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 drops. 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 are 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.
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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 is a standout product in their respective categories, so you'll be sure to find something that suits your needs.
Best camera under £500 in 2023
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Despite the Hero 11 Black looking like every other GoPro this side of 2019, with upgraded hardware and software, it's a triumph on all fronts. The new, almost square sensor is supremely versatile, the camera's software has been simplified successfully, and GoPro's companion app, Quik has also been improved. With best-in-class stabilization, great-looking video in all but dimly-lit and dark scenes, and some fun new modes like light painting, the Hero 11 Black is an excellent addition to the line.
The Hero 11 Black's 8:7 aspect ratio is also a standout highlight for content creators. Able to shoot in 5.3K resolution, 8:7 video at up to 30fps, its footage can be losslessly cropped to create new 4K portrait, landscape, and square clips from a single video.
On top of 8:7 video, the Hero 11 Black captures 5.3K resolution video at 60 fps, 4K resolution video at 120 fps, or 2.7K resolution at 240 fps. You can also grab 27MP stills from 5.3K video.
The Hero 11 Black might not have wildly improved the line's lowlight performance. Still, with its new 8:7 sensor, a simplified interface, and enhanced horizon leveling, it's upgraded GoPro's offering in a meaningful way. Particularly appealing to folks who use multiple social platforms, nothing else can do quite what the 11 Black can.
Read our full GoPro Hero 11 Black review for more details
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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 our full Sony A6400 review for more details
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 our full DJI Osmo Action review for more details
Succeeded by the GoPro Hero 11, the Hero 10 price is now even cheaper, 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 it 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.
Read our full GoPro Hero 10 Black review for more details
Since its release in 2018, the Nikon D3500 has been a popular choice for those looking to start their photography journey. Its easy layout and 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 our full Nikon D3500 review for more details
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.
Read our full Panasonic Lumix TZ90 review for more details
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 starting-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 catalog of fantastic lenses. Friendly to the novice user, but offering room to grow, the EOS 2000D represents a fantastic bargain.
Read our full Canon EOS 2000D review for more details
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.
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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.
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?!
How we test cameras
We test mirrorless and DSLR cameras both in real-world shooting scenarios and in carefully controlled lab conditions. Our lab tests measure resolution, dynamic range, and signal-to-noise ratio. Resolution is measured using ISO resolution charts, dynamic range is measured using DxO Analyzer test equipment and DxO Analyzer is also used for noise analysis across the camera's ISO range. We use these real-world testing and lab results to inform our comments in buying guides. For compact cameras, we judge real-world handling and photographic results alone.