We round up the best cameras for less than £500 on the market right now
Photography has a reputation for being expensive, and it really isn’t entirely justified. While it’s true that if you’re so inclined you can drop thousands and thousands on your imaging equipment, the truth is that it’s possible to get started in photography on a very small budget indeed.
We’ve rounded up what we reckon are the best bargains available in the camera world right now. Every product on this list contains everything you need to start shooting as soon as you open the box, and everything is available for less than £499. So, let’s get started.
1. Canon PowerShot SX620 HS
For our money, this is the minimum you need to spend to guarantee yourself something that will reliably deliver better results than your smartphone. The Canon PowerShot SX620 boasts something that smartphones don’t have – a 25x optical zoom lens, meaning you can get close up to your subject without suffering the degradation of image quality that comes with a digital zoom. Suddenly, faraway subjects are within your reach, and the 20MP BSI CMOS sensor ensures you’ll capture them in crisp detail.
Canon PowerShot SX620 HS Digital Camera - White
2. Ricoh WG-50
If you’re going to be taking your camera on outdoor adventures in rough weather, or think you might even want to take it underwater, then a weather-sealed tough camera is the best option for you. The good news is that you don’t even have to spend a lot of money to get hold of a well-equipped tough camera – the Ricoh WG-50 is not only reasonably priced but it’s also waterproof, dustproof, shockproof and crushproof, while its 16MP sensor and 28-140mm lens ensure seriously strong image quality.
3. Sony HX99
Sony has packed a huge amount of tech into the diminutive HX99 compact camera, foremost is its hugely impressive 28x optical zoom Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens that covers a focal range of 24-720mm. If you’re the type to compose your images in a viewfinder rather than on a screen, there’s also an impressive electronic model tucked in there, while the back-illuminated design of the sensor allows for greater data-gathering and better performance in low light. It also improves on the previous HX90 by adding RAW functionality, allowing for greatly increased scope when it comes to image editing. It’s small, it’s well-equipped, it fits in your pocket and it’s available for a good price. What’s not to love? If you want to spend a little less and don't mind doing without the HX99's Touch Focus and Touch Shutter functionality, the HX95 is also available at a lower price.
Sony HX99 Digital Camera
4. Fujifilm X-A20
Fujifilm’s X system has gone from strength to strength since revitalising the brand’s fortunes, and the X-A20 makes for a perfect entry point. It’s as stylish as the rest of the series, it’s small enough to take everywhere with you and its compatibility with the superb Fujifilm X lenses ensures that users can make the most of its 16MP X-Trans sensor. There’s also full HD video recording and an electronic shutter with a maximum speed of 1/32,000sec, meaning you can be sure you'll never miss a moment.
Fujifilm X-A20 Digital Camera with 15-45mm XC Lens - Silver
5. Canon EOS 4000D – £299 with lens
The Canon EOS 4000D is a terrific value entry-level DSLR that makes for a fine entry point into the Canon EOS system. Inside its diminutive body you get a large 18MP APS-C sensor, Wi-Fi, NFC connectivity and an optical viewfinder that offers 95% coverage of the frame. There's an in-built feature guide to get new users up to speed with everything the camera can do, and there’s also the option to shoot full HD video. If you just can’t get on with anything but a DSLR, this is a great choice.
Save £70, RRP £369
Canon EOS 4000D Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm III Lens
6. Sony a5100
If you want speed, this is your buy. The Sony a5100 can not only shoot at a maximum framerate of 6fps, but also carries a 179-point autofocus system to ensure that you never miss a moment. The generous ISO range also means you’ll be well-equipped for low-light shooting, and the 180-degree tiltable, flip-up touchscreen makes selfies a cinch. If you have sports or action in mind for your photography, this is a terrific choice.
Sony A5100 Digital Camera with 16-50mm Lens
7. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II
Blending classical style with superb depth of functionality, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II is a CSC that'll do everything most photographers need it to, while also fitting in a small bag or even a coat pocket. Inside its all-metal frame is a 16MP Live MOS sensor and Olympus' well-regarded 5-axis image stabilisation system, which allows you to get sharper shots using the camera handheld, even in low light. With fast autofocus that boasts 80 points in the frame, the E-M10 Mark II is equipped to handle even tough shooting situations. It's since been upgraded in the form of the OM-D EM10 Mark III, making this Mark II version a more thrifty purchase.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Digital Camera with 14-42mm Lens - Silver
8. Panasonic LUMIX G7
Did you know you can shoot fantastic stills and 4K video for less than £500? The Panasonic LUMIX G7 offers a frankly incredible range of features for the price point: 8fps burst shooting, a 2.36m-dot electronic viewfinder, an LCD screen with touch control, a 3.5mm microphone socket, complete access to the Micro Four Thirds lens system, built-in Wi-Fi and more. We haven’t even mentioned the awesome 4K Photo modes that allow you to extract 8MP stills from 4K footage. Never again will you miss a crucial moment!
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 Digital Camera with 12-60mm Lens
9. Nikon D3500
Though it’s eminently small and transportable, the Nikon D3500 is every bit the capable DSLR, with impressive imaging tech and a long battery life. It’s possible to use Nikon’s SnapBridge Bluetooth functionality to deliver images straight from the D3500 to a smartphone for easy sharing, the moment they’re shot. When you buy Nikon, you also get access to decades’ worth of top-quality Nikkor lenses, meaning this is an excellent choice for the beginner photographer who has ambitions to improve and upgrade.