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 other 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, if you're going to be shooting at night with a tripod, you can shoot at lower ISOs with longer exposure times. On the flip side, if you're shooting handheld, built-in image stabilization might be necessary, allowing you to get clear shots at slower shutter speeds. Above all, you should 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 75 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best cameras for low light. If you're looking for a general-purpose photography camera, you might prefer to check out our list of the best cameras for photography. If you're more interested in wildlife photography, take a look at our best wildlife cameras. Or, maybe you're just looking for the best cameras we've tested, period. Either way, you're sure to find something to suit your needs.
The Canon EOS R6 is one of the best low-light cameras we've tested. It can handle the toughest of lighting conditions, whether you're shooting wildlife at night or at events like weddings where light may be limited. In-body image stabilization (IBIS) means you can get longer exposures without a tripod when shooting still subjects. However, the camera also performs incredibly well at high ISOs, meaning you can get low-light shots of faster subjects with minimal noise. Top it off with an excellent autofocus system that can detect and track subjects even in very low light (down to -6.5 EV, according to Canon), and you've got a very versatile low-light camera.
Canon also has plenty of high-quality lenses available that can open to a very wide aperture. Ultimately, you get what you pay for with this camera. It's super well-built, with a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body that can put up with a ton of use, along with plenty of command dials and well-laid-out controls for an easy-breezy shooting experience.
You'd never guess that the Panasonic LUMIX DC-S5 was Panasonic's first full-frame offering. Coming out of left field in 2020, this upper mid-range camera gives the big three camera brands a run for their money. While Panasonic's autofocus still leaves much to be desired compared to Canon or Sony, especially when recording video, this is a fantastic low-light camera with noise handling that's right up there with the Canon EOS R6.
It's also an excellent option if you're interested in video. It can record 4k / 60 fps (with a crop) and captures high-quality video files with many recording formats to choose from. Video quality stays great when shooting in low light, with plenty of sharpness and detail. Overall, if you don't mind the less reliable autofocus, this is a great low-light option for the price.
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 big 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. All in all, 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.
While a camera with a bigger sensor will make it easier to shoot in low light, don't count out Micro Four Thirds 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.
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 very 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.
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 tons of 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.
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.
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'.
Sep 02, 2022: Overhauled article structure and picks to better reflect market conditions and user needs. Also updated intro and Notable Mentions.
Jan 11, 2022: Reviewed article for accuracy with no change to recommendations.
Dec 21, 2021: Reviewed picks for accuracy and availability.
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.