Smartphones have made it easy to get quick snapshots of wildlife while you're out and about, but for those who are serious about wildlife photography, a dedicated camera with a zoom lens will take your wildlife photos to the next level. There are a few factors to consider when choosing a camera for nature photography. Fast, continuous shooting speeds allow you to capture clear stills of 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, easily frightened animals, while quicker animals like small birds require more responsive, accurate autofocus systems.
Thankfully, we've done some of the work of narrowing down your options. We've bought and tested over 100 cameras in our lab, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best cameras for wildlife photography. If you're interested in a range of photography styles, you can look at our best cameras for general photography. If you're just starting out with photography, you might also want to check out the best beginner cameras we've tested. Otherwise, you can also see our overall picks for the best cameras on the market.
The OM SYSTEM OM-1 is the best camera for nature photography that we've tested. Going with a Micro Four Thirds (MFT) camera like this has a few benefits for wildlife photography, notably a more portable size and fantastic image stabilization. Compared to full-frame models like the Canon EOS R6 Mark II below, you can use physically smaller lenses to get longer equivalent focal lengths, meaning you'll have a more compact kit even when using telephoto lenses to photograph far-off wildlife like birds. On top of that, the OM-1's five-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS) works incredibly well with stabilized lenses to ensure you get steady shots at longer focal lengths.
The camera also has a quick burst rate, including a pre-burst 'Pro Capture' mode that ensures you won't miss a critical moment. Plus, it's rugged and compact, with a weather-sealed body and excellent ergonomics. It has a solid battery life for a mirrorless camera, too. The biggest downside is that its AF tracking isn't the most reliable, so it may not be the best choice for very fast-moving subjects. If autofocus tracking is a priority, consider the Fujifilm X-H2S. Its AF is a bit more effective than the OM SYSTEM, and its stacked sensor is well-suited to quick subjects, but it's more expensive and less portable.
For those who do a lot of wildlife photography at dusk or dawn, a full-frame camera is a great choice, especially if you don't mind carrying a bulkier kit. The Canon EOS R6 Mark II is one of the best nature photography cameras if you need the low-light advantage of a full-frame sensor. It does a fantastic job managing noise in low light and features a best-in-class autofocus system that can reliably track moving subjects even in trickier lighting conditions.
Beyond that, it checks all the boxes for wildlife photography, with burst shooting at up to almost 40 fps when using the e-shutter or up to 12 fps with the mechanical shutter. Plus, it has an excellent in-body image stabilization system and a great battery life. The RF-mount still has a relatively limited selection of lenses, though you can always adapt older EF lenses. The Nikon Z 6II is another excellent full-frame option if you're looking for a slightly cheaper camera body. It has a quick mechanical burst rate and amazing ergonomics, though its autofocus isn't quite as reliable as the AF on the R6 Mark II.
While the OM SYSTEM OM-1 is hard to beat if you need something rugged and compact, an APS-C option like the Canon EOS R7 has its own advantages and comes at a lower price point. With a remarkably quick 15 fps mechanical burst rate and a highly sophisticated autofocus system, the R7 is tailor-made for wildlife shooters. It has a very solid battery life, as well, and feels great in the hand. It also has a fantastic IBIS system for steadier handheld shots.
Telephoto lenses for the R7 are generally less portable than Micro Four Thirds options. However, they're still typically smaller than full-frame alternatives with equivalent fields of view, allowing you to shoot far-off subjects without too much bulk. Ultimately, if you don't need the portability of a Micro Four Thirds kit, this is one of the best cameras for birding and wildlife at its price point. The Sony α6700 is another fantastic upper mid-range choice, with one of the best AF systems on the market and a very wide range of native and third-party lens options. However, it has worse ergonomics, a smaller viewfinder, and a slower max burst rate.
As far as mid-range options go, the Canon EOS 90D is well worth considering. Like the Canon EOS R7, it has a higher resolution sensor than most APS-C cameras, giving you more leeway to crop your photos. It can also shoot at a respectable 11 fps burst rate, though that drops to seven fps when using continuous tracking AF. Although its autofocus system isn't as fast as the autofocus on newer, mirrorless alternatives, it still tracks moving subjects well overall.
The biggest trade-off is that you don't get IBIS for steadier handheld shots. It also doesn't have the largest image buffer, which can slow you down when shooting extended bursts. That said, Canon's EF/EF-S mount includes some excellent lenses, and they won't run you as much as full-frame mirrorless options. On top of that, the camera feels well-built, is weather-sealed, and has comfortable ergonomics, making for an excellent all-around shooting experience.
Shooting wildlife on a budget can be tricky, considering how quickly the cost of zoom and telephoto lenses can add up. If you're on a tighter budget, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a fantastic entry-level choice for wildlife photography. Like the OM SYSTEM OM-1, it's an MFT camera, so there's a well-established stable of lenses to choose from, and they're typically smaller and give you longer equivalent focal lengths, which is good for capturing far-off subjects.
Beyond that, the camera is lightweight and portable, and it's one of the few budget cameras to feature five-axis in-body image stabilization, which will help stabilize handheld shots taken at longer focal lengths. It can also shoot at up to 15 fps with its e-shutter in silent mode, so you can fire off extended bursts without scaring away more skittish animals. Add in a solid battery life and a decent AF system, and this little camera is hard to beat for beginners or wildlife photographers on a budget.
If you prefer the convenience of an all-in-one camera, the Sony RX10 IV is one of the best bridge cameras on the market. Naturally, you won't get the same image quality or dynamic range as with an interchangeable lens option. However, it does have a stacked 1-inch type sensor that puts it above your average bridge camera. The sensor is bigger than most bridge cam sensors—resulting in better-than-average image quality—and its stacked design also means a faster readout speed, allowing for quicker burst shooting at up to 24 fps and reducing rolling shutter distortion.
Its built-in lens is also quite versatile, with a max full-frame equivalent focal length of 600mm, giving you plenty of range for far-off critters. On top of that, it has a good autofocus system to track moving wildlife, and its well-constructed, weather-sealed body gives you some peace of mind in adverse weather conditions. 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.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best wildlife cameras 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.