The 7 main considerations that should inform your decision making process when looking for the best wildlife photography camera for yourself are:
fast and accurate autofocus
frame rate of at least 10 frames per second
minimum 25mp sensor
dual card slots
What is the best Wildlife photography camera?
Best Affordable Mirrorless Camera for Wildlife Photography is the Sony a7 IV
In recommending the Sony a7 IV you should note the following 3 considerations :
- This assumes you are not heavily invested in other brands with lenses etc. and you are starting over.
- Measured against the Nikon Z6ii and the Canon R6.
- The recommendation takes the budget of the average hobbyist into account. More expensive flagship options are discussed later in the article.
- See pros and cons below
NB Sony have just released the A7 V
WHAT IS THE BEST AFFORDABLE CAMERA FOR WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY?
Very few people have USD 5 000 to spend on a flagship wildlife camera. Here are three recommendations for the best value for money wildlife photography cameras you can buy in 2022/23.
Sony a7 IV
Highest resolution of the three at 33mp
Slowest at 10 frames per second
The heaviest of the three at 1.6lb/737g
Same price as the Canon at USD 2 500
Nikon Z6 ii
Best colour and image quality
Cheapest at USD 2 000
Lightest at 1.4lb/615g
Autofocus currently not as accurate as the Sony and the Canon
Slower frame rate where it counts
Fewest number of native mirrorless lenses than Sony and Canon and no comaptibility with third party lenses i.e Sigma and Tamron
Video capability not quite up to par.
Canon EOS R6
Very good autofocus
Best effective frame rate
Best video capability
Lowest resolution of the three at 20.mp.
Expensive at USD 2 500
Note: Other specs not mentioned are considered to be equally good on all i.e. ISO performance, image stabilisation etc.
This is a great Youtube comparison of the three.
Best Compact and Bridge Cameras for Wildlife Photography
For the best point and shoot cameras for Wildlife Photography read 7 Best Point and Shoot Cameras for Wildlife Photography.
What is the best mirrorless camera for wildlife photography?
This video from DP Review is right up to date as at 27 November 2022. Go to the top picks of expensive cameras towards the end.
Best Flagship Mirrorless Cameras for Wildlife Photography 2023
- Nikon Z9
- Sony a1
- Canon R3
The market leading flagship mirrorless cameras currently all start at around USD 5 500. All of them deliver superb image quality and the differences between them are so nuanced that brand loyalty often wins out when consumers are making comparisons between the options available.
Both Canon and Nikon have announced new cameras to be released soon. Nikon the Z8 and Canon the R1.
1. Nikon Z9
This beast of a camera certainly grabs your attention. Unlike the Sony, the Z9 has a built in vertical grip in the same design as the legendary Nikon D series cameras. I have owned the D3, D4 and the D5 and loved them.
Second highest resolution at 45mp
Silent shutter mode
Shutter guard – prevents dust getting onto the sensor when changing lenses
Both slots take the same card – the fast CF Express B cards
Back buttons are illuminated
Less expensive than the Sony or the Canon at USD 5 500
Heaviest of the three at 2.9lb/1,400g
Autofocus still going through teething problems (as at August 2022)
Not as many native mirrorless lens choices as the Sony or the Canon.
2. Sony a1
Sony has not announced any updates to the Alpha 1 firmware in some time and as Canon and Nikon continue to make improvements to their auto focus capabilities, Sony has lost the top spot in my opinion.
Highest resolution at 50mp
30 frames per second RAW
Most native lens choices
Most expensive at USD 6 500
My main issue with the Alpha 1 is that I don’t like the colours the sensor produces. I think the sensor on the 7 iii and 7 iv do a much better job
No silent shutter mode
ISO performance is good but not as good as the Canon R3 or Nikon Z9
No button illumination at night – makes changing settings at night difficult.
3. Canon R3
If it wasn’t for the lower mp sensor I would have put this camera as number one for wildlife. We cannot simply ignore that fact that it is half the resolution of its competitors and at this high price it will only be the choice of existing Canon users already invested in the eco system.
Highest frame rate in RAW
Lowest noise at high ISO settings
Fastest shutter speed
Excellent auto focus
Silent shutter mode
Back buttons are illuminated
Lowest resolution at 24mp
Expensive considering the relatively low megapixel count of 24mp at USD 6 000
Ultimately, the best wildlife photography camera is the one that suits your budget. Here are some concluding takeaways from this article:
- Image quality from comparative DSLR and Mirrorless cameras are currently much the same.
- When it comes to wildlife photography cameras, focus accuracy and frame rate trump resolution.
- Switching to Mirrorless will future proof your wildlife photography journey.