Hi Lifehacker, I'm a young student and I'm interested in photography, but I don't have much money. I'm looking for one that takes good photographs — better than a point and shoot. $500 is my highest price point, but I'd rather spend around $300. Retro styling would be a big plus! Any recommendations? Thanks, Camera Cravings
Camera picture from Shutterstock
Unless it's imperative to maintaining your hipster lifestyle, we'd cross "retro styling" off your wish list. Traditional designs tend to command a surprisingly high premium when it comes to cameras. For example, Leica models are famous for their old-school finishes, yet they are priced far higher than most competing brands. If your budget is limited to $500, forget about style and stick to functionality.
Here are some good, affordable cameras that fall roughly within your price range (provided you do a bit of online hunting). Despite our earlier protestations, we've also tried to include models with a vaguely retro-esque flavour. We're nice like that.
This is an entry-level DSLR that comes with a 16-megapixel sensor, inbuilt NFC/Wi-Fi for fast photo uploads, 1080p video recording and a slim 16-50mm power-zoom lens for added portability. It also sports a three-inch touch LCD panel on the back that flips 180-degrees. Originally retailing for $899, the NEX-5T can now be snapped up for around $400.
Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7
The Panasonic Lumix DMC LX7 is getting a bit long in the tooth, having debut back in 2012. However, it remains a highly impressive compact camera that won't break the bank: you can find it online for well under $300, which is less than half the original RRP. It comes with a 1/1.7-inch image sensor and a Leica-manufactured lens that opens up to an aperture of F/1.4. While it ostensibly falls under the 'point-and-shoot umbrella', the LX7 boasts a dizzying array of manual controls.
Olympus PEN EP5
The Olympus PEN EP5 is a 16MP Micro Four-Thirds camera. According to our chums over at Gizmodo, it provides the best image quality, low light performance, and focusing to be found on a micro four thirds camera. Originally costing $699 for just the body, the unit can now be snapped up with a 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 lens for around $500.
On a final note, it might also be worth trawling online auction sites such as eBay and Gumtree for cheap second hand offerings. If you strike at the right time, you can land some great bargains this way. Click here for some tips on how to save money when shopping online.
As always, we're happy to hear any additional suggestions from readers. If you have a sub-$500 camera that takes great photos, let CC know about it in the comments section below.
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