12 Best Digital Cameras Under $500 in 2021-2022 Buying Guide

Best Cameras Under $500 for 2021-2022

  1. Best Digital Camera Under 500 in 2021
  2. Best point and shoot camera Under 500 in 2021
  3. Best camera for photography Under 500
  4. Best mirrorless camera Under 500 for 2021
  5. Best Digital Camera Buying Guide

Best Under 500 / Best Overall / Best 10 List / Best  Buying Guide

Best Camera Under $500 in 2021 If you’re looking to buy the Best Digital Cameras 2021 Under $500 then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve written a complete review guide to make it easy for you to choose the Best Dslr Cameras Under $500 for your budget and needs. So without delay, checkout our best selling top 10 Best Cameras Under $500 2021 list and find out which is the best suit for you.Check Out:Best Digital Camera Under 100: Amazon Best seller List

Top 5 Best Digital cameras Under 500 in 2021

Best Nikon D3300 Dslr Camera 2021 (Best Overall)   Review Buy Now
Best Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital Camera 2021 (best choice)   Review  Buy Now
Best Nikon D3400 Digital Camera (best seller)    Review Buy Now
Best Sony RX100-best Point And shoot Camera    Review  Buy Now
Best Canon PowerShot G9 Digital Camera 2021 Review  Buy Now
Check: Which Are Hot Now


Best Digital Camera Under $500


Best Dslr Camera Under $500 Reviews 2021


1. Nikon D3300 ($397)-2021 Best Dslr Under 500

Megapixels: 24.2
Sensor size: 357 sq. mm
Weight: 15.1 oz.
What we like: Nearly identical image quality as the D3400 below for $100 less.
What we don’t: No Bluetooth, although you can add a separate adapter for about $30.

The D3300 is one of Nikon’s leading entry-level DSLRs, offering good image quality, a user-friendly interface, and an improved kit lens that is lighter and sharper than past models. Most importantly, we love the value: the D3300 is less than $400 with a lens, and will far outperform point-and-shoots and other cameras in its price range. It’s true that you can get more features by stepping up to the D5000 series, but that breaks the $500 barrier (the second generation D5300 is $529 at time of publication, for example).

It was a close call between the D3300 and the D3400 for the top spot on this list, but our tipping point was price. The D3300 is a significant $100 cheaper, but the newer version has nearly identical image quality and doesn’t come with a huge jump in features. It’s true that the D3300 lacks Bluetooth Connectivity (you can add a WU-1a wireless adapter for about $30 more), while the D3400 comes with Nikon’s Snapbridge. It also has inferior battery life, although the flash is considerably better, which is a nice advantage for those who frequently shoot indoors and in low light. The bottom line is that both are great entry-level DSLRs, but we’ll take the savings on the D3300.

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2. Canon EOS Rebel T6 ($449)-Best Dslr Digital Camera

Megapixels: 18
Sensor size: 332 sq. mm
Weight: 17.1 oz.
What we like: A nice option for still photographers.
What we don’t: Fewer megapixels than the Nikon D3400 and D3300.

Canon’s popular Rebel series is a favorite among photographers and videographers on a budget. Unfortunately, with $500 you can’t quite crack the higher-end “i” models: the Canon Rebel T6i is $649 with a kit lens and even the T5i is $579. The Rebel T6 (no “i”) is a trimmed-down version with fewer megapixels, a simpler autofocus, and a fixed LCD that doesn’t tilt. But at only $449 with an 18-55mm lens, the T6 gets you a current digital SLR from one of the best in the business.

What do you sacrifice by going with the Canon Rebel T6? For those who plan on shooting mostly still photography, not as much as you might think. Many of the features on the pricier T6i and T5i such as the tilting LCD and STM lenses are designed with video in mind, and therefore aren’t much of a loss for those capturing stills. But we don’t like the drop in megapixels down to 18, which we think makes the Nikon D3300 above a more attractive option for about $50 less.

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3. Best Nikon D3400 ($497)Digital Camera

Megapixels: 24.2
Sensor size: 366 sq. mm
Weight: 13.9 oz.
What we like: The whole package in this price range.
What we don’t: Improvements over the D3300 were minimal.

In 2018, the D3400 is Nikon’s flagship entry-level DSLR and a solid value at under $500 with a kit lens. With this camera you get impressive image and video quality for the price including a 24.2-megapixel APS-C image sensor, Full HD 1080p video at a variety of speeds, and the ease of use that has helped make Nikon so popular. All in all, the D3400 is a no-brainer for those looking for an inexpensive DSLR that still gets the job done.

One consideration for buyers is that the D3400 is very similar to the older D3300 above. The most notable improvement on the newer model is Nikon’s SnapBridge technology for transferring images and videos via Bluetooth, and the D3400 also got a boost in battery life. With a $100 difference in cost from the D3300, you can’t go wrong with either model, and we appreciate the connectivity options and extended battery life of the D3400.

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Also Read:Best Digital Camera Under 200

4. Best Canon EOS Rebel T5 ($362)Dslr Camera

Megapixels: 18
Sensor size: 332 sq. mm
Weight: 15.3 oz.
What we like: One of Canon’s cheapest DSLRs at less than $400.
What we don’t: Video quality could be better.

It’s pretty rare that you’ll find an interchangeable-lens camera for under $400, especially from a brand like Canon. The Rebel T5 isn’t loaded with features by any means—it’s at the bottom end of Canon’s Rebel DSLR lineup—but we love the bargain basement price. At just over $360 with a kit lens, it’s the cheapest DSLR on this list.

Why is the Rebel T5 so inexpensive? First, the rear LCD screen doesn’t have touch functionality nor does it tilt or swivel. Second, the T5 has a slow burst rate at only 3 frames per second. Finally, the autofocus is fairly basic with only 1 cross-type focus point. But we love the price, which is comparable to some point-and-shoots that don’t offer nearly the same image quality. If you’re comparing the T5 to the newer T6 above, the latter adds Wi-Fi and NFC along with a higher resolution LCD screen.

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Best Mirrorless Cameras Under $500


1. Best Canon EOS M10 ($499)Dslr Under 500

Megapixels: 18
Sensor size: 332 sq. mm
Weight: 10.6 oz.
What we like: Light and compact for travel.
What we don’t: No viewfinder and limited lens options.

Canon is relatively new to the mirrorless market, but we really like their M line of interchangeable-lens cameras. At around $500, the M10 has an APS-C image sensor, 18 megapixels of resolution, and a sleek design that weighs only 10.6 ounces for the camera body. In fact, it’s one of the lightest and most compact mirrorless cameras around, so it’s great for travel. More, the image quality will far surpass that of most premium point-and-shoots.

Keep in mind that the M10 does not have a viewfinder, meaning that you’ll have to line up your photos via the rear LCD. And although Canon’s collection of EF-M lenses is growing and some third-party manufacturers have even jumped in the mix, you won’t find a lot of fast, pro-grade options. There is a 22mm f/2 prime, but most other lenses are slower including the 15-45mm offered with the M10. And of note: the Canon M100 was released in fall of 2018, which features 24 megapixels of resolution, a newer processor, and a $600 price tag.

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2. Best Olympus OM ($499) Camera Under 500

Megapixels: 16.1
Sensor size: 228 sq. mm
Weight: 14.5 oz.
What we like: Impressive feature set for the price, including built-in image stabilization.
What we don’t: You’ll still need to add a lens.

Olympus has made some of the top mirrorless cameras on the market for years, but consumers have felt the squeeze when considering high-end models like the E-M1 Mark II and E-M5 Mark II. The E-M10 Mark II, however, is a much more affordable option that offers Olympus’s signature image and video quality for just under $500 for the camera body. With the E-M10 Mark II you get advanced features like built-in image stabilization, an electronic viewfinder, and fast shooting at 8.5 frames per second. Further, the price has dropped with the recent release of the Mark III, which we like.

What are downsides of the Olympus compared to the Canon M10 above? The biggest is price: the E-M10 Mark II is $499 without a lens, and going with the 14-42mm kit will push it up to $549. However, it’s worth noting that the Micro Four Thirds collection of lenses is varied and outstanding overall. If you’re willing to spend up a bit—or start with the kit lens and save for a specialty prime or zoom down the road—this is a fun camera and a great stepping stone.

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3. Sony Alpha a5100 ($448) Camera Under 500

Megapixels: 24.3
Sensor size: 366 sq. mm
Weight: 10 oz.
What we like: Sony’s cheapest mirrorless camera.
What we don’t: Fairly limited feature set.

We have good news for photographers on a budget: You can access Sony’s popular line of mirrorless cameras for less than $500 with a lens. The Alpha a5100 is the company’s leading entry-level model and a very attractive alternative to point-and-shoots in the same price range. For example, the image sensor on the a5100 is roughly three times as large as the Sony RX100 below, the autofocus is more advanced, and you get a range of E-mount lenses to choose from. The 16-50mm kit lens sold with the a5100 isn’t our favorite, but it’s a decent starting point nevertheless.

Don’t expect a ton of bells and whistles from the Sony Alpha a5100, especially compared to its mid-range siblings like the a6300 and a6500. The a5100 isn’t weather sealed, lacks a viewfinder, and doesn’t shoot 4K (you’ll notice these are common themes among entry-level interchangeable-lens cameras). But the image quality is impressive for the price, which combined with the compact size and easy to use functionality, make the a5100 a big seller year after year. Keep in mind that similar to the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II above, you will have to add a lens.

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4. Nikon 1 J5 ($497)Digital Camera Under 500

Megapixels: 20.8
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Weight: 9.4 oz.
What we like: Super fast shooting speed and improved ergonomics.
What we don’t: Smaller image sensor than the mirrorless competition.

Nikon has limited mirrorless offerings, but don’t overlook the 1 J5. This camera lags behind in the models above in the size of its image sensor but makes up for it in features and functionality. With the 1 J5 you get extremely fast shooting at up to 20 frames per second, 20.8 megapixels of resolution, built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, and better ergonomics than past versions with an improved grip. In addition, the 1 J5 does not have an optical low pass filter like many of Nikon’s latest DSLRs, which results in better sharpness. If you can overlook the sensor (we should note that it is the same size as Sony’s popular RX100 series) the Nikon 1 J5 is a fun and very fast camera.

It’s worth noting that the future on Nikon’s 1 series is far from certain. As expected, the company has been fairly quiet about its mirrorless lineup, and speculation has heated up about the possibility of a new Nikon full-frame mirrorless camera. But the 1 J5 was released in 2015, which is a long time in the camera world. There currently are around a dozen “1” lenses to choose from and it’s a nice system for sure, but we wouldn’t be shocked to see some changes down the road.

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Best Point-and-Shoot Cameras Under $500

1. Best Sony RX100 ($448) Point And shoot Camera

Megapixels: 20.2
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Weight: 8.5 oz.
What we like: Still one of the top point-and-shoots on the market.
What we don’t: No electronic viewfinder.

Sony’s RX100 series is borderline iconic in terms of premium point-and-shoots, with five models to choose from in 2018. The least expensive version also happens to be our favorite: the original RX100. This camera has a large 1” image sensor that produces high-quality 20.1-megapixel images, a fast Carl Zeiss lens, manual settings, and RAW capability, all packaged in a lightweight body. For around $450, that’s a whole lot of point-and-shoot.

What do the newer RX100 cameras have that the original does not? The RX100 V has an electronic viewfinder and shoots 4K video, and the lens has gotten faster at the telephoto end (f/1.8-2.8 vs. f/1.8-4.9 on the RX100). These admittedly are nice features but not worth doubling the cost or more in our opinion (the RX100 V is a whopping $948). Most importantly, image and build quality are very similar and the RX100 is less than half the price. For these reasons, it’s our top rated point-and-shoot under $500.

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2. Best Canon PowerShot G9($429) Camera

Megapixels: 20.2
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Weight: 7.3 oz.
What we like: Longer zoom range than the Sony RX100.
What we don’t: As with the RX100, no electronic viewfinder.

Sony dominated the point-and-shoot market for years, but Canon has come on of late with its “X” series of compacts. This camera has a lot of similarities to the Sony RX100 above: it lacks an electronic viewfinder and therefore you line up photos with the rear LCD. More, the lens is slower and has slightly less zoom range than the pricier G7 X Mark II. But the G9 X Mark II has a large 1” image sensor and packs a punch in terms of image quality. At only 7.3 ounces, this is a great little camera for travel and everyday use.

Last year, Canon released the Mark II version of the camera, with the original G9 X selling for $399 at time of publication. The cameras share the same 28-84mm f/2-4.9 lens, with upgrades including a newer image processor, Bluetooth connectivity, and a slightly lower weight (the older version is approximately 7.4 ounces). All things considered, the changes aren’t groundbreaking, but considering the excellent value of the Mark II, it’s an easy choice.

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3. Best Canon PowerShot SX720 HS ($273) Camera

Megapixels: 20.3
Sensor size: 28 sq. mm
Weight: 9.5 oz.
What we like: A well-rounded camera for under $300.
What we don’t: Smaller image sensor than the advanced point-and-shoots above.

If you’re willing to move down to a smaller sensor, the Canon SX720 HS is a popular superzoom and a great travel camera on a budget. Most impressive is its 24-960mm of reach, which far exceeds any of the more expensive point-and-shoots above. You also get Full 1080p HD video capability and built-in Wi-Fi, among other features. In most conditions, the SX720 HS can produce quality images and you’ll barely notice it’s in your pocket.

If you don’t need the big zoom capability, we would at least consider spending up for a camera like the Sony RX100 above. The image sensor on the SX720 HS is considerably smaller than the RX100, and the lens and low light performance are inferior as well. But it’s hard argue with the price, size, and zoom range, which are what make the SX720 HS one of the more popular compacts on the market. And it’s worth noting that Canon has released the SX 730 HS, which adds Bluetooth functionality to the mix. But we don’t think the upgrades aren’t worth the extra $100+ in cost, which is why we have the older model here.

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4. Best Olympus TG-5 Tough ($399) Camera 

Megapixels: 12
Sensor size: 28 sq. mm
Weight: 8.8 oz.
What we like: Waterproof, dustproof, and freezeproof.
What we don’t: Small image sensor.

Generally, we hesitate to recommend “tough” cameras. The bottom line is that a big chunk of the money goes to waterproof housing and you end up with a small image sensor and meager components on the inside. Having said that, certain outdoor activities like surfing, rafting, skiing, or even a beach vacation can wreak havoc on your electronics. If you want a dedicated camera on hand but don’t want to think or worry about it, the new Olympus TG-5 is the top rugged point-and-shoot on the market in 2019

Why do we prefer the Olympus TG-5 over other waterproof models from brands like Nikon and Fujifilm? In addition to being waterproof, dustproof, and freezeproof, the TG-5 has a very respectable maximum aperture of f/2 for low light and underwater photos. We also like the 25-100mm zoom range, which goes wider than most other comparable cameras at 28mm. It’s true that $399 is a lot to spend for a camera with a small sensor and without big zoom, but for those who expect serious exposure to the elements, the Olympus TG-5 provides the protection.

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5. Best Canon PowerShot SX530 HS Camera

Sensor size: 28 sq. mm
Megapixels: 16
Weight: 15.6 oz.
What we like: Big-time zoom.
What we don’t: DSLR-like size yet with small image sensor.

If you’re looking for huge zoom at a low price point, check out the Canon SX530 HS. For less than $300 you get a massive 24-1200mm of reach along with image stabilization and Canon’s signature easy-to-use functionality. All in all, it’s a beast of a superzoom for travel photography and everyday use.

Why isn’t the SX530 HS higher on our list? Unlike the compact SX720 HS above, this camera is extremely bulky and feels much more like a DSLR than a point-and-shoot (it weighs a hefty 15.6 ounces). In addition, the SX530 HS has less resolution than the SX720 HS in terms of megapixels (16 vs. 20.3) and an inferior LCD screen. But you do get more zoom range, which is why many people choose a camera of this type in the first place.

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Best Digital Cameras Under 500 in 2021 Buying Guide

Check: Which Are Hot Now


DSLR vs. Mirrorless Cameras

Most DSLR cameras take photos the same way. Light enters through the lens and bounces off a mirror to travel through a prism before ending up at the viewfinder. When you press the shutter button, the mirror flips up, allowing light to hit the camera’s image sensor which creates the photo. Mirrorless cameras lack the mirror that DSLR cameras have. The absence of a mirror and optical viewfinder are why mirrorless cameras tend to be smaller and lighter than DSLRs.

You can get high-quality photos with either a DSLR or mirrorless camera. This chart lists a few of the benefits of DSLR and mirrorless cameras that should be considered when deciding which type of camera is best for you.

DSLR Advantages
Mirrorless Advantages
Better autofocus system
Smaller and lighter bodies
Longer battery life
Silent or quiet shutter features
More lens options
Faster shooting speed
Optical viewfinder provides better clarity and dynamic range
Electronic viewfinder shows exactly what the camera’s sensor sees


Camera Kit vs. Camera Only

Camera kits include the camera body and one or more lenses. A one-lens kit typically comes with a versatile lens such as one with an 18–55mm zoom factor. With any of the big brand names, you can be confident you’ll be getting a good, general purpose lens that will perform respectably over a wide variety of shooting situations. One of the big advantages of DSLR and mirrorless cameras is your ability to purchase interchangeable lenses to capture more specialized shots such as panoramic landscapes, long zooms and extreme close-ups.

You also have the option to purchase your camera without a lens (body only). Choosing a body-only camera may make sense if you already own a camera along with a collection of lenses, or if you simply prefer to select your own specialty lenses. Be sure to verify your existing lenses are compatible with the new camera you’re considering.


APS-C vs. Full Frame vs. Micro Four Thirds Sensor

The image sensor in digital cameras is a light-sensitive component that digitally records the image once the shutter is pressed. When purchasing a DSLR, you’ll have the choice of selecting a camera with either an APS-C image sensor (also known as a crop sensor), or a full frame image sensor. When purchasing a mirrorless camera, you’ll have those same sensor options, plus the additional option of a Micro Four Thirds sensor.

The image sensor in DSLR and mirrorless cameras is much larger than those found in smartphone cameras or even in point-and-shoot cameras. The size of the sensor ultimately determines how much light it uses to create an image. And more light provides better digital information to create a more highly detailed image. Check out the images and chart on the right to compare full frame, APS-C and Micro Four Thirds sensor sizes to those of other camera types. It’s easy to see that APS-C and full frame camera sensors are significantly bigger.

APS-C sensors are capable of rendering exceptional images, which will be far superior to the images you can capture with virtually any point-and-shoot camera or smartphone camera. A camera with a full frame sensor will capture more light than an APS-C sensor, providing sharper, cleaner images, especially in very low-light situations. In terms of size, the Micro Four Thirds sensor for mirrorless cameras falls somewhere between an APS-C sensor and a point-and-shoot camera sensor. A benefit of having a mirrorless camera with a Micro Four Thirds sensor is that it will be smaller and lighter than a camera with an APS-C or full-frame sensor.



The resolution of digital cameras is measured in megapixels. A megapixel is equal to one million pixels. One pixel is essentially the smallest unit of a digital photo. When it comes to megapixels, you’re probably familiar with the conventional school of thought that states: the more megapixels the better the resolution, and the better the digital image. But actually that’s a bit of a stretch because all megapixels are not created equal.

Smartphone cameras, for example, often sport what sounds like an impressive number of megapixels. After all, it’s pretty amazing to pack 30 or 40 million pixels onto a relatively tiny sensor. But to do so, there is a trade-off. To pack those millions of pixels onto such a small sensor, smartphones, and even point-and-shoot cameras, simply make use of much smaller pixels than DSLR and mirrorless cameras. But small pixels don’t behave as well as much larger ones, such as those found in DSLR and mirrorless camera sensors. The bigger pixels of DSLR and mirrorless cameras absorb light better, produce better color, and are not nearly as prone to “noise” and color distortions.

Of course, if all else were equal, more megapixels would be an upgrade. But typically, all things are not equal, especially when comparing megapixels across different camera types. A 12-megapixel DLSR camera, for example, will invariably outperform even a 24-megapixel point-and-shoot camera, or a 40-megapixel smartphone camera.


Image Processors

The components found in DSLR and mirrorless cameras are typically more advanced than those found in other cameras. The image processor, which is like the brain of a digital camera, is no exception.

It’s difficult to compare DSLR and mirrorless camera image processors across brands because manufacturers do not usually offer easily comparable specs. And another consideration is the proprietary software that each manufacturer has painstakingly designed to function with their cameras’ image processors. The results of image processors and software working in tandem is essentially what produces many of the artistic and effects capabilities built into DSLR and mirrorless cameras.

You can compare image processors within a given brand, using relevant information such as how much faster their latest image processor is versus their previous model. But that doesn’t help for comparing image processors across different brands. One way to evaluate camera processors between brands is by their ability to meet your needs. Since the speed and capabilities of any digital camera are functions of its processing power, you can look at their ability to handle processor-intensive tasks. For example, how many frames (photos) per second can it handle in burst mode? Does it have on-the-fly autofocusing capabilities in high-definition movie mode?

Lastly, as technology evolves, camera image processors are continually improving. DSLR and mirrorless image processors are significantly faster and more powerful than their point-and-shoot camera counterparts. Beyond that, some cameras have begun utilizing multiple processors, giving them the obvious advantage of further enhancing speed and performance.



Aperture range, shutter speed, and ISO sensitivity are the basic elements of exposure. Having full control over these settings as well as many more, sets DSLR and mirrorless cameras apart from other camera types. But if you’re not quite ready to take over the helm of making manual adjustments, don’t despair — the easy-to-use automatic settings will take the guesswork out of getting great shots.


Every lens has an aperture range. Aperture adjustments are measured in units called f-stops. The higher the f-stop number, the smaller the aperture and the less light that passes through the lens. Higher f-stops increase the distance in front of and behind the focus point, making more of the image look “sharp.”

Alternatively, a lower f-stop means a larger aperture and more light passing through the lens. Lower f-stops decrease the distance in front of and behind the focus point, making more of the image look “diffused” rendering a softer, more stylish effect.

If your f-stop is set at f/22, for example, the majority of your scene will be in focus. However, if your lens has the ability to go down to f/2.8, only a small portion of your scene will be in focus while the rest is blurred for that softer, stylized look.

Another advantage of DSLR and mirrorless cameras is the ability to utilize a very fast lens, such as f/2.8 or faster, allowing you to further enhance the camera’s ability to give you great shots, even in extremely low light.

Shutter Speed

Think of your shutter speed as the gateway that controls the amount of light that streams into the camera. The longer the shutter is open, the more light that is allowed to enter the camera and the greater the image blur. With a DSLR or mirrorless camera, it’s easy to adjust to the perfect shutter speed for any lighting situation. In low-light settings it makes sense to have a longer shutter speed to let in more light. It’s just the opposite in bright situations.

Why does it matter? When it comes to your kid’s soccer game, it won’t matter whether you capture the big goal if the picture ends up looking like a blurry mess. A faster shutter speed will freeze the action, making unwanted blur a thing of the past. On the other hand, you might want a degree of motion blur for style or artistic value. A slow shutter speed combined with subject movement during the shot, will create that motion blur. Alternatively, in a still shot, you might want to let in the brilliance and beauty of all available light. A slow shutter speed will give you that shot.

ISO Sensitivity

ISO sensitivity is a measure of how sensitive your sensor is to incoming light. An easy way to think about ISO settings is to understand that dimmer lighting conditions call for higher ISO, while brighter scenes require a lower ISO number. DSLR and mirrorless cameras are capable of shooting at much higher ISO numbers than most point-and-shoot cameras. This provides the flexibility to capture shots over a much broader range of lighting conditions, often eliminating the need for a flash in low-light conditions.

A good rule of thumb is to always use the lowest ISO you can get away with. That way you have proper exposure with as little graininess as possible. But with a DSLR or mirrorless camera, even when shooting at high ISO numbers, you’ll get much sharper pictures with far less noise than on a smaller sensor camera, such as a point-and-shoot. Plus, another great thing is that you can choose to manually control your ISO sensitivity. However, if you’re a beginner, you may opt to simply set your ISO to Auto and let the built-in technology do the work for you.


Other Features to Consider

The majority of features discussed next are not exclusive to DSLR and mirrorless cameras. You might find them on your point-and-shoot camera or even on your smartphone’s camera. The important distinction here is that these features work even better with DSLR and mirrorless cameras because of their superior components, speed and performance.

Burst mode

Burst mode refers to taking a rapid succession of photos by holding the shutter button. Burst mode is measured in frames per second, which means the number of pictures taken in one second’s time. Some cameras can take as many as 10 shots per second, or more. After you take a “burst” of multiple photos, you can review them all and choose the best one.

Burst mode requires significant processing speed and power to accomplish the task. That’s why DSLR and mirrorless cameras, with their ample processing power, are ideally suited to shoot in this demanding, high-speed mode. To take advantage of the speed of your camera, you’ll want to outfit it with a suitably fast memory card that can keep up with it. Check out our section on memory cards below to learn more.

Multipoint autofocus and scene-recognition modes

Virtually every camera these days has autofocus, and most cameras let you select a type of scene, such as portrait, landscape, indoor, and modes, etc. So, what more could you need? Actually, quite a bit. The capabilities of DSLR and mirrorless camera multipoint autofocus and scene-recognition modes provide more precise automatic control over a good many more shot settings.

  • Multiple-point autofocus feature locks onto moving subjects, tracking and keeping them in constant focus, which is great for capturing action shots and is especially useful in video mode.
  • Cameras may offer automatic scene recognition, selecting the correct mode and the right exposure, so you don’t have to.
  • Face recognition feature adjusts balance and focus points to show people’s faces in their best light.
  • Many cameras can make a variety of autofocus and exposure adjustments on the fly — automatically adjusting numerous settings, all in the time it takes to press the shutter button.

The list goes on, depending upon the camera you choose. Regardless of your selection, you’ll find these automatic modes go far beyond autofocusing the camera, making it easy to get great results from the outset.

High dynamic range (HDR)

Cameras with an HDR function can take a number of pictures of each scene you select — all at different exposures. Then, the camera will determine the best parts of each photo to keep, as well as which parts to toss. Here’s where the magic happens. The camera then combines the best parts of each photo into one great shot.

Now suppose for a moment that when the lighting was just so, you had framed up a picturesque sunset shot. And you were pretty sure your exposure settings were just right to capture that image perfectly. So you took the photo. When you reviewed the shot, you discovered you actually needed a little more light to create just the right effect. By that time, it’s too late. But in HDR mode, you’d have captured multiple shots in rapid succession, each at a slightly different exposure. Then voilà, your camera would automatically combine the best elements of each shot to create a photo that’s superior to any of the individual shots.

Video mode

Another way DSLR and mirrorless cameras set themselves apart is in video mode. Because of their light-gathering sensors and lenses, these cameras are able to capture Full HD videos that feature highly detailed images, and bright, brilliant colors. Some higher-end DSLRs and many mirrorless cameras even have the ability to record video in 4K. Plus, more and more cameras include special autofocus technology for video, so you can keep moving subjects in focus to capture the perfect video.


Let’s skip ahead — you’re at your kid’s game with your new camera. Your kid breaks away with the ball, shoots, and scores. Now what? Share with grandma and grandpa, of course. But why wait until you get home to upload everything? Features like built-in Wi-Fi, NFC (near field communication) and Bluetooth allow you to easily upload your photos to a smartphone or tablet for instant, wireless sharing. Some cameras also have a compatible app that can be used to control the camera from your mobile device, and some even feature GPS technology that allows you to tag where your photos were taken.



Memory cards

Type — The memory card is where all the images and videos you shoot are recorded and stored. Important note: Cameras typically do not come with a memory card. So, you’ll definitely want to order a memory card, or several, with your camera. Different memory card types exist, such as secure digital high capacity, or SDHC, or compact flash. Some cameras accept multiple types of memory cards. The important thing is to purchase the correct memory card for your camera. It’s a good idea to carry at least one backup memory card, in case you fill the one you’re using.

Capacity — A memory card’s capacity is measured in gigabytes, or GB. Memory cards vary in size from 2GB all the way up to 128GB or more. People invariably ask the question, how many photos and how many minutes of video will a given capacity memory card hold? The short answer is, it depends on a variety of factors such as file size and resolution, among others. That said, you may want to check out the memory card capacity chart below, provided courtesy of SanDisk Corporation. It will give you a better idea how many photos or how much recording time you can expect various memory card sizes to hold in given situations.

Speed — For most DSLR or mirrorless camera use, and especially during burst mode or movie mode, a high-speed memory card is critical. If you’re not using a high-speed memory card, your camera may take pictures faster than the card can handle them, and you might lose the perfect shot. Not sure what makes a memory card high speed? Focus on the card’s data transfer rate. You’ll want to look for transfer rates of at least 20MB/sec. For action shots with high frame-per-second bursts and HD video recording, a very fast memory card of 80MB/sec. or more is recommended.

Camera bags

A dedicated camera bag provides space and compartments for your camera and accessories, and padding to protect them.

Additional lenses and filters

A versatile, general-purpose lens that comes with many cameras will cover a broad array of shooting situations. But when the time comes that you want to take wide-angle panoramic shots, zoom in from great distances, or capture stunning close-ups with your subject in focus set upon a blurred background, the ability to change lenses is a must. It’s this ability to change lenses that gives DSLR and mirrorless cameras a leg up on other camera types for professional-looking results.

Attaching a filter to your lens will protect it from dust and scratches. Plus there are a variety of specialty filters that offer photo-enhancing features.

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Even though you may think you’re rock-steady with a camera, longer exposure times may necessitate using a tripod. A tripod is practically essential for capturing truly flawless portrait or landscape shots, especially when shooting at night. Most tripods will fit most cameras, so you simply need to decide the size and features you prefer and which tripod suits your budget.

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External flash

Most cameras include a built-in flash — a handy means to provide extra light any time you need it. But because a built-in flash has to be compact to fit the camera, it cannot offer the power of an external flash. An external flash is much more powerful than the built-in flash, and gives you greater control over the lighting. Other advantages include better illumination, a cleaner, softer look, more natural lighting, red-eye reduction, and flexibility in the positioning of lighting. Lastly, an external flash runs from its own battery source, so unlike a built-in flash, it won’t drain your camera battery.

Best Digital Cameras Under 100 in 2021


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