The 7 Best Wildlife Photography Cameras Today

Written by Alan
Published: July 15, 2022
© Lamberrto/Shutterstock.com

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What’s the most breathtaking picture of wildlife you’ve ever taken? Was it a majestic bird in flight around your area or a wandering family of polar bears in the Alaskan Arctic? Perhaps, it could have been a herd of zebras on the Serengeti plains of Tanzania

Taking pictures of wildlife is an intense form of photography. It’s about capturing split-second reactions and patiently waiting for an animal to show up in a perfect location or act in a way that evokes emotion.

One of the distinguishing features of wildlife photography is that you can’t alter the course of nature. You’re powerless in the face of nature and have no control over the weather or how animals interact with their natural habitat.

Unlike humans, you can’t tell wild animals to smile, make a cute face or move to a better-lit area. Wild animals will act in the way they want, but you have to be prepared to take the best shots possible. Patience is the secret here; it takes a long time to capture awe-inspiring wildlife pictures.

While waiting, you adapt to the circumstances, study geography and the weather, observe the behaviors of the animals, and develop an understanding of their lives. As with all forms of photography, the longer you spend with your subjects, the more likely it is that you can tell better stories with your pictures. More than anything else, your photos will reflect your newly found knowledge about wild subjects. 

Today, with cameras getting more and more sophisticated, photographers have a wide selection to choose from based on their interests. Choosing the best camera for wildlife photography can be challenging because it differs slightly from other forms of photography. Sure, there are budget-friendly cameras available, but you must be more picky than usual to find one that produces spectacular results.

Based on extensive research, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the best wildlife photography cameras in 2022.

  1. Sony Alpha 1 Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless Camera
  2. Sony Alpha 1 Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless Camera
    • 50-megapixel stacked CMOS sensor
    • The sensor can sync with flashes up to 1/400 sec.
    • 759 autofocus points cover 92% of the image area
    • Can capture 155 RAW images at 30 frames per second
    • Weather-sealing protects it from the elements
    Check Amazon
  3. Nikon D500 DX-Format Digital SLR (Body Only), Base
  4. Nikon D500 DX-Format Digital SLR (Body Only), Base
    • Features a metal, weather-sealed body
    • 1.5xAPS-C sensor
    • The 1.5x crop factor extends your telephoto lenses' reach
    • Shoots 10 frames per second
    • Utilizes153 autofocus points
    Check Amazon
  5. OLYMPUS OM-D E-M1X
  6. OLYMPUS OM-D E-M1X
    • Built to perform even in severe weather conditions
    • Can shoot unlimited JPGs and RAW shots
    • Its autofocus system is quick and responsive, which makes it ideal for shooting wildlife photos
    • Features twin card slots, which reduces the chance of card failure
    • User-friendly
    Check Amazon
  7. SPYPOINT SOLAR-DARK Trail Camera, Brown
  8. SPYPOINT SOLAR-DARK Trail Camera, Brown
    • Solar-powered
    • Can run on six AA batteries or a rechargeable lithium-ion battery as well
    • 12MP resolution produces good images
    • Can detect subjects up to 110 feet away
    • Allows you to create time-lapse movies and 720P video
    Check Amazon
  9. Bushnell 30MP CORE Trail Camera, Dual Sensor, No Glow, 119977C
  10. Bushnell 30MP CORE Trail Camera, Dual Sensor, No Glow, 119977C
    • This is an excellent trail camera
    • Activated by your subject's movement, which allows you to take closeup photos without scaring them away
    • Features two sensors: one for day and one for night
    • Waterproof and durable
    • Records 1080p video at 60 frames per second
    Check Amazon
  11. Canon EOS R3 Mirrorless Camera with Accessories
  12. Canon EOS R3 Mirrorless Camera with Accessories
    • Features mirrorless technology
    • Stacked sensor
    • 30 frames per second in electronic shutter mode
    • Sealed against weather and dust
    • This is the top camera in our round-up for incredibly sharp videos, including slow motion
    Check Amazon
  13. Panasonic LUMIX FZ2500 4K Point and Shoot Camera
  14. Panasonic LUMIX FZ2500 4K Point and Shoot Camera
    • Performs well in low-light conditions
    • Its 24-480mm equivalent built-in lens works well for wide-angle, landscape, and closeup shots
    • Features 4K 30p video
    • Lightweight and well-balanced
    • The function buttons are conveniently placed
    Check Amazon

1. Best Overall: Sony A1

The Sony A1 camera is our top pick for the best wildlife photography camera. With its 50-megapixel stacked CMOS sensor, this camera is an all-around powerhouse available to wildlife photographers when combined with one of Sony’s telephoto lenses. The sensor is useful if frequently used with flash because it can sync with flashes up to 1/400 sec. 

The autofocus system has 759 autofocus points that cover 92% of the image area. Like a person, it can track animals by locking onto their eyes. Its electronic shutter can capture up to 155 RAW images at a speed of 30 frames per second. With such a large buffer, you can take numerous photos without worrying about your camera becoming slow.

The camera’s weather-sealing makes it resistant to bad weather, so you don’t need to worry as much about carrying around such an expensive piece of gear. It also performs well in low-light situations.

Best Overall
Sony Alpha 1 Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless Camera
  • 50-megapixel stacked CMOS sensor
  • The sensor can sync with flashes up to 1/400 sec.
  • 759 autofocus points cover 92% of the image area
  • Can capture 155 RAW images at 30 frames per second
  • Weather-sealing protects it from the elements
Check Amazon

2. Best Value for the Money: Nikon D500

When you consider its metal, weather-sealed body, and 1.5x APS-C sensor, you have a great camera for wildlife photography. The 1.5x crop factor will give your telephoto lenses, even more reach, allowing you to save some money and space in your camera bag.

The Nikon D500 is one of the only two options if you’re looking to purchase a Nikon DSLR for wildlife photography. While the D500 shoots at 10 frames per second,  the D7500 shoots at 8 frames. Those two extra frames per second may not seem like much, but they will be noticeable when trying to capture truly action-packed scenes.

Although it lacks the advanced features found in mirrorless cameras, such as face and animal detection, its autofocus system is still extremely strong. There are 153 autofocus points on the D500 compared to 51 on the D750.

The good color science is combined with a precise metering system and very well-managed noise. As such, the D500 is a cost-effective option for wildlife photographers as it produces quality images.

A long-time Nikon user expresses satisfaction with the Nikon D500 as being impressive for wildlife and sports photography. In their words, “Photos of wildlife are clear and good enough to print in a reasonable size. The 1080p recording is combined with Electronic VR, which works reasonably well, and the 4k is detailed.”

Best Value for the Money
Nikon D500 DX-Format Digital SLR (Body Only), Base
  • Features a metal, weather-sealed body
  • 1.5xAPS-C sensor
  • The 1.5x crop factor extends your telephoto lenses' reach
  • Shoots 10 frames per second
  • Utilizes153 autofocus points
Check Amazon

3. Best for Durability: Olympus OM-D E-M1X

One of the unique features of this camera is its ruggedness. Even in severe weather conditions, the OM-D E-M1X’s impressive buffer can shoot unlimited JPGs at 10 frames per second or up to 287 RAW frames at up to 60 frames per second. It also has a great dust-reduction system, which is helpful when changing lenses in less-than-ideal circumstances.

With its quick and responsive autofocus system, the OM-D E-M1X is useful for making quick decisions in response to moving wildlife and is a fantastic option for wildlife adventurers. Although the autofocus does decrease in subjects when the burst rate is too high.

Something else to think about is that this camera can’t really compete with a full-frame sensor in terms of noise. This means that the noise reduction processing has to work harder not to have so much noise with finer details.

Thanks to the MFT sensor, each lens you attach gets a 2x multiplier. What more does this camera offer? The twin card slots lessen the effects of card failure and two batteries can fit in the lower portrait grip.

According to one reviewer, the Olympus OM-D E-M1X is user-friendly. It also has a dual battery tray which is a thoughtful addition for a long day of photography.

Best for Durability
OLYMPUS OM-D E-M1X
  • Built to perform even in severe weather conditions
  • Can shoot unlimited JPGs and RAW shots
  • Its autofocus system is quick and responsive, which makes it ideal for shooting wildlife photos
  • Features twin card slots, which reduces the chance of card failure
  • User-friendly
Check Amazon

4. Best for Solar Power: Spypoint Solar Dark

When you’re out taking photos of wildlife, Spypoint thinks battery life should be the least of your worries. So, they designed the Solar Dark camera which uses solar energy to power your device. 

Not only can the camera be solar-powered, but it can also run on six AA batteries or a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Although the 12MP resolution is not very high, the images produced by the Solar Dark are still quite good as long as your expectations are reasonable. 

There are other features that enhance the appeal of the Solar Dark. They include time-lapse movies, 720P video, and the capability to detect subjects up to 110 feet away.

The Spypoint Solar Dark is “excellent in terms of solar, trigger speed, menu, and controls,” one user stated.

Best for Solar Power
SPYPOINT SOLAR-DARK Trail Camera, Brown
  • Solar-powered
  • Can run on six AA batteries or a rechargeable lithium-ion battery as well
  • 12MP resolution produces good images
  • Can detect subjects up to 110 feet away
  • Allows you to create time-lapse movies and 720P video
Check Amazon

5. Best for Day or Night: Bushnell Core DS No Glow

The Bushnell Core DS No Glow is a strong contender when you’re looking for the best trail camera for wildlife photography. A trail camera, as opposed to a regular camera, enables you to take up-close pictures of wildlife without worrying that you’ll scare them away. It’s activated by the movements of subjects. So, you don’t have to wait for that perfect moment when your wild subject approaches you. 

The Bushnell Core DS has two sensors, one designed for daytime shooting and the other for late-night wildlife photography.  Thanks to its incredibly durable waterproof build and AA batteries, you can confidently mount the camera outside, walk away from it and let it get the job done. 

It doesn’t stop there. The camera can also record 1080p video at an impressive 60 frames per second. If you’re willing to compromise on the jaw-dropping images you might shoot with a massive telephoto lens, you can use the Bushnell Core DS to get a different perspective of your subjects.

One user tried the Bushnell Core DS no glow camera for its detection circuit. They had this to say after 4 months of use. “The distance was exactly what I was looking for, and the photos and video are superb.”

Best for Day or Night
Bushnell 30MP CORE Trail Camera, Dual Sensor, No Glow, 119977C
  • This is an excellent trail camera
  • Activated by your subject's movement, which allows you to take closeup photos without scaring them away
  • Features two sensors: one for day and one for night
  • Waterproof and durable
  • Records 1080p video at 60 frames per second
Check Amazon

6. Premium Choice: Canon EOS R3

The Canon EOS R3 does a fantastic job in combining the good old DSLR appeal with next-gen mirrorless camera tech. With its stacked sensor and frame rate of 30 fps in electronic shutter mode, this camera distinguishes itself as a force to reckon with in wildlife photography. It is weather- and dust-sealed, and has both SD and CFExpress slots.

Besides the highly impressive autofocus, the EOS R3 is an undisputed champion when it comes to video quality. It can capture incredibly sharp video up to 6K RAW or 4K in 4:2:2 10-bit. Slow motion, up to 120 frames per second in Ultra HD, is also an option for wildlife filmmakers.

But, it doesn’t stop there. The EOS R3 is compatible with RF-mount lenses, which, despite being expensive, are currently the pinnacle of interchangeable lens image quality. Although the EVF (electronic viewfinder) could have done with some improvements from its predecessor the EOS R5

“This is the best camera I’ve ever had,” one user said of the Canon EOS R3. “When using the R3, the quick autofocus is immediately noticeable. The R3 finds and locks focus much more quickly, this will make capturing animals in motion much easier.”

Premium Choice
Canon EOS R3 Mirrorless Camera with Accessories
  • Features mirrorless technology
  • Stacked sensor
  • 30 frames per second in electronic shutter mode
  • Sealed against weather and dust
  • This is the top camera in our round-up for incredibly sharp videos, including slow motion
Check Amazon

7. Best for Affordability: Panasonic LUMIX FZ2500

The Panasonic Lumix FZ1000, which is still widely available, provides an impressive level of performance for its price. The camera was designed for those who enjoy videography and it offers more than enough functionality for a wildlife photographer.

With a 1-inch sensor and a native ISO range of up to 12,800 and an expanded range of 25,600, the FZ2500 performs well in low-light conditions. The powerful 16x optical zoom lens does its job. However, once you push the zoom past 170mm, the maximum aperture does drop quite a bit.

A 24-480mm equivalent built-in lens is useful for both wide-angle and up-close shots of wildlife and landscapes. The video features include a 4K 30p video that looks great and can also be used to extract high-quality stills.

According to verified users of the Panasonic LUMIX FZ2500, one of its apparent features is that it is lightweight. While the zoom of its inner lenses contributes to the balance, the function buttons are also strategically placed.

Best for Affordability
Panasonic LUMIX FZ2500 4K Point and Shoot Camera
  • Performs well in low-light conditions
  • Its 24-480mm equivalent built-in lens works well for wide-angle, landscape, and closeup shots
  • Features 4K 30p video
  • Lightweight and well-balanced
  • The function buttons are conveniently placed
Check Amazon

Choosing the Best: What to Look For

Autofocus

The accuracy and speed of autofocus are two of the most important aspects of a wildlife photography camera. Animals can appear in the most unexpected places and react quickly. It is critical to have a camera that can quickly identify a subject and set the autofocus of the lens to the perfect angle.

Lens

When photographing wildlife, telephoto lenses are essential because you usually have to keep a distance from the subject. Because of this, picking a camera system with a wide range of compatible telephoto lenses is essential. Since you won’t have the option of changing your lens, choose a point-and-shoot or bridge camera that has a wide zoom range.

Weather-Sealing and Build Quality

More often than not, wildlife photographers find themselves caught in unfavorable weather conditions such as rainstorms, strong winds, or dust storms. As such, it’s important to choose a camera with weather-sealed switchgear and buttons, as well as sealing at the point where the camera body and lens meet.

Buffer Capacity

The buffer depth of a camera is the number of non-stop, continuous shots a camera is able to take. A larger buffer translates into more shots, a longer burst, and a higher likelihood of capturing the desired moment.

Best Wildlife Photography Cameras: Pros And Cons Compared

Best Overall

Pros!Cons!
It can record videos in 8K and 4KFast autofocus systems.It’s relatively expensive. 
Real-time tracking of subjects.

Best for Solar Power

Pros!Cons!
It’s solar-poweredThe resolution stands at 12MP
Its trigger speed is 0.07 sec.Only 720p video.

Best for Day or Night

Pros!Cons!
Day and night-optimized dual sensorsLacks wireless capability
The hands-off approach to wildlife photography1080p is the maximum video resolution
Waterproof body

Best for Durability

Pros!Cons!
It’s portableAF tracking can lose subjects at a higher burst rate.
Fast-focusing and burst shootingThe noise level in ISO range
Top-notch weather-sealing

Best Value for Money

Pros!Cons!
Metal, weather-sealed buildThe touch screen controls are limited
Fast and accurate autofocusLive view autofocus can be slow
High buffer capacity

Best for Affordability

Pros!Cons!
20x optical zoomLens quality is inconsistent 
UHD 4K videoBuilt-in Wi-Fi


Premium Choice

Pros!Cons!
Great video performanceRelatively expensive even for pros
Superb speed from new sensorNo EVF improvement from EOS R5

Verified Reviews: Users’ Experiences

The Spypoint Solar Dark camera is a popular choice for wildlife trail cameras. A user describes their experience: “Having the option to leave your camera and return a few weeks or months later can be a game-changer. This was mounted on a tree for months, and they consistently captured shots. They hold up well, function without issue in light snow covering the solar cell, and appear unaffected by weather.”

Up Next…

Check out some of our other articles about places where you can make use of your cameras.

About the Author

Alan is a freelance writer and an avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he visits home he enjoys spending time with his family Rottie, Opie.

The 7 Best Wildlife Photography Cameras Today FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How many megapixels do I need for wildlife photography?

How many megapixels a professional wildlife camera should have? A 12 to 18 MP camera should be enough to give you decent wildlife stills. However, if you plan to convert your shots in large prints, 20 to 30 MP cameras and above would be a better choice.

Is full-frame better for wildlife photography?

If you love shooting animals with blurred background or you want to focus on a subject through bokeh, then a full frame camera is the better choice. However, using a crop sensor camera to shoot wildlife will still give excellent subject separation even at a higher f-stop depending on the lens focal length.

Does more megapixels mean better camera?

It’s no longer true that the higher a camera’s megapixel count the better. The only thing more megapixels will give you is the ability to enlarge and crop pictures without individual pixels becoming visible. Other factors are much more important in determining overall picture quality.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.