With a budget around $500, you'll find an impressive mix of advanced point and shoot cameras, along with entry-level DIL and DSLR cameras. The feature lists for these sub-$500 cameras are very impressive, and you'll find some unique features in this price point.
Here are the best cameras for under $500, listed alphabetically.
And, if you want some help in finding the best DSLR camera, click the link and read our DSLR camera buying guide.
Those looking for an affordable, beginner-level DSLR camera had to appreciate the news from earlier this year, when Canon announced plans for the EOS Rebel T3.
You won't find a lot of advanced features in the EOS T3 -- at least when compared to other DSLR models. The Rebel T3 includes 12.2 megapixels of resolution with a CMOS image sensor, a 2.7-inch LCD, live view shooting, and HD video capabilities.
A high quality fixed lens paired with a high-quality image sensor has yielded the interesting Canon PowerShot G15.
The G15 will feature an f/1.8 fixed lens, which provides great image quality. The 12.1MP CMOS image sensor also contributes strongly to this camera's ability to create high-quality images.
In addition, the G15 can shoot full HD video, supports Canon's High Sensitivity system, includes a 3.0-inch LCD, and offers a 5X optical zoom lens.
The HS20EXR makes use of the same CMOS EXR technology you'll find in the F500EXR camera. With the HS20EXR, you'll find 16 megapixels of resolution, a 3-inch high-resolution LCD, 1080p HD video, and a 30X optical zoom lens. The FinePix HS20EXR, which is called the HS22EXR in some parts of the world, is available in black only.
4. Fujifilm XF1
With the Fujifilm XF1, the company has created a very stylish fixed lens camera that is going to grab some attention with its sharp looks.
The XF1 has black, dark red, or light brown camera bodies that look like leather. All three cameras have silver metal trim.
The f/1.8 aperture lens on the XF1 is a high-quality piece of glass, even though it only offers a 4X manual zoom lens. The XF1 also has a 12MP image sensor, a 3.0-inch LCD,and full HD video capabilities.
The Nikon D5100 will carry 16.2 megapixels of resolution and record in full HD video. The D5100 is a small and neat camera, which fits easily into the hand. It feels substantial, but weighs less than its predecessor (as it has a plastic body). The camera also benefits from the addition of an articulated LCD screen with a side hinge.
Replacing the D5000, the D5100 sits neatly in between the entry-level D3100 and the high-end D7000. The camera is clearly aimed at attracting enthusiasts who have outgrown their basic entry-level DSLRs, and it will be in close competition with Canon's T3i.
Panasonic's latest high-end fixed-lens camera, the Lumix DMC-LX7, offers a high-quality lens, a 1/1.7-inch MOS image sensor, and high-end features, including an aperture ring.
With its high-end image sensor, having 10.1 megapixels of resolution will provide you with impressive results. In addition, the LX7 carries a 3.0-inch high-resolution LCD, full HD video capabilities, 3D photography options, and a 3.8X optical zoom lens with good wide-angle options. The LX7 is available in either black or white camera body colors.
Its high price tag means the Lumix LX7 might not appeal to everyone, but this is a very strong camera that can help you achieve great photos.
As I found in my Panasonic Lumix FZ150 review, this camera works well for either beginner or intermediate photographers. It offers 12.1 megapixels of resolution, a 3.0-inch high-resolution LCD, and 1080p HD video.
Panasonic's Lumix DMC-G2 camera is a rare model, as it offers touch-control shooting. When Panasonic announced the G2, it was the world's first interchangeable lens camera that allowed shooting photographs by touching the LCD.
The award-winning G2 includes 12.1 megapixels of resolution and a high-resolution 3.0-inch LCD screen. You can use any Micro Four Thirds system lenses with the G2, which also includes an EVF. The G2's mirror-less design means it is not a DSLR camera; you can call it a DIL or EVIL camera instead.
The Panasonic Lumix GF2 makes use of the Micro Four Thirds standard, meaning it uses interchangeable lenses, like a DSLR camera. However, because of its mirror-less design, it's not a DSLR. Panasonic calls the GF2 a DSLM (DSL micro), although DIL and EVIL are common acronyms, too.
The Lumix GF2 features a 12.1 megapixel Live MOS sensor, which combines the low power usage of a CMOS sensor with the image quality of a CCD sensor. You'll also find a 3.0-inch touch-screen LCD with the GF2.
10. Pentax Q DIL
Count Pentax among the manufacturers who have added digital interchangeable lens (DIL) cameras to their product line alongside DSLR cameras.
Because of the mirror-less design for the camera's interior, DIL cameras are smaller than DSLRs. However, they use a different lens system than DSLRs, meaning lenses cannot be shared between the two types of cameras.
Pentax's first DIL camera is the Pentax Q, which is currently available for sale in white or black. Japanese photographers had access to the Q for a few months before photographers in the United States. The Q offers a 12.4MP CMOS image sensor, 1080p HD video, a 3.0-inch high-resolution LCD, a built-in flash, and five frames per second capabilities.
High-end point and shoot cameras have grown in popularity recently, with many more manufacturers showcasing these fixed-lens cameras. Sony's Cyber-shot HX30 might be the best of the lot, though.
The Cyber-shot HX30 (also called the HX30V and HX30B) features 18.2 megapixels of resolution, a 20X optical zoom lens, 3D capabilities, a 3.0-inch LCD, full HD video options, and a 10 frames per second burst mode.
A potential drawback may keep photographers from picking up this model, which was announced in the spring, as it's a pretty plain-looking camera, only available in black. Still, its feature set is tough to ignore.
There aren't many point and shoot digital cameras that carry an almost $500 price tag.
Then again, there aren't many digital cameras like the ultra-thin Sony Cyber-shot TX200V. The TX200V has an all black front, with a tiny lens in the upper right corner. The top, side, and back panels can be colored silver, red, or purple.
The TX200V has a high-end 18.2MP CMOS image sensor, and it can shoot 1080p HD video. The 3.3-inch OLED touchscreen is a high quality display system, and the TX200V includes a 5X optical zoom lens that doesn't extend beyond the camera body at any time.
Impressively for a point and shoot model, the TX200V can capture up to 10 frames per second in burst mode at full resolution. In addition, this model has a built-in GPS, and it'll work in water depths up to 16 feet.
Not bad for a camera that measures 0.66 inches in thickness. I'm not sure there's another point and shoot camera that can match these features, other than the zoom lens. Whether people will be willing to spend almost $500 for these features will be interesting to watch.