When it comes to shopping for the best cameras, you'd be forgiven for thinking there aren't any good ones for under AU$500. Sure, you won't get top-end features in this price range, but you will get remarkably capable shooters that offer more than what your phone can.
Anyone looking for the best camera under AU$500 will be spoilt for choice – you can find digital cameras, instant film cameras and even tough, waterproof cameras available at this price point.
One of the reasons camera prices drop so much is that as new models are released, the older ones get cheaper. Manufacturers often won't discontinue a line straight away, especially if it was really popular, which means there's an opportunity to grab yourself a bargain.
Read more: Best cameras under AU$1,000
Most of the cameras below don't feature the most up-to-date technology and have smallish sensors, but that doesn't mean they can't still take good photos. On the plus side, they're all pretty compact.
In this list, we reckon we've got great cameras for anyone who's shopping with a budget of less than AU$500. There are models from most leading camera brands, including Nikon, Fujifilm and Panasonic. There's also a 2-in-1 camera from Fujifilm that doubles up as a printer, so you're definitely getting your money's worth.
This list includes a mix of models available at a low price point, giving you options from some of the best instant cameras to some pretty reliable point-and-shoots. No matter what category a camera falls into, you can be sure that it comes with our ironclad recommendation. There's nothing on this list that isn't worth your time.
Everything here should be available for less than AU$500, though prices do fluctuate from time to time. So, let’s take a look at our favourite cameras in this price bracket.(opens in new tab)
Instant film cameras are always a hit at parties, and the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1 is a fine example available at a great price. With a click of the shutter button, it'll create 6.2cm square prints that look fantastic, with punchy colours and less of the tendency towards overexposure that has plagued previous Instax cameras.
The thing to remember about instant film is that it is of course an ongoing cost, so while you're paying AU$199 or so for the camera, you'll have to keep buying refills every time you run out. Still, it's worth the investment if you love the instant prints.
Also, this is a very basic point-and-shoot model, which is arguably all you need in an instant camera, though some users may lament the lack of basic quality-of-life features such as a self-timer. Still, for the price this is loads of fun, and a wonderfully inexpensive way to make physical images that last.
For a camera that costs under AU$500, the Lumix TZ90 has a lot going for it. Its 4K video capabilities are pretty competitive for a camera that was launched in late 2017 and, more importantly, at this price point. And let's not forget that massive zoom – 30x optical zoom means you'll be able to get closer to the action without being part of the fracas yourself. Its 3-inch touchscreen offers a decent range of controls, and there's a selfie mode too. While you're likely going to see some soft results at the widest angles, and the viewfinder isn't going to help frame as it's too small, it's still a remarkably good compact camera that won't break the bank.(opens in new tab)
Whether you’re on the beach, up a mountain or in the desert, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT30 should prove ideal. It’s waterproof down to a depth of 8m, freezeproof to -10ºC, dustproof, and shockproof to withstand being dropped from heights up to 1.5m. In short, it’s as tough as a brick but sadly looks a bit like one as well, with a very boxy design.
Unlike some 'tough' cameras, this one has a zoom lens, which is a nice bonus. Video resolution is a little disappointing but image quality is good and it’s an easy camera to use.
Not only can you take photos using the Instax Mini LiPlay but it can also print photos from your phone. Small enough to fit in your pocket, its compact design makes it perfect for having on you at all times. Featuring an LCD screen and a selfie mirror on the front so you can make sure you're looking your best, Fujifilm really has thought of it all. Connect it to the LiPlay app on your phone so you can edit your photos and add things such as coloured frames or apply a filter for a bit of fun. Even though the photos print out onto Instax Mini film, you can also choose to just keep the pictures stored on a microSD card. Choose from Blush Gold, Elegant Black or Stone White depending on your style and it's time to get snapping. It has a rechargeable battery, a built-in flash and three shortcut buttons so you can save your favourite settings.(opens in new tab)
It's one of the few cameras that offer 60x optical zoom at this budget price, but there have been some tradeoffs to keep the cost low. If you're someone who needs a camera for predominantly outdoor use in good light, the B600 won't disappoint, but it does get sluggish indoors and in low-light conditions, with image quality suffering a little. There's also no advanced features here, so it's best suited to anyone looking for a very easy-to-use point-and-shoot. Importantly, its menu system is also really easy to wrap your head around. And despite its massive zoom reach, the camera is quite light and compact, with a pretty good grip too.
For a camera that will cost you under AU$200 (yes, it's seriously affordable), this tiny Canon has an 8x zoom that's arguably its main draw, making it quite useful for a variety of scenarios. The 20MP sensor might be limited to capturing only HD video, but there's enough megapixels here to let you enlarge prints to some extent without sacrificing image quality. It might not seem like a big step up from your smartphone, but it does provide more control than some budget handsets out there. A zoom collar around the lens lends itself to perfectly frame your shot and a bunch of easy-to-use modes can detect a whole plethora of different scenes (for example, the Smart Auto mode alone can detect up to 32 scenes) and automatically adjust settings. And for a camera at this price, face detection is also onboard.