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The 6 Best Cameras For Low Light - Spring 2023 Reviews

Best Cameras For Low-Light Photography

When it comes to low-light photography, generally speaking, the bigger the sensor, the better. While full-frame cameras are typically best, some crop sensor cameras are still very capable in low light and offer advantages like portability and focal reach, so it's all about weighing your needs. Thankfully, modern digital cameras have been getting better and better over the years at being able to shoot at higher ISO sensitivities with less and less noise, making it easier than ever to capture clear, sharp photos in low light. Of course, when shooting at night with a tripod, you can shoot at lower ISOs with longer exposure times. When shooting handheld, built-in image stabilization might be necessary, allowing you to get clear shots at slower shutter speeds. Above all, consider your own ergonomic preferences, budget, and the kind of lenses you'll use. A lens with a wider maximum aperture will let in more light and let you shoot in darker conditions using lower ISO settings for a sharper image.

We've bought and tested over 80 cameras in our lab, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best low-light cameras. If you're looking for more general-purpose recommendations, you can also see our list of the best cameras for photography. If, on the other hand, you're more interested in other kinds of photography, you can take a look at our best wildlife cameras or best cameras for landscape photography. Or, maybe you're just looking for the best cameras we've tested, period. In any case, you're sure to find something to suit your needs.

  1. Best Camera For Low Light

    The Canon EOS R6 Mark II is the best camera we've tested for low light. It offers notable improvements over the Canon EOS R6, including a higher-resolution sensor and improved video specs. The R6 Mark II performs remarkably well in low light, with fantastic noise handling at high ISO settings.

    That aside, the autofocus system is incredibly effective and works well even in trickier lighting. It also has a great in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system to help you shoot at slower shutter speeds handheld. That said, if you want more third-party lens options, the Sony α7 IV is another top contender with a wider selection of lenses, although its ergonomics leave something to be desired.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Camera For Low Light

    If you're looking for something cheaper than the Canon EOS R6 and can do without some of the more advanced video features on that camera, then the Nikon Z 6II is a fantastic choice for low-light photography. This enthusiast model has a 24.5-megapixel sensor with amazing noise handling in low-light scenarios. Like the R6, it has IBIS to help you slow down your shutter speed when there's less available light.

    It also has excellent ergonomics, with well-laid-out controls and an intuitive user interface with plenty of customization options that make it easy to shoot with. That said, its autofocus system isn't quite as reliable as the Canon's and is a little slower to focus in dimmer lighting, but overall, it's still very effective. There are some excellent lenses out there for Nikon's Z system, and you always have the option to use adapted F-mount DSLR lenses as well.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Camera For Low Light

    If you don't want to spend quite as much, going with an APS-C model like the Fujifilm X-S10 can be a great way to save money. The X-S10 is one of the best all-around APS-C cameras we've tested. The advantage it has over competitors like the Nikon Z 50 is its built-in image stabilization, which can help when shooting at slower shutter speeds. On top of that, the JPEGs that come out of this camera are fantastic. Noise handling is also great across the board for a crop-sensor camera.

    Another reason to go with this camera is the excellent quality of Fuji lenses. There are plenty of wide-aperture options if you're willing to spend a little more, but even the kit lens options are great. Overall, there's a lot to love about the X-S10, and it's a blast to shoot with, making it one of the best low-light mirrorless cameras with an APS-C sensor.

    See our review

  4. Best Budget Camera For Low Light

    While a camera with a bigger sensor will make it easier to shoot in low light, don't count out Micro Four Thirds (MFT) options entirely, especially if you're looking for something more affordable. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is the best budget camera we've tested for low light, thanks to an excellent IBIS system and a very reasonable price tag.

    While it has limits, especially with autofocus, this is still a great option for beginners. It's also incredibly portable, meaning it's great for travel photos or vlogging. There are plenty of lens options available for the MFT system, and they tend to be more affordable than larger-sensor options. So, even though you won't get the best noise handling with this camera compared to pricier options, this is still a great budget and beginner camera for low light.

    See our review

  5. Best DSLR Camera For Low Light

    If you don't need IBIS and don't mind a heavier DSLR, the Nikon D780 is a fantastic low-light camera that's slightly more affordable than the Canon EOS R6. It's an enthusiast camera that marries the best features that DSLRs offer with on-sensor phase detection AF borrowed from the mirrorless Nikon Z 6, giving it a ton of versatility. Beyond that, its backside-illuminated sensor performs remarkably well in low light, producing photos with minimal noise at high ISO levels.

    It's less portable than a mirrorless model like the R6, but on the upside, you get much longer battery life, plus an entire stable of Nikon DSLR lenses to choose from. It's built like a tank and weather-sealed, so it can put up with extensive use and withstand some of the elements. All in all, it's a fantastic camera for low-light photography if you're shooting faster subjects and don't need built-in sensor stabilization.

    See our review

  6. Best Camera For Low Light Video

    If you're more interested in video than photography, the Panasonic LUMIX GH5s is a great option. This Micro Four Thirds camera is designed specifically for low-light video work, taking the best video features from the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 (the predecessor to the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II we've tested) and adding in a lower-resolution sensor optimized for low light. This camera is a videography powerhouse, giving you many recording formats/codecs to choose from, along with different resolution options like DCI (Cinema) 4k and anamorphic 4k to get a more cinematic look, not to mention unlimited recording times.

    That said, you'll get better low-light performance with a full-frame option like the Sony α7S, though the current iteration, the Sony α7S III, will cost you a small fortune compared to the Panasonic. The Panasonic will be enough for most people to shoot videos or films in dim lighting conditions. You also get a more portable system overall, with smaller and generally cheaper Micro Four Thirds lenses. Unfortunately, the Panasonic doesn't have built-in image stabilization, so you'll need to use an external stabilizer to get the smoothest footage.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Fujifilm X-T4: The Fujifilm X-T4 is a great upper-mid-range option with tons of versatility and portability. It's one of the best APS-C options for low-light photography, with even better video specs than the more affordable Fujifilm X-S10. However, the Nikon Z 6II still takes the cake in this price range thanks to its full-frame sensor. See our review
  • Panasonic LUMIX DC-S5: The Panasonic LUMIX DC-S5 is a great full-frame option for low-light video and photography. It has fantastic noise handling and advanced video features that match the Canon EOS R6 at a price that rivals the Nikon Z 6II. L-mount lenses can be expensive, and the camera uses slower contrast-detection autofocus. See our review
  • PENTAX K-3 Mark III: The PENTAX K-3 Mark III is a premium APS-C DSLR camera with high ISO performance that practically rivals some full-frame cameras. However, it's expensive, and its autofocus system isn't as reliable as other DSLRs that fall around this price point, like the Nikon D780. See our review
  • Sony α6600: The Sony α6600 is an APS-C camera that performs well in low light. Like the Fujifilm X-S10, it includes IBIS for more stable handheld shooting. However, it's more expensive and has slightly worse noise handling. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Apr 17, 2023: Replaced the Canon EOS R6 with the Canon EOS R6 Mark II as the 'Best Camera For Low Light'.

  2. Feb 10, 2023: Moved the Panasonic LUMIX DC-S5 to Notable Mentions and replaced it with the Nikon Z 6II as the 'Best Upper Mid-Range Camera For Low Light'.

  3. Dec 14, 2022: Renamed the Nikon D780 as the 'Best DSLR Camera For Low Light' and shifted the Panasonic LUMIX DC-S5 up to the 'Upper Mid-Range' spot. Then, replaced the Nikon Z 50 with the Fujifilm X-S10 as the 'Mid-Range' pick and added the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV as the 'Budget' pick.

  4. Nov 01, 2022: Moved the Nikon Z 6II to Notable Mentions and replaced it with the Nikon D780 as the 'Best Upper Mid-Range Camera For Low Light'.

  5. Sep 02, 2022: Overhauled article structure and picks to better reflect market conditions and user needs. Also updated intro and Notable Mentions.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cameras for night photography and low-light shooting 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'd like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all of our camera reviews, arranged according to the criteria required for low-light 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 selection.