Which is the best camera for wildlife photography? This is one question which I get most of the time. I have been doing wildlife photography since 2009. So, I have tried out most of the cameras. Thus, I have decided to list out the best cameras for wildlife photography from Canon, Nikon, and Sony.
I will list out the best DSLR and mirrorless cameras, which are the best for wildlife photography in 2019. Such Interchangeable cameras are the best ones to go for when it comes to wildlife. It allows you to use different lenses according to your needs. You can also go for a lens upgrade if you are not satisfied with the performance of the current one.
Wildlife Camera Buying Guide
Before getting into the camera list for wildlife photography, I thought it would be good to share what to look for in a wildlife camera. It will help you to make the right camera selection.
What to look for in a Good Wildlife camera?
1. Burst Rate
Burst rate is the number of clicks which the camera can produce continuously in a second with a single shutter button press. It will be displayed as “X” fps in the camera manual.
Wildlife photography involves lots of action. So, you don’t want to miss any frames when the action is happening. So, go for a camera which offers good burst rate. Higher the burst rate more the chance of capturing better frames.
2. Good Auto-Focus Speed
Fast autofocus speed is another requirement for a good wildlife camera. Wildlife is highly unpredictable unless you have a thorough knowledge of animal behavior. So, you can expect anything at any time when you are inside a forest or wildlife reserve. So, you should be prepared all the time.
The fast-focusing feature of your camera will help you to aim at the target and capture the image quickly. So, make sure that the camera body which you choose for wildlife has an excellent autofocus speed.
3.Good Sensor Resolution
Sensor resolution is always a debatable topic. But when it comes to wildlife photography, you need to have at least a 15 Megapixel or above camera resolution.
Higher megapixels allow you to crop the image, even if the animal is a bit far. But, I don’t recommend to go for a very high megapixel camera since it comes at the cost of some other features.
Higher megapixels reduce the continuous shooting speed of the camera. It also reduces the pixel size in the sensor. Higher the pixel size better the noise performance. So, a smaller pixel size tends to make the image noise at high ISOs. So, choose wisely.
4. Rugged Body
Most of the camera bodies either come in plastic casing or a metal one. I recommend going for a metal body as it is more rugged and stable. In the case of wildlife photography, you will be either inside a safari jeep or doing a trek.
So, there is a chance that the camera may hit against other objects while trekking or will be subjected to lots of shocks and vibrations. Thus, only if the outer casing is a strongly built, it can handle these shocks. Otherwise, you will end up in breaking your camera body.
Budget is the main thing which decides your camera for wildlife photography. If you have a reasonable budget, then go for the best wildlife camera.
You should also remember that you need to invest in the right telephoto lens for wildlife photography. So, some amount of budget needs to be allocated for the glass too.
6. Lens Options
Another vital factor which you should keep in mind is the lens options. Some camera manufacturers have very good camera bodies. But, when it comes to telephoto lens for wildlife photography, their choices would be limited.
So, you should always have an eye on the supported telephoto lenses with each camera body. You can also get third party lenses from manufacturers like Sigma and Tamron.
Best Canon Cameras for Wildlife Photography
1. Canon 1DX Mark II
Canon 1DX Mark II is the best wildlife camera from Canon in their full-frame DSLR series. The ability to shoot at a burst rate of 14fps in viewfinder mode and 16fps in Live View mode makes it the best DSLR camera body for photographing wildlife action shots.
It can also capture 170 RAW images with a continuous press of the shutter button with a CFAST memory card. Better noise performance at high ISOs helps to take good wildlife images in low light conditions. It’s a 20.2 Megapixel camera with 61 Autofocus points, out of which 41 are cross-type ones (fast focusing sensors). It supports dual memory card slots. So, you can shoot the whole day without worrying about memory getting full.
Canon 1DX Mark II also has a wide variety of customization option. So, you can customize the button according to your shooting comfort. It also comes with the Geotagging feature.
Cost: $ 3,296
2. Canon 7D Mark II
Canon 7D Mark II is the best Canon DSLR camera for wildlife photography in their APS-C series. The 1.6x crop factor allows you to get that extra reach. If you are using a 500mm lens on 7D Mark II, then the sufficient focal length becomes 800mm. There is a good improvement in focusing speed when compared to the old 7d camera.
Canon 7D Mark II comes with a 20.2-megapixel sensor with a native ISO range of 16000. You can expand the ISO up to 51200. The 65-point Auto Focus system with Dual Pixel CMOS AF for Live view AF. It is compatible with both EF and EF-S Mount lenses. So, you can go for lenses which are designed for full-frame Canon bodies.
The burst mode supports 10 fps frame rate and is capable of recording 31 RAW files continuously. It is an excellent specification for wildlife action photography.
Cost: $ 1,649
3. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is another full-frame camera used by many wildlife photographers. It comes with a 30.4 Megapixel sensor. It supports a burst rate of 7 fps.
Canon 5D Mark IV is not only good for photography but also good for capturing videos. Many wildlife filmmakers use it for filming wildlife.
5D Mark IV is a good choice if you don’t want a bulky camera like Canon EOS 1DX Mark II, but still, want a full-frame camera body. You will also save some money but at the expense of some excellent features.
Cost: $ 3,099
Best Wildlife Cameras from Nikon
1. Nikon D5
If you are a Nikon user looking for a high-end Nikon camera for wildlife photography, then Nikon D5 is the camera for you. The high-speed continuous shooting allows you to capture 12 fps.
Nikon D5 is a 20.8-megapixel DSLR camera with 153 Autofocus points. Out of which 99 points are the ultra-fast focusing cross sensors. So, you will have focus points covering most of the areas of the image. It has a good noise performance and expandable ISO up to 102400.
It supports a RAW buffer of 200 images. So, you can record more frames continuously without getting a Buffer warning message. It has a well-built magnesium alloy body and is rugged. Thus, all these features make it the best Nikon camera for wildlife photography.
Cost: $ 6,496
2. Nikon D850
Nikon D850 comes with an enormous 45.7 Megapixel sensor. It supports a continuous shooting speed of 7fps. This rate is pretty good because it is capturing 45.7 megapixels of image data. So, you can crop the picture to get a closer view without losing details.
So, if you are looking a full-frame camera body from Nikon without the bulkiness of the D5, then D850 is a good choice. It helps to reduce some weight and cost too. But, you will miss the higher burst rate of the D5.
Cost: $ 3,296
3. Nikon D500
Nikon D500 DSLR camera is a 20.9-megapixel DX-format camera. So, if you are looking for a good Nikon camera with crop body for photographing wildlife, then D500 is the best option. The crop factor of 1.4x helps to get additional reach.
It supports native ISO up to 51,200 and expandable to 1,64,000. You will get a continuous shooting speed of 10fps.
It has a well-built magnesium alloy body which is dust and water-drop resistant. So, you can take it without any fear of wildlife safaris and treks.
Cost: $ 1,696
Best Sony Cameras for Wildlife Photography
Earlier, Sony was not considered a good option for wildlife cameras. Sony only has mirrorless cameras in their lineup. They didn’t have any good telephoto lens for these mirrorless cameras.
The main advantage of using a mirrorless camera for wildlife photography is its compact body and weightlessness.
But, now, things have changed. Sony is the current market leader in the popular mirrorless segment. They have good wildlife lenses for mirrorless cameras which include the 100-400mm and the 200-600 mm in the zoom telephoto lenses category. They also have the 400mm f/2.8 and 600mm f4 in the prime lens category. So, let us have a look at the best mirrorless cameras from Sony for wildlife photography.
1. Sony A7R Mark III 35mm full-frame camera
For the price of $2500, it is one of the best full-frame cameras from Sony for Wildlife Photography. It comes with a 42.4 Megapixel sensor with 10 fps continuous shooting rate, which is useful for wildlife photographers. It has a native ISO range of 100-32000, expandable up to 102400.
Wildlife photography demands for fast focusing. Sony A7R III comes with 399 fast hybrid focal-plane phase-detection AF and 425 contrast-detection AF points.
The 5-axis image stabilization gives an additional 5.5 stop exposure advantage.
2. Sony A7R Mark IV full-frame camera
Sony has announced its new high-end full-frame mirrorless camera A7R IV. It comes with a massive 61 Megapixel sensor. The 15 stop dynamic range and 5-axis in-body optical Image Stabilization make it a good camera for wildlife photography.
You can get 10 fps continuous shooting speed with full AF/AE tracking. The exciting part is that it comes with 567 phase-detection AF points with 74% coverage. So, you can get focus point selection in most of the image compositions. It is lightweight and weighs only 665g.
3. Sony A9 Full Frame Camera
Sony A9 comes with a 24.2 Megapixel 35mm full-frame sensor. A9 supports a fast continuous shooting rate of 20 fps with AF/AE tracking. It comes with 693 wide-area phase-detection AF points and 425 contrast-detection AF points.
A9 weighs only 588g. The 5-axis in-body image stabilization gives a 5 stops advantage. So, the lightweight, fast focus, and the high continuous shooting rate make the A9 a good choice for wildlife photography.
4.Sony A6500 APS-C Camera
Sony A6500 is the best APS-C mirrorless camera from Sony for wildlife photography. It is a 24.2 Megapixel camera which supports a native ISO range of 100-25600, expandable to 51200.
If you are looking for a mirrorless with the additional reach advantage, then A6500 will be a good choice. It has 425 phase-detection AF points and 169 contrast-detection AF points. A6500 supports a continuous shooting rate of 11 fps in Hi+ mode and 8 fps in Hi Live view mode. It comes with a buffer capacity of 307 images.
So, now you know, which are the best DSLR and mirrorless cameras for wildlife photography. But, when you are selecting the camera body to ensure that you have sufficient funds for a good telephoto lens too. The quality of the glass is also important. You can either go for a zoom or prime lens.