Best Budget Cameras

Need a great camera but don’t want to spend a fortune?
You may assume that the best camera always comes at the highest price, but it is definitely possible to get a high-quality camera without paying a fortune. (Especially with the best budget cameras deals we’re seeing right now.)

There are two reasons for this. First, cameras are getting more and more advanced, so features you once saw only on the best DSLR or mirrorless camera models are now available on more basic bodies.

Second, many camera manufacturers keep their older and more advanced models for sale at constantly discounted prices.

So if you don’t mind choosing one that’s a couple of years old, you can get an extremely powerful and capable camera at an extremely affordable price!

At a Glance

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A $600/£500 budget will generally get you an advanced compact camera, an enthusiast-focused mirrorless model, or a top entry-level DSLR.

We’ve set this price as a rough benchmark because prices are changing all the time, so every once in a while you might find a camera on our list that slips a bit past that, or sinks lower! – but we will definitely get it into the right ballpark.

The exact choice of these cameras depends on your needs and intentions, but one thing the following models have in common is that they are all standout products in their respective categories.

Our Recommendation For Best Budget Cameras

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Best Budget Cameras Under $600 in 2023

1. Nikon D3500

Best Nikon Camera For Budget

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Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Nikon DX | Screen: 3-inch fixed, 921K dots | Continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p | User level: beginner / enthusiast

  • Very beginner-friendly
  • Speedy AF-P kit lens
  • great image quality
  • Fixed rear screen

Not only is this the newest and coolest entry-level DSLR on the market, it’s also well below our top budget, leaving you with cash for accessories. In fact, we’ve ranked it number one on our best Nikon cameras list.

The D3500 is a revamped and redesigned version of the previous D3400, featuring a 24-megapixel sensor and a fast-focusing 18-55mm AF-P kit lens with a retracting mechanism so it takes up less space when you’re on the go. around. The cheapest deal includes a non-VR lens, but we’d recommend paying just a little more for the VR version.

You may also like: Best Cameras For Journalists

2. Nikon D5300

Best Cheap Camera

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Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Nikon DX | Display: 3.2-inch articulating, 1,037,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p | User level: beginner / enthusiast

  • No low pass filter means great detail
  • Larger screen than usual
  • The screen is not touch-sensitive
  • Some banding in high ISO shots

A great-value, versatile alternative to Nikon’s newer models.

The D5300 appears as a fairly conventional entry-level DSLR, but it offers a handful of features not normally seen on other models of this type. These include a generously sized 3.2-inch LCD screen, a 39-point AF system, and even a GPS system, making it particularly strong for traveling photographers.

Nikon also chose to drop the anti-aliasing filter from the camera’s 24.2MP APS-C sensor, giving it an advantage in terms of the detail it can capture over rival 24MP bodies.

The only real drawback is that it doesn’t offer a touch screen, but you still get a very versatile camera that delivers great results. It’s been superseded by the latest Nikon D5600, but don’t worry about it: the D5300 still has plenty of life left in it.

3. Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D

Best Budget Camera of Canon

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Type: DSLR | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Canon EF-S | Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,040,000K dots | Viewfinder: Yes, optical | Continuous shooting: 5fps | Movies: Full HD (1080p) | User level: beginner

  • Small and light body
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF works very well
  • no 4K video
  • Single 9-point AF

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

The EOS Rebel SL2, also known as the EOS 200D, isn’t Canon’s newest DSLR, but that means its prices have had time to drop, so it outperforms the newer EOS 2000D but matches it at price. It also sits right at the top of our best Canon camera list, thanks to its combination of versatility and value.

You get Canon’s excellent Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, which offers mirrorless autofocus performance in live view and effective grip on movies, as well as the latest DIGIC 7 processing engine and the full triplet of Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth wireless connectivity options.

5fps burst shooting is decent, and the option to connect a microphone adds to its Full HD video capabilities, while compatibility with decades-old quality Canon lenses only further enhances its appeal. It’s about to be replaced by the recently announced Canon EOS 250D/Rebel SL3, which should bring prices down a bit more.

You may also like: Best Compact Cameras

4. Panasonic Lumix GX80 /85

Best mirrorless camera at a budget price

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Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: 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 (Elec. Shutter 40fps) | Maximum video resolution: 4k | User level: intermediate

  • very compact body
  • Built-in electronic viewfinder.
  • Great value for the price
  • MFT sensor only 16MP

Incredible value for money, with or without its clever little 12-32mm kit zoom lens, the Panasonic Lumix GX80 / G85 Shoehorns a host of high-tech features into its diminutive, compact build style.

These include 5-axis image stabilization, light-speed AF, post-focus, and 4K ultra-high definition for fast shooting and video stills, as showcased in Panasonic’s high-end cameras.

There’s also a high-resolution electronic viewfinder built into the back of the camera, along with a tilting touchscreen. If you want a camera that has big features and performance, but with a small build and price tag, this is great value for money that will leave you with cash to spare.

5. Sony A68

Best Budget Camera of Sony

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Type: SLT | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Screen: 2.7in, 461k dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Continuous shooting speed: 8fps | Maximum video resolution: Full HD | User level: beginner

  • The particularly advanced AF system
  • 8fps burst shooting
  • The LCD is not the best or the biggest….neither is the build quality

Quite a Marmite camera, but one that definitely deserves a nod here. With its less conventional SLT construction, the camera can offer 79 phase-detection points, which is considerably more than DSLR-type cameras at the same level.

Add to that 8fps burst shooting with focus tracking and Sony’s 4D Focus technology, and what you have is a camera that’s much better suited to action shooting than many others.

With the added benefit of a tilting screen and OLED viewfinder, the camera is arguably more flexible when shooting in low light or at awkward angles than your average DSLR, though the screen isn’t the best of its kind, and the future of the system SLT isn’t entirely clear now that Sony is turning its attention to the likes of the A6000 (below).

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6. Sony A6000

Best Affordable Camera

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Type: Mirrorless | Sensor Size: APS-C | Resolution: 24.3MP | Viewfinder: EVF | Monitor: 3-inch tilting screen, 921,600 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 11fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p | User level: beginner / enthusiast

  • Great image quality.
  • Excellent EVF
  • The screen is not touched sensitive
  • Setting the AF point is somewhat awkward

A powerful mirrorless SUV that’s now available at silly prices

Sony’s excellent A6300 and A6500 may be out of the budget, but the A6000 is a highly capable alternative. In fact, the company claims that it is its best-selling mirrorless camera to date.

While it may lack the 4K video option of its big brothers, you do get plenty of features you’d never expect to see on a similarly priced DSLR. These include a whopping 179 phase-detection AF points that make subject tracking a bit of a hurdle, along with 11fps burst shooting.

That combination alone should make the camera very appealing to sports and action shooters, while the tilting LCD screen, 2.36 million-dot OLED viewfinder, built-in Wi-Fi, and NFC just sweeten it still. plus the deal.

7. Olympus OM-D E-M10 II

Best high-tech mirrorless camera

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Type: Mirrorless | Sensor Size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 16.1MP | Lens: Micro Four Thirds | Screen: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1,370,000 dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 8.5fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: beginner / enthusiast

  • Excellent EVF
  • Very good image stabilization
  • Non-variable angle display
  • Limit custom options

Olympus’s digital revival of its analog OM line has been hugely popular with enthusiast photographers, and with the OM-D E-M10 II the company has provided those on a tighter budget with a solid entry point into the series.

What is surprising is how much the model has in common with the older OM-D E-M5 II. Both, for example, sport 16MP sensors, TruePic VII processors, 2.36 million-dot electronic viewfinders, and five-axis image stabilization systems.

Sure, not all are equal, but when you consider the huge price difference between the two, the OM-D E-M10 II ends up being the better value model by some margin, and it’s the best Olympus camera for those looking for their first “proper” system.

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8. Panasonic Lumix LX100

Best Panasonic Budget Camera

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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

While most enthusiast compacts are happy enough with a 1in-type sensor, the Panasonic LX100 shoves in a larger Micro Four Thirds sensor in a body that’s only slightly larger than the average enthusiast compact.

In fact, it is the only compact camera to have such a sensor, and this helps it deliver excellent image quality.

The 24-75mm lens’s focal range may be a bit limiting, but with a maximum aperture of f/1.7-2.8, it’s nice and bright. Add to that 4K video, a built-in viewfinder, and Wi-Fi with NFC, and it still compares well to the latest offerings.

9. Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III

Best high-spec camera at a low-spec price

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Type: Compact | Sensor: 1in type | Megapixels: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 | Screen: 3-inch tilting screen, 1.228 million dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Max Burst Rate: 5fps | Maximum video resolution: Full HD (1080p) | User level: enthusiast

  • Excellent sensor
  • Small body
  • Some handling issues
  • Maximum opening to 100 mm.

Sony’s third-gen RX100 model is a powerhouse in miniature

The original Cyber-shot RX100 was a landmark release, with its large 1-inch sensor, a wealth of features, and small body that exceeds the standard for a compact you can still fit in your pocket.

This third iteration has a 20.1-megapixel sensor and a fast f/1.8-2.8 3x zoom lens equivalent to 24-70mm in full-frame terms. It’s even included in a pop-up electronic viewfinder.

Sony recently announced the RX100 VI, which has a long zoom range but a much higher price, so we think the RX100 III still hits the sweet spot between power and price.

10. Panasonic Lumix TZ100/ZS100

Panasonic Best Budget Mirrorless Camera

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Type: Compact | Sensor: 1-inch CMOS type | 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

  • unique proposal
  • 4K video inclusion
  • The viewfinder is very small.
  • Narrow telephoto maximum aperture

The TZ100 hides its small size with a huge sensor and all-encompassing optics

Pocket-sized compact cameras with 1-inch sensors are desirable for the quality of their images, but they rarely offer lenses larger than 100mm or so. The only exception to this is the Lumix TZ100from Panasonic, which pairs it’s 20MP 1in sensor with a surprisingly long 25-250mm f/2.8-5.9 lens.

Admittedly, to accommodate this it’s a little bulkier than your average compact, and it’s not as bright at its telephoto end, but if size and telephoto range are your priorities then you’ll be hard-pressed to find something more suitable.

And that’s just the beginning; With a small electronic viewfinder, 4K video recording, raw shooting, and a five-axis OIS system to help keep images sharp and videos steady, it packs a lot of mass aside from its core specs.

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Mark Wilson
By Mark Wilson

Mark is CamerasFob Editor and is responsible for all of the site's photographic coverage, from the latest mirrorless cameras to drones and digital photo frames. Naturally, he also writes explainers on the latest camera phone tech and is attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person.

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