best dslr for outdoor photography

For those that can’t stand the noise of the city and want to be one with nature at every opportunity, then you must take on photography. Photography opportunities in nature are endless, and while you can take some decent photographs with your smartphone camera, the results won’t be nearly as impressive as with a proper camera, regardless if it is a point-and-shoot, DSLR, a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera or something different. There are somethings that smartphone cameras just can’t do. For that reason today I will present you with the Best Dslr For Outdoor Photography, the top picks chosen by me based on the set criteria, on performance, durability, value for the price, market research, and buyer feedback. Besides the picks, I will try to provide some tips on how to choose the right camera for outdoor photography in the qualities to consider section. Now without further ado, let’s get going.

Best dslr For Outdoor Photography

5. Canon PowerShot SX710 HS 

For outdoor photography, I always recommend DSLRs or mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, however, to every rule there is an exception, as the Canon PowerShot SX710 HS is definitely a worthy point and shoot camera that will deliver a great performance for outdoor photography because this camera has all the necessary qualities plus value for the price factor.

In terms, fo features and specs this point-and-shoot camera is definitely an interesting option, as you really wouldn’t expect this type of performance from it. It is equipped with a 20.3 megapixel 1/2.3 type back-illuminated CMOS sensor and a DIGIC 6 image processor with the iSAPS technology.  It has a nice lens with a 30x optical zoom and a good image stabilization system inside it. Moving on it has a 9 point contrast-detect autofocus system and it can shoot 6 frames per second in the continuous drive mode, definitely a worthy competitor.

Upon unboxing I was quite impressed with the Canon PowerShot SX710 HS since this camera besides being an affordable point-and-shoot model looked and felt pretty capable. It is pretty small yet feels pretty substantial in the hands. One of the things that impressed me the most was that this camera delivered some enthusiast-level controls, which I didn’t really expect. I think that both beginners and experienced photographers can have plenty of fun with this camera. Top-notch first impression.

I spent some time with this camera and tried to use it in various scenarios, portraits, landscapes, and especially outdoors, and it excelled especially in natural light conditions for outdoors and nature photography. It focused rather quickly, despite being a pretty cheap model. In high ISO settings, it fared pretty good and I am quite impressed with everything that this little fellow offered, and I think that you must consider this.

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4. Nikon D5500 

Coming up next we have the Nikon D5500, which is dedicated as an entry-level camera for beginners that want a bit more creative control over their photography, and it delivers great performance for outdoor photography. This camera will provide you with ample fun and amazing photographs, well besides its rather great value for the price factor that made the claim even more impressive.

The Nikon D5500 was released in 2015, which is 5 years ago, but still, this camera has aged rather well and delivered some great features and specs. The camera is packed with a 24-megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor that goes hand to hand with the Expeed 4 image processor. I should mention that the ISO range of this camera spans from 100 to 25,600 and it has 12 white balance presets. In the autofocus department, this camera has a contrast-detect sensor with 39 focus points. When it comes to speed though, this camera can shoot 5 frames per second in the burst shooting mode and it can shoot 820 photos with a single battery charge.

Before getting this camera, just by looking at its specs I expected a rather large camera, but no the Nikon D5500 measures about 4.88×3.82×2.76-inches in total and weighs 420grams with the batteries. However, it still has a solid monocoque construction that is pretty durable and sturdy. I should also state that the camera has a pretty ergonomic shape allowing you to get a pretty secure grip. The controls though are excellent, giving you a great amount of creative freedom that you wouldn’t expect from a camera at this price.

During my testing, I fell in love with this camera, especially at the detail retention, which combined the powers of the 24MP sensor and the lack of anti-aliasing filter. Further on the colors were rather natural and pretty friendly. The noise was eliminated excellently even in the higher sensitivity modes. If you want a camera that will deliver you ample fun this is it.

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3. Fujifilm X-T30 

I am a big fan of Fujifilm cameras because they deliver some of the best cameras out there while still being underrated, and they have been one of the leaders of the “mirrorless revolution”. The Fujifilm X-T30 is one of the best examples though, especially for outdoor photography, it does plenty of things right, without a lot of compromises, and amazing value for the price, one of my favorites overall.

I am extremely surprised as to why this camera is at this price, as the manufacturer can definitely raise the price a lot, based just on the specs and features. This camera is packing a 26-megapixel APS-C size BSI-CMOS sensor that is tried and tested. Also, it has the X-Processor 4 for image processing and the X-Trans homegrown color filter array. The ISO range spans from 80 to 51,200 and it has 7 white balance presets. The autofocus is pretty impressive though as it has a hybrid autofocus system with 425 focus points in total. The biggest selling point of this came is that it can shoot 30 frames per second in the continuous drive mode and has a battery life of 380 shots.

If you know its predecessor you will notice this camera instantly, as it has not changed much in the looks department. However, it is slightly smaller and lighter, as it weighs just 383grams in total, this includes the battery and the memory card as well. Keep in mind that this beast is constructed with metal all around, but it has no weather sealing, unfortunately, and this is its only downside, right alongside its shallow handgrip, which might be a problem if you combine it with heavier lenses. But overall with the controls and everything included everything looks and feels right with this camera.

In real-world tests this camera definitely impresses any photographer, it doesn’t matter if you are a pro or a beginner this thing is excellent, and everyone can find a good use for it. The colors are definitely the best, as always with Fuji. But what impressed me the most were the Film Simulation modes that worked wonders in different scenarios.

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2. Canon 90D 

Nearing the top of the list,  I decided to bring in the big guns, and first, off I have one of the most impressive DSLR models that are released in the last few years, the Canon 90D. This camera comes as one of the most feature-packed packages in the market, with a superb sensor, great speed, amazing autofocus, ergonomic body and much more, the Canon 90D simply does it all.

The Canon 90D was released in 2019 and comes with all the cutting edge technology that Canon possesses in its mid-range lineup. This camera is packed with a 33-megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor that is packed with the brand new DIGIC 8 image processor. It has an ISO range that spans from 100 to 51,200 and it has 6 white balance presets. The autofocus system is a contrast-detect one with 45 cross-type points. This camera can shoot 11 frames per second in the burst shooting mode and it has a battery life of 1300 shots.

Don’t mind me saying that this is a big gun since this camera is pretty small and lightweight compared to most of the cameras in its category as it measures 3×5.5×4.1-inches in total and weighs 701 grams with the battery and memory card included. What is more impressive is that it has a great weight distribution that works rather well even when combined with larger lenses. It helps that it has a great deep handgrip and thumb grip in the back as well. The controls are excellent but if you are a beginner you will feel a little overwhelmed.

In real life performance, the Canon 90D is a capable tool, meaning it is not just numbers and tech jargon, as it combines all of its features and performances well. IT has a great 216-zone metering system that does a perfect job of capturing exposure. The burst shooting speed is excellent as well and it stays focused at all times. It handles noise pretty good in the high ISO levels and I think that this is as good as it gets for a mid-range DSLR.

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1. Nikon D5 

On top of the list, we have none other than the Nikon D5. This camera is an action legend and for all the right reasons, it is extremely durable, has one of the best autofocus systems, the best continuous shooting speed, buffer capacity, battery life, and the most impressive video shooting capabilities.

This camera is super expensive though, since it is really a professional level camera, and it would be an overkill for most enthusiasts. I should state that this camera has a 21 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, which goes along rather well with the Expeed 5 image processor. The Nikon D5 has an ISO range that spans from 50 to a whopping 3,280,000 and has a total of 12 white balance presets. The autofocus performance of contrast-detect and phase-detect systems with 153 focus points and the burst shooting speed of 14 frames per second without losing focus sets it apart from the competition.

Right upon unboxing you will see that the Nikon D5 is one hell of a camera, it is a large one and a heavy one. It measures a beastly 6.3×6.3×3.63-inches in total and weighs about 1415 grams with the battery in it. However, it is incredibly comfortable to hold and if you are an experienced Nikon photographer all the better. This camera can perform even in the most extreme conditions, freezing, scalding hot, storms and whatnot, this camera will handle everything as it is tested against everything. The controls are a bit complicated even for my standards, but nothing a pro can’t handle.

In every single aspect, the Nikon D5 is a phenomenal machine, it definitely beats everything in its way. The focus performance is definitely innovative and it is pretty close to real life, something not a lot of cameras can boast. That focus applies to the 12 frames per second shooting mode with autoexposure which is marvelous. The low light performance was amazing as well, and I think that if you can afford it this is one of the best cameras that money can buy, especially for outdoor photography.

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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