Holiday Gift Guide 2016 – 2017: Top 10 DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras Under $500

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Sony A5000

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The successor to the NEX-3 in some ways, the Sony A5000 is an entry-level option in to the world of mirrorless cameras from Sony, and what a world that has become. This model comes with an APS-C sized sensor that captures 20.2-megapixels, and is fully-compatible with the wide, wide range of Sony E-mount lenses that the Japanese giant now has on offer for all of their models. This is a great price for something that will produce super-detailed images and allow users a great foot in the door to one of the best mirrorless systems on the market.

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Buy the Sony A5000

Canon EOS Rebel T5

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The EOS line of DSLRs have been around for years now, and the Rebel T5 is no exception, there's a lot out there that competes with this model, but this allows users to jump in to the world of the EOS line with a cheap body option, and to invest in the different lenses and such that Canon has on offer without spending too much money overall. The 18-megapixel CMOS sensor and 3-inch LCD around the back round out what is one of the better value for money combinations that are out there, and there are some excellent bundles available via Amazon, too.

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Buy the Canon EOS Rebel T5

FujiFilm XA-1

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As mirrorless options go, the FujiFilm XA-1 might be a little old at this point, but it offers users a fun alternative to the stuffier options out there. It also has a wide, wide range of different lenses available from Fuji, although these do come at a premium. One of the cheapest mirrorless cameras on the market, there's little to complain about here, although the build quality could be a little better. The 16.3-megapixel APS-C sized sensor is of great quality, and has a lot going for it in terms of detail and clarity.

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Buy the FujiFilm XA-1

Nikon D3300

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If you're looking for something more traditional in terms of DSLR, then Nikon is no doubt a name that you'll have heard over the years. The D3300 is a great entry-level DSLR, and one that punches well above its weight thanks to the included 24.2-megapixel DX-format sensor that Nikon is rightly very proud of. Despite its low price, the D3300 has what it takes to be a quality shooter for a long, long time to come and there are tons of different lenses out there for the Nikon format, too. A traditional form factor with modern power, this is well worth looking into, that's for sure.

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Buy the Nikon D3300

Olympus OM-D E10

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A best seller on Amazon, the OM-D E10 might fool some people out there for an SLR, but it's actually a mirrorless camera masquerading as a classic from the past. With a large 16-megapixel sensor, the OM-D E10 delivers excellent results no matter where and when you find yourself. The included lens isn't amazing or anything, but there's a wide range of lenses that this can tap into and the form factor is certainly one that will appeal to prosumers and perhaps the professionals out there, too.

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Buy the Olympus OM-D E10

Panasonic DMC-GM1KA

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In the mirrorless world, Panasonic might not be one of the biggest names, but the DMC-GM1KA, part of their Lumix brand, is an excellent example of why people like mirrorless cameras in the first place. It's compact and easy to carry around, all the while offering some serious performance nonetheless. The included kit lens is pretty good, but there are a lot of other lenses out there to choose from, and for the women and more trendy photographers out there, this is a good-looking camera, too.

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Buy the Panasonic DMC-GM1KA

Pentax K-S2

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Pentax is a name that has a long history in the world of photography, and while they no longer quite have what it takes to compete with everyone else, they still make some excellent options. Take for example this, the Pentax K-S2, with a 20-megapixel anti-aliasing filter-free design, which means that there's even less processing done to an image, delivering a smoother, and more natural overall tone. This is a simple and functionality affair, although there are some nice extras added on top. This is definitely a the sort of DSLR that will shine in the hands of those looking to tinker with the settings and such.

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Buy the Pentax K-S2

Nikon 1 J5

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A stylish and good-looking affair, the Nikon 1 J5 is not just style, packing in a lot of substance as well. The aim of the Nikon 1 J5 is to be compact, functional and useful no matter the situation. As such, this allows for 20 frames of continuous shooting, and also has super-quick PDAF for quick autofocus. Great value, given its price, the Nikon 1 J5 is a sort of retro modern classic that will appear to those looking for something of a looker as well as a compact system that has excellent results, but doesn't cost as such.

Buy the Nikon 1 J5

Olympus PEN E-PL7

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The Olympus PEN series of cameras is arguably what started all of this mirrorless business some time ago, but they continue to improve, rather than resting on their laurels. The E-PL7 is one of their latest greatest, and it's packed full of technological advancements in a compact casing. The included kit lens is fairly good, but thanks to their long history in the market, there's a whole range of lenses available for the PEN series of cameras. Great for traveling with, as well as working on the basics, the E-PL7 is an excellent camera for any type of photographer.

Buy the Olympus PEN E-PL7