When choosing the best camera for wildlife photography, there are a number of things you need to consider. That's where this guide comes in. Not only have we picked out some of the best wildlife cameras to suit all budgets and experience levels, but you'll also get to grips with the specs and features you'll need to get the shots you want. We’ve split our selection of the best cameras for wildlife into four categories for different types of users.
Four types of users:
While it might depend a little on your subject, in general a fast burst speed is very desirable for wildlife photography. The ability to fire off a series of shots in quick succession will help you capture the split-second moment that's the difference between a winning shot and something forgettable.
The better the buffer, the more shots you can capture in a single burst. Other factors come into play through - a camera will often be able to shoot a lot more JPEGs than raw files for instance, while the write speed of the memory card also plays a key part here as well.
Autofocus performance is another key area to consider. Not only do you want a decent coverage across the frame but look for cameras with a sophisticated AF tracking system and the ability to acquire focus in poor light.
The best wildlife shots often have their subject filling the frame. Many bridge cameras have huge built-in zoom lenses to help with this, while those considering a more advanced DSLR or mirrorless camera will also need to consider the range of telephoto lenses available to them.
That is not a typo. The Coolpix P950 really does pack in a staggering 83x optical zoom lens that reaches an incredible 2000mm. You’ll certainly have no problems even filling the frame with distant subjects, but if that’s still not enough then there’s the Nikon Coolpix P1000 with an125x zoom that hits an eye-watering 3000mm. The P950 is not without its compromises though. It’s pretty hefty for a bridge camera, while the image quality could be better.
While Panasonic has brought out a few new cameras in this particular wheelhouse, namely the FZ2000 and the FZ1000 II, we reckon this is the optimal buy for relatively newbie sports shooters. With multiple different burst modes to play with and satisfying, DSLR-style handling, the FZ1000 offers plenty of functionality for any sports photographer, and its video features are no slouch either, with 4K 30p video that looks great and can also be used to extract high-quality stills.
It’s not possible to wait for your subject to come to you, which is where a trail camera comes in. These tough cameras are activated by a subject’s movement (and even body heat), allowing you to be tucked up in bed and leave the camera to do the hard work for you. Our top pick is the Bushnell Core DS No Glow.
Unlike the Bushnell Core DS No Glow, the Solar Dark from Spypoint doesn’t solely rely on battery power. As the name suggests, it can be solar powered to extend its life out in the field. Alternatively it can also draw power from either a rechargeable Lithium ion battery or 6 AA batteries. The 12MP resolution is modest, but images pretty good as long as you keep your expectations in check, while there’s plenty of other features here that add to the appeal of the Solar Dark.
If looking to travel relatively light but still want to fill the frame with your subject, then look no further than the Cyber-shot RX10 IV from Sony. This is the best bridge camera you can buy, with the RX10 IV packing in a hugely flexible 24-600mm f/2.4-4 zoom lens, a excellent 1-inch sensor, an advanced AF system and 24fps shooting. While Sony’s chucked everything at the RX10 IV and it’s an incredibly capable piece of kit, all this tech does come up a price.
Canon throwing a lot of weight behind its mirrorless efforts, some were surprised to see the EOS 90D arrive in 2019. But the EOS 90D is quite a step forward over the ageing EOS 80D it replaced, with an all-new 32.5MP APS-C sensor that delivers excellent results, while the ability to record un-cropped 4K footage is another bonus.
Nikon’s high-end APS-C DSLR has been around for a while now, but that shouldn’t dull its appeal for wildlife photographers out there, especially as the price has dropped quite a bit in the last year or so. Borrowing a lot of tech from the then flagship Nikon D5 DSLR, the D500 is a camera geared towards action. The 20.9MP sensor might not have the resolving power of some other sensors, but it delivers clean images even at higher ISOs, while the 153-point AF is very sophisticated for the price.
The OM-D E-M1 X ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to wildlife photography. First up is the tough build that sees exceptional weather-sealing - perfect for those times when you’ll be shooting in harsh conditions. The payoff is though that lenses are much more compact, with fast telephoto lenses considerably smaller than rivals.
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