Under $600: New Photographers Can Grow with These 5 Entry Level Cameras

Affordable and feature-packed, these entry level cameras are great for new photographers who want more control over their photography.

Entry level cameras; this is a term that used to mean bargain basement cameras with little to no features that were sold at big box stores to the masses. Today, these cameras can still be picked up at big box stores for low prices, but new entry level cameras are anything but bare-bones. For under $600, you can get cameras with blazing fast autofocus systems, incredible sensors that can capture tons of detail, in-body image stabilization, and excellent touchscreens and electronic viewfinders. After the break, we have listed five affordable, entry-level cameras that new photographers can pick up and grow with.

Captured with the Olympus Pen E-PL10

If you’re ready to step up your photography game and you want a camera that will put your smartphone to shame, the five entry level cameras below are the ones worth a closer look. All of the cameras below are easy on the wallet. The cameras can all produce images that will amaze you, they have advanced autofocus systems, touchscreens, and they will grant you access to lenses that will enable you to take your photography to new heights. Don’t for one second think that these affordable entry level cameras aren’t worth your time, they are, and they will give you a great platform to grow and learn with. Check out our suggestions below.

Sony A6000

camera deals

An absolute bargain of a camera, the Sony a6000, will not only get you a nicely spec’d camera, but it will also open you up to great lenses from Sony, Tamron, Sigma, Rokinon, and more. This Mirrorless camera can capture images at 11 frames per second, the 24MP sensor will allow you to capture nice detailed images, the EVF allows you to easily get your exposure right, and it’s small enough to take with you everywhere you go. If you want your first Mirrorless camera to be easy on your wallet, but you don’t want to sacrifice much in terms of performance, the Sony a6000 is a great camera to start with. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Excellent autofocus
  • Great image quality
  • Very useable high ISO output at 6400
  • Great feeling in the hand
  • Excellent EVF

Cons

  • We really wish that there was a thumbstick for quick AF point selection

Buy now: $398 body only, $498 with a lens

Canon EOS M50

eos m50

Another of our top picks for entry level cameras is the Canon M50. The M50 can now be picked up at bargain prices, but don’t be fooled by the price as this is a competent camera. Not only can it capture great stills with great colors, but it will also allow you to shoot 4K video as well. You get a fully articulating LCD screen, fantastic ergonomics, and access to some great lenses. As far as entry level cameras go, the M50 is more than deserving of a closer look. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Nice feeling in the hand
  • Absolutely fantastic battery life
  • Canon’s colors are really nice, and we’ve come to think of this sensor sort of like shooting with Slide film
  • Autofocus is pretty good, but we wouldn’t use it for street photography
  • We finally got 4K video
  • There’s a silent shutter mode, finally
  • Big LCD screen
  • Canon’s menus continue to be the easiest to go through
  • Canon’s monochrome images are really nice

Cons

  • Image quality basically breaks up as soon as you edit
  • Who the hell thought of putting the silent shutter mode in its own dedicated camera mode and robbing the photographer of all traditional exposure control?
  • Silent shutter mode should be a drive mode option
  • High ISO is barely usable above ISO 3200

Buy now: $499 with a lens

Fujifilm X-T200

entry level cameras

The Fujifilm X-T200 makes our list of great entry level cameras for several reasons. First, the huge, fully articulating touchscreen LCD is gorgeous, and it will make coming from a smartphone easy thanks to its intuitive controls. Secondly, the JPEGS from this camera are gorgeous. You can grab this camera, head out of the door, and shoot, knowing that you won’t have to spend hours editing later. Couple these things with the fact that Fujifilm has great primes at affordable prices too, and you have an entire system that is wallet-friendly. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • A beautiful, elegant design which mixes old and new elements
  • Outstanding image quality
  • Versatile RAW files
  • Excellent high ISO performance
  • You can shoot JPEGS all day long and will be nothing but happy
  • The touchscreen and touch controls are some of the best on any camera (they’re really that good)
  • The high-resolution LCD is also a full flippy screen
  • The Fujifilm X-T200 has good battery life
  • Lots of 4K video options for those that need it
  • It’s just $599 ($799.95 w/kit lens)

Cons

  • Only one UHS-1 SD card slot
  • No Acros film simulation due to no X-Trans sensor
  • A few focusing issues, but nothing crazy
  • The touchscreen is a little too sensitive
  • The buffer fills quickly due to the speed of the UHS-1 cards
  • The camera is unusable for over a minute while the buffer clears
  • Shutter maxes out at 1/4000 sec. Why, Fujifilm? There’s no need for this

Buy now: $599 body only, $799.95 with a lens

Try before you buy: 7 day rental $54

Captured with the Fujifilm X-T200

Pro Tip: Stepping up to a dedicated camera for the first time can be a little overwhelming. You’re going to find options that sound like a foreign language, and there will be features you may not know how to get the most out of. Entry level cameras themselves usually have menus that can guide you, but we also suggest investing in a training manual that will help you get the most out of your new camera. This excellent book from Tony and Chelsea Northrup will teach you all about the basics, and more advanced photography techniques as well. It’s a great resource that will help you grow.

Sony a6100

entry level cameras

If you judge by looks alone, you might think that this is the Sony a6000. While the Sony a6100 looks similar to its older brother, some pretty big changes under the hood warrant the slightly higher entry price. The Sony a6100 has a blazing fast autofocus system that can track subjects with ease, it also features eye and animal autofocus as well. The LCD flips down, which makes video and selfies easy too. The ergonomics have been improved, and so has the battery life. The Sony a6100 is a camera that can produce beautiful images, and the Sony ecosystem is a great one to grow with. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Small and very light
  • Autofocus system is beyond fast
  • 11 frames per second burst mode and 425 AF points
  • Real-time Eye AF and Animal Eye AF
  • Great tracking capabilities
  • Very Good overall image quality
  • Decent battery life
  • Flip-up screen for selfies
  • The splash screens that tell new photographers what each mode does is a nice touch
  • It’s under $600!

Cons

  • The EVF and LCD are very low quality
  • No weather sealing: you’ll be seeing a lot of dust spots
  • The layout of the controls should be simplified
  • The menu system is still convoluted. Simplify, Sony! Simplify
  • You still cannot use the touchscreen to navigate the menus
  • Only 1/4000s max shutter speed
  • The camera desperately needs a shutter speed dial on the grip
  • Just one UHS-1 card slot
  • The camera slows down a lot when writing files to the SD card after a burst
  • A USB 2.0 port. What year is this? Come on Sony
  • No included dedicated charger

Buy now: $598 body only, $678 with a lens

Try before you buy: 7 day rental $60

Olympus Pen E-PL10

entry level cameras

The Olympus Pen E-PL10 is a fun little camera to get your photography feet wet with. The E-PL10 is more than worthy of being on our list of great entry level cameras thanks to its tried and true sensor, which can produce beautiful images. The fact that this camera also features IBIS (the only camera in this list with this feature) is impressive too. Throw in Olympus’s fun image filters, and modes like live composition, and you have a very capable camera that will make your smartphone camera look and feel like a toy. Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • The E-PL10 is a fun camera to use; especially with smaller lenses
  • The feature set is quite impressive and includes Olympus’s Live Comp and fun art filters
  • 3-Axis Image Stabilization works really well
  • The flip-down screen is great for those who love selfies
  • A very good quality LCD – It’s better than the LCD on Sony’s a6100
  • It’s small, light, compact, and it looks good. It can go anywhere with minimal fuss
  • Pretty great battery life
  • Image quality is great considering the sensor is six years old
  • Good autofocus performance in good lighting conditions
  • Good build quality overall

Cons

  • The sensor is six years old! Come on Olympus, it’s time for an update
  • Autofocus performance is hit and miss in low light (contrast only AF)
  • In bright sun, the LCD can be tricky to see
  • The buttons and controls are a little hard to use due to their small size
  • Even with some helpful splash screens, the main meat of the menu system is terrible
  • There’s no weather sealing

Buy now: $499 body only, $599 with a lens