best dslr for night photography

Without a proper camera, it’s impossible to shoot epic images in low light. Most of the time, you will be taking underexposed nighttime shots. A solid night camera can lighten dark areas and shadows without affecting the quality of the image.  Night photography requires a camera with a large sensor, a high dynamic range, and a high ISO range. Most quality DSLR cameras have these features so if that’s what you’re already shooting with, you’re set! Though if not, we’ve decided to narrow down the search for you and list some of the best dslr for night photography, best cheap camera for night photography and best cheap camera for night sky photography. Here are our choices:

Best Dslr For Night Photography

1. Nikon D810 (Overall Winner)

Nikon D810 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body Image
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We are starting off this list with the Nikon D810. For anyone looking for the ideal tough camera perfect for backpacking and mountaineering, the Nikon D810 makes for a solid pick. For night photography, particularly landscape and sky images, this one ticks all the boxes. It has a huge range perfect for taking shots in a forest or from the sky. There is no better pick when it comes to quality and durability.

Images from the D810 come out noise-free and flawless. One of it’s best features is that you don’t have to change lenses when moving between light and dark scenes as the camera quickly adapts to the environment.

2. Pentax K-3 (Budget Winner)

Pentax K-3 SLR Camera Image
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While not the cheapest camera, the Pentax K-3 isn’t the most expensive either. It is prepared to handle even the toughest weather conditions. You can use it when there is snow, fog, dust, sand, and even with water.

One of its key selling features is the Live View focus and enhanced AF. This is a great camera, compact, and easy to use. The photos you take with this camera will be smooth and noise-free. You get clear images in a matter of seconds. You get the same quality videos as if you are shooting them in a studio. Furthermore, it’s easy to carry around, so you can transport it anywhere you need.

3. Sony a7R III

Sony a7R III Mirrorless Camera Image
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When you are thinking about a solid investment, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the Sony a7R III. With this little fella, you get to shoot images in incredible detail. Even when there is little to no light, you will still get excellent shots at night.

One of its cool features is the autofocus. Once it registers your eye, it will align its focus accordingly. So, even if you shoot images in the middle of the night, you will still get the deep and rich colors you are looking for.

best cheap camera for night sky photography

4. Nikon D5

Nikon D5 DSLR 20.8 MP Point & Shoot Digital Camera Image
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The Nikon D5 is like a dream come true for most skilled photographers. It’s all about flexibility, quality, and durability – and the Nikon D5 has it all. It is ideal for night photography due to the beautiful images it creates. You get 4K resolution photos that not many similar devices can offer.

The colors are sharp and vivid, and the whole landscape it captures is in its purest form, no matter how dark it may be outside. What sets this camera apart from the rest are the sensors. You can shoot incredibly fast at up to 14 frames a second.

Any traveling photographer knows how difficult it is to maintain a full battery on a camera you use all the time. But, with the Nikon D5, you don’t have to worry about that anymore. It has an excellent battery life that won’t disappoint.

Last but not least is the processor. The Nikon D5 comes equipped with the most powerful processor, which makes it ideal for taking master-quality images. With this camera, you will be able to overcome even the toughest of challenges. 

5. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Mirrorless Camera Image
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For anyone looking for wide space cameras for night photography and long exposures, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II is definitely the camera to go for. You get a five-axis stabilizer, a powerful sensor, and a viewfinder. What more could you ask for from a product this cheap? At an affordable price, you get a camera ideal for fast shooting and night photography.

On top of all that, it’s small, compact, and easy to transport. You get sharp and clear images with little effort, and the best thing about it is you don’t have to spend a fortune to get it. Maintaining it is a piece of cake, and the whole camera is rock solid – it can handle rough treatment.

The battery life is not that bad either, while it can’t compare with the Nikon D5, it still makes for a great choice when you are going out camping or planning on staying somewhere a long time. Finally, it’s small, compact, lightweight, and easy to move around. You will love taking it with you wherever you plan ongoing. 

6. Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5K

PANASONIC LUMIX GH5 4K Digital Camera DC GH5K Image
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The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5K is another great camera to have as a professional photographer. All the features you get to play around with are ideal for bloggers and videographers. Not only is it suitable for all weather conditions, but you also get great 4K and 6K modes. While it is a lot more expensive than some of the cameras for night photography on this list, like the Olympus, it still packs quite a punch.

You get multiple functions at a great price. It’s perfect for taking pictures at night, even when there is little to no light. You can use it to shoot the perfect landscapes and portraits. The zoom will also make your life a lot easier. So, this camera is a solid investment for anyone looking for stylish, modern cameras for night photography. 

7. Canon EOS 77D

Canon EOS 77D Image
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If you are looking for a camera for both great video recording and photos, then the Canon EOS 77D is the ideal choice. You will get excellent quality images with a clear view, especially at night. The touchscreen makes for easy access and control of the settings. You can play around with all the shooting settings for an innovative image.

Once you get the hang of all the features and options, you can make the ultimate image fit for a professional photographer. It has everything you need for a beginner including environment sealing, flash control, speed, and more. It’s a solid device you can depend on and it’s pretty convenient to handle.

Also, it is durable making the Canon EOS 77D a solid investment for anyone who has decided to try night photography. The cool thing about it is that you simply can’t go wrong with it. With just a little practice, you will be able to shoot the excellent quality images that you’ve always wanted. 

Choosing Cameras for Night Photography

There are many great-quality cameras on the market to suit everyone’s taste. But, when it comes to cameras for night photography, only the best of the best deserve a spot on our list. These cameras meet all the requirements a professional photographer will be looking for.

You can either go for the most expensive one, which is the Nikon D5, or you can select the cheapest one like the Canon EOS 7D and still get your money’s worth. If you are looking for a mix of both, you can always check out the Sony a7R III or any other cameras for night photography on this list– the choice is yours.

How to Buy a Digital Camera

1. Determine what you need

A mistake I see some digital camera buyers making is that they get sucked into buying cameras that are beyond what they really need. Some questions to ask yourself before you go shopping:

  • What do you need the camera for?
  • What type of photography will you be doing? (portraits, landscapes, macro, sports)
  • What conditions will you be largely photographing in? (indoors, outdoors, low light, bright light)
  • Will you largely stay in auto mode or do you want to learn the art of photography?
  • What experience level do you have with cameras?
  • What type of features are you looking for? (long zoom, image stabilization, large LCD display etc)
  • How important is size and portability to you?
  • What is your budget?

Ask yourself these questions before you go to buy a camera and you’ll be in a much better position to make a decision when you see what’s on offer. You’ll probably find the sales person asks you this question anyway – so to have thought about it before hand will help them help you get the right digital camera.

2. Megapixels are NOT everything

One of the features that you’ll see used to sell digital cameras is how many megapixels a digital camera has.

When I first got into digital photography, a few years back, the megapixel rating of cameras was actually quite important as most cameras were at the lower end of today’s modern day range and even a 1 megapixel increase was significant.

These days, with most new cameras coming out with at least 5 megapixels, it isn’t so crucial. In fact at the upper end of the range it can actually be a disadvantage to have images that are so large that they take up enormous amounts of space on memory cards and computers.

One of the main questions to ask when it comes to megapixels is ‘Will you be printing shots’? If so – how large will you be going with them? If you’re only printing images at a normal size then anything over 4 or so megapixels will be fine. If you’re going to start blowing your images up you might want to pay the extra money for something at the upper end of what’s on offer today.

3. Keep in mind the ‘extras’


Keep in mind as you look at cameras that the price quoted may not be the final outlay that you need to make as there are a variety of other extras that you might want (or need) to fork out for including:

  • Camera Case
  • Memory Cards
  • Spare Batteries/Recharger
  • Lenses (if you are getting a DSLR)
  • Filters (and other lens attachments)
  • Tripods/Monopods
  • External Flashes
  • Reflectors

Some retailers will bundle such extras with cameras or will at least give a discount when buying more than one item at once. Keep in mind though that what they offer in bundles might not meet you needs. For example it’s common to get a 16 or 32 megabyte memory card with cameras – however these days you’ll probably want something at least of 500 megabytes (if not a gigabyte or two).

4. Do you already own any potentially compatible gear?

Talking of extra gear – one way to save yourself some cash is if you have accessories from previous digital cameras that are compatible with your new one.

For example memory cards, batteries, lenses (remember that many film camera lenses are actually compatible with digital SLRs from the same manufacturers), flashes, filters etc.

5. DSLR or Point and Shoot?

Dslr-Point-And-ShootWhile digital SLRs are getting more affordable they are not for everyone. Keep in mind that they are usually bigger, heavier, harder to keep clean (if you’re changing lenses) and can be more complicated to operate than point and shoot. Of course there are some upsides also.

If you’re trying to make a decision between a point and shoot and DSLR you might want to read my previous posts titled Should you buy a DSLR or a Point and Shoot Digital Camera? and it’s companion piece How to Choose a DSLR.

6. Optical Zooms are King

Not all ‘zooms’ are created equal.

When you’re looking at different models of digital cameras you’ll often hear their zooms talked about in two ways. Firstly there’s the ‘optical zoom’ and then there’s the ‘digital zoom’.

I would highly recommend that you only take into consideration the ‘optical zoom’ when making a decision about which camera to buy. Digital zooms simply enlarge the pixels in your shot which does make your subject look bigger, but it also makes it look more pixelated and your picture ‘noisier’ (like when you go up close to your TV).

If you’re looking for a zoom lens make sure it’s an optical zoom (most modern cameras have them of at least 3x in length – ie they’ll make your subject three times as big – with an increasing array of ‘super zooms’ coming onto the market at up to 12x Optical Zoom).

7. Read reviews

Before buying a digital camera take the time to do a little research. Don’t JUST rely upon the advice of the helpful sales person (who may or may not know anything about cameras and who may or may not have sales incentives for the camera they are recommending).

Read some reviews in digital camera magazines or online to help you narrow down the field. There are some great websites around that give expert and user reviews on virtually every camera on the market – use this wonderful and free resource.

A little self promotion here – one such site is my Digital Photography Blog which is a site that collates the reviews of many sites from around the web. To use it best enter the camera’s model name that you’re looking for a review on in the search feature in the top right side bar. It’ll give you a link to a central page that has information on the camera as well as links to any reviews published online on that camera from around the web.

8. Hands On Experience

Photo by erinmariepage

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a handful of cameras head into your local digital camera shop and ask to see and play with them. There’s nothing like having the camera in your hands to work out whether it suits your needs.

When I shop for a camera I generally use the web to find reviews, then I head into a street in my city with 4 camera shops side by side and I go from shop to shop asking for recommendations and seeing the cameras live in the flash. In doing this I generally find the same camera or two are recommended in most shops and I get to see them demonstrated by different people (this gives a more well rounded demo). I also get to play with it and get a feel for which one I could see myself using.

9. Negotiate

After you’ve selected the right digital camera for you it’s time to find the best price.

Once again, I generally start online (on a site like our store) and do some searches to find the most competitive prices on the models I’m interested in. With these in hand I’m in a good position to be able to negotiate in person with local stores and/or with online stores. I generally find that retail stores will negotiate on price and will often throw in freebies. Online stores are more difficult – most bigger ones don’t give you the ability to negotiate but smaller ones often will if you email them.

Don’t forget to ask for free or discounted bonuses including camera cases, memory cards, extra batteries, filters, free prints, cases etc. I even know of a couple of stores that offer camera lessons that you can ask to be included. Some stores will also consider giving you a trade in on older gear.

I generally do negotiating from home on the phone and only go into a store to pick up the camera after a price is agreed upon.

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