Photo by Laya Clode on Unsplash
So, you love wildlife, you love nature, and you love photography. Wildlife photography seems like a no-brainer, right? Grab your best nature camera, strap on your hiking boots, hit the trails, and take some stunning photographs.
You don’t even need to be a professional. Anyone with an affinity for the wonders of nature can embark on a journey of self-discovery and wildlife photography.
Imagine yourself perched on the edge of a cliff snapping shots of eagles as they soar overhead, or standing in the dripping jungle while you photograph the monkeys swinging in the trees.
This may sound like a far-fetched dream, but it’s completely within your grasp. All you need is a bit of time, a fair budget, the desire to explore and take beautiful photos of the animal kingdom, and of course, the best camera for nature and wildlife photography.
To help you get started on your journey into the wild, we have put together a list of the five best cameras for wildlife photography, including the best camera for wildlife photography beginners, the overall best wildlife camera, and the best affordable camera for wildlife photography.
The Best Cameras For Nature & Wildlife Photography
1. Pentax K-70 DSLR Camera
The Pentax K-70 DSLR camera has to be the best point and shoot camera for wildlife photography available today. The K-70 comes out of the box ready to capture all the stunning wildlife images you can handle. It has an amazing control system and a sturdy grip that is both comfortable and ergonomic in any size of hand.
One of the big selling features with the K-70 is that it is fully weatherproof and dustproof. No more stress about getting your camera wet with rain, moist with snow, or burdened by dust. Shoot animals from the Arctic to the Sahara with this robust machine.
There are more advantages to the K-70. For example, it has a feature that dramatically reduces shake. This means you can take crisp and clear photographs from the window of a jeep or car. No more blur, which is especially handy for the adventurer with shaky hands.
The camera boasts a 6-FPS shooting rate, which will produce some rich pictures of natural landscapes. Lastly, this unit comes complete with a special O-GPS feature, allowing you to snag pictures of the stars’ movements.
- Weather & dustproof
- 6 frames per second
- High resolution of 24.2 megapixels
- LCD screen tilts to give unique angles of shooting
- Anti-vibrational system w/o blur
- Excellent point and shoot for adventurers
- The camera is quite large
- There are not many autofocus points
2. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR Camera
The EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR is without a doubt the best Canon camera for wildlife photography. It has never been easier to capture striking images of animals than with the EOS 5D, thanks to its precision autofocus and 61 AF points.
This thing won’t only capture lazy animals, but will also snap action shots of quick-moving creatures in their natural habitat with professional accuracy. For the price tag of the 5D, that’s not a bad deal. After all, this is a full-frame DSLR camera, so of course, it has an impressive area for target tracking. Even more impressive is the 5D’s ability to capture animal photos in light-sensitive situations with uncanny speed.
The image sensor of the EOS 5D works in sync with the DIGIC 6+ processor from Canon to produce a whopping 30.4 megapixels. This means your photos are going to have amazing contrast and sharpness. Think bright yellows and vibrant reds. You’ll practically see the bugs crawling inside the fur of the monkeys your shooting! You’ll see every scratch and every notch on that turtle’s shell! The camera even shoots videos in professional 4K ultra high definition at both 30 frames and 24 frames per second.
- 2” Touch-screen LCD for quick operation
- Shoots regular HD and 4K UHD
- Built-in GPS for location data
- NFC + Wi-Fi capable
- Impressive 30.4 megapixels
- 61 autofocus points
- Great for fast-moving animals
- HDMI output is only 1080p
- Autofocus settings are tedious and confusing
- ITR tracking not as great as other cameras
3. Nikon D500 Digital SLR Camera
The Nikon D500 is unmatched. This is by far the best camera for wildlife photography on our list. You would be hard-pressed to find a list of great cameras without the D500 on it. Not only can you take phenomenal panorama shots with this camera, capturing entire landscapes from atop cliffs or mountainsides, but you can also get a very powerful zoom-in snapshot of a slumbering bear or a resting mountain lion.
Because of the ridiculously high ISO rating, you can also use this camera for nightly shooting. Think bats, marsupials, and stunning nature shots that involve the stars and moon. You’re not going to get a more versatile camera than the Nikon D500. It’s just not going to happen!
The megapixels are a little lower than with some other cameras, coming in at only 20.9 MP, but that’s still a lot. You get the added advantage of having a compact and easy-to-carry camera with a lightweight lens. Even when using a telephoto lens, you are still going to be quick enough to capture those lightning-fast shots, keeping you on your toes for the suddenly charging rhino or galloping gazelle.
The Multi-CAM 20k autofocus, added with the EXPEED 5 Processor, added still with the 153 AF points, makes sure quick-moving shots are never missed or blurred. If you can click the button, the D500 can take the photo.
- Quick reading of images
- XQD memory technology
- EXPEED 5 processor + Multi-CAM 20k autofocus system
- 153 AF points
- Frame rate of 10 frames per second
- Durable construction w/ magnesium alloy + carbon fiber
- Resistant to water and dust
- 2” LCD tilting touchscreen viewfinder
- Fairly expensive
- FK UHD video @ 30 frames per second
- Connectivity with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
- High ISO rating
- The Snapbridge transfer mode is not reliable
- The video autofocus could be improved
4. Nikon D7200 DSLR Camera
When we’re talking affordable quality, we’re talking about the Nikon D7200 DSLR camera. This beauty is one of the most affordable cameras for wildlife photography. It comes with the advanced EXPEED 4 image processor to give you excellent image quality with minimal noise. This is helped with the 24.2 MP sensor. While the D7200 only offers 51 AF, it is still going to catch moving animals, like birds, dogs, cats, or even cheetahs with precise sharpness.
This unit comes with dual SD card capability for oodles of storage space. You can shoot video in full HD at 60 frames per second. You can also get pretty clear shots of nature in low light thanks to the impressive ISO rating, which is expandable to an amazing 102,400. This is a great camera for those starting out in animal photography. Take photos at night, in the sun, or anywhere else thanks to its many features.
- Dual SD card slot
- High ISO rating
- 2 megapixels
- EXPEED 4 image processor
- Great low-light photos
- Overall good quality at an affordable price
- High-class entry-level camera
- Wi-Fi & NFC built-in for easy transfers
- HD video recording @ 60 fps
- The fixed screen is basic
- The screen is not touch-capable
- The focusing is known to be slow
5. Canon EOS 1DX Mark II
The EOS 1DX Mark II from Canon is known among photography enthusiasts to be one of the snappiest DSLR cameras on the market. That makes this the ideal camera for bird watchers.
With a full frame, 20.2-megapixel CMOS sensor, the EOS 1DX gives super-fast signal reading. Mix this with its dual image processors and impressive autofocus, you are looking at vibrant, high-quality shots of all kinds of animals, including birds. Even hummingbirds can’t escape the 170 shot burst rate of the 1DX. That’s 170 crystal clear photos of your favorite bird, groundhog, lizard, or any other animal!
The EOS 1DX Mark II offers 61 AF points, which results in great subject tracking. This includes subject tracking in low-light areas thanks to the Mark II’s full-frame sensor and gapless microlenses. Darker areas, less noise, crisper images with high ISO speeds. The ISO can be expanded to a nearly unthinkable 409,600.
Then we have manual ISO, fully auto ISO – the customizability of this camera is astonishing. Mix in the 4K UHD videos at a constant 60 frames per second and you have a truly professional camera for the most rugged outdoors person. You can even track your wildlife shots with the Mark II’s geotagging feature.
- Geotagging with built-in GPS
- ISO expandable to 409,600
- 4K UHD video @ 60 fps + Full HD video @ 120 fps
- 2” touch panel
- Strong and durable housing
- Carbon fiber blades for the shutter
- 61 AF points
- 2 MP
- Great in low light
- 170 burst rate
- Touchscreen technology is limited
- No quick menu for video mode
Capturing high-quality photographs of animals in the wild has never been easier thanks to these technologically advanced cameras.
Remember when making your purchase that for wildlife, you need a camera that offers good resolution, quick shooting speeds, topnotch performance in low light, and useful subject tracking (animals do tend to move).
You should also consider investing in a telephoto lens, as this will help you with skittish animals from a distance. Depending on how tough your environment is, you can choose between a lightweight mirrorless camera (better for hiking and quick shots) or a heavier DSLR, which are designed to work in most situations and are more seriously equipped with features.
All in all, any of the five cameras listed above are going to work well for amateurs, beginners, and professionals. All these cameras will capture moving animals, crawling insects, and flying birds. Bats in the night or deer in the day, any of these cameras will get the job done.
In the end, it comes down to budget and personal preference. Whatever your journey, we wish you luck!
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