The 7 Best Wildlife Photography Cameras Today

Written by Alan Lemus
Updated: May 27, 2024
Lamberrto/Shutterstock.com

Advertisement


This post may contain affiliate links to our partners like Chewy, Amazon, and others. Purchasing through these helps us further the A-Z Animals mission to educate about the world's species.

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. That means you have to be prepared to take the best shots possible. Patience is the secret here. 

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 pickier 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 to help you choose the best one.

  1. 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. 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
    • Utilizes 153 autofocus points
    Check Amazon
  3. 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. 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. Bushnell 30MP CORE Trail Camera
    • 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. Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera
    • 45.7 megapixels of resolution
    • Dual memory card slots
    • 7 fps burst mode; 9 fps with battery grip
    • 4K video
    Check Amazon
  7. 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

Top Picks: The Best Wildlife Photography Cameras Today

#1. Best Overall: Sony Alpha 1 Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless Camera

Our top pick for the best wildlife photography camera is the Sony Alpha 1 Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless Camera. With its 50.1-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 their eyes. Its electronic shutter can capture up to 155 RAW images at a speed of 30 frames per second. This means that the camera can produce beautiful 30 frames per second. However, there is a downside. The camera unfortunately cannot maintain 30fps shooting when it comes to capturing moving images consistently.  

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. Overall, despite the fact that the 30fps isn’t always maintained and the price tag, this is a fantastic camera. The full frame 50.1MP resolution, 30fps, and 8K video resolution make it a camera worth investing in.

Pros and Cons of the Sony Alpha 1 Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless Camera

ProsCons
The camera features full frame 50.1MP resolution.The 30fps isn’t always maintained well by the camera.
Blackout-free shooting that captures 155 raw images at 30fps.Pricey.
Incredible raw image quality.
Robust 8K video quality.
The camera features weather-resistant sealing.
The low-light performance is great.
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 DX-Format Digital SLR (Body Only), Base

Photographers looking for the best value for their dollar will love the Nikon D500 DX-Format Digital SLR (Body Only), Base. 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. 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.

Pros and Cons of the Nikon D500 DX-Format Digital SLR (Body Only), Base

ProsCons
The body of the camera is weather-sealed to keep it protected.The camera lacks animal autofocus detection.
There are 153 autofocus points with excellent autofocus point frame coverage.
Features 10fps burst speed.
It is a more cost-effective option compared to many other options on the market.
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
  • Utilizes 153 autofocus points
Check Amazon

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

The OLYMPUS OM-D E-M1X is definitely a top choice if you’re looking for a durable camera that can handle a lot. 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.

Pros and Cons of the OLYMPUS OM-D E-M1X

ProsCons
This is a rugged and durable camera perfect for a variety of weather conditions.The autofocus feature decreases in functionality when the burst rate is too high.
Captures up to 60 frames per second with 287 raw images.
Features a great dust-reduction system.
The MFT sensor doubles the focal length of your lenses.
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 Trail Camera

Photographers in search of a solar-powered camera will enjoy using the SPYPOINT SOLAR-DARK Trail Camera. 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 Solar Dark are still quite good as long as your expectations are reasonable. 

There are other features that enhance the appeal of Solar Dark. They include time-lapse movies, 720P video, and the capability to detect subjects up to 110 feet away. As far as disadvantages go, as we mentioned the quality it offers isn’t top-tier. It can only capture videos at 720P resolution for up to 90 seconds and as we mentioned it can only capture in 12MP resolution when taking still photos. Still, this is a fantastic camera thanks to the solar-powered batter, trigger speed, menu, and overall ease of control.

Pros and Cons of the SPYPOINT SOLAR-DARK Trail Camera

ProsCons
The controls are easy to use.The resolution of videos is only 720P and still photos are captured in 12MP.
It is a completely solar-powered device that can also run on six AA batteries. 
The camera can detect subjects that are 110 feet away.
Features a good trigger speed.
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 30MP CORE Trail Camera

The Bushnell 30MP Core Trail Camera 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 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 to get a different perspective of your subjects. The motion detector even has four sensitivity settings. 

The biggest downside with this camera is that there is a lot of trial and error associated with its use at first. Many reviewers stated that it took them a bit of time to figure out the programming and overall use of the camera.

Pros and Cons of the Bushnell 30MP CORE Trail Camera

ProsCons
A great option for both day and night photography as it has two sensors.There is a lot of trial and error associated with using the camera at first.
It is made to be waterproof.
The camera records at 1080p video resolution and shoots at 60fps.
The motion detector has four different sensitivity settings.
Best for Day or Night
Bushnell 30MP CORE Trail Camera
  • 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: Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera

The Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera is definitely the premium choice if you’re looking for a top-notch wildlife camera. This is a remarkable camera that is able to capture still photos in an astonishing 45.7MP resolution. This means that your photos will be extremely detailed. The pixel-dense sensor gives you the option to shoot 4K video as well. 

It also can take photos at seven frames per second. This can also go up to nine frames per second when used with the battery grip. It is also built to be able to connect to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. This means that you can easily connect the camera to your smartphone or laptop to easily transfer photos over. The body is also made out of magnesium alloy, which allows you to use it in all types of weather. The biggest downsides are the fact that you need the battery grip to unlock 9fps and the fact that the optical viewfinder can cover only 98%.

Pros and Cons of the Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera

ProsCons
The resolution is amazing with 45.7MP.The battery grip is required to unlock 9fps.
The camera allows you to shoot 4K videos.The optical viewfinder is only able to cover 98%.
It shoots at 7fps but can go up to 9fps with the addition of the battery grip.
It is able to connect to both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The camera is made out of magnesium alloy, which allows it to be used outdoors in various types of weather.
Premium Choice
Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera
  • 45.7 megapixels of resolution
  • Dual memory card slots
  • 7 fps burst mode; 9 fps with battery grip
  • 4K video
Check Amazon

7. Best for Affordability: Panasonic LUMIX FZ2500 4K Point and Shoot Camera

The Panasonic LUMIX FZ2500 4K Point and Shoot Camera, 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.

The camera features 12fps with a 1-inch sensor and a native ISO range of up to 12,800 and an expanded range of 25,600. This means that 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.

Pros and Cons of the Panasonic LUMIX FZ2500 4K Point and Shoot Camera

ProsCons
This is a great camera for an affordable price.The maximum aperture drops when you zoom past 170mm.
It is easy to take around with you as it is quite lightweight.
The camera features a 4K 30p video.
The 24-480mm built-in lens allows you to do both wide-angle and close-up shots.
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

What to Look For in the Best Wildlife Photography Camera

If you’re already into wildlife photography or want to start, then you’re going to need a camera that can keep up with you. Although the right camera won’t turn you into a professional overnight, it will help you to improve your craft. However, there are a lot of cameras available for purchase and not all of them offer the same high-quality performance. That’s why it’s helpful to know what features to look for in the best kind of camera. 

The most important features to look for in the best wildlife photography camera: 

  • Autofocus 
  • Lens 
  • Weather-sealing and build quality 
  • Buffer capacity 

We’ll take a look at each of these factors in more detail below:

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.

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?

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

Is full-frame better for wildlife photography?

If you love shooting animals with blurred backgrounds 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.