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The best camera under £500 in 2022

Included in this guide:

best camera under £500
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As camera technology progresses, the best camera under £500 becomes increasingly more powerful, offering some fantastic features for a very affordable price. These cameras show that the best camera isn't always the most expensive, as entry-level offerings can capture high-quality photos – and the best cheap cameras often come in a lightweight and compact body too. 

So how can camera manufacturers produce such good cameras at a really affordable price? The biggest reason is that with each new release, cameras have more advanced features and the price of older models drop. Features that you once would've only seen on the best DSLRs or the best mirrorless cameras are now common features in more basic compact systems. This means that things like raw photos, Wi-Fi and 4K video is now available in even budget cameras. 

Another reason why cheaper cameras have become so good in recent years is that many manufacturers keep their older models on the market for quite a while. This means that consumers can pick up an absolute bargain if they're not too worried about having the newest camera on the market. We particularly like Sony for this, as its A6XXX mirrorless camera range and RX100 compact camera range have large back catalogs of cameras that are still pretty easy to find – and at some fantastic prices too.

Read more: The best camera for kids

So, what can you expect to get for a budget of £500? Well, depending on what tickles your fancy, you should be able to pick up a fairly advanced compact camera, an enthusiast-focused mirrorless camera, or a decent entry-level DSLR. 

It's worth noting that as camera prices fluctuate, you may find a camera on our list that creeps a little over budget (or plunges far below!). However, every camera model on this list has been chosen because it balances fantastic features with an affordable price point, so we will definitely get you in the right ballpark. 

Cameras aren't a one-size-fits-all product, so the best camera under £500 for you will depend on what you want to use it for. However, each of the following models are all standout products in their respective categories, so you'll be sure to find something that suits your needs.

Best camera under £500 in 2022

(Image credit: Nikon)

A beginner friendly DSLR that delivers excellent image quality

Specifications
Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C CMOS
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Lens mount: Nikon DX
Screen: 3in fixed, 921K dots
Continuous shooting speed: 5fps
Max video resolution: 1080p
User level: Beginner/enthusiast
Reasons to buy
+Very beginner friendly+Speedy AF-P kit lens+Great image qualtiy
Reasons to avoid
-Fixed rear screen

Since its release in 2018, the Nikon D3500 has been a popular choice for those looking to start their photography journey. Its easy to layout and the intuitive menu system make it perfect for beginners, it even comes with a tutorial mode so that you can really get to grips with the camera settings. The lens mount is the same Nikon F Mount Nikon has always used so there is a massive range of lenses to pick from - you can even invest in full-frame lenses if you think you might want to upgrade your camera in the future. The D3500 is a refreshed version of the D3400 with a 24-megapixel sensor, faster focussing and 1080p video. We'd recommend buying it as a kit with the 18-55mm lens which is a brilliant all-rounder and it has a retracting mechanism so it takes up less space when you're not using it. It comes in just under budget so you could even buy a bag to carry it in with your change from £500.

Read more: Nikon D3500 review

(Image credit: GoPro)

The first action camera to offer stunning 5K 60p video

Specifications
Weight: 153g
Waterproof: 10m
5K video: up to 60fps
4K video: up to 120fps
1080P: up to 240fps
Stills resolution: 23MP
Battery life: 1-32hrs estimate
Reasons to buy
+Faster user interface+Increased frame rates+Hydrophobic lens coating
Reasons to avoid
-Incremental upgrade on Hero9 Black-Bigger than the Hero8 Black and Hero7 Black-Not compatible with older batteries

Welcome to the newest and best GoPro around. It might look a lot like the GoPro Hero 9 but it is a pretty significant upgrade. It features the new G2 processor which makes the interface super responsive, doubles the frame rates and fuels the best image stabilization tech available in action cameras. 

The stand-out feature is its ability to record 5.3K 60p using GoPro's new HyperSmooth 4.0 video stabilization. It also has the ability to shoot 23-megapixel photos and is has the best low-light performance of any GoPro yet. You can buy a wealth of accessories separately so as well as mounting it on your helmet, you could attach it to your chest, your head or even onto one of the best selfie sticks.

(Image credit: Canon)

3. Canon EOS 2000D

A flip-out LCD and Dual Pixel CMOS AF make this a great buy

Specifications
Type: DSLR
Megapixels: 24.1MP
Lens mount: Canon EF-S
Screen: 3-inch LCD, 920K dots
Viewfinder: Yes, optical
Continuous shooting: 3fps
Movies: Full HD (1080p)
User level: Beginner
Reasons to buy
+Tiny, light body+Excellent price
Reasons to avoid
-No Dual Pixel CMOS AF-Fxed LCD screen

An impressively specced beginner's DSLR and one of the long-awaited successors to the entry-level EOS 1000D, the Canon EOS 2000D is a great choice for any stating-out or aspiring photographer looking to try out their first DSLR. It doesn't do anything particularly flash but does manage everything you need it to: a 9-point autofocus system, 3fps burst shooting, Full HD video, and of course, the EF-S mount that gives the user access to a huge catalogue of fantastic lenses. Friendly to the novice user, but offering room to grow, the EOS 2000D represents a fantastic bargain.

4. Panasonic Lumix GX80

A pocket-sized mirrorless camera at a pocket-money price

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Micro Four Thirds
Megapixels: 16.0MP
Screen: 3.0-inch, 1,040k tilt touch
Viewfinder: Electronic, 2,765k
Lens: Micro Four Thirds
Continuous shooting speed: 8fps (40fps elec shutter)
Max video resolution: 4k
User level: Intermediate
Reasons to buy
+Very compact body+Built-in electronic viewfinder+Great value for money+Often sold with two zoom lenses for under $500 / £500
Reasons to avoid
-MFT sensor only 16MP

Incredible value for money, with or without its smart little 12-32mm kit zoom lens, the Panasonic Lumix GX80 shoehorns a host of high-tech features into its diminutive, compact-style build. The best deals however are for a twin-zoom kit, that offers a 45-150mm telephoto in addition to the 12-35mm standard lens. Standout features include 5-axis image stabilization, Light Speed AF, Post Focus and 4K ultra-high definition for both video and rapid-fire stills, as featured in Panasonic’s top-end cameras. There’s also a high-res electronic viewfinder built into the back of the camera, along with a tilting touchscreen. If you want a camera that goes large on features and performance, but with a small build and price tag, this is amazing value for money that will leave you with cash to spare.

Read more: The best Panasonic camera

(Image credit: DJI)

5. DJI Osmo Action

A fantastically featured little action camera for a great price

Specifications
Type: Action camera
Sensor: 1/2.3-inch
Megapixels: 12MP
Screen: Dual (front and rear)
Viewfinder: No
Lens: 148-degree field-of-view
Continuous shooting speed: Not specified
Max video resolution: 4k
User level: Beginner
Reasons to buy
+Super-smooth stabilised video+Extensive waterproofing (11m)
Reasons to avoid
-Some app issues-Limited burst options

Known for making some of the best camera drones, DJI has done a pretty good job of competing with GoPro with the release of the DJI Osmo Action. While it can't shoot 5K, it does produce beautifully smooth, 4K footage thanks to its RockSteady stabilization system. Another big selling point is it's much cheaper than the GoPro too and who really NEEDS 5K anyway?! It's waterproof down to 11m, has a dual LCD screen making it ideal for selfies and vlogging and it can also shoot in super slow motion (up to 8x). It's an excellent action cam and a brilliant all-rounder at a very good price. 

Read more: DJI Osmo Action review

(Image credit: Sony)

Perfect for taking super sharp stills and recording HD video

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor size: APS-C
Resolution: 24.3MP
Viewfinder: EVF
Monitor: 3-inch tilting screen, 921,600 dots
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 11fps
Maximum video resolution: 1080p
User level: Beginner/enthusiast
Reasons to buy
+Great image quality+Excellent EVF
Reasons to avoid
-Display isn't touch sensitive-Setting AF point somewhat awkward

Sony’s excellent A6400 and A6600 might be out of budget, but the A6000 is a highly capable alternative. In fact, the company claims it's its best-selling mirrorless camera to date. While it might lack its elder siblings’ 4K video option, you get plenty of features you’d never expect to see on a similarly priced DSLR. These include a mammoth 179 phase-detect AF points that make subject tracking a doddle, together with 11fps burst shooting. That combination alone should make the camera appeal strongly to sports and action shooters, while the tilting LCD screen, 2.36million-dot OLED viewfinder, built-in Wi-Fi and NFC only sweeten the deal further.

Read more: The best Sony camera

(Image credit: Panasonic)

7. Panasonic Lumix LX100

This fixed lens compact camera will take away all the hassle of changing lenses

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds
Resolution: 12.8MP
Lens: 24-75mm, f/1.7-2.8
Monitor: 3.0-inch, 921,000 dots
Viewfinder: EVF
Continuous shooting: 11fps
Movies: 4K
User level: Intermediate/expert
Reasons to buy
+Excellent feature set+Huge sensor for a compact
Reasons to avoid
-Limited focal range-Big for a compact

While most enthusiast compacts are happy enough with a 1in-type sensor, the Panasonic LX100 shoehorns in a larger Micro Four Thirds sensor into a body that's only slightly larger than the average enthusiast compact. In fact, it’s the only compact camera to have such a sensor, and this helps it to deliver excellent image quality. You might find the focal range of the 24-75mm lens to be a little limiting, but with a maximum aperture of f/1.7-2.8 it’s nice and bright. Add to that 4K video, an integrated viewfinder and Wi-Fi with NFC, and it still stacks up well against more recent offerings. Once again, too, the release of a more expensive successor (the LX100 II) has served to drive the price down and make this extremely capable camera an even more tempting prospect.

(Image credit: Sony)

8. Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III

Sony’s third-generation RX100 model is a miniature powerhouse

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: 1in type
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Lens: 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8
Screen: 3in tilting screen, 1.228million dots
Viewfinder: EVF
Max burst speed: 5fps
Max video resolution: Full HD (1080p)
User level: Enthusiast
Reasons to buy
+Excellent sensor+Tiny body
Reasons to avoid
-Some handling issues-Maximum aperture at 100mm

Sony possibly makes the best compacts you can buy with the RX100 series. The RX100 III has a large, 1-inch, 20-megapixel sensor, an equivalent zoom of 24-70mm and a fast aperture of f/1.8-2.8. It also comes with a pop up flash and a pop up viewfinder and while both are pretty small it's definitely better than none at all. Features such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity make transferring images quick and easy and it can even record pretty decent HD video. Since Sony released the RX100 VII this one has massively dropped and we think its the perfect balance of power versus price. Even professional photographers have been known to invest in the RX100 range so that they can keep a pocket-sized camera on them at all times. 

Read more: Sony RX100 III vs RX100 IV vs RX100 V vs RX100 VI vs RX100 VII

BEST CAMERA UNDER $500: Panasonic ZS70

(Image credit: Panasonic/Wex)

9. Panasonic Lumix TZ90

If a big zoom and a small camera is your main priority you can't beat the TZ90

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: 1/2.3in
Megapixels: 20.3MP
Lens: 24-720mm 3.3-6.4
LCD: 3in tilting, 1,04k dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 10fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Beginner to intermediate
Reasons to buy
+Effective image stabilisation system+Selfie functionality works very well
Reasons to avoid
-Viewfinder is very small-Soft results at wide-angle setting

Panasonic's long-running TZ series is a great choice for those needing a feature-packed point and shoot camera for travel. Released in 2017, the Panasonic TZ-90/ZS70 still has one of the best zoom lenses available on a compact. It's wifi ready so you can transfer images on the go, has an impressive 30x zoom (24-720mm full-frame equivalent) and includes RAW shooting. Unlike other point and shoots it has an electronic viewfinder, albeit a small one, but it's nice to have the option to use one. It has a 49-point autofocus system which is speedy enough, image quality is pretty good and its metering system helps to balance exposure in a variety of scenes. The ZS70 is without a doubt one of the best point and shoot systems for balancing versatility and portability with a low price point.

(Image credit: Panasonic)

10. Panasonic Lumix TZ100

The TZ100 belies its small size with a huge sensor and all-encompassing optic

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: 1-inch type CMOS
Resolution: 20.1MP
Lens: 25-250mm f/2.8-5.9
Viewfinder: EVF
Monitor: 3.0-inch, 1,040,000 dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 10fps
Movies: 4K
User level: Beginner/enthusiast
Reasons to buy
+Unique proposition+Inclusion of 4K video
Reasons to avoid
-Viewfinder is very small-Narrow max telephoto aperture

If you're not bothered by having such a big zoom and would prefer better low-light performance, the Panasonic TZ100 would better suit your needs. It's a compact design considering it's packing a 1-inch sensor which is surprisingly big considering the camera's zoom range is 25-250mm, f2.8-5.9. It's a little bulkier than the TZ90 above but you can definitely still fit it comfortably in a jacket pocket. It features a small electronic viewfinder, 4K video recording, RAW shooting and a five-axis OIS to help keep images sharp and videos stable. Now that the TZ200 has been released, the price of this one has dropped even more - what's not to love?!

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Hannah Rooke

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specialises in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylised product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.