Wildlife photography is demanding of skills and gear as well. If you’re determined to try your luck in it, you want to get the best wildlife camera possible.
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What Is Wildlife Photography?
Wildlife photography is a genre dedicated to capturing wild creatures in their natural habitat.
It’s a challenging area which requires a lot of patience and endurance. Animals are not going to pose for you or wait until you have the perfect picture.
You have to be ready before they appear in your frame. For this, you need to have some experience with compositions and some technical skills. And, of course, a proper gear.
What To Look for When Photographing Wildlife
A lot of cameras are capable of shooting great wildlife images. If you would like to get into wildlife photography, but you have a camera which is not listed here, don’t get discouraged.
However, there are some features you should pay attention to if you are planning to invest in new gear. No matter if it’s a mirrorless or a DSLR, the best camera for wildlife photography should perform great on all of these.
First, you are going to need a high frame rate. It means that you’ll be able to shoot more frames per second (fps). This means, that there will be a higher chance of capturing the decisive moment.
Since you are going to shoot a lot, a long shutter life expectancy is necessary.
A fast shutter speed and a silent-shutter mode also help you to freeze the moments perfectly without bothering the animals. It’s important to stay invisible, and you have to stay silent for this.
A weather-sealed camera body is also essential, especially if you spend a lot of time outside, and not only when the forecast promises nice weather.
You can find full-frame and crop sensor camera options. Both can be perfect for the purpose and both have their own advantage.
Our last but not least important tip is to buy an interchangeable lens camera. You are going to need a telephoto lens, and compact cameras usually don’t come with it. The best camera for wildlife photography can only be defined together with the lens you are using.
The Best Cameras for Wildlife Photography
Cropped Sensor Alternatives
Unlike many other fields of photography, in wildlife, you might want to use crop sensors over full-frame.
The 1.5x/1.6x crop allows you to use shorter, and thus lighter and cheaper telephoto lenses for the same framing.
Let’s take a look at the best APS-C camera options available for wildlife photography.
1. Panasonic G9
The Panasonic G9 is an affordable Micro Four Thirds camera from Panasonic, and it’s among the best options in its category right now. It was introduced in 2018 and remained a great camera option since then.
The G9 is a Micro Four-Thirds camera that has a great value for money.
It’s also capable of creating fascinating videos, but it’s listed here because it’s a versatile camera for taking photos. Its features make it one of the best cameras for wildlife photography.
As it comes with a four-thirds sized sensor, the crop factor is 2.0x. It provides a 20.3MP image resolution and it’s excellent in terms of dynamic range.
It’s a great action camera as it has a 5-axis in-body image stabilization. If you use it with a lens that has optical stabilization, you can get 6.5 stops of correction.
With continuous autofocus and using the mechanical shutter, it can capture 9 frames per second. If you switch to the electronic shutter, it even goes up to 20 frames per second.
2. Nikon D500
The Nikon D500 is one of the best cropped-sensor cameras on the market today. It was first introduced in 2016 but it’s still an exceptional choice.
It offers everything a wildlife photographer might need.
First, it’s well-balanced and its ergonomics are great. The grip is solid, the materials used are superb.
You get a lot of buttons, a joystick, and a touchscreen, which allow for quick and easy operation.
The autofocus system is highly effective. 99 cross-type points offer excellent tracking and snappy focusing throughout most of the frame.
ISO performance is best among all APS-C cameras, reaching 1.638.400. That’s just one stop below the D5’s industry-leading sensitivity.
You get dual card slots, this time an XQD and an SD.
Burst shooting goes up to 10 fps. Unlike in similar cameras, it continues for at least 20 seconds without slowing, thanks to the enormous buffer.
3. Pentax KP
It gives you a great grip, weather resistance, and practical controls.
Besides, it has a lot of great features, including Wi-Fi and GPS. It’s also capable of sensor shifting and it has an in-body 5-axis image stabilization system.
You can choose from 27 autofocus points, 25 of which are more sensitive cross-type. Its ISO performance maxes out at an extraordinary 819.200.
The vertical tilt LCD monitor facilitates high and low angle shooting, so you can vary your angles easily.
This is a dual-grip 20MP Micro Four Thirds mirrorless option from Olympus.
If you are looking for a durable, weather-sealed and sturdy option, the Olympus OM-D E-M1X could be the best camera for wildlife photography for you.
It also comes with two BLH-1 rechargeable batteries which can be charged at the same time in two hours. This gives you incredible freedom as you won’t have to worry too much about your batteries dying.
It has an amazing focus system with 121 AF points and deep-learning subject recognition. It works with phase detection and contrast detection as well.
Built-in image stabilisation and a 18fps (with continuous AF tracking) up to 60fps performance are also for making it an outstanding action camera.
A little other extra is the Live ND option, which provides the effects of an ND filter without having to use one.
The XT-4 is a beautiful mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor from Fuji.
It provides a resolution of 26MP and it has in-body image stabilization. All its features are making the image quality exceptional.
It’s a nice choice for several genres of photography with wildlife photography among them.
The burst shooting mode of up to 15 frames per second -using the mechanical shutter- makes it easy to capture the perfect moments.
It comes with a large capacity battery, so it’s going to be a great companion on your long wildlife photography trips.
Besides the long battery life, its weather-sealed body what makes it a durable camera. Being dust and moisture-resistant and being able to shoot even at -10°C, it can go anywhere with you.
Although it starts getting old, the 7D MkII is still considered as the top of Canon’s cropped-sensor DSLR lineup.
Its main selling points are the rugged, weather-sealed body, the burst rate, and the autofocus system. These are key features for a wildlife photographer.
The AF system is comprised of 65 cross-type points widely scattered out. It’s blazingly fast and accurate. You can track a subject throughout the whole frame without problems.
Ergonomics are similar to the original 7D. Materials are slightly better, but they were top-notch already.
You can use two cards (a CF and an SD) simultaneously, which is a professional touch.
Full-frame sensors offer the image quality everyone is dreaming of.
A lot of wildlife photographers choose crop-sensor options, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be shooting with a full-frame camera if that is what you prefer.
Here are our top recommendations in this category!
This Canon DSLR can be the best camera for wildlife photography if you are looking for a DSLR with a full-frame sensor.
It offers high image quality with the 20.1MP CMOS sensor, combined with low pass filter.
The wide ISO range, which is 100-819,200, lets you photograph in bad lighting conditions.
Its superb low-light performance and its outstanding 20fps frame rate make it a great camera for action photography. You won’t miss any unrepeatable moment with it.
It also comes with an intelligent autofocus system, consisting of 191 AF points. This provides stunning clarity and sharpness in your images. With its Deep Learning technology, it can track faces even when they are hidden by a helmet.
This gadget is perfect for wildlife photographers who like making videos as well. It can capture full-frame videos at up to 4K resolution.
2. Nikon D6
One of the top players on our list of cameras for wildlife photography is this Nikon beast.
This is a quite heavy (1450g) camera so probably you wouldn’t want to move with it too much.
Coming with a 20.6-megapixel full-frame sensor and an iso range of ISO 100-102,400, it’s a powerful camera. It captures high-quality images even in low-light.
It can capture 14 frames per second and it has 105 all-cross-type AF points.
The silent mode, the long battery life, the touchscreen, the built-in GPS, and the fast WiFi connection are just other things to increase this body’s value.
3. Sony A9 II
The Sony A9 II is a 24.2-megapixel full-frame gadget. A perfect camera for wildlife photography.
It can capture 20 frames per second and it has 5-axis image stabilization. These make your job easier when you are trying to catch the greatest momentums.
Also, it has an advanced subject recognition. It is capable of real-time tracking and eye autofocus for humans and animals as well. This feature is something that makes it one of the best wildlife photography cameras.
It has dual UHS-II SD card slots and a tiltable touch screen.
It has an incredibly wide AF coverage with 693-point phase-detection and 425-point contrast-detection AF points.
This camera is not only fine for taking high-quality images, but it’s also suitable for video recording.
4. Canon EOS R6
Another camera for wildlife photography to offer high-quality images with its 20MP full-frame CMOS sensor.
It has an ISO range of 100-102,400, which is expandable to 204,800. You probably won’t use the highest values for wildlife photography, but it’s a nice feature to have just in case.
The lens’s high-speed continuous shooting of up to 12fps with mechanical and 20fps with the electronic shutter is impressive.
It also has an up to 8-stops image stabilisation which is great long-exposures. You can also take incredibly sharp images without using a tripod.
The 100% horizontal and 100% vertical AF system with face detection and auto selection modes adds to the image quality and sharpness too.
The Panasonic Lumix S1H full-frame mirrorless camera with a 24MP CMOS sensor could easily become your favourite camera for wildlife photography.
It was made specifically for video recording, so if you would like to make wildlife videos, this is for you. It offers incredible 6K videos.
It has dual SD card slots so you don’t have to worry about not having enough space on your memory card.
The in-body image stabilization and the OLPF (optical low pass filter) also contribute to beautiful wildlife photography.
It’s heavier than the usual mirrorless cameras. If compactness is an important factor for you, go with a Sony instead.
But the Lumix’s rugged design makes it dust, water and freeze resistant. Regarding your shooting conditions, it offers mobility and safety.
6. Nikon Z6
This mirrorless Nikon beauty is also a suitable camera for wildlife photography.
Its 24.5 MP backside illuminated image sensor can capture images in incredibly high quality.
It also offers a 273-point hybrid AF system to provide accurate focus across 90% of the frame.
The 12fps helps you freezing unique moments. The in-camera image stabilization, which compensates vibration in five directions, is also going to help you with that.
It comes with a touch screen and a tilting LCD, so it’s suitable for any shooting angle.
If you need a camera to take videos too, you can use the Z6 for it as well. It captures 4K UHD videos.
We can’t really say “here is the best camera for wildlife photography, so buy this one”. But our list can help you find what suits your photography best.
You should consider a lot of different things, like size, portability or durability.
Frame rate, battery life, the image processor and low light performance all matter of course. But your choice of lens matters just as much.
When you have the camera, you can vary the lenses. They are usually more important than the camera body itself.
You don’t only have to keep in mind what’s best for you, but you also have to adapt to the animals you are photographing.