as you can manipulate the color, size and position of the image on the display itself.
With the kind of speed at which technology is advancing, it is no wonder that one can get such fantastic features in cameras that are priced at a mid-level in the market.
With great image quality, flexible and interchangeable lenses and even Wi-Fi connectivity, the speed and precision of a camera is almost taken for granted, especially with DSLR models. This is what makes them so suitable for enthusiastic beginners, serious novices and semi-professionals equally.
However, the one catch that seems quite apparent is that while all 7 cameras on this list are great, having their individual stand-out features, there is no one single DSLR camera that has it all. Andbecause of this reason, the order of #7) to #1) is interchangeable to quite an extent.
What is the most important feature(s) in a camera to you from the list of these best dslr under 500? In what order would you place them?