Anyone who spends a significant amount of time out in nature needs a camera for nature photography in their outdoor kit. Outdoors lovers, birdwatchers, and backpackers alike catch glimpses of the countless beautiful sights that wildlife produces.
These special moments vanish as quickly as they come. However, and if they don't have a camera handy, they disappear forever. Today, we are going to save you some of that heartbreak and help you find the best camera for your nature photography endeavors.
Nature never waits, so without further delay, let's go get you that camera.
1. Why Can't I Just Use My Camera Phone?
There's no question that phone cameras have come a long way. Today, most phones come equipped with cameras capable of producing photos that rival, or even match, those captured by much more expensive DSLRs.
Does this mean someone with an interest in nature photography should dismiss the advantage of more sophisticated cameras? Not quite.
As amazing as smartphone images can be, they tend to have a "washed out" appearance that DSLR photos do not. DSLRs achieve higher resolutions and capture a much larger range of color. Their photos also usually have sharper, cleaner edges.
You should also keep in mind the DSLR's advantage in data storage. Your smartphone must allocate data for many kinds of media, including apps, podcasts, music, and games. If you plan on using your smartphone as your primary camera, you will quickly run out of space.
DSLRs, on the other hand, specialize in photos and videos and use SD cards that are cheap and easy to swap in and out.
DSLRs also have the advantage in photographic versatility. There are many techniques you can easily practice with a DSLR that would be difficult or impossible with a smartphone.
For example, with a DSLR, you can easily manipulate field of depth. This is much more difficult with a smartphone, and the results are almost always inferior. You can also zoom much further and with far more clarity when using a DSLR. These are essential features when it comes to nature photography.
2. What Are The Different Types of Cameras?
You might be wondering what the different types of digital cameras for nature photography are. Here is a brief overview.
First is the standard compact digital camera.
This type of camera is small, light, and relatively inexpensive. They are also commonly referred to as Point and Shoots.
They are limited in terms of manual exposure, and their quality tends to be adequate, at best. They also use lenses that aren't interchangeable.
Second is the zoom compact digital camera.
It's similar to the standard compact. The zoom compact usually has a more powerful zoom lens, and it also tends to be larger and sturdier.
Despite that, the photo quality is generally insufficient for professional use. If you count on your outdoor photos to generate income, you'll want better.
The third is the adventure camera
Similar to the compacts but it's more durable and resistant to elements. Perfect for the outdoors enthusiast who needs their memories to survive actual adventures.
Usually, these cameras are waterproof, shockproof, and sometimes even freeze proof. These characteristics make them more ideal for nature photography, but the photo quality still isn't good enough for large prints.
Fourth is the advanced compact
As the name suggests, is a sort of standard compact designed to be used by more experienced photographers who need more features and better quality.
Fifth is the super-zoom
Similar to a journeyman's camera, but excels in zooming.
Sixth is the compact mirrorless system camera
It uses interchangeable lenses and takes on many of the features of DSLRs. The photo quality of this type of camera isn't quite as good as that of the DSLR, however.
Last but not least: the DSLR
And finally, reigning supreme is the DSLR, which is the camera of choice for most serious photographers.
3. What Qualities Should I Look for in the Best Camera for Nature Photography?
The best camera for nature photography will have the following characteristics:
- Strong zoom
- High resolution
- A manual depth of field control
4. Where Can I Buy One?
You can find a camera in most electronics stores and in any dedicated photography store. You can also find one online, on a site like Amazon.
How We Reviewed
The following products were reviewed based on the following parameters: features, pros & cons, where to buy, and their warranty. We choose these parameters to give our readers the most holistic, fairest reviews possible.
What We Reviewed
Canon 7D Mark II
PENTAX K-3 II
Canon EOS 1DX Mark II DSL
Nikon D500 DSLR
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame DSLR
Sony A99 II Digital SLR
Canon EOS Rebel T5i DSLR
1. Sony A77II
The Sony A77II is ideal for beginner photographers. It boasts 14 frames per second, with 15 AF points. It features an OLED Tru-Finder, as well as Wi-Fi/NFC connectivity.
- It has a 79-point phase and contrast detection
- It can only take one memory card at once
- It is not waterproof
2. CANON 7D MARK II
The Canon 7D Mark II handles 10 frames per second and has 65 AF points. It has a 20.2 MP CMOS sensor and an ISO range of 100-16000. It is ideal for professional photographers taking nature photography.
- It has a Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, which allows fast focusing
- Its natural ISO reaches 51200
- It is a bit heavy at 2.1 pounds
3. NIKON D7200
The Nikon D7200 is a camera ideal for beginners and pros alike. The camera takes 6 frames per second and has 51 AF points. It has a 24.2 MP DX-format CMOS image sensor, as well as a No Optical Low-Pass Filter. It has both Wi-Fi and Near Field Communications capabilities and an ISO range of 100 to 25,600.
- It has fantastic battery life
- The frame rate is a tad underwhelming
- It does not have built-in image stabilization
4. NIKON D5
The Nikon D5 is a fantastic choice for professional photographers. It has a frame rate of 12 frames per second and has as many as 153 AF points. It comes with a 20.8MP FX-Format CMOS sensor and an EXPEED 5 image processor. Its monitor is a 3.2 inches 2.36m-Dot touchscreen LCD monitor. The D5 can take 4K UHD video at 30 frames per second.
- The D5's sensor performs exceedingly well in low light
- If you're able to afford it, this is certainly one of the best cameras for nature photography with its excellent photo quality; there is a reason this camera is used by pros
- It weighs quite a bit at 3.1 pounds
- It does not feature built-in image stabilization
5. PENTAX K-3 II
The Pentax K-3 II is an excellent option for beginner photographers and those shopping on a budget. It is capable of capturing 8.4 frames per second and has 27 AF points.
It comes with an APS-C sized CMOS sensor with a resolution of 24 mega pixels. Its ISO range is 100 to 51200. It features a built-in GPS with Astro Tracer Function. It has FLU, Eye-fi Wireless, and SDX memory card compatibility.
- It has a dual SD card slot
- It is weather resistant
- It does not have a flash
- The battery life is lackluster
6. Canon EOS 1DX Mark II DSLR
The Canon EOS 1DX Mark II DSLR is a great choice for the pros. It has a frame rate of 14 frames per second and has as many as 61 AF points. At continuous firing rate, the Mark II is capable of a max burst of up to 170 RAWs. It comes with an all-new EOS Intelligent Tracking and Recognition AF with a 360,000-pixel metering sensor.
- It takes up to 16 frames per second in live view mode
- The battery life is excellent
- It is lightweight at 0.66 pounds
- It has a dual-pixel autofocus
- If you can afford it, this is one of the best cameras for nature photography
7. Nikon D500 DSLR
The Nikon D500 is a camera ideal for professional photographers taking nature photography. It takes up to 10 frames per second and has an astounding number of AF points at 153. It has a 3.2 inch LCD touchscreen monitor and a 20.9MP DX-Format CMOS Sensor.
- The 3.2 inch LCD is a touchscreen
- It does not have a built-in image stabilization feature
- The battery life isn't great
8. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame DSLR
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame DSLR is a solid pick for professional photographers. It captures up to 7 frames per second and has 61 AF points. It has a 30.4 MP full-frame CMOS sensor, and its ISO range is 100 to 32000.
- It has great resolution
- The range of color is fantastic
- It comes with a powerful sensor
- The frame rate could be better
9. Sony A99 II Digital SLR
The Sony A99 II Digital SLR has a full frame 35.9 x 24 mm Exmor CMOS sensor with a resolution of 42.4 MP. It has 79 AF points, and its frame rate is 12 frames per second. It can take 4K UHD video at 30 frames per second.
- The A99 II performs fantastically in low-light conditions
- It is easy to use, even for beginners
- The autofocus system is intelligent and reliable
- This is one of the best cameras for night photography
- There isn't much to say in the way of cons
10. Canon EOS Rebel T5i DSLR
The Canon EOS Rebel T5i DSLR is ideal for beginners and photographers on a budget. It comes with an impressive 18 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and is capable of a frame rate of 5 frames per second. It has a 9 point AF system.
- The camera has durable body coating
- The touchscreen is a great feature
- The power switch is in an inconvenient location
The Bottom Line
Of the 10 cameras we reviewed, we settled on 2 winners, one for those on a budget and another for those who can throw down a lot more money.
The first camera is the Canon 7D Mark II, which is a solid all-around performer with a high ISO and blisteringly fast focusing. It's not cheap, but it's perfect for the job
The second camera is far more expensive. This camera is the Sony A99 II. This camera has no weaknesses and is an especially high performer for night photography. If you can afford it, you are not likely to have any issues with this DSLR.
What did you choose, and which camera is your very favorite to capture those outdoor memories? Let us know down in the comments!
Featured image by Eduarda via Pexels