The 5 Best Cameras for Under $2,000 in 2021

Up your photography game with these top-notch cameras

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Both new and experienced photographers will appreciate the benefits that come from purchasing a premium camera. From higher resolutions to custom controls, investing in a new camera can take your photography to the next level, resulting in professional, vibrant, and clear photos and video. If you’re ready for an upgrade, look no further than our list of the best cameras under $2,000. 

These cameras, from top manufacturers such as Sony, Nikon, and Canon, provide the tools you need to take impressive photos. We’ve made our decisions based on a number of factors, including resolution, shooting speeds, size, weight, and Wi-Fi connectivity. Before purchasing, spend some time thinking about lens options as well, as some cameras have a wider range of lens kits than others. 

If you're looking to learn more about the finer points of professional cameras, make sure to read our guide to Mirrorless vs. DSLR cameras before setting your sights on our top picks for the best cameras you can get for under $2,000.

The Rundown
Best Overall:
Nikon D500 at Walmart
Both new and experienced photographers will love the vibrant, high-quality images the D500 produces.
Best Entry-Level:
Canon EOS Rebel T6 at Walmart
The T6 makes it easy to shoot fantastic shots, even if you’re still learning how to use manual settings.
Best All-Weather:
Pentax K-1 Mark II at Amazon
The K-1 is sealed in an impressive 87 places, making it durable and safe to use in rain, snow, and heat.
Best All-Weather Under $1,000:
Pentax K70 at Amazon
It can handle dust, snow, water, and sand, letting you shoot with confidence no matter the weather.
Best Under $1,500:
Canon EOS 80D at Walmart
It's packed with features including a 24.2MP CMOS sensor, a 45-point autofocus system, and built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity.

Best Overall: Nikon D500

Nikon D500
What We Like
  • Quality, ergonomic, and weather-sealed build

  • 4K video at 30fps

  • Continuous shooting at 10fps amazing for wildlife or sporting shots

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't offer USB charging

  • The autofocus can be wiggly when using it for video

There’s plenty to like about the Nikon D500, starting with continuous shooting at 10fps. This is ideal for shooting wildlife, sports, or concerts. If you want to capture video, the D500 also includes the ability to film in 4K at 30fps. At 1.9 pounds, it’s a great travel companion too.

It features a 20.9MP CMOS sensor, EXPEED 5 image processor, and native ISO shooting up to 51,200, giving photographers plenty to work with. It pairs with Nikon’s line of NIKKOR lenses, which are known for being premium products. Its tilt 3.2-inch LCD touchscreen makes it easy to look back on your images after a shoot. While we’d like to see USB charging included, it’s otherwise a great design. 

The D500 has a rugged, comfortable build, thanks to weather-sealing and a premium design. It also offers dual-SD slots and battery life that lasts for around 1,240 shots, giving you plenty of time to capture everything you need. Both new and experienced photographers will love the vibrant, high-quality images the D500 produces, and it’s a versatile camera that can be used for just about any type of photography.

Resolution: 20.9MP | Sensor Type: CMOS | Max ISO: Auto (51,200), Manual (25,600) | Optical Zoom: 3x | Connectivity: Wi-Fi and NFC

Best Entry-Level: Canon EOS Rebel T6

Canon EOS Rebel T6
What We Like
  • Great price for an entry-level DSLR

  • Fits both EF and EF-S lens mounts

  • Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC

What We Don't Like
  • Resolution and ISO range lower than some of the competition

  • No rear touchscreen

If you’re looking to make the step up from point-and-shoot cameras to DSLR, the Canon EOS Rebel T6 is a great choice for an entry-level DSLR at a reasonable price point. While it doesn’t contain the same specs you’d find in a more premium camera, it’s more than enough to get you going and the resulting images are still of a high quality.

The T6 offers an 18MP CMOS Digic 4+ image sensor, ISO shooting up to 12,800, built-in Wi-Fi, NFC, and use of Canon’s lenses—the EF and EF-S lens mounts. With a nine-point autofocus, it’s easy to track your subject when shooting motion. The T6 makes it easy to shoot fantastic shots, even if you’re still learning how to use manual settings. Built-in modes such as portrait, landscape, and even food let you get your shot quickly, without needing to adjust aperture or ISO. 

The rear LCD screen makes it easy to preview all of your images, although it’s not a touchscreen. However, you can use it with both Wi-Fi and NFC to instantly transfer your photos straight to your smartphone. Users can expect a battery life of around 500 shots. All things considered, it’s one of the best entry-level DSLRs you can buy.  

Resolution: 18MP | Sensor Type: APS-C CMOS | Max ISO: 12,800 | Optical Zoom: 3x | Connectivity: Wi-Fi and NFC

"The Canon EOS Rebel T6 costs less than the average DSLR, making it a great option for those interested in getting into photography and wanting to save." — Kelsey Simon, Product Tester

Best All-Weather: Pentax K-1 Mark II

Pentax K-1
What We Like
  • Full-frame camera with impressive 36.4MP resolution

  • Effective image stabilization

  • Sealed body means you can shoot in any weather condition

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Limited selection of compatible full-frame lenses

The Pentax K-1 is the perfect choice if you’re in the market for a full-frame camera that not only takes fantastic shots, but can also withstand the elements. Capturing the perfect image often means shooting in harsh weather conditions, which can damage your camera. However, the K-1 is sealed in an impressive 87 places, making it durable and safe to use in rain, snow, and heat. 

It offers seriously good specs too, including a 36.4MP CMOS sensor with 33 autofocus points, shake reduction, Full HD video recording, and even a GPS system for location tracking. These are controlled via function dial, which is unique. Wi-Fi is also included so you can send your photos straight to your phone. While the K-1 takes gorgeous, crisp images, keep in mind that users have limited lens selection in terms of compatibility. 

Another standout feature is the camera’s image stabilization, using five-axis stabilization to ensure you get your shot even when you’re in a hurry. Users also have access to a 3.2-inch LCD screen, which you can tilt, and a decent battery life at around 760 shots per charge.

Resolution: 36.4MP | Sensor Type: Full-frame CMOS | Max ISO: 819,200 | Optical Zoom: 1x | Connectivity: Wi-Fi

Best All-Weather Under $1,000: Pentax K70

Pentax K-70h
What We Like
  • Rugged build with full-weather sealing

  • Effective shake reduction system

  • Compact, ergonomic design

What We Don't Like
  • Limited lens range

  • Battery life could be better

Outdoor enthusiasts need a camera that can handle the elements, and the Pentax K70 offers a fully-weather sealed body for an affordable price. It can handle dust, snow, water, and sand, letting you shoot with confidence no matter the weather, with the ability to function even in temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

The K70 has plenty of other useful features, including in-body image stabilization, which includes an innovative anti-shake technology, built-in Wi-F, and a 24.2MP APS-C sensor with an ISO range up to 204,800.

It’s a durable, reliable camera that feels solid in your hand despite its all-plastic build, with intuitive controls and a 3-inch variable-angle LCD screen. At 6fps continuous shooting, photographers can capture all the action as it happens—just keep an eye on your battery life, as it’s not quite as long as some of the other cameras reviewed here. Although Pentax as a brand might not be as well-known as others, outdoor and wildlife photographers will find plenty to love about this great-value camera.

Resolution: 24.24MP | Sensor Type: APS-C | Max ISO: 204,800 | Optical Zoom: 1x | Connectivity: Wi-Fi

Best Under $1,500: Canon EOS 80D

Canon EOS 80D
What We Like
  • Clear, vibrant images

  • 24.2MP sensor great value for money

  • Comfortable to hold and use

What We Don't Like
  • The autofocus system is overly complex

  • No 4K video

If you’re looking for a slightly more affordable camera, the Canon EOS 80D is a great choice and a solid upgrade from your entry-level camera. It offers value for money, as it’s packed with features including a 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor, a 45-point autofocus system, and built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity. While 4K video isn’t included, it can film at a respectable 1080p.

We love the versatile viewfinder as well, with a variable-angle, 3-inch touchscreen that can adjust to multiple positions—you can use even your finger to tap on a specific focus point. There’s also a smaller LCD on the top to quickly check or change basic settings and controls. The camera itself is comfortable to use and hold, with intuitive controls. 

Thanks to the autofocus and continuous shooting rate of 7fps, the 80D is particularly useful for action shots, wildlife, and movement. The camera weighs in at 3.48 pounds and has a battery life of around 960 shots, which is impressive. It would be tough to find a better DSLR within this price range, with the added bonus of lens choice—the 80D is compatible with Canon’s EF or EF-S mounts, giving users plenty of options.

Resolution: 24.2MP | Sensor Type: APS-C CMOS | Max ISO: 16,000 | Optical Zoom: 1x | Connectivity: Wi-Fi and NFC

Final Verdict

If you’re shopping for a camera under $2,000, you can’t go wrong with the Nikon D500 (view at Walmart). It has just about everything a photographer could need—fast shooting, 4K video, and a durable, weather-sealed body.

About Our Trusted Experts

Katie Dundas is a freelance writer who has been covering tech for several years and is also an avid photographer. She personally shoots with both Sony and Nikon cameras.

Jonno Hill is a writer who covers tech such as computers, gaming equipment, and cameras for Lifewire and publications including AskMen.com and PCMag.com.

Kelsey Simon is an Atlanta-based writer and librarian. She has a master's degree in library and information sciences and is passionate about video games.

What to Look for in a Camera for Under $2,000

Picture quality - Picture quality all comes down to the image sensor. There are two kinds of sensors: CCD and CMOS. CCD sensors are pricier but have better light sensitivity, whereas CMOS sensors can be cheaper but can have more image noise. For under $2,000, you should be able to buy a quality camera with an image sensor of 18 to 24 megapixels.

Connectivity - It’s easy to scoff at the subpar quality of (some) smartphone cameras, but you have to admit they make it seamless to share photos in real-time. Luckily, quality and convenience are no longer a sacrifice you need to make with a standalone camera—more and more manufacturers are equipping their models with built-in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or NFC connectivity, making it simple to upload your photos to Instagram or back them up on the go.

Compatibility - When you buy a DSLR with an interchangeable lens, you pretty much get locked into the manufacturer's hardware ecosystem—for example, Nikon lenses can’t be used on Canon cameras and vice versa. If you already have a few lenses from one brand, you may want to do your wallet a favor and stay within the family.

FAQs

Should I buy a crop sensor or a full-frame camera?
A full-frame camera has a sensor with the same dimensions as standard 35mm film, while a crop sensor is anything less than that and will crop some of your field of view when you shoot. 

Full-frame cameras tend to be heavier and more expensive than crop sensors, but usually have a better dynamic range and can produce a shallower depth of field. However, most beginner and intermediate photographers shoot with crop sensor cameras, as they're more affordable and still take impressive photos. 

Why is Wi-Fi important in a camera?
Many photographers love a camera with Wi-Fi because it allows you to transfer photos and video straight to a smart device, where you can edit, post to social media, or email to a friend. However, you can also use Wi-Fi to control your camera with another device, such as your smartphone. 

Should I invest in additional lenses for my new camera?
For basic photography needs, you’re likely to be fine with the lens included with your camera. However, as you progress and want to increase your skills, you might benefit from additional lenses, such as a telephoto or macro lens.

Was this page helpful?