DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras Under $500 - Gift Guide

Holiday Gift Guide 2015 – 2016: Top 10 DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras Under $500

November 6, 2015 - Written By Tom Dawson

When it comes to taking photos for professional purposes, capturing big occasions in the best way and so on we all need a dedicated camera of some sort. These days, a digital SLR camera is not the only way to go and in fact it’s only really Canon and Nikon that still make them to a competent level. Instead, the Mirrorless camera, with interchangeable lenses and similar high-end quality have become a viable alternative. As such, these lists feature the best of both mirror and mirrorless interchangeable cameras.

Pentax K-50 16MP Digital SLR Camera Kit with DA L 18-55mm WR f3.5-5.6 Lens

Pentax K-50 16MP Digital SLR Camera Kit with DA L 18-55mm WR f3.5-5.6 Lens

Pentax is a name that not everyone will think of right away, but the K-50 is a quality option, especially when we consider its price tag. With a simple 18-55mm lens and a familiar styling, this is a good value starter-kit for anyone looking to get involved in the world of “proper” photography.

Buy the Pentax K-50 16MP Digital SLR Camera Kit with DA L 18-55mm WR f3.5-5.6 Lens from Amazon

Samsung NX3000 Wireless Smart 20.3MP Mirrorless Digital Camera

Samsung NX3000 Wireless Smart 20.3MP Mirrorless Digital Camera

This Samsung NX3000 is the option for those that want the versatility of extra lenses and a larger sensor, but don’t want the bulk. With WiFi and a small footprint, this is the modern camera for those that want a little more oomph in their images. There are lots of different Samsung lenses available for those, and it’s super-easy to operate by anyone at any skill level.

Buy the Samsung NX3000 Wireless Smart 20.3MP Mirrorless Digital Camera from Amazon

Canon EOS Rebel SL1 Digital SLR with 18-55mm STM Lens

Canon EOS Rebel SL1 Digital SLR with 18-55mm STM Lens

This Canon option is one of the world’s smallest dSLRs. It’s got the same mirror and viewfinder setup as any other dSLR, but it’s a whole lot smaller. The Rebel SL1 is a brilliant compromise for younger users or those that enjoy a true viewfinder but don’t want to carry around the bulk. This has the larger sensor size of other dSLRs, resulting in all of the same sort of detail as larger, bulkier cameras.

Buy the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 Digital SLR with 18-55mm STM Lens from Amazon

Sony Alpha a5000 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm OSS Lens

Sony Alpha a5000 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm OSS Lens

Sony have been pioneering in mirrorless cameras for some time now, and they’ve gotten so good at it that their Alpha range has evolved from dSLR to mirrorless. The a5000 is an excellent camera for any type of photographer. The sensor is good enough for professional uses, and the compact footprint is perfect for more casual users as well. Plus, there’s a massive range of excellent lenses, as well as a number of different colors to get the hardware itself in.

Buy the Sony Alpha a5000 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm OSS Lens from Amazon

Olympus PEN E-PL6 Digital Camera with 14-42mm II Lens

Olympus PEN E-PL6 Digital Camera with 14-42mm II Lens

Olympus were here before even Sony with the whole micro four-thirds thing, and while their cameras have started to be overtaken by other brands, this a great option. With retro styling, a wide selection of great lenses and accessories, these Olympus PEN cameras are a compact and stylish option for those looking for some more versatility.

Buy the Olympus PEN E-PL6 Digital Camera with 14-42mm II Lens from Amazon

Nikon D3300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR with Auto Focus-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm Lens

Nikon D3300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR with Auto Focus-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm

As far as traditional dSLR options go, this Nikon D3300 is some of the best value available in this list, and it’s got a lot going for it. With all the bells and whistles that you’d expect from something like this, Nikon have done a great job to deliver such a complete package in such a small price tag. With a massive selection of lenses available as well, this might be all certain users ever need.

Buy the Nikon D3300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR with Auto Focus-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm Lens from Amazon

Canon EOS Rebel T5 EF-S 18-55mm IS II Digital SLR Kit

Canon EOS Rebel T5 EF-S 18-55mm IS II Digital SLR Kit

If the Canon Rebel EOS SL5 was a smaller dSLR, this is a “proper” digital SLR and you could consider it the Canon opposite to the above option. A little larger than some, the EOS line of dSLRS are good-looking and there’s enough manual controls here to satisfy everyone. And, just like the above Nikon there’s a massive amount of lenses on offer as well. An excellent choice that won’t let you down, Canon have been doing this sort of thing for years.

Buy the Canon EOS Rebel T5 EF-S 18-55mm IS II Digital SLR Kit from Amazon

Olympus OM-D E-M10 16 MP Mirrorless Digital Camera with 14-42mm 2RK lens

Olympus OM-D E-M10 16 MP Mirrorless Digital Camera with 14-42mm 2RK lens

A more classical approach from Olympus, this is modelled after their old film SLRs. It looks great, and while it’s a mirrorless camera, it performs as well as any dSLR. It’s got a great viewfinder, a great look and feel to it and all sorts of dials and switches. For something a little and more versatile, this is an excellent buy at this sort of price.

Buy the Olympus OM-D E-M10 16 MP Mirrorless Digital Camera with 14-42mm 2RK lens from Amazon

Canon EOS M 18.0 MP Compact Systems Camera

Canon EOS M 18.0 MP Compact Systems Camera

This is a super-small option from Canon that allows users to take their existing SLR lenses and take them with you. This is perhaps more of a companion camera for Canon dSLR users than it is an entire solution, as lenses can be quite expensive, and a dSLR will do them better justice. Having said that, this will definitely get the job done without the hassle.

Buy the Canon EOS M 18.0 MP Compact Systems Camera from Amazon

Nikon D3200 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Non-VR DX Zoom Lenses Bundle

Nikon D3200 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Non-VR DX Zoom Lenses Bundle

Thiis D3200 from Nikon is certainly an older dSLR, however this bundle will get anyone off to a great start. With a standard everyday lens as well as a larger zoom lens as well as a dedicated camera bag, this is a great price for everything included. If you know someone that needs to get started with a dSLR, this will do it in all in one purchase.

Buy the Nikon D3200 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Non-VR DX Zoom Lenses Bundle from Amazon