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The 5 Best Cameras For Wildlife Photography - Winter 2023 Reviews

Best Cameras For Wildlife Photography

Smartphones have made it pretty easy to snap photos of wildlife while you're out and about. However, for those who are serious about wildlife photography, a dedicated camera with a zoom lens will take your wildlife photography 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 animals that are easily frightened, while quicker animals like small birds require more responsive, accurate autofocus systems.

Thankfully, we've done some of the work of narrowing down the options for you. We've bought and tested over 75 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best cameras for nature photography and wildlife. If you're interested in a range of photography styles, you can take a look at our best cameras for general photography. If you're just starting out, you might also want to check out our recommendations for the best beginner cameras. Otherwise, you can also see our picks for the best cameras, period.

  1. Best Camera For Wildlife Photography

    The Nikon Z 6II is the best camera for wildlife photography that we've tested. 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 very good autofocus system that can track moving subjects effectively, and 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. Four Thirds cameras are excellent options for wildlife photography, thanks to their portability and typically sturdy build quality. Of course, a smaller sensor impacts image quality and low-light capability, 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.

    This camera 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.

    Unfortunately, the trade-off here is that you don't get IBIS for steadier handheld shots. It doesn't have the deepest buffer, either. That said, 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 lens options available for the Micro Four Thirds system.

    Beyond that, the camera is lightweight and portable, and it's one of the few cameras in this price range to feature five-axis image stabilization, which will help 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. Add in solid battery life and a decent AF system, and this little camera is hard to beat for beginner wildlife photographers on a 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. You naturally won't get the same level of image quality or sharpness 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 it can shoot at a blazing fast 24 fps. Its well-constructed, weather-sealed body gives you some peace of mind in adverse weather, and it has a ton of customization options to tailor the shooting experience to your preference. 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

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 an even more accurate AF system. However, it's more expensive and lacks a CFexpress card slot, so it takes 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 the Sony RX10 IV. That said, 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 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, the Canon EOS 90D offers better autofocus and faster continuous shooting. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Jan 31, 2023: Removed the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80.

  2. Dec 02, 2022: Reviewed article for clarity and accuracy; no change to recommendations.

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

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

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

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.