Why would you spend thousands of dollars on a camera when you could spend that on other trips, right? Well today, I am going to be showing you the Best Travel Cameras Under $500 that you will be able to carry everywhere.
Knowing that most of the smartphones take great pictures these days, spending thousands of dollars on a camera, where you don't even know what the extra features you are paying for are, doesn't really make too much sense.
If you are not tech-savvy, this post might help you find your next travel camera!
It was hard coming up with a ranking of the best travel cameras under $500 simply because traveling means so much than just visiting.
For example, if I was going to surf I wouldn't carry a camera that I usually use to take landscape photos with, or that I record with. I would probably go with a small, compact camera that is also waterproof.
So, I decided to pick the winner depending on the category. These are the categories I will be reviewing:
Best Action Camera
Best Compact Camera
Best Instant Camera
Best Vlogging Camera
If you don't know what any of these mean, don't worry. I will be showing you exactly what they are and how I will be picking a winner for each category.
BEST ACTION CAMERA
As the name says, action cameras are used well... to record action.
But, in all seriousness...
If your definition of traveling is an adventure, this camera will probably be for you.
Action cameras are just like regular cameras, but they are so compact that you can buy special accessories to use them anywhere you want.
If you would like to attach it to a helmet, to your bike, or basically anything you want (even if you would like to use it underwater), these cameras are made to record and shoot awesome videos without actually having to carry a big camera around.
You've probably seen some sick clips of action cameras while surfing, running, snowboarding, and all kind of outdoor activities.
Picking a winner for this category wasn't too hard.
If you like adventures, you probably know the GoPro already.
GoPro has been on top of the action camera category for a while now, and their reputation is no joke.
The camera we've chosen to review in this category is the GoPro Hero8 Black.
Stabilization on a camera is used to record smooth motion. This results in the video being the least shaky as possible.
The GoPro Hero8 Black was released in November 2019, and its HyperSmooth 2.0 stabilization brings recording action to another level.
If you are looking at getting an action camera, this should be one of the most important features to look at the camera. Simply because of how smooth and satisfying a video can be versus another action camera that shoots at a better resolution but isn't as smooth.
Another cool feature of the GoPro Hero8 Black is the time-lapse capture.
Time-lapse is shooting a movie that is made up of a lot of still images to show the passage of time. This could be minutes, hours, or even days!
The result? An awesome video that seems to be a superfast recording. You can look it for yourself how shooting a time-lapse video looks like.
The GoPro Hero8 Black can also shoot 4K videos (at 60 frames per second), which in case you don't know, are one of the highest standards in an action camera in 2020. A 4K resolution means that it is going to shoot at a better quality than other cameras that can record up to 1080p.
And frames per second can be explained like this:
Imagine you are trying to create videos from a lot of pages of a book. Each page will have a drawing that is going to be moving as you flip through the pages. A higher frame per second means that you will have more pages to flip.
So the difference between a 24 fps and a 60 fps is just how many pages you have in the book. If you have more pages, you will be able to construct a much smoother video. Simple, right? I am explaining this with so much detail because I know most of the time people don't understand what features they are even buying.
Ease Of Use
I personally bought the GoPro Hero8 Black a couple of months ago, and as you can see from this blog post, I am not an expert in photography.
I loved the camera simply because of how easy it is to record your adventures and even publish them. The GoPro App for your phone is a must if you are looking to easily share files between devices, and it is available on both the App Store and the Play Store.
Since this was the first GoPro I had ever bought, I didn't know anything about how to use it. Learning how to use it was unbelievable easy. I was able to use all of the features it has after just a couple of hours of using it.
It is also waterproof! Unlike past GoPro's where you needed a special case to be able to use it underwater.
I will put this easy for you. If you love adventures, and you are looking for an action camera, a GoPro Hero8 Black will be just the best choice. And for less than $300 (on Amazon), I consider that a steal.
One thing to note though is that while I loved the outdoor footage of the camera, I didn't really like the indoor footage. If you are more into indoor footage, you might be interested in our Vlogging camera winner.
The ease of use of the GoPro Hero 8 Black makes it a serious contender for one of the Best Travel Cameras Under $500 because of its ease of use, and its flexibility to be used in so many scenarios, such as recording in your future private jet! ;)
I will drop my affiliate link below for you. That means that if you purchase by clicking on this, I will earn a commission that will support me to continue doing content like this one!
Oh and by the way... If you are on planning on shooting a lot of footage, I will recommend you purchase the bundle, which includes two extra batteries and an extra 64gb memory for an extra $30 USD.
And also, I will leave you another link if you would like to get more than 60 accessories that can be used to attach the camera to anything you want for just $20 USD (which in my opinion, is a steal).
BEST INSTANT CAMERA
After choosing what the best action camera is, an instant camera is also great if you would like to print out your memories and be able to have something physical to put in your wall.
An instant camera should be on your list if you are looking to get one of the best travel cameras, and the best part is that most of these are under $500 (and much less than that to be honest).
So say cheese and enjoy the rest of this category...
Picking a winner for this category was actually harder than the one from the action camera section. Mostly because many of the instant cameras that are sold today shoot really cool stylish pictures.
I decided to go with the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic Instant Camera, and here's why.
Ease Of Use
While I have seen that other instant cameras do take great pictures, being able to use them is actually a headache. That's not the case with this camera, especially with all the Fujifilm cameras.
If you want to know how easy it is to use it, I will just tell you that my 8-year-old cousin was able to shoot my favorite pictures from my own instant camera!
Have you noticed that you are not able to turn the flash off from many instant cameras? That includes the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9, which is one of the most preferred cameras for beginners.
Well, with the Mini 90 Neo Classic, you will be able to finally turn it off! It might not be a huge deal with some, but not being able to control the flash is one of the reasons why your photos will not look nice in certain scenarios.
You will find that this camera will have more features than other instant cameras. If you like to have more control of the pictures you take, this camera should be for you. Please note that the quality of the lenses is actually the same as the cheapest Fujifilm available. So if you don't care about control, and you just care about the price, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is a great option for beginners (at a really affordable price too!).
One important feature of the Mini 90 Neo Classic, is that you are able to change the exposure compensation. That means that you will be able to make pictures brighter or darker. That will be really helpful when you are taking pictures in tricky scenarios, like at night, or when there is too much sun. While other cameras include different modes, you are not able to have control over what the picture will look like.
Finally, I like the fact that it has a self-timer. Entry-level instant cameras don't normally have this feature. You will finally be able to leave the camera standing somewhere and take a group picture if you like!
Wow, this is a big one. If you own any instant camera, you will know that one of the most annoying things in the world is having to constantly buy new batteries for your instant camera.
I bought a Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 before owning a Mini 90 Neo Classic, and while I loved the camera, I hated the fact that I ran out of batteries way too fast.
This might not be the top option of why you would get the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic, but there is no denying that the design of this camera is top-notch.
This camera is by far the most gorgeous camera in terms of design out of all instant cameras sold by Fujifilm. Its classy look will certainly drop jaws everywhere you go!
I won't explain any further... Just take a look at it:
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic is a great option if you are looking for something more than an entry-level instant camera.
This should be a great option for people who love the design of the camera, the classy look of its pictures (I know I didn't talk about this before, but the feature section was too long already so sorry), and in general, have more control over your photos.
The camera sells for $112.70 on Amazon, and that price makes it one of the best travel cameras you can find out there under $500!
Once again, if you are planning to buy one, I would appreciate it if you used my affiliate link that I will leave down below.
Side note: If you don't mind about the extra features available for this camera, just want a good reliable instant camera for beginners, and would prefer paying less for a camera, I will recommend you go for the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11, which is the next version of the Mini 9, and starts at just $69.95 on Amazon.
If you have been looking for an inexpensive professional camera, the next section might like you...
BEST COMPACT CAMERA
For this section, I wanted to give something closer to $500 to all the people who are looking to get a cheap professional camera.
When you normally look at professional cameras, you will find yourself looking at models that cost thousands of dollars. If you are reading this article, you are probably not willing to spend that kind of money on something that is worth the same price as a couple of trips.
For the best compact camera, I've decided to go with one of the biggest names in the camera industry: Nikon.
I chose The Nikon D3500 for this section.
Very Affordable Camera
I just mentioned this before, but I have to say it again. When you search for Nikon cameras, you will see that since the quality is really good, the prices for these tend to be really high.
The Nikon D3500 not only costs less than $400, but it also provides high-quality specs!
Good Entry-Level DSLR Camera
The Nikon D3500 is also a DSLR camera. "What in the world is a DSLR camera!?" Don't worry it is not that complicated!
DSLR stands for "digital single-lens reflex". You have probably had one of those cheap digital cameras that have a lot of lag, right? It doesn't really show you what you are going to take a photo of until you stay completely still. Well, a DSLR camera is one where you will be able to see in real-time exactly what you are going to take a picture of through their mirror.
The advantage of these types of cameras is that the battery lasts way longer, and as I said, you won't have any type of lag on what you are going to take a picture of.
If you compare it to optical cameras, DSLR cameras can take up to almost double shots than what optical cameras can take before their battery dies. So yeah, you will be able to use it while you are traveling without having to worry about the battery dying!
Not the Best Video
While this camera offers really good quality photos, it doesn't offer the best video quality. It can record up to Full HD 1080 at 60 frames per second. Compare that with the iPhone 8, which is an "old" device, which can shoot at 4K at 60 frames per second.
If you are looking at a camera you would like to carry around to record the entire day, make sure to keep reading to see our pick for the best vlogging camera under $500.
The Nikon D3500 is a perfect camera for beginners who are looking to get into photography. This is a camera that even a complete beginner can pick up and start shooting decent pictures with.
The fact that its battery is really good and that it is easy to use makes it perfect for someone who is looking to get a really good travel camera for under $500. Why not even take it to your yacht? :)
If you are looking to record a lot of videos with this camera though, I would recommend picking another one or just shooting your phone.
This camera sells for $396 on Amazon, which makes it a really good deal!
BEST VLOGGING CAMERA
Vlogging has become very popular over the last couple of years, and more people are starting to become vloggers to share their experiences with others. Vlogging is basically doing a blog, but instead of writing, you would share actual videos.
Before we proceed with the best vlogging camera, I have to tell you something... I am going to cheat.
See, I know the title of this post says "Best Travel Cameras Under $500", but this camera actually costs $547 on Amazon.
Sorry about that, but give me a chance to explain...
I honestly did my best to find the right vlogging to recommend here, but the more I researched, the more I convinced myself that there is no better affordable camera to vlog for beginners than the Panasonic Lumix GX850.
If you are looking to vlog, you are probably looking for a camera that is also able to take really good photos.
It is safe to say that the Panasonic Lumix GX850 does a really good job of taking pictures considering its price tag. Now, I could go on and on about the specifications of the camera, but as you might have seen, I am not the savviest person out there.
So... I will let the pictures taken with this camera speak for themselves. I am going to show you some amazing photos taken from people who bought the camera through Amazon.