Sports photography requires the right camera – and the top sports cameras offer several important features, including solid image quality, a fast burst-shooting mode, a large buffer, and access to a range of high-quality telephoto lenses.
We’ve created a list of the 10 best cameras for sports photography currently available for all levels of skill and experience. So whether you want to dive into sports photography for the first time or you’re a veteran shooter looking to take pro-level photos, we’ve got you covered.
If you are a beginner or on a tight budget, you should also have a look our article about the best budget cameras for sports photography beginners.
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1. Sony a1
The Sony a1 packs quite a punch thanks to its 50.1 MP sensor and 30 FPS continuous shooting mode.
The Sony a1 is a sports photography powerhouse. Sony really went all out in terms of features: the a1 is fast, it has an amazing sensor and processor, and it can easily cope with fast action.
The Sony a1 boasts a 50.1 MP full-frame sensor powered by a next-gen BIONZ XR processor. As a result, the camera is fast and can handle plenty of high-speed shooting to ensure you capture every important moment.
Specifically, the Sony a1 has blackout-free continuous shooting of up to 30 FPS. This is perfect for high-energy sporting events, and despite the fast continuous shooting mode, the AF system can easily cope.
We also like that the Sony a1 allows you to set the continuous shooting mode using a top dial. The dial allows you to switch between 5, 10, 15, 20, and 30 FPS, which allows you to instantly adjust your speeds in response to changing conditions.
2. Sony a9 II
The Sony a9 II is a superb full-frame mirrorless camera that offers a fast processor and 20 FPS shooting speeds.
The Sony a1 is quite expensive, but a (slightly) cheaper alternative is the Sony a9 II. This is the second iteration of the action-focused Sony a9 and is another great sports photography pick.
The focusing system of this camera is incredible; it’s quick, accurate, and features several tracking modes, including Real-time Eye AF, which is incredibly useful in fast-moving sporting environments. The Sony a9 II is also capable of shooting full-resolution images at 20 FPS.
We like the in-body image stabilization, too, which is always useful when handholding long lenses and/or working in low light. The Sony a9 II also offers access to the amazing range of Sony FE lenses. This gives you lots of flexibility and means you can adapt the a9 II to virtually any sporting situation.
3. Canon EOS R3
The Canon EOS R3 boasts amazing low-light capabilities, innovative autofocus, and lightning-fast continuous shooting.
Canon recently released the Canon EOS R3, a professional-grade full-frame mirrorless camera made specifically for action photographers.
The R3 is highly durable, and it also handles well thanks to the integrated vertical grip and controls. As a result, you can quickly switch between portrait and landscape mode.
Powering this camera is a 24.1 MP full-frame sensor, which gives the camera outstanding low-light capabilities. We also like that the R3 can shoot up to 30 FPS using the electronic shutter.
The EOS R3 also benefits from an incredible Dual Pixel AF system. This has a range of tracking features, including face, eyes, and heads. Plus, with 1,053 AF points, you can expect accurate focusing.
By purchasing this premium camera, you gain access to the best Canon lenses for sports photography, including powerful RF and EF models.
4. Nikon Z9
The Nikon Z9 packs plenty of megapixels, but it’s plenty fast, too.
The Nikon Z9 is another extremely powerful and fast full-frame mirrorless camera that excels at sports photography, and it’s great for professionals and serious hobbyists.
The Z9 has an impressive 45.7 MP sensor that’s powered by the EXPEED 7 image processor. You can expect fast readouts and a great buffer speed, and the camera can shoot at 30 FPS (or even at a staggering 120 FPS in a reduced 11 MP mode).
The Nikon Z9 is relatively compact, yet it does have an integrated vertical grip, which is a great addition that many sports photographers will find useful. It’ll give you extra flexibility and let you quickly switch between landscape and portrait orientations when shooting.
The Z9 is designed to work with Nikon Z lenses, many of which are amazing for sports photography. And if you wish to pay slightly less, you can always use Nikon’s F-mount lenses via an adapter.
5. Fujifilm X-T4
Our next pick is the Fujifilm X-T4. This is a full-frame mirrorless camera that has a decent sensor and also offers some other solid features for sports photographers.
First, it has 5-axis in-body image stabilization. This provides 6.5 stops of stabilization so you can capture sharp images even when handholding in low light. The X-T4 also has a reliable mechanical shutter that is capable of a 15 FPS continuous shooting mode.
We also like the camera’s simple and stylish design. It looks great and is quite compact compared to some other mirrorless cameras on this list. It packs a vari-angle LCD touchscreen and a high-capacity battery.
The image sensor is 26.1 MP, which is more than adequate for sports shooting, and the X-T4 has a Fujifilm X mount, which means you can use a superb range of high-quality Fujifilm lenses.
6. Canon EOS R5
The Canon EOS R5 has an excellent Dual Pixel AF system that offers several useful tracking modes.
The Canon EOS R5 doesn’t cost quite as much as several of the models listed above, yet it’s a great camera that excels at sports shooting.
The EOS R5 is capable of high-quality sports shots in any lighting situation, and it is one of the better low-light performers on this list. The Canon EOS R5 also has several great continuous shooting modes: It can achieve 12 FPS with the mechanical shutter or 20 FPS with the electronic shutter.
The EOS R5 excels at autofocusing. The Dual Pixel AF system is one of the most advanced to date, and it allows sports photographers to use modes including eye and face tracking. You’ll never miss the action again!
Plus, thanks to the EOS R5’s array of impressive features, it works well in pretty much any situation – so if you shoot portraits, landscapes, or events in addition to sports, you won’t need to purchase a second body.
7. Sony a7R IV
The Sony a7R IV offers a whopping 61 MP of resolution, and it also has an excellent AF system with eye tracking.
The Sony a7R IV is another fantastic sports camera: It excels at image resolution and autofocus tracking, plus it has a 61 MP full-frame sensor. The quality of your sports photos will be incredible, and you can easily crop in on subjects without worrying about a loss of pixels.
The Sony a7R IV is a decently fast camera. Although it doesn’t have the speed of the a9 II or the a1, it can shoot at 10 FPS, which should be more than enough for basic sports shooting.
The a7R IV also has a powerful autofocus system that lets you track people on the move, which will come in handy when photographing action sports. And the in-body image stabilization makes it easier to handhold the camera in low light.
Other useful features include the incredible 5.76M-dot electronic viewfinder, the compact and stylish body, and the Sony lens mount. You can use the Sony a7R IV with some fantastic telephoto lenses that will easily complement the fast AF system and high-resolution sensor.
8. Nikon Z7 II
The Nikon Z7 II has excellent IBIS for handheld use; it also has a powerful 45.7 MP sensor that can handle pretty much anything.
The Nikon Z7 II is not as powerful as the Z9, but it has some excellent features that make it a great sports photography pick.
The Nikon Z7 II has a 45.7 MP sensor and is powered by dual EXPEED 6 image processors, so expect fast performance and beautiful image quality. The Z7 II shoots at 10 FPS with full AE/AF tracking, so while it’s far from an action-focused camera, it certainly gets the job done.
To ensure that you can comfortably cover sporting events, the camera packs two card slots: a CFexpress/XQD slot and an SDHC slot. You can use the second slot for extra storage, or you can use it to create a backup copy of your photos when you’re photographing essential games.
We also like that this camera has 5-axis in-body image stabilization, which will help you capture sharp shots even when handholding at slow shutter speeds.
9. Canon EOS R6
The Canon EOS R6 has an excellent sensor that allows you to capture high-quality sports photos at night.
The Canon EOS R6 is very similar to the EOS R5 but with a reduced megapixel count.
Some may find the 20 MP sensor limiting, but the EOS R6 really is a capable camera that can take incredible photos. It has a DIGIC X image processor with a fast buffer and a 12 FPS high-speed continuous shooting mode. This can be improved to 20 FPS when using the electronic shutter.
The Canon EOS R6 has a powerful Dual Pixel AF system. This has 100% coverage and a whopping 1053 AF areas, not to mention plenty of advanced tracking features. As a result, you should easily be able to focus on fast-moving players during epic sporting events.
The low-light capabilities offered by this full-frame mirrorless camera are also excellent. You get an ISO range of 100-102,400, and if you combine it with one of Canon’s wide-aperture lenses, you’ll have a setup that is capable of taking amazing sports photos at night.
10. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is an older DSLR, but it has a great sensor, fast autofocus, and a durable body.
If you’d prefer to use a DSLR for your sports photography, then check out the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. Although this is an older camera, it’s still a popular choice, and it has some excellent features for shooting action.
The 5D Mark IV sports a 30.2 MP full-frame sensor and a great ISO range of 100-32,000 (expandable to 50-102,400). Image quality is amazing, and you can get great low-light sports shots, too.
Unfortunately, the 5D Mark IV can only shoot up to 6 frames per second; this is enough for beginners, but it’s not ideal for serious sports photographers.
Focusing and tracking are made easier by the Dual Pixel AF system, which is pretty good given its age. You can nail focus on running players, even if they’re moving at ultra-fast speeds.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV also looks great and has a set of buttons and dials that give you plenty of control. The only downside is that the screen is fixed, which means you’ll need to use the optical viewfinder when shooting from a high or low angle.
DSLR vs Mirrorless Cameras for Sports Photography
Historically, DSLR cameras have been the superior choice for sports photography. This is because they have had features suited for action photography, such as fast frame rates, optical viewfinders, and great autofocus.
However, as you can see from our list, mirrorless cameras have overtaken DSLRs. Technology has improved rapidly, and most manufacturers – such as Canon, Nikon, and Sony – are concentrating solely on their mirrorless camera series.
There are now quite a few full-frame mirrorless cameras that boast amazing sports photography features. For example, the Sony a1 can shoot at a whopping 30 FPS, plus it offers lots of advanced tracking features.
In other words, many of the features that once made DSLRs the preferred choice for sports photography are now offered by mirrorless cameras. Add in the more compact and lightweight design of mirrorless models, and you can see why we think mirrorless technology is the way to go.
Grab a Sports Camera and Start Shooting!
There are many superb cameras for sports photography, but which should you pick?
If you want the best camera for professional work, the Sony a1, the Sony a9 II, the Canon EOS R3, and the Nikon Z9 are all great choices. These cameras boast great sensors, fast continuous shooting modes, and outstanding autofocus systems.
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