Best Compact Cameras Under $500 – Buying Guide

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Since 2010, the entry-level compact cameras have been taken over by the smartphones thanks to some amazing features offered by them. Latest smartphones have all the features which are required to take an outstanding picture or video. They are equipped with Dual Pixels, Optical Image Stabilization, Optical Zoom, and whatnot. However, there will be a time in the progress of your smartphone photography where you will feel like getting your hands on a DSLR camera because of the extensive features they offer. On the other hand, you don’t want something which is not an ergonomic piece of equipment with a lot of weight. You just want to carry a camera with you which can slip into your pocket easily and take brilliant photos. At this stage, some high-end compact cameras come into play. They offer better optical zooms, an enhanced ISO range and are smaller in size.

Some of the best compact cameras which can be purchased for under $500 are listed below. Have a look.

1. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II

$548.00
$598.00
7 new from $548.00
11 used from $309.99
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Last updated on September 20, 2018 10:17 am

Sony’s Cyber-shot series of compact cameras have been around since 1996 and their popularity hasn’t declined even for a bit ever since. One of the best compact cameras of the Cyber-shot series which you can easily get under $500 is the DSC-RX100 II. It is equipped with a 20.2MP Exmor CMOS sensor with a large 1”-type sensor which performs brilliantly in low light. In terms of measurements and weight, it measures 4 x 2.29 x 1.51 inches and weighs just 280 grams.

It has various ISO settings between 160 – 12800 which could be further boosted to 25600 as well. An optical zoom of 3.6x is offered and there are a total of 25 focus points for better focus. Those who want to shoot fast moving objects or wildlife can benefit from the continuous shooting drive of 10 frames per second. Video features of the RX100-II are also pretty decent as you can record Full-HD video of 1080p at 60 fps. There is Wi-Fi and NFC for easy sharing of data and the LCD is 3-inches wide which is tiltable but is not touch-enabled. The Cyber-shot compact camera is powered by NP-BX1 battery which would allow you to take 350 shots before it requires charging again.

Pros Cons
Great megapixel count Non touch-enabled monitor
The better amount of focus points Limited optical zoom
Enhanced continuous drive No Bluetooth

2. Olympus Tough TG-5

$399.00
$449.00
18 new from $399.00
6 used from $329.00
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Last updated on September 20, 2018 10:17 am

The Olympus Tough TG-5 is not your ordinary point-and-shoot camera. As the name suggests, the Tough TG-5 is one of the toughest compact cameras available in the present day market as it is shockproof from a height of 2.1m, crushproof to a weight of 100kg, freezeproof down to -10°C, and waterproof to a depth of 15m. All of these rugged features are packed in a body of 4.45 x 2.6 x 1.26 inches which weighs just 250 grams. Apart from these strong and sturdy features, the Tough TG-5 is also a decent shooter as it boasts a 12MP BSI CMOS sensor with 1/2.3″ wide sensor. It offers a 4x optical zoom with a total of 25 focus points so that you can capture or record quickly without wasting any time.

An ISO of 100-12800 along with an exciting continuous shooting of 20 frames per second makes sure that this you can capture the perfect shot of the fast-moving wilderness. Videographers would be glad to know that the TG-5 is capable of 4K video recording at 30p and 25p and their adventurous trips would be with them forever in a blistering 4K quality. There is no viewfinder and the 3 inches wide LCD is also fixed. It is not touch-enabled either and contains 460,000 dots on it. It has basic Wi-Fi capabilities to transfer the data and an LI-92B battery which gives 340 shots out of a single charge.

Pros Cons
An amazing body which is crushproof, shockproof and freezeproof Fixed and non touch-enabled monitor
Brilliant continuous drive No NFC or Bluetooth
4K Video

3. Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II

$429.00
$529.99
17 new from $429.00
10 used from $369.00
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Last updated on September 20, 2018 10:17 am

Canon, the industry giants are in this list with their PowerShot G9 X Mark II which is an amazing compact camera with 20.2MP BSI-CMOS with a large 1″ sensor which will assist you to perform brilliantly in low light conditions. The measurements of this camera are 3.86 x 2.28 x 1.22 inches and weight is just 205 grams. You can play with different ISO settings between 125 to 12800 and capture the picture in your desired setting. The zoom it offers is 3.0x and the 31-point contrast-detect autofocus system makes sure you are good to go with just point-and-shoot techniques.

An amazing rate of 8.1 frames per second could be achieved while shooting in burst mode so you could capture the best moments through your lens. The PowerShot G9 X Mark II can record videos at the Full-HD resolution of 1080p at 60p or 24p. The LCD is 3-inches wide and is fixed but the good thing is, it is touch-enabled and you can easily navigate through the on-screen options. The NB-13L battery allows 235 shots per single charge and the connectivity options of Bluetooth, NFC and Wi-Fi allow easier connectivity without any hassle of wires.

Pros Cons
Great megapixel count Fixed monitor
1” sized sensor Limited optical zoom
Amazing focus points
NFC, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

4. Fujifilm X30

Last updated on September 20, 2018 10:17 am

Fujifilm, a company with a long history of dealing with all kind of cameras is also in the game of a compact camera. The X30 is one of the best compact cameras which you can get today under $500. It features a 12MP CMOS sensor with Fujifilm’s X-Trans II technology and a 2/3″ sensor. The dimensions of the X30 are 4.69 x 2.83 x 2.36 inches and the weight is 423 grams. It is substantially bigger and heavier than the competing cameras which might be a drawback to some users who prefer their point-and-shoot camera to be hand-friendly and lightweight.

The ISO settings range between 100-3200 and could be further boosted to 12800 as well. It has a continuous drive of up to 12 frames per second. An average optical zoom of 4x is provided by the X30 but the focus points are brilliant as there are a total of 49 focus points allowing the user to capture better-focused images. Talking about the video, you can record Full-HD videos of 1080p resolution at 60p/50p/30p/25/24p. The 3-inches wide LCD is tiltable and contains 920,000 dots on it. It is however not touch-enabled. On the other hand, there is an electronic viewfinder as well which has seen coverage of 100% and magnification of 0.65x. The NP-95 allows the user to capture around 470 shots on a single charge. The absence of NFC and Bluetooth is covered by Wi-Fi for faster connectivity.

Pros Cons
A great amount of focus points Substantially heavyweight
Great battery Limited zoom
Better continuous drive
Electronic Viewfinder

5. Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ300

$397.99
$447.99
4 new from $397.99
3 used from $368.14
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Last updated on September 20, 2018 10:17 am

Since 2001, Panasonic has been making the Lumix series of compact cameras with Leica lenses. The DMC FZ300 is also one of the Lumix’s compact cameras which is equipped with a 12.1MP BSI CMOS sensor and a 1/2.3″ which is capable of up to 24x of optical zoom. Apart from a great zoom range, Panasonic’s very own DFD (depth from defocus) technology is incorporated into the FZ300 which calculated the distance from the subject at a very fast speed and therefore the focus is locked at the object quickly.

ISO settings are 100 – 6400 and the measurements are 5.2 x 3.6 x 4.6 inches which are way more than the average point-and-shoot camera. The weight of 691g is also substantially more than the competing brands. The department of video is catered by the 4K video which performs brilliantly. The touch-enabled LCD is fully-articulated and is 3-inches wide containing 1,040,000 dots on it. There is also an electronic viewfinder with a magnification of 0.7x and 100% of scene coverage. The battery allows you to take 380 pictures before drying up and the Wi-Fi makes sure that you transfer the data easily without any hassle but the NFC and Bluetooth remaining missing.

Pros Cons
Great optical zoom Heavier and bigger than average
4K Video No NFC or Bluetooth
Electronic Viewfinder
Touch-enabled and fully articulated LCD

6. Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70

$397.99
$449.99
7 new from $397.99
20 used from $304.25
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Last updated on September 20, 2018 10:17 am

The Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70 boasts a 20MP BSI CMOS sensor which is 1/2.3″ wide. Its measurements and weight is 4.41 x 2.64 x 1.61 inches and 320 grams respectively. The ISO range it offers is 80-3200 (expands to 6400) and the brilliant optical zoom of 30x makes sure you get all the distant objects into your lens easily. A superb continuous drive rate of 10 frames per second is also pre-built into the ZS70 which is pretty amazing as other cameras in this price do not offer such a wide continuous drive.

In terms of video, the Lumix ZS70 is tremendous as it allows you to shoot in 4K resolution at 30p. There is an electronic viewfinder giving you  100% scene coverage and a 0.46x of magnification. The 3-inches wide monitor is tiltable containing 1,166,000 dots on it. It is also touch-enabled and you don’t have to use the navigation pad to scroll through the options. There is Wi-Fi but no Bluetooth and NFC. The battery pack is just above average as it can capture 380 shots after a single charge.

Pros Cons
Great megapixel count Terrible battery life
4K Video No Bluetooth and NFC
Wider contiuous drive
Touch-enabled and tilting LCD

7. Nikon 1 J5

Last updated on September 20, 2018 10:17 am

This list would’ve been incomplete without Nikon, so here it is with their compact camera which can be purchased under $500. The Nikon 1 J5 is a solid compact camera with an impressive 21MP BSI CMOS sensor and a wider 1″ sized sensor which catches the light in a well-ordained fashion. It has a total of 171 focus points which performs extremely fast and produce excellent images and videos. An ISO range of 160 – 12,800 is also pre-built into this camera. Since it is a compact camera, the measurements are also relatively compact. It measures 3.9 x 2.4 x 1.2 inches and weighs just 230 grams.

Those who are in for the videography will also find this camera to be attractive as it offers 4K video recording capabilities at 15p. There is a 3-inches wide LCD which is both tilting and touch-enabled allowing you to take advantage of your photography skills without having to worry about your position or messing around with buttons. It contains a total of 1,037,000 dots on it. Wi-Fi and NFC are built-in for connectivity and the battery pack of  EN-EL24 allows you to take around 250 photos per charge.

Pros Cons
Great megapixel count Terrible battery life
4K Video No Bluetooth
Massive focus points
Touch-enabled and tilting LCD

8. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX400V

$398.00
$448.00
9 new from $398.00
11 used from $300.00
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Last updated on September 20, 2018 10:17 am

Sony, with their Cyber-shot DSC HX400V is again jumping into this list. The HX400V with a BSI CMOS sensor of 20MP is capable of an exciting 50x of optical zoom allowing you capture far and distant objects easily. The focus points, however, are just 9 which are relatively lower compared with other functions. An ISO range of 80 – 12,800 is available for tweaking up to preference. It is not the most compact or lightweight camera because of 5.1 x 3.67 x 4.06 inches wide body and a weight of 660 grams.

The HX400V has disappointed the users because of no 4K video. It still records Full-HD video of 1080p resolution at 60p, 60i and 24p. There is an electronic viewfinder with a complete 100% scene coverage and a magnification of up to 8.1x. LCD, on the other hand, is 3 inches wide with tilting capabilities. It is however not touch-enabled and contains 921,000 dots on it. Basic connectivity features like Wi-Fi and NFC are built-in and the battery pack of NP-BX1 allows you to take around 300 photos on a single charge.

Pros Cons
Great megapixel count Just 9 focus points
Brilliant optical zoom No Bluetooth
Electronic viewfinder Heavier and bigger than average
Tiltable LCD

9. Canon PowerShot SX730 HS

$379.00
$399.00
19 new from $379.00
21 used from $280.00
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Last updated on September 20, 2018 10:17 am

Canon is again hitting the list with their super-zoom compact camera. The PowerShot SZ730 HS is a great camera with amazing features. It has a 20.3MP CMOS sensor which is 1/2.3″ wide. It is truly a compact camera as it measures at 4.33 x 2.52 x 1.57 inches and weighs just 300 grams. It has an ISO range of ISO 80-3200 and the photos taken with a 40x optical zoom are always perfect thanks to a blistering feature called the “Tracking AF”. Continuous drive of 5.9 frames per second isn’t as great as that of competitor’s but isn’t bad either. You can shoot a video of Full-HD 1080p resolution at 60p and 30p. There is no viewfinder and the non-touch display is 3-inches wide which is also tiltable. It contains 922,000 dots on it. For connectivity, there is Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth so you don’t to worry about anything. The NB-13L battery is terrible as it would only allow 250 shots on a single charge.

Pros Cons
Great megapixel count Limited continuous drive
Amazing optical zoom Terrible battery life
NFC, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
Tiltable LCD

10. Nikon Coolpix B700

$718.00
8 new from $718.00
13 used from $315.00
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Last updated on September 20, 2018 10:17 am

The Nikon’s Coolpix B700 is yet another brilliant camera in this list. It boasts a 20MP BSI CMOS sensor which is 1/2.3″ wide. It is not a super compact camera but still, it fits easily in hands and the pockets of your jeans. It measures at 4.92 x 3.35 x 4.2 inches and weighs just a little over 560 grams. The ISO range it offers is 100-3200 and the zoom capabilities are superb as it can optically zoom at 60x. There is also a “Dynamic Fine Zoom” features which double the 60x zoom to an amazing 120x. A continuous drive rate of 5 frames per second is also pre-built into the B700.

In terms of video, the Nikon’s B700 is amazing as it allows you to shoot in 4K resolution at 30p and 25p. There is an electronic viewfinder giving you 100% scene coverage and the 3-inches wide monitor is fully articulated containing 921,000 dots on it. It is however not touch-enabled and you have to use the navigation pad to scroll through the options. There is Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC so you don’t have to worry about anything as Nikon has got you covered with all the latest wireless connectivity options. The battery pack EN-EL23 is just above average as it can capture 350 shots after a single charge.

Pros Cons
Great megapixel count Average battery
Brilliant optical zoom Heavier and bigger than average
Articulated LCD No touch-enabled LCD

Verdict

These premium compact cameras are very interesting if you want something compact in size as an average smartphone but perform in a tremendous way. For instance, the Olympus Tough TG-5 is for our vloggers or the adventurous users who love to camp. Sony Cyber-shot DSC HX400V and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 are for those who want to shoot distant objects without compromising on the quality. The Nikon 1 J5 and Fujifilm X30 have massive amount of focus points and are perfect for those who love macro shooting. The best thing, all of these are under $500 and you can get your hands on your favorite one without having to spend much money.

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