Best Cameras for Nature Photography

We divided the best cameras for nature photography depending on the type of photography: wildlife photography, landscape photography, and flower/plants (macro) photography.

Please note, that these are the best camera bodies. For lenses, please refer to our article comparing the best lenses for nature photography (coming soon).

The research & selection/ranking of these top camera bodies for outdoor photography is done unbiased and not sponsored by any of the manufacturers. If you feel we missed a camera, please leave a comment below in the comment section.


👉 Best Cameras for Wildlife Photography

  1. Nikon D5 (Top Choice for Wildlife Photography)
  2. Sony Alpha a9 (Best Mirrorless for Wildlife and Sports)
  3. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (Best Allrounder: Use it for Wildlife, Flower & Landscape Photography)
  4. Sony Alpha a7R III (Best Mirrorless Outdoor Allrounder)
  5. Sony Alpha a7 III
  6. Canon EOS-1D X

👉 Best Cameras for Flowers/Plants

  1. Canon EOS 5DS R
  2. Sony Alpha a7R III
  3. Sony Alpha a9
  4. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
  5. Nikon D850

👉 Best Cameras for Landscape Photography

  1. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
  2. Canon EOS 5DS R
  3. Sony Alpha a7 III
  4. Sony Alpha a7R III
  5. Sony Alpha a9
  6. Nikon D850

👉 Best for Wildlife Photography

Camera
Our Pick
Nikon D5 (Top Choice)
Best Mirrorless
Sony Alpha a9
Also Great
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Sony Alpha a7R III
Sony Alpha a7 III
Image
Nikon D5 DSLR 20.8 MP Point & Shoot Digital Camera, Dual XQD Slots - Black
Sony a9 Full Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera (Body Only) (ILCE9/B)
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body
Sony a7R III Mirrorless Camera: 42.4MP Full Frame High Resolution Mirrorless...
Sony a7 III Full-Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera Optical with 3-Inch...
Sensor
20.8 MP
24.2 MP
30.4 MP
42 MP
24 MP
Image Processor
EXPEED 5
BIONZ X
DIGIC 6+
BIONZ X
BIONZ X
AF Points
153 points
693 points
61 points
399 point
693 point
Frame Rate
12 fps
20 fps
7 fps
10 fps
10 fps
Rating
Reviews on Amazon
41 Amazon Reviews
38 Amazon Reviews
166 Amazon Reviews
85 Amazon Reviews
118 Amazon Reviews
Price
$5,996.95
from $3,498.00
$2,799.00
from $2,498.00
from $2,699.00
Our Pick
Camera
Nikon D5 (Top Choice)
Image
Nikon D5 DSLR 20.8 MP Point & Shoot Digital Camera, Dual XQD Slots - Black
Sensor
20.8 MP
Image Processor
EXPEED 5
AF Points
153 points
Frame Rate
12 fps
Rating
Reviews on Amazon
41 Amazon Reviews
Price
$5,996.95
Amazon Link
Best Mirrorless
Camera
Sony Alpha a9
Image
Sony a9 Full Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera (Body Only) (ILCE9/B)
Sensor
24.2 MP
Image Processor
BIONZ X
AF Points
693 points
Frame Rate
20 fps
Rating
Reviews on Amazon
38 Amazon Reviews
Price
from $3,498.00
Amazon Link
Also Great
Camera
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Image
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body
Sensor
30.4 MP
Image Processor
DIGIC 6+
AF Points
61 points
Frame Rate
7 fps
Rating
Reviews on Amazon
166 Amazon Reviews
Price
$2,799.00
Amazon Link
Camera
Sony Alpha a7R III
Image
Sony a7R III Mirrorless Camera: 42.4MP Full Frame High Resolution Mirrorless...
Sensor
42 MP
Image Processor
BIONZ X
AF Points
399 point
Frame Rate
10 fps
Rating
Reviews on Amazon
85 Amazon Reviews
Price
from $2,498.00
Amazon Link
Camera
Sony Alpha a7 III
Image
Sony a7 III Full-Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera Optical with 3-Inch...
Sensor
24 MP
Image Processor
BIONZ X
AF Points
693 point
Frame Rate
10 fps
Rating
Reviews on Amazon
118 Amazon Reviews
Price
from $2,699.00
Amazon Link

1. Nikon D5 (Top Choice)

Nikon D5

Sensor20.8 MP
Image ProcessorEXPEED 5
AF Points153 points
Frame Rate12 fps
Maximum RAW frames before buffer overrun200 frames
ISO Range (Expanded ISO)100 – 102400 (Extended 50 – 3280000)

Wildlife and sports photography require a very similar set of equipment in terms of camera body and lens.

The Nikon D5 is the current flagship of the stable. It combines a 20.8-megapixel full-frame sensor with an EXPEED 5 image processor. The other important parameter that makes this a fantastic wildlife shooter is the continuous shooting speed of 12 fps.

Add to that the low light capabilities of the camera. The sensor has a native ISO range of 100 – 102400 allowing it to make images in a wide variety of lighting conditions.

For a majority of wildlife shooters (as well as sports photographers) a good buffer and a fast frame rate is the difference between a successful outing and a wasted opportunity. The D5 fits that requirement perfectly with its 200 frames buffer speed with AE/AF.

Related Post: Best All-Rounder Zoom Lenses for Your DSLR

Also, the D5 offers the advantage of selecting between three different types of RAW files depending on the type of work that you do. The other major feature includes a 153-point phase detection autofocusing system, which includes 99 cross-type AF points.

Tele-lenses, as has been already mentioned before, tend to restrict the amount of light that enters the camera. The longer the lens the smaller is the maximum aperture. This also affects the AF capabilities of the lens as a majority of the points are unusable at a smaller aperture. The D5 has 9 selectable points which are sensitive even at an aperture of f/8.

Plus, you also get the group AF system. This system basically clusters a series of AF points to function as one for better subject tracking.

2. Sony Alpha a9 (Best Mirrorless for Wildlife and Sports)

Sony Alpha a9

Sensor24.2 MP
Image ProcessorBIONZ X
AF Points693 points
Frame Rate20 fps
Maximum RAW frames before buffer overrun241
ISO Range (Expanded ISO)100 – 51200 (Extended 50 – 204800)

This by far is the best mirrorless camera body for shooting wildlife and sports photography.

Why?

Because it has a fast continuous shooting speed of 20 fps and a buffer or 241 RAW frames before the camera needs to take a breather. That’s a lot of frames even if you are shooting a gazelle in full steam or an MLB player running for home base.

With the silent shooting mechanism that is inherent to mirrorless systems, the Sony Alpha a9 is ideal for wildlife photography.

3. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Sensor30.4 MP
Image ProcessorDIGIC 6+
AF Points61 points
Frame Rate7 fps
Maximum RAW frames before buffer overrun21 frames
ISO Range (Expanded ISO)100 – 32000 (50 – 102400)

The 5D Mark IV is a superb camera. You can shoot almost anything you want with it. It has an improved sensor with higher resolution (30.4 MP vs 22.3 MP). To back it up it comes with the better image processing engine – DIGIC 6+ (vs DIGIC 5+ in the older camera). It also gets a slight jump in the frame rate which means you can now shoot at 7 frames per second. It gives you those extra number of frames that you need for shooting wildlife photos.

Higher resolution gives you the advantage of being lazy at times – shoot wide and then crop later in the post. With the DCI 4K (30p) capabilities you can now pull even 8.8 MP stills out of your 4K recording. Just in case you are super lazy. That said, the resolution would not be great for large prints or capturing a lot of detail.

As a wildlife shooter, you would love the 61 phase detection AF points, all of which are sensitive down to f/8 (think about the long lenses and with teleconverters that can squeeze the maximum aperture) and 41 of them being cross-type.

Related Post: How to Photograph Birds in Flight

Most birds and small animals prefer to stay within their natural habitat perched in trees or thick foliage. The center AF point with its sensitivity down to -3EV will help you to lock focus on such occasions.

4. Sony Alpha a7R III

Sony Alpha a7R III

Sensor42 MP
Image ProcessorBIONZ X
AF Points399 point AF system
Frame Rate10 fps
Maximum RAW frames before buffer overrun76
ISO Range (Expanded ISO)100 – 32000 (Extended 50 to 102400)

Mirrorless systems have a distinct advantage when compared to DSLRs in terms of the inherent mechanical noise of the slapping mirror. Mirrorless camera systems are quieter and therefore better suited for wildlife photography.

The 10 fps continuous shooting speed of the a7R III makes for fascinating reading. Yes, it is not as fast as the Nikon D5, and it does not have a deep buffer (the camera can shoot only 76 frames before it runs out of breath) but if you only fire small, measured, bursts you should be okay.

That said, if you are planning on shooting barn swallows from a distance of 10 feet, you need to look at some of the other (faster) options we have suggested here.

Related Post: Best Travel Cameras Compared (12 Picks)

5. Sony Alpha a7 III

Sony Alpha a7 III

Sensor24 MP
Image ProcessorBIONZ X
AF Points693-point
Frame Rate10 fps
Maximum RAW frames before buffer overrun89
ISO Range (Expanded ISO)100 – 51200 (Extended 50 – 204800)

The a7 III is the better of the two (a7R III and the a7 III) in terms of wildlife photography. Though the best is undoubtedly the camera that is listed below (Sony Alpha a9).

The a7 III shares the same 10 fps continuous shooting speed as the a7R III. It also has a better buffer of 89 RAW frames before it runs out of breath. That said, the a7 III does not have the same ISO prowess as the a7R III.

6. Canon EOS-1D X

Canon EOS-1D X

Sensor20.2 MP
Image ProcessorDual DIGIC 6+
AF Points61 – point AF system
Frame Rate14 fps
Maximum RAW frames before buffer overrun170
ISO Range (Expanded ISO)100 – 25600

We round up this list with the Canon EOS-1D X (discontinued by the manufacturer, but you can buy it used or you can get the Mark II model). The EOS-1D X is Canon’s flagship professional DSLR.

The fast continuous shooting speed of the EOS-1D X makes it a top choice for sports and wildlife. Add to that the 20.2 MP resolution, the full frame sensor and weather sealing and you have in our hands a great piece of equipment for all types of photography pursuits.

👉 Best for Plants / Flowers

The thing about plants and flower photography is you could use any camera and get away with great images. Provided of course, you have a decent grip over lighting and composition.

So, point and shoots, DSLRs and mirrorless are all suitable and perfectly capable of shooting plants and flowers.

That said, since we have already selected mirrorless and DSLR systems for shooting landscapes and wildlife, we will pick from only these segments to find out which are best cameras for plants and flowers.

As a matter of fact, DSLRs and mirrorless systems have an advantage over point and shoot systems, as they are backed by specialized lenses that are designed for close-up/macro work.

1. Canon EOS 5DS R

We have included the Canon EOS 5DS R in this list for the very same reason why it is in the list of best cameras for landscape.

2. Sony Alpha a7R III

We like Sony Alpha a7 III for almost all types of photography.

It works for flowers and plants photography very well because of the built-in 5-axis image stabilization which makes all compatible lenses stabilized.

3. Sony Alpha a9

For that very same reason, the Sony Alpha a9 also comes into this list.

Plus, it has a weather sealed construction that helps when you are out and about and frequently have to negotiate inclement weather.

4. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

One of the stand-out features of the 5D Mark IV for which we have included it in under this section is the dual pixel RAW. This technology allows for certain changes in the image afterward, like bokeh shifts and small adjustments to focus.

5. Nikon D850

I would also pick the Nikon D850 for plants and flower photography, because of its impressive resolution, low light performance, and the focus shift feature. The 153-point AF system helps too when making off-center compositions.

Nikon D850

Sensor45.7 MP
Image ProcessorEXPEED 5
AF Points153 point AF system
Frame Rate7 fps
Maximum RAW frames before buffer overrun51
ISO Range (Expanded ISO)64- 25600 (Extended 32 – 102400)

👉 Best for Landscape Photography

1. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

We select the 5D Mark IV again for landscape photography.

Why?

Because to reiterate, it is a versatile camera.

The 150,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor allows better control over metering when photographing a difficult scene. Plus, the camera has decent weather resistance and durability which ensure that the camera is able to withstand somewhat the vagaries of nature.

However, please note that the 5D Mark IV is not a complete weather sealed camera like the Nikon D4 or the D5.

2. Canon EOS 5DS R

We retain the Canon 5DS R from the previous list.

Why?

Because at 50.6 megapixels it is hard to get a better camera simply for the sake of the amount of detail that this camera can capture.

Plus the effects of a low pass filter is effectively canceled, you get a higher amount of sharpness.

Related Post: Best Canon Full Frame DSLR

3. Sony Alpha a7 III

The Sony Alpha a7 III is an excellent camera for shooting landscapes. That said the 10 fps continuous shooting speed with 89 frame buffer makes it a great camera for capturing wildlife as well. Thanks to its 24 MP full-frame Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor and BIONZ X image processing engine.

4. Sony Alpha a7R III

The Sony Alpha a7R III is a 42 MP sensor powered mirrorless system paired with a BIONZ X image processor. The high resolution results in a greater amount of detail for your landscape images.

5. Sony Alpha a9

The Sony Alpha a9’s fully weather sealed body is ideally suited for landscape and other genres of photography where you are likely going to be outdoors and exposed to the elements.

Speaking of outdoor photography, another of the Alpha a9’s features is a 3.686m-dot EVF which has a refresh rate of 120 fps and practically zero lag time when shooting in continuous mode.

6. Nikon D850

Add to this mix the Nikon D850, Nikon’s semi-professional high-resolution full-frame DSLR. The camera is powered by a 45.7 MP sensor and paired with Nikon’s EXPEED 5 image processing engine.

The native ISO range is also quite impressive (64 – 25600 and 32 – 102400 when extended) which means it can tackle different types of lighting quite easily.


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