Top Recommended Cameras for Sports and Wildlife Photography

Pika with Grass Front

If you’re passionate about sports and wildlife photography, finding the perfect camera for these genres can be a daunting task. Action photography, in particular, presents unique challenges that demand specific features. Fast autofocus, rapid continuous shooting, minimal blackout, generous camera buffers, robust weather sealing, sturdy build quality, and intelligent subject tracking are all vital.

In this article, we have curated a list of our top recommended cameras for sports and wildlife photography. It’s worth noting that each camera on the list has undergone rigorous testing by our team members, ensuring that our recommendations are based on real-world experience.


If you’re wondering what camera features are crucial in a camera that is action-oriented Here is a brief list we compiled in order of the importance of each feature (from the most important to the lowest):

  • The Lens selection Although it isn’t a camera function however, it’s perhaps the most crucial factor when evaluating a sports and wildlife camera. What’s the point of having the camera if it have to mount only a small number of telephoto and super-telephoto lenses? The first thing you need to take into consideration is the strength of the camera, that is heavily dependent on availability of lenses that are high-quality.
  • Fast, Responsive and Customizable Autofocus (AF) System You will require cameras with a sophisticated phase-detection autofocus that can be trusted for high-speed photography. The autofocus system must be precise and fast and capable of delivering consistently high-quality results in various situations. Here’s a list of the most crucial autofocus capabilities:
    • Phase-Detection AF / Hybrid AF System
    • AF Speed
    • AF Reliability
    • Low-light AF Performance
    • Subject Recognition and Tracking
    • Variety of Focus Modes for AF (Single or Dynamic Group, etc.)
    • AF Mode Customization (Tracking Speed, Tracking Sensitivity, etc)
    • Wide AF Point Coverage
    • Face / Eye Detection
  • Continuous Speed of Shooting When it comes to taking photos of wildlife and sports The more frames-per-second (FPS) more, the more effective.
  • camera buffer A high FPS isn’t enough if the camera is unable to continue to shoot continuously for longer than a few seconds before the buffer is emptied out. Cameras also need to be able to maintain a buffer of sufficient size.
  • Rapid memory card storage The camera buffer greatly depends on the speed at which memory card’s storage is. In actual fact, if memory card’s storage capacity is fast enough then the camera buffer is not required to be large. In essence, the more speedy storage capacity, the quicker images are transferred onto the card.
  • Sensor Size The ability to take clear, uncluttered photos in low-light conditions is crucial when it comes to photography of wildlife. It is important to note that a fully-framed camera will have significantly better performance in high ISO performance than cameras with smaller sensors. However smaller sensors with similar resolution will give better reach because of cutting (see crop factor) which is why one needs to assess the size of the sensor low-light performance in relation to reach.
  • Sensor Resolution (Megapixels) – while certain photographers prefer cameras with lower resolution to produce clearer images, others prefer the possibility of cropping images with a lot of force with high-resolution cameras.
  • Ergonomics When shooting in fast action, ergonomics are incredibly crucial. You must be able to swiftly switch between different modes of focus without removing your eyes from the viewfinder. You need to be able access the most important settings like the camera’s mode, ISO, exposure compensation and the metering mode as conditions change. You must feel comfortable when placing buttons and be capable of quickly assessing the quality of the images. Both the camera lens and its must to be balanced on your hands, and also when mounted on tripod.
  • Building Quality as well as Weather Sealing Sports and wildlife photographers must be capable of shooting in all sorts of difficult conditions, therefore weather sealing on both the camera and lens is crucial. If you are shooting in a bustling stadium or from a vehicle moving crashes and bumps occur often and photographers must be able to trust the quality of the construction of their equipment to keep focused.
  • The Battery Life Wildlife and sports photography drains batteries quicker than other types of photography because the camera is constantly continuously observing subjects, taking many photos, and constantly retrieving and storing images. The longer a battery is in the field the more efficient.
  • Size and weight generally speaking the high-end DSLR camera equipped with a super-telephoto lens will tend to be heavy and bulky. Although smaller sensors will be smaller and lighter than their counterparts, they’re not likely to provide the same amount of performance as. It is important to analyze each one in light of your needs and budget. Remember that the lens and camera combination must be practical on the job.

There are many other camera features and elements to be considered, but those mentioned above are the main ones to be aware of.

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NIKON D3S + 300mm f/2.8 @ 500mm, ISO 1600, 1/800, f/8.0

The recommendations are split in two categories: mirrorless camera and DSLRs. For the majority of photographers who are looking for the latest technology the mirrorless camera is the best choice due to the fact that DSLR systems aren’t being developed anymore and since mirrorless cameras tend to be superior in certain capabilities that are essential for taking action.

However when you’re trying to stay within your budget or to save money on some fantastic supertelephotos you’ve seen however, the DSLR is an excellent option keeping in your mind that DSLR models will not receive as much support from the manufacturers.

Remember that the size of the sensor will determine the overall size of the system, as well as its weight and also its total price. While top-of-the-line Full-Frame cameras provide the highest autofocus system and quality of images however, they’re quite big heavy and expensive. This is why those who are beginning to get into wildlife and sports photography may prefer the APS-C options that are described within this post.

In terms of cameras and brands There’s a wide selection to pick from various camera makers that include Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, and many other brands. The following list is arranged in our order of preference, however each camera we list can be more than capable of producing excellent results.

Mirrorless Camera Systems

Nikon Z9

The Nikon Z9 is Nikon’s first camera that is mirrorless and specifically designed for wildlife and sports and they didn’t let us down. While the Z9 features a similar design body design with that of Nikon D6 and others in the Dx series, it’s quite a different camera.

The new flagship model from Nikon has the 45.7MP sensor, which means its pixel count is the same of the Z7, D850, and D500 and makes the Z9 more adaptable when it comes to cropping.

The autofocus system of the Z9 can cope with any circumstance, and it is also equipped with options that were not available on earlier flagship models including outstanding video capabilities. In actuality this Z9 was the first Nikon camera to shoot video in 8K resolution and in 12-bit Raw at no less.

Nikon Z9 + 400 mm f/2.8, ISO 3200, 1/2000 second, f/5.0

As I mentioned that a sports and wildlife camera is also about lenses. And Nikon is currently leading the pack in comparison to Canon as well as Sony. It’s not just that Nikon offer more primes for supertelephoto than their competitors, but they also have unique options such as those of Nikon 400mm f/4.5 and 800mm f/6.3 and their standard 400mm f/2.8 and 600mm f/4 lenses include built-in converters for telephotos.

It is also the first flagship camera to have a mechanical shutter. Nikon Z9 is also the first flagship performance model that does not have mechanical shutter. Shooters who shoot sports may be cautious about this since it’s harder to manage the effects of artificial lighting during sports events. However, since the introduction of Z9, Nikon has added advanced anti-flicker adjustments to shutters to eliminate the majority of these issues.


Sony A1

Sony’s flagship A1 camera is currently the most popular Sony camera for shooting wildlife. It comes with a 50MP full-frame sensor, which has the same pixel count as APS-C cameras, and allows for more cropping over the A9II and Sony A9. Its autofocus feature is among the top three cameras currently available.

The A1’s blackout-free, 30FPS Raw shooting will ensure that you be able to capture the image in nearly every situation. Sony also offers a wide collection of supertelephoto lenses such as those from the Sony 600-f/4 GM. Sony is also home to the most powerful superzoom lens for any system, the Sony 200-600 f/5.6-6.3 lens. The only other superzoom from the first party that can be used at 600mm on mirrorless systems includes that of the Fuji 150-600mm f/5.6-8 lens, which comes with an APS C lens, and not as bright as the end of the spectrum.

Northern Hawk-owl_09
Sony a1 + Sony FE 600mm F4 GM OSS (SEL600F40GM) @ 600mm, ISO 800, 1/200, f/4.0

Comparing with The Sony A9 II, the Sony A1 is especially suited for wildlife photography due to its higher resolution sensor. Shooters who typically have the ability to be nearer to their subject would likely prefer the Sony A9II. It is also a little less expensive as compared to Sony A1.

Canon R5

While Canon’s most sophisticated mirrorless camera is, in fact, the Canon R3 however, Canon R5 Canon R5 is the best camera to use if you’re thinking of both wildlife and sports. The autofocus feature that is part of Canon R5 can still compete with the Sony A1 and the Nikon Z9 with its 45MP sensor makes it more suited for wildlife than the R3’s the 20MP sensor.

As a photographer who has worked with the R5 I believe it has particular advantages over Nikon Z9 and the Sony A9 and A1 models. Its autofocus feature is still quite efficient when compared to Sony or Nikon models.

Canon EOS R5 Image Sample #4
Canon EOS R5 + EF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 L IS II USM + 1.4x III @ 560mm, ISO 10000, 1/2000, f/9.0

The R5 offers more resolution over it’s predecessor, the Sony A9. I have shot wildlife using an 24MP full-frame camera, and the 45MP full-frame camera I can clearly see the distinction. It’s much smaller and lighter than Nikon Z9 and cheaper than both Nikon Z9 and Sony A1. Additionally, Canon has the superb Canon 100-500 f/4.5-7.1L lens. While it’s a bit smaller in comparison to its predecessor, the Sony 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 model, it’s 775g lighter than the Sony model. I do get tired using a lens that is that is the same size as the Sony 200-600mm, however it’s the Canon 100-500mm model is one that I can use all day long without feeling tired.

So, if you’re searching for a camera with small zoom then it is the Canon R5 with the Canon RF 100-500 f/4.5-7.1 is my preferred option.


Canon EOS R6II / R6

The Canon EOS R6II is a mirrorless camera that is on our list of top tools to shoot action and for the right reason. It’s amazing due to Canon’s excellent Dual Pixel autofocus CMOS AF II which is capable of tracking eyes of animals and people with incredible precision. It also has the capability to capture up 12-fps (40 FPS using electronic shutter) and a high-resolution EVF with a low noise 20.1 Mp full frame image sensor and 4K video recording with up to 60p resolution and a weather-proofed body, and you’ve got an amazing mirrorless camera to capture speedy action.

Canon EOS R6 Sample #3
Canon EOS R6 + RF800mm F11 IS STM @ 800mm, ISO 1600, 1/1000, f/11.0

Canon EOS R6II Canon EOS R6II has excellent ergonomics and an organized menu system that makes it simple to operate the camera while out in the field. It’s light and small and, when paired with Canon’s latest 600mm f/11 and 800mm F/11 super-telephoto primes, it will give you incredible coverage in a compact size.

In addition, Canon has a wide selection of supertelephotos that work with the RF system, including 600mm f/4 lens, an 800 f/5.6 or even 1200mm f/8. you can utilize all of Canon’s Supertelephotos to the DSLR EF mount by using Canon’s fantastic EF adapter for RF to EF.

The majority of the functions of Canon R6II. Almost all of the features in Canon R6II are in the R6 too, meaning that there are very limited options through the R6 If you could get a great deal on it.

Sony A9 II

If it were your job to select the most effective mirrorless camera for action shooting in the present and today, the Sony A9 II would certainly be the top choice. The best features of this camera are Sony’s top 24.2 MP BSI stackable CMOS sensor that has incredible readout speed that can allow an up-to 20 FPS continuously shooting and advanced phase detection of 693 points. AF, Real-time Eye Automatic Focus capabilities, five-axis in-body stabilization for images, 3.69-million dot OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF) and two UHS-II SD memory slot.

Sony A9 Image Sample 00014
ILCE-9 + FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS @ 352mm, ISO 400, 1/1600, f/5.6

Since it is a mirrorless model, it is a mirrorless camera, Sony A9 II has a number of advantages over Canon’s as well as Nikon’s best DSLRs. It is the first. At only 678 grams, it’s much lighter contrasted with the Canon 1D X Mark III or Nikon D6 (even with an battery grip that can be added however, it’s still only 300 milligrams lighter). The second reason is that its autofocus system gives a greater coverage than DSLRs that allow users of the Sony A9 II to continue monitoring subjects even when they’re near the edges that frame. Thirdly, the quick readout speed of the sensor lets it to allow the A9 II to be able to shoot without significant blackouts. This makes it more suited to shooting fast-moving subjects. It is evident that as it a camera that is mirrorless, Sony A9 II has many advantages and disadvantages in comparison to the DSLR. If you’re wondering about their differences, refer to my DSLR and Mirrorless Camera article for more details.

Sony A9 Image Sample 00001
ILCE-9 + FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS + 1.4X Teleconverter @ 280mm, ISO 2500, 1/320, f/4.0

In the end, Sony managed to make its FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS and 600mm f/4 GM lenses. OSS lenses as light as Canon’s latest super-telephoto primes. That’s an amazing feat. Lens choice is clearly important for wildlife and sports photography. That’s why Sony isn’t quite up to par currently – it doesn’t have 300mm f/2.8 /f/4 500mm f/4, 800mm f/5.6 and high-end zoom lenses such as 200-400mm f/4. Another issue is the poor user interface and navigation system that comes with the majority of Sony DSLRs. If you’re used with Nikon as well as Canon ergonomics changing to a Sony could be a difficult experience.


OM SYSTEM OM-1 (Micro Four Thirds)

The OM SYSTEM OM-1 camera is an incredible camera that is ideal for wildlife and sports. If you already love micro four thirds cameras, the OM-1 is the best. It comes with a fantastic subject detection mode, with a staggering 120fps Raw burst mode, making it simple to capture the perfect moment.


OM SYSTEM in an interview recently stated that their primary goal is “to create an OM System brand to meet the requirements and expectations of photographers who are committed to the great outdoors” which indicates that they will continue to make a dedication to wildlife and the sports category. This is evident from the launch of the newest OM System 90mm macro.

However, I have one concern concerning using microfour-thirds to capture certain types of wildlife. It is a result of the absence of supertelephotos with long focal lengths. They do have one, the Olympus ED 150-400mm f/4.5 TC lens, which is an outstanding lens, however it’s also costly at $7500, and is also difficult to find. The lens is Olympus 300mm f/4 lens which I think isn’t quite enough for the micro four-thirds body.

As a bird photographer who has been around for a long time I’d strongly suggest using Nikon, Canon, or Sony If you believe you’ll ever get serious about bird photography in the near future. Shooters who shoot sports should consider alternatives, particularly in the case of using traditional options such as 400mm f/2.8 lens.

However If you’re certain your photography style is always a good fit for existing lenses then the OM-1 is an excellent choice.


Fuji X-H2S (APS-C)

For the longest time I’ve never recommended Fuji as a wildlife or sports camera, simply because choices offered by other brands were better in the autofocus and lens selection. The Fuji XH2S is different. It features an stacked sensor as well as an advanced autofocus system that can run at 40FPS which is ideal for wildlife.


The XH2S also comes with an 26.1MP APS-C sensor that has higher pixel density than other full-frame cameras. The F-Log video in 4K120 is also impressive and is perfect for wildlife photographers.

With the launch of this camera Fuji also gave us Fuji’s FXF 150-600mm f/5.6-8 R LM OIS WR. This compact lens will be ideal for anyone needing a zoom for wildlife.

However, Fuji suffers the same problem as micro four-thirds however, it is more severe. There are very few other lenses that can be used for wildlife. (I once observed a man shooting birds using an Fuji 200f/2. It was cool, however certainly not practical or useful in all situations.)

My opinion is that if you think the Fuji X-H2S is the perfect camera for you due to other reasons and you’ll just utilize a zoom such as the 150-600mm f/5.6-8 and above, then this could be a good wildlife option. However it is a good choice if you’re selecting one that you are using for the first time, and you want to improve your skills in photography of wildlife and sports choose Nikon, Sony, or Canon.

DSLR Camera Systems

Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

If you’re in search of an absolute monster of a DSLR within the Canon world the most recent EOS 1D X Mark III is an absolute masterpiece for all types camera for action shots, such as wildlife and sports. Canon engineers have put their maximum efforts to make it the most feature-rich, complete DSLR camera available currently, and it displays. With its innovative 20.1 MP CMOS sensor, which produces low-noise photos even at extreme ISO amounts, a 191-point high-end autofocus system, amazing Dual Pixel CMOS AF, and 5.5K video recording capabilities The Canon 1D X Mark III excels as a high-quality stills camera as well as a video camera.

Canon EF 200-400mm f4L IS USM Extender 1.4x
Canon EOS-1D X @ 560mm, ISO 640, 1/1600, f/6.3

Canon’s latest autofocus technology will make Canon’s 1D X Mark III stand apart from other models. Alongside the sophisticated phase-detection autofocus feature that includes Face Detection and Head Detection as well as Deep Learning for advanced subject recognition and tracking, Canon also incorporated its Dual Pixel CMOS AF feature into the camera to take autofocus to the next stage when used with Live View. This is a great way to reap the advantages of modern mirrorless cameras in terms of autofocus capabilities. With a speed of 16 FPS this 1D X Mark III is the most powerful camera available in terms of continuous shooting speeds – and it shoots at incredible speeds using continuous AI Servo autofocus. By switching into Live View, it extends the speed of shooting to 20 FPS and also has the ability to continuously autofocus as well as tracking. It can do all this without running out buffer in the camera, even while shooting RAW and JPEG images.

Canon EF 300mm f2.8L IS USM Image Sample (21)
Canon EOS-1D Mark III @ 300mm, ISO 800, 1/200, f/3.2

The EOS-1D X Mark 3 was the very first Canon camera that has an HEIF option for images that allows you to store HDR information within the image, and provides greater bit depth when compared to using the JPEG format.

Let’s not forget Canon’s fantastic range of super-telephoto lenses. They range starting at 70 to 200mm f/2.8L IS III USM and 200-400mm F/4L IS USM Extension 1.4x up to the fanciful 300mm f/2.8 400mm f/2.8 500mm f/4, 600mm f/4 and the 800mm f/5.6 primes. Canon has really blown its new EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM and EF 600mm F/4L IS III USM lenses out of the park, which makes them considerably lighter than their Nikon equivalents (the 400mm is nearly one kilo lighter this is quite impressive).

As I’ve explained in my Nikon D6 vs Canon 1D X Mark III article and The Canon 1D X Mark III is distinct in almost every way compared to Nikon D6. Nikon D6, making it our top choice for the most excellent wildlife and sports camera available today.