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The 6 Best Cameras For Wildlife Photography - Fall 2022 Reviews

Best Cameras For Wildlife Photography

Smartphones have made it pretty easy to snap photos of wildlife while you're out and about. But for those who are serious about wildlife photography, a dedicated camera with a zoom lens is key to capturing the perfect shot of an animal in its natural habitat. There are a few factors that you should consider when choosing a camera for wildlife photography. Fast, continuous shooting speeds allow you to capture clear stills of fast-moving animals, while large image buffers let you shoot for longer without interruption. Silent shooting might also be important if you tend to shoot more skittish animals that are easily frightened, while quicker animals like small birds require more responsive, accurate autofocus systems with excellent tracking capabilities.

Below you'll find our recommendations for the best cameras for nature photography and wildlife, narrowed down from over 75 cameras that we've bought and tested. If you're interested in a range of photography styles, you can take a look at our best cameras for photography more generally. If you're just starting out in photography, you might also want to check out our recommendations for the best beginner cameras. Otherwise, you can also see our top picks for the best cameras, period.

  1. Best Camera For Wildlife Photography

    While the pro-level Nikon Z 9 is often held up as the best of the best cameras for wildlife photography, it also has a price tag to match that's out of reach for most people. The next best thing for enthusiasts is the Nikon Z 6II. Solidly built and weather-sealed, it has an excellent stacked full-frame sensor, so you'll get stunning images and great low-light capability for early morning or dusk shoots. If you tend to shoot moving wildlife, it has a great autofocus system that can track moving subjects effectively, and overall, the camera feels great in the hand, with plenty of physical controls and customization options.

    Another standout feature is the CFexpress card slot, along with a secondary SD card slot, which gives the camera fantastic buffer depth, so you're unlikely to fill the buffer while shooting. The camera can also hit a max burst rate of 14 fps, which is more than fast enough for quick-moving animals. EVF blackout can be an issue here, so you may have to use a slower burst rate to get a continuous view of your subject. Still, if you're looking for a well-rounded mirrorless camera with standout ergonomics, this is one of the best enthusiast cameras you can get for wildlife photography.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Camera For Wildlife Photography

    If the Nikon Z 6II is out of your price range, you'll get a lot of bang for your buck with a Micro Four Thirds camera like the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III. These are the perfect cameras for wildlife photography, thanks to their rugged builds, portable size, and sensor size. Of course, a smaller sensor impacts image quality and low-light ability to some extent, but the 2x crop factor means you can use physically smaller lenses with twice the focal reach of full-frame counterparts. On top of that, you get some of the best built-in stabilization on the market, making it easier to get clear shots at longer focal lengths without necessarily using a tripod.

    The E-M1 III can shoot at a blazing fast 15 fps when using the mechanical shutter, but switch over to silent shooting with the e-shutter, and you can shoot at up to 60 fps, great for more skittish wildlife. The autofocus is also quite good, although it isn't as effective as the Nikon's. All of that, combined with some of the best ergonomics of any camera we've tested, makes this one of the best cameras for birding and wildlife at this price point.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Camera For Wildlife Photography

    As far as mid-range options go, the Canon EOS 90D is well worth considering. This DSLR uses an APS-C sensor, meaning low-light capability will be a little more limited than a full-frame option like the Nikon Z 6II. However, it still has a lot to offer for the price, and that sensor has a higher resolution than many of its APS-C counterparts, giving you a bit more leeway to crop your photos. It can shoot at a quick 11 fps max burst rate, though that drops to seven fps when using continuous tracking AF. While its AF system isn't as fast as mirrorless alternatives, it still does a very good job tracking moving subjects.

    You don't get IBIS with this model, unfortunately. The buffer isn't all that deep, but there are some excellent DSLR lenses out there for Canon's EF/EF-S mount, and they won't run you as much as full-frame mirrorless options. The camera's also well-built, weather-sealed, and feels great in the hand, making for a great all-around shooting experience.

    See our review

  4. Best Budget Camera For Wildlife Photography

    Shooting wildlife on a budget can be tricky, considering how quickly the cost of long zoom lenses can add up. That's why a Micro Four Thirds option like the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a fantastic entry-level choice for wildlife photography. As a result of the crop factor, you get longer focal reach out of physically smaller lenses, and there are plenty of affordable lens options available for the Micro Four Thirds system.

    The camera is also just a great deal that offers a ton of value for its price, especially if you're just starting. It's lightweight, portable, and features a five-axis IBIS system that'll help you stabilize shots at longer focal lengths. It can also shoot at up to 15 fps in silent mode, so you can fire off extended bursts without scaring away your subjects. Topped off with solid battery life and a decent AF system, this little camera is hard to beat for budding wildlife photographers and those on a tighter budget.

    See our review

  5. Best Bridge Camera For Wildlife Photography

    If you don't want to carry around a bulky kit full of different lenses, a bridge camera can be a good all-in-one solution, and the Sony RX10 IV is the best of the best when it comes to bridge cameras. You naturally won't get the same level of image quality or sharpness that you would with an interchangeable-lens option like those mentioned above. However, it does have a stacked one-inch sensor that puts it above the typical bridge camera. It also has a versatile built-in lens that can reach a max focal length of 600mm, giving you plenty of range to work with for far-off critters.

    On top of that, it has a good autofocus system to track moving wildlife and can shoot at a blazing fast 24 fps. It's also excellently constructed, with a weather-sealed body to give you some peace of mind in adverse weather, and it has a ton of customization options to tailor the shooting experience to your preferences. While interchangeable-lens cameras are the way to go if image quality is your top priority, the convenience of having such a long zoom lens in an all-in-one package makes this a great option for birding and hiking enthusiasts.

    See our review

  6. Best Budget Bridge Camera For Wildlife Photography

    If you like the convenience of a built-in lens but don't want to spend quite as much on a bridge camera, the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 is one of the best budget bridge cameras you can get. It has an even smaller sensor than the Sony RX10 IV, so image quality isn't anything to write home about, but as a result, it does have a zoom range twice as long as the Sony's, so this is a great option for sheer zoom length.

    The plasticky build quality and low-resolution viewfinder leave a lot to be desired, but looking past its exterior, the camera comes loaded with features that make it a great value buy at this price point. It can shoot at a respectable 10 fps, has a surprisingly effective AF system, and lens stabilization to help when shooting very zoomed-in (you'll still likely need a tripod at longer focal lengths). Beyond that, it's also simple and easy to use, making this a good choice for the casual wildlife shooter.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Canon EOS R6: The Canon EOS R6 is a highly versatile full-frame mirrorless camera that's even more comfortable than the Nikon Z 6II and has a faster maximum shooting speed of 18 fps. It also has a remarkable 6072 advertised autofocus detection points. However, it's more expensive and lacks a CFexpress card slot, consequently taking longer to clear its image buffer. See our review
  • Nikon COOLPIX P1000: The Nikon COOLPIX P1000 is a bridge camera with an astonishing 24 to 3000mm focal length range, far out-zooming both the Sony RX10 IV and the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80. Beyond the gimmick of its zoom lens, it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of comfort, portability, and autofocus performance. See our review
  • Nikon D780: The Nikon D780 is a fantastic high-end DSLR. It uses a hybrid AF system that uses similar technology when shooting in Live View as the Nikon Z 6II. You also get a significantly longer battery life. However, it's much bulkier than its mirrorless counterpart and has a slower max burst rate. See our review
  • Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III: The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is the mid-range option in Olympus's Micro Four Thirds lineup, sitting between the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III. It offers excellent IBIS and a more portable camera system. However, at this price point, the Canon EOS 90D offers better autofocus and faster continuous shooting. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Oct 05, 2022: Overhauled article to align more closely with user needs and expectations; cleaned up intro and Notable Mentions.

  2. Apr 05, 2022: Removed the Sony RX100 VII.

  3. Jan 05, 2022: Verified that picks still represent the best choices for their given categories.

  4. Nov 10, 2021: Checked picks for accuracy and availability; no change to recommendations.

  5. Oct 20, 2021: Checked accuracy and availability of picks; no change to recommendations.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cameras for nature photography for most people to buy, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).

If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our camera reviews, ranked by their suitability for sports and wildlife photography. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your final selection.