Searching for the best photographic camera for wildlife photography? It’southward a tricky task with lots of variables, but luckily we’re here to help. Our in-depth guide below is based on endless hours of testing out in the field, which means nosotros can help reply all of the large questions. For example, practise you demand a total-frame camera for wildlife photography? Is crop-sensor all-time? And how many frames per second do you need? Read on for all of the answers.
We’ve reviewed every new interchangeable lens photographic camera on the market, merely merely a scattering are really outstanding when it comes to wildlife photography. Nosotros’ve taken everything into consideration, from the number of autofocus points and bombardment life to professional person concerns such as dual retention card slots and wireless image transmission.
And there’s more – if this is going to exist your first leap into interchangeable lens photography, or you’re looking to go large on your next lens purchase, we’ve taken the liberty of suggesting a few lenses that will do justice to your careful research and fieldcraft.
From ultra-zoomy bridge cameras to pro-form DSLRs, we’ve looked at everything in our ranked listing of the all-time cameras for wildlife photography in 2022. So whether you lot’re looking to take your first steps in the genre, or accept been well and truly bitten and are looking to upgrade your current rig, there’s something here for you.
How to choose the best wildlife camera for you lot
Along with sports, wildlife photography is the genre that places the greatest technical demand on a photographic camera. Wild animals subjects are often pocket-size, reluctant photo subjects, which means autofocus accuracy, and speed, are absolutely disquisitional. You can all-merely guarantee that subjects volition appear in surprising locations, so a photographic camera that tin quickly detect a subject and drive the lens’ autofocus to the correct distance is critically important.
Y’all’ll too want a camera that offers skillful continuous shooting performance. This isn’t something you’ll need admittedly all the fourth dimension, but for birds in flight, animals jumping, or other pouncing, feeding and hunting behavior, being able to rattle off a dozen frames a second – and in some cases even more – is incredibly useful. Yeah, timing is everything, but sometimes keeping the shutter button held down and hoping for the best tin can yield equally spectacular results.
There’s more than. If you lot’re going to shoot wildlife in regions like northern Europe, weather condition-sealing is vitally important, as you won’t desire to let a spot of pelting deter you from getting out. Things to wait out for include weather-sealed buttons and switchgear, also equally sealing at the junction between lens and camera body. For those embarking on more far-flung adventures, dust-sealing will likewise save you a few bucks in repair bills. As ever, the all-time kind of camera protection is insurance.
There are a few other things to consider. If you’re heading off on a in one case-in-a-lifetime trip, you might consider a camera with ii memory card slots. This offers a fleck of peace of mind – if a camera is writing every image to 2 memory cards at once, information technology doesn’t affair if one fails mid-shoot. Social media doyennes might also think nearly a camera with integrated Wi-Fi, which can allow you to send images to your phone, so on to the wider web, without to hook things upwardly to a memory carte du jour reader or a laptop.
Best wildlife photography camera in 2022:
What happens when you throw caution to the wind and brand the near bonkers, money-no-object mirrorless photographic camera seen all the same? Canon knows, and the EOS R3 is the result.
Its strengths for wildlife photography are myriad; the EOS R3’due south headline continuous frame rate of 30fps (in electronic shutter, rather than mechanical shutter, mode) severely restricts your power to make excuses for missed shots, while its gnat-like reactions when it comes to autofocus honestly demand to be seen to be believed. Car, creature, and person priority autofocus means the days of choosing a particular autofocus point and trying to become your subject under it could be numbered.
We’ve tested the EOS R3, likewise as its smaller stablemates, the EOS R5 and EOS R6, in a number of challenging autofocus situations, and the capabilities of Canon’s top-end ingather of mirrorless cameras needs to exist seen to be believed. It’southward not just about stills performance; the EOS R3 is an absolute prizefighter when it comes to video likewise. It tin can shoot ultra-well-baked video upward to 6K RAW; or 4K in iv:2:2 10-bit, giving video editors loads of breadth in postal service for colour grading. For wild fauna film-makers slow move is an choice as well; upward to 120fps in Ultra HD.
Want more? Information technology’s built like a tank, is weather- and grit-sealed, has both SD and CFExpress slots, all the custom modes you could always want, and compatibility with Canon’s fast-becoming-legendary RF-mountain lenses, which, while pricey, are currently the last word in interchangeable lens prototype quality.
Read our in-depth
Canon EOS R3 review
Perfect partner: Canon RF 800mm F5.6L IS USM
Pushing the gunkhole out? You asked for it. If you’re headed out with the EOS R3, pair it with an equally compromise-free lens, similar Canon’s RF 800mm F5.6L IS USM. All the lens a wild fauna lensman could want, information technology combines incredible accomplish with a large maximum discontinuity to help keep shutter speeds fast.
Desire to shoot amend wildlife photos? Not overly concerned with the latest and greatest video modes? The Sony A9 II could be for you. Nosotros won’t insult y’all (or Sony) by describing this pricey camera as ‘basic’, simply there’s no mistaking its stills-first focus.
It’southward all most performance. You get 10fps speeds using its mechanical shutter, ascent to 20fps when y’all utilize the silent electronic shutter, coupled with impressive autofocus performance. This adds up to a camera that locks on tight to its bailiwick and then hoses it downwardly with a continuous outburst of sharp, 24.2MP raw files. Autofocus is next-level: 693 phase-detection points, including animal and man-priority AF, and an almost uncanny caste of precision, ways you’ll exist able to make the about of even the most fleeting of wildlife encounters.
Shoot video? It does that, although non with the brio of some other cameras at this toll. Y’all get 4K, of course, but at a relatively constrained selection of frame rates. Where others back up overcranked, slow-move footage, the A9 II will give you up to 100fps (PAL) at just Full HD, rather than 4K.
Image quality is spectacular. Like about of the cameras here, Sony has eschewed stratospheric megapixel counts, and that means the A9 Two shoot gorgeous, clean images at surprisingly high ISOs thanks to the lower pixel density.
Read our in-depth
Sony A9 II review
Perfect partner: Sony Iron 200-600mm F/5.6-6.3 One thousand OSS
Those buying into Sony’south interchangeable lens ecosystem have some brilliant quality options when it comes to lenses. If you’d rather go big than become abode, look at the Sony 500mm f/iv One thousand SSM. If you’d like to have a fleck of dosh spare for tickets to far-flung places to make the near of your new gear, you might investigate the Sony FE 200-600mm F/v.half dozen-6.three G OSS, which is a little slower than the 500mm prime (f/six.3 at its furthest zoom), but a super sharp chip of gear that still includes optical image stabilization for a more reasonable price tag.
Sony FE 200-600mm F5.half-dozen-half-dozen.3 G OSS
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Call back DSLRs? We’re kidding: there’s plenty of life left in them yet, just there’s no arguing that these sometime-schoolhouse designs are beginning to head in the direction of the fossil-fuel car.
Nevertheless, until they’re cached for good, there are plenty of excellent models out in that location, offer wildlife photographers some really appealing oprions. Enter the Canon EOS 90D, a three year-sometime, crop-sensor DSLR from Canon with – gasp – a proper flappy mirror machinery and an optical viewfinder. The latter in detail is no bad affair – at this cost, digital viewfinder resolution oft suffers, which obviously isn’t a problem hither.
For wild fauna types, at that place’s a lot to similar. For 1 affair, it will shoot at 10fps, which is pretty impressive. And, while its 45 cross-type autofocus points doesn’t audio impressive compared to the multiple-thousands of its mirrorless brethren, autofocus on the 90D was even so fast and accurate in our tests, even in poor light. And while that crop-frame sensor might lack the entreatment of full-frame cameras, it applies a 1.6x multiplier to the focal length of any lens you lot attach, allowing you greater reach from shorter lenses.
Image quality is good – this is a relatively loftier-resolution camera, which ways those 32.5 one thousand thousand pixels are pretty tightly jammed together on the small sensor, with a concomitant impact on image quality once you offset pushing the ISO upwardly . You’ll definitely be able to tell the difference between this and much more than expensive total-frame mirrorless options, only it offers improve value for not-pros.
Read our in-depth
Catechism EOS 90D review
Perfect partner: Catechism EF seventy-300mm f/iv-five.6L IS USM
Canon has 1 of the nearly mature lens platforms around, and while the EOS 90D isn’t compatible with the latest and greatest RF-mount lenses, information technology volition piece of work with both EF and EF-Southward lenses. Our pick of the agglomeration would be the Canon EF lxx-300mm f/four-five.6L IS USM; these days an ‘oldie just goodie’ given its annunciation 11 years ago, but it’southward still abrupt, zoomy, quick to focus and light at a shade over 1kg.
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-v.6L IS USM
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Where are you prepared to compromise? If you’re happy to spend a corking deal of money there’southward no doubtfulness that a full-frame, current-gen mirrorless camera will get you the best of all worlds – incredible paradigm quality, blazing fast functioning and amazing autofocus – but y’all’ll be parting with multiple thousands to add one to your purse.
Enter the Olympus OM-D E-M1X, surely a contender for worst production name in mod photography. Simply ignore that – there’s an incredible corporeality of power here on offering at a reasonable price. It tin shoot up to eighteen frames per 2d, offer continuous capture of up to 287 raw images or unlimited JPEGs. Simply it doesn’t cease in that location. If you’re prepared to sacrifice mid-flare-up autofocus and auto-exposure, you can brand use of the East-M1X’s 60fps outburst mode – that’s full resolution raw capture at a spectacular charge per unit of knots. At that place’s likewise Pro Capture mode, in which a half-press of the shutter push begins buffering up to 35 images which are then saved to the carte when you fully push the button. It makes anticipating action easier.
There are other pro features. Twin card slots reduces the touch on of card failure, while IPX-1 environmental sealing ways you tin can carry on in dusty, moisture and cold environments. The full-superlative design ways the lower portrait grip can accommodate two batteries. A last plus for wild animals snappers is that small sensor, which provides a 2x multiplication gene to every lens yous attach; then a 300mm becomes a 600mm, and and then on. All of this in a body weighing under a kilo.
Which brings united states to the compromises. The reason the East-M1X has such a dramatic affect on focal length is that the sensor is tiny – half the size of that plant in total-frame bodies, which means high ISO photography suffers. If you’re happy to forego some of the E-M1X’s more spectacular high frame rate features, you’ll finder larger-sensor cameras elsewhere – merely if you lot’re confident you’ll be working at lower ISOs you’ll struggle to find this kind of performance without spending a fortune.
Read our in-depth
Olympus OM-D E-M1X review
Perfect partner: Olympus 300mm f/4 IS Pro
You can’t accuse Olympus of going half-cocked when it comes to lenses. Information technology makes a range of top-notch glass which will do justice to just virtually whatsoever discipline. For wild animals types, the Olympus 300mm f/4 IS Pro is a spectacular bit of kit – that 300mm focal length is actually 600mm in practical terms, while integrated image stabilization helps get steadier shots. It’s pricey, merely sharp and fabulously built, making it a peachy partner for the nearly flop-proof E-M1X.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm 1:4.0 IS Pro
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Permit’s become the obvious out of the fashion: the RX10 IV is expensive, especially for a bridge camera. Before you skip this section in disgust, let’s take a expect at the multiple reasons the RX10 Four deserves to exist on this list. For one affair, that fixed lens has some really impressive specifications: 24-600mm, with an discontinuity range of f/2.4-f/4, makes this supremely flexible and pretty bright.
When you lot consider the weight and cost sacrifices yous’d take to make to suit a 600mm f/four on a Micro Four Thirds photographic camera (much less an APS-C or full-frame model) the Sony’s all-in weight of but 1.1kg is really impressive, and deeply compelling for photographers who don’t want to burden themselves with multiple lenses.
As if that supersized lens wasn’t good news enough, there’s more for nifty wildlife photographers. The RX10 IV’s maximum continuous speed is 24fps; it can shoot raw for better dynamic range; and its 315-bespeak autofocus, while not quite the concluding word in autofocus point frame coverage, is pretty practiced. That performance comes courtesy of Sony’s BIONZ 10 image processor, which the swell-eyed volition have spotted is also in the Alpha A9. Integrated image stabilization should assist get sharp shots at 600mm.
It’south a tough customer – the frame is magnesium alloy, and information technology’due south dust and moisture resistant, which should requite you confidence to carry on shooting when the weather condition closes in. For a bridge camera, it’s big; for a DSLR with a 600mm lens it’s pocket-sized. In this company, it definitely fits the nib every bit a user-friendly, lightweight, all-in-1 photographic camera, and benefits from a large, comfy handgrip often forgotten past other smaller bridge cameras.
Epitome quality is pleasing rather than height, which isn’t surprising given the RX10 IV’southward relatively small sensor, just if you can keep your shots under ISO 6400, and your print sizes nether control, you lot’ll notice the RX10 Iv capable of some really excellent results.
Read our in-depth
Sony RX10 IV review
Sony makes a deserved third advent on this listing, this time with the stonking A7 IV. Information technology’s an incredible all-rounder: 33 megapixels gives information technology plenty of resolution, the BIONZ XR processor allows it to shoot at up to 10fps, and its 759-bespeak autofocus makes itself exceptionally useful when it comes to reacting quickly – we constitute it amazingly accurate in our testing.
The 3,686-pixel EVF is an excellent example of its type, with a 120Hz refresh rate making it piece of cake on the optics and more capable than its predecessor at tracking moving subjects.
As an all-rounder, the A7 Mark IV ticks a lot of boxes, just it’southward rare to notice an all-rounder with no compromises, and and then we should probably mention that that 10fps continuous speed won’t work with uncompressed raw files; just JPEGs and Sony’s compressed raws. Its 4K video mode is cropped – although you lot can shoot ten-bit, 4:2:2 S-log footage with an astronomical bitrate of 600Mbps, which goes some way to compensate.
Image quality, on the other hand, is excellent. Y’all’ll get usable results at up to ISO 6400 and fairly decent shots fifty-fifty higher than that – truly impressive for a camera with such a high megapixel count.
If you lot’re going to shoot wild fauna and nothing else, there are better cameras out in that location; Canon’s EOS R6 comes immediately to mind. But if you’re trying to hit the sugariness spot between video performance, continuous shooting, resolution and image quality, the A7 4 could well be worth the compromise.
Read our in-depth
Sony A7 IV review
Perfect partner: Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-v.vi GM OSS
Looking for an all-round lens to get with your all-round camera? Permit u.s.a. to recommend the Atomic number 26 100-400mm G Master super-telephoto zoom lens, a 4x super-telephoto lens that weighs just 1.4kg, includes optical stabilization, and wide-open up apertures of f/4.5 at the wide stop and f/5.6 zoomed in. Information technology lacks the steep learning curve (and price!) of a wildlife-focussed prime number lens, making it a great bit of kit to larn on.
Sony FE 100-400mm f/four.5-5.6 GM OSS
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Information technology’s rugged, it’s fast, it supports a vast range of excellent lenses – in that location a lot to like about Nikon’due south follow-up foray into the globe of mirrorless cameras.
The original Nikon Z6 was i of our favorite mirrorless DSLRs, and the Mark 2 solidifies its position. At that place are a lot of similarities between the two – this has a 24.5MP sensor, simply Nikon has added a 2nd image processor, giving the Z6 2 a pair of Expeed vi processors for increased bandwidth. That makes itself felt when it comes to shooting wildlife photography – its top continuous speed is 14fps. You lot also go amazing autofocus performance – 273-points including man and animal detection severely whittle downwards your excuses for missing a shot.
In that location are a few pro features included hither every bit well – not least the addition of a 2nd retention menu slot, as well as a magnesium alloy torso that’southward sealed confronting dust and moisture. Y’all’ll also capeesh the in-body prototype stabilization arrangement (IBIS), which gave us the power to shoot very long exposures hand-held. Useful for those swirling atmospheric wild fauna shots.
Image quality is first-class – you get a lilliputian more resolution than you lot do with the Canon EOS R6, which is useful if you lot’re going to be cropping into your shots, or if you lot’re a fan of going big when it comes to printing.
Read our in-depth
Nikon Z6 II review
Perfect partner: Nikon Z 100-400mm f/4.5-five.6 VR Southward
Nikon has pushed the boat out when it comes to the Z-series’ S-Line lenses, so let the states recommend the Z 100-400mm f/four.five-5.6 VR South. Information technology’s a stonking, if pricey, bit of kit that gives wildlife shooters of all levels of feel a superb blend of flexibility, reach and brightness, courtesy of that relatively large f/4.5-five.six aperture range.
Nikon Z 100-400mm f/4.v-5.6 VR S
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If you’re shopping for a Nikon DSLR for wild fauna photography, you have a tough choice – this or the D7500. It’s practically an do in hair-splitting: they’re both crop-sensor DSLRs with the same resolution sensor; the D500 shoots 10fps; the D7500 8fps. The D500 has more autofocus points (153 to the D7500’s 51). They’re both weather-sealed.
Ultimately, for wild fauna photographers, the D500 is the slightly ameliorate option for the money. That two actress frames per second might not sound like much but will make itself felt when it comes to capturing truly action-packed sequences – ditto the actress autofocus points.
Desire to feel even improve most your decision? How virtually the fact that the D500 is a superbly built, atmospheric condition-sealed bit of kit that brings to bear all of Nikon’s legendary prowess when it comes to building meridian-notch cameras for professionals? Its autofocus organisation is positively stellar, even if it lacks the next-gen bells and whistles of mirrorless cameras – we’re thinking about face and animate being detection, in particular.
Image quality is excellent – terrific color science is married to an accurate metering system and very well controlled noise. Nosotros saw very good results up to ISO 12,800. Add to this the fact that the crop sensor gives you lot a ane.5x multiplication factor on any lens y’all adhere – making all of your lenses significantly longer – and this is a great choice for wild fauna photographers.
Read our in-depth
Nikon D500 review
Perfect partner: Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/v.6E ED VR
Accept we got a care for in shop for y’all. If you’re just starting out in wildlife photography, you can hardly practise better when it comes to lenses than the AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR. It’s a specialist lens – at 200mm at the wide end it’s not going to be much utilize for family gatherings or portraits, just with its 2.5x zoom ratio, constant f/5.half dozen aperture and integrated image stabilization (Nikon calls it Vibration Reduction, just to go on us on our toes), it’s a flexible piffling grapheme. Information technology’southward also relatively affordable, very sharp, and insufficiently light at 2.3kg.
Nikon AF-South Nikkor 500mm f/v.6E PF ED VR
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What are the best settings for wildlife photography?
Figuring out how to ready a camera for wild fauna photography takes a bit of feel and, cartel we say information technology, a spot of trial and error, but we can get y’all started.
Starting from the pinnacle, we’d advise shooting in raw if possible. A raw file is the data gathered by your photographic camera’s sensor and nothing else – by contrast, a JPEG has a round of processing and compression applied to information technology. The result is that a JPEG file is easier to use straight from the camera, and will look better thanks to the processing, as well as being smaller.
Just a raw file will have more dynamic range – that is, areas of bright highlights and night shadow volition accept more data within them, assuasive you lot to tweak your photo’s exposure with more latitude than information technology could withstand if it was already candy and compressed. The single biggest drawback is file size – expect a raw file to be several times larger than even the least-compressed JPEGs, so you’ll need a bigger retention carte and difficult disk to capture the same number of images.
Which metering mode is best for wildlife photography? The straightforward answer is, “whichever gets you the exposure you lot desire”, but we’re happy to give you something a chip more technical. Metering describes how your camera measures the brightness of the scene in front of it. Different manufacturers utilise slightly different terms to describe different metering modes, simply well-nigh all interchangeable lens cameras volition offering average, heart-weighted, and spot metering.
Average metering allows the camera to look at the whole frame, average out the range of brightness across the whole scene, then shoot an exposure that sits halfway (roughly) between the brightest and darkest points. This is an exceptionally simple metering mode to employ when you lot’re shooting a scene that is evenly lit. If you’ve got a subject against a particularly bright or nighttime background, though, you might notice boilerplate metering to be inaccurate, which is where centre-weighted and spot metering come in.
They’re close bedfellows – spot metering reads the brightness from the very centre of the frame, and will apply that as the average effulgence of the whole scene. If you lot meter from a dark groundwork and your discipline is brighter, information technology volition turn out over-exposed, and vice versa. The effect? For tricky, pocket-size subjects – peculiarly ones against vivid backgrounds (call up snow, but also birds in flight against greyness skies), spot metering, and a chip of experience, are the ways to go.
Don’t be discouraged if your first experience with centre-weighted and spot metering are disappointing – a few missed exposures are admittedly par for the course, and part of your valuable learning experience.
How we exam wildlife photography cameras
Buying a camera for wildlife photography is a big investment, and then every photographic camera in this guide has been tested extensively by us. We focus on existent-world tests, including shooting a multifariousness of animals, alongside standardized tests for factors like ISO functioning.
To commencement with, we look at the camera’s design, handling and controls to cheque it suitability for wildlife photography. When nosotros have it out on a shoot, we’ll use it both handheld and on a tripod to go a sense of where its strengths lie, and examination its startup speed.
When information technology comes to performance, we use a formatted card to shoot in both raw and JPEG. For outburst shooting tests, we dial in our regular test settings (ane/250 sec, ISO 200, continuous AF) and shoot a series of frames in front of a stopwatch to come across if it lives up to its claimed speeds. Nosotros’ll as well look at how speedily the buffers clears and repeat the exam for both raw and JPEG files.
In various lighting weather, we also exam the camera’s different autofocus modes (including Animal Eye AF, if available) in single point, surface area and continuous modes. The tests we run are normally relative to the camera’s user level – for beginner models, we’ll accept them to the local zoo, but for pro models with more avant-garde wildlife photography features nosotros’ll take them for twenty-four hours out in a bird hide.
If the camera’s raw files are supported by Adobe Camera Raw, we’ll also process some test images to see how nosotros can button areas like shadow recovery. And we’ll also test its ISO functioning across the whole range to become a sense of the levels nosotros’d be happy to push the photographic camera to.
Battery life is tested in a existent-earth fashion, as we use the camera over the class of the day with the screen prepare to the default settings. Once the battery has reached zero, we’ll then count the number of shots to run across how it compares to the camera’s CIPA rating. Finally, we test the photographic camera’due south video skills by shooting some examination footage at unlike frame-rates and resolutions, along with its companion app.
Nosotros then take everything we’ve learned about the camera and factor in its cost to get a sense of the value-for-coin it offers, before reaching our final verdict on whether it deserves a place in our list of the best cameras for wild fauna photography.