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Best Camera for Action Shots – Sports and Adventure Photography

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Our Top 3 Picks

6. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Price Range: $$$
Our Rating:
BEST VALUE

3. Nikon D500 

Price Range: $$$
Our Rating:
#1 PICK

1. Sony A7 III

Price Range: $$$
Our Rating:

Sports and adventure photography is an interesting and dynamic field. If you’re planning on capturing extreme sports or action shots, you need a camera that can keep up with you.

Here’s our list of the best cameras for action shots.

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Price Range: $$$

6. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

  • 20.4 Megapixel Live MOS Sensor
  • Autofocus Points Phase Detection: 121 & Contrast Detection: 121
  • 60 frames per second S AF, 18 frames per second C-AF (silent electronic shutter)
  • 15 frames per second S AF, 10 frames per second C AF (mechanical shutter)
  • 121 Point Dual Fast AF with Phase Detection focusing

This is one camera you might overlook when it comes to sports and action photography. But you shouldn’t. This is a very capable camera, even with a Micro Four Thirds sensor. Any lens you use with this beast has a double focal length. This means getting close without actually getting close.

Right off the bat, let’s look at the 60 frames a second. What?! The most the other cameras on this list can reach is ten, making this 6x faster. For a slower burst rate, you can still capture 18 with autofocus tracking. Did I mention this is Raw, not jpeg?

This immediately screams sports and action photography. It also has a place in photojournalism due to its size and 20.4-Megapixel sensor size. No DSLR can touch this camera for its ability.

The second thing that makes this camera perfect for action photography are the focal points. There are both phase and contrast detection, 121 points for each. Your images will be pin-sharp – all 60 of them.

If you’re looking for a small, travel-sized camera that has no lag, then this is it. It is also one of the cheaper cameras in this list.

Our Rating:
Price Range: $$$

5. Canon EOS 7D Mark II

  • 20.2 MP CMOS sensor and ISO 100-16000
  • High-speed continuous shooting up to 10 fps
  • 65-point all cross-type AF system
  • Stunning Full HD video with Custom Movie Servo AF 
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF 

I bought the first edition of this camera over eight years ago, and have used it ever since. The Mark II version came out in 2014 and is still a great camera to use, even for sports and action photography.

This camera has all the settings that you would need to capture action photography shots. It is a crop sensor camera, but don’t let that put you off.

A full-frame lens on this camera gets you 1.6x closer to the subject, perfect for both sports and wildlife alike.

20.9 megapixels is more than enough for a great resolution and detail in every shot. This allows you to crop your image for a more pleasing frame without losing quality.

Here, you’ll find 65 points of autofocus across the frame, allowing more than enough versatility. The thing that sets this camera apart, making it perfect for action photography is the burst rate. You have 10 fps, depending on the memory card you choose.

The reputable Dual-Pixel system makes it easier and faster to focus on your subject and keep it in focus. With the help of the Digic 6, buffering burst images is not an issue.

Our Rating:
Price Range: $$$

4. Sony A7 r Mark II

  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization 
  • 42.4MP full-frame
  • 2.4-million dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder w/ZEISS T* coating
  • Shutter vibration suppression, curtain shutter, silent shutter
  • Fast Hybrid AF with 399 focal plane phase-detection

The Sony A7r Mark II is top of the list, but it doesn’t mean we should forget about the big brother. This is still a great camera to use for all action photography, animals and people alike.

First of all, it boasts a 42-megapixel sensor, which kills the DSLRs on this list. Getting great resolution and detail in your images is not an issue with this mirrorless.

Secondly, the image processor is the BIONZ X, meaning you can grab five frames-a-second. That might not sound like much, but the files are huge! It might be slow, but it excels in a more important area – focusing.

You will find 399 points of phase detection focus. This is more than any DSLR on our list, and in some cases, almost triple. It is accurate and fast, so when you absolutely can’t miss the shot, take the Mark II.

Weather sealed and reaches an expanded ISO of 25,600 meaning its great for all sports and wildlife situations. What you will love is the 5-axis of image stabilization. Perfect for when a tripod isn’t practical.

Our Rating:
Price Range: $$$

3. Nikon D500 

  • 20.9MP DX-Format CMOS Sensor
  • 153 Point AF System
  • Native ISO 51200, Extend to ISO 1640000
  • 10 fps Shooting for Up to 200 Frames

There is no other camera that is built better for action and sports photography. Not only is it a very versatile machine, but it has all the things you would expect from a reliable, fast shooter.

The 20.9-megapixel sensor has the same resolution and image detail depth as the 7D Mark II cousin. It also has a comparative 10 fps burst speed, making it the competitor if you prefer Nikon. The burst speed can reach up to 200 frames before buffering, but depending on your memory card.

What you’ll notice are the differences. Here, you get a tilting touchscreen and 153 points of autofocus. That’s more than double, allowing you to be way more precise when it comes to keeping the subject in focus.

It even works better in low light, mixed with the extended ISO means that indoor sports at nighttime are no issue. Built-in WiFi is something that press photographers will get a kick out of.

This is said to have one of the best autofocus features in modern DSLRs. Alongside the dual memory cards, makes this a winner for enthusiasts and semi-professional photographers.

Our Rating:
Price Range: $$$

2. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

  • 30.4 MegaPixel full-frame CMOS sensor for versatile shooting
  • Up to 7 frames per second continuous shooting speed
  • 61 point AF system with 41 cross-points for expanded vertical coverage
  • ISO range 100-32,000 with 50-102,400 expansion

We all know how great the 5D range of cameras is. The Mark IV is the leader of the pack, and the latest to hit the photography market. It has many features that don’t make this necessarily a sports photographer’s first choice, but there are reasons why it should be on your list.

Firstly, it is full-frame. This means that the quality you get will surpass any crop sensors out there. You don’t have to know mathematics to understand the real focal length you’re getting from your lens choice.

A 30.4-megapixel sensor gives you amazing quality, allowing you to crop the image when the framing exactly perfect. This way, you can spend more time concentrating on the focus.

The seven frames-a-second burst rate is good enough. But perhaps when you really can’t miss that shot of your nephew scoring the winning goal, you might need something faster.

In true Canon style, you get the Dual-Pixel autofocus system, making it a sinch to keep your subjects in focus. Mixed with the 61 points of autofocus, you get one hell of a machine.

What this camera really excels in is its ISO. It has a native range that reaches 32,000, but expandable to 102,400. This means, if the sports are indoors, the lack of light poses no issues in the quality of your images.

WiFi comes as standard, making this a great camera for press photographers who are on assignment. Dual memory slots allow you to shoot thousands of images with the right cards.

Our Rating:
Price Range: $$$

1. Sony A7 III

  • Advanced 24.2MP BSI Full-frame
  • 15 stop dynamic range, 14 bit uncompressed RAW
  • ISO 50 to 204,800
  • Up to 10fps Silent or Mechanical Shutter with AE/AF tracking
  • 693 phase-detection / 425 contrast AF points w/ 93% image coverage

The number one spot on our list is the Sony A7 III, the entry-level full-frame camera that beats the competition hands down.

We are looking at a sensor size of 24-megapixels, which is more than enough for printing large images to show off your sports photography talent.

10 frames a second is more than enough to capture whatever you turn your eye to. Be it wildlife, sports or photojournalism, this camera covers them all. The shutter is silent and can easily track the subjects you focus on.

What you will definitely get a kick out of are the almost 700 points of autofocus. Those are only the phase-detection points, as there are another 425 of contrast-detection points.

Not only is it fast, but it is also incredibly accurate, meaning you get your shot and everyone is happy.

5-axis image stabilization allows you to work without a tripod if need by. You no longer need to worry about your shutter speed. It even works well in low light, meaning that this is the camera you need for any situation, at any time, anywhere.

Dual card slots, great battery life and it’s even weather-protected! At least one of these should be in your camera bag.

Our Rating:
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