best dslr for wildlife photography

If you are looking for the Best Dslr For Wildlife Photography, you’ll be looking for a rugged camera that is fast enough to capture animals on the move. You’ll want a fast autofocus system and a high frame rate to get that perfect shot.

The camera should also perform well in low-light conditions so you can take pictures at the beginning or end of the day when animals are active. For this, a wide ISO range and a good sensor are important.

We’ll go into more details regarding full-frame and cropped sensors as well as camera lenses after our top selection.

With a wide array of available lenses, great autofocus performance, fast continuous shooting and high ISO capabilities, digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras have all the necessary features for successful wildlife photography.

best dslr for wildlife photography Reviews

#1 Nikon D500 DX-Format Digital SLR

Nikon D500 DX-Format Digital SLR

Our editor’s choice for wildlife photography cameras is the Nikon D500, a DX-format DSLR. This means the camera features a cropped (APS-C) CMOS sensor with 20.9 megapixels, a great balance between high-quality images and the advantages of the smaller and lighter DX lenses in the Nikkor line.

Even with a telephoto lens, you’ll stay agile and are able to capture exquisite details, colors and textures.

In low-light conditions, you can still use every bit of light with a native ISO range of 100-51,200. Down to an exposure value of -4, the Nikon D500 can still bring out rich details in shadows.

Expand To See More

Also comes as a package with a Nikon 16-80mm lens.Nikon D500 DX-Format DSLR at a Glance:

  • Sensor: Cropped 23.5 x 15.7 mm CMOS sensor (APS-C), 20.9 MP
  • Autofocus: 153 AF points
  • Frame Rate & Burst: 10 fps up to 200 frames, 79 RAW
  • ISO Range: Native ISO 51200, extend to ISO 1640000
  • Lens mount: Nikon F mount (AF coupling & contacts)
  • Extras: WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, 4K UHD video recording at 30 fps, time-lapse up to 9999 frames. Includes Li-ion battery, charger, USB & HDMI cable clip, DK-17 eyepiece, USB cable and strap.

#2 Nikon D5  FX-Format Digital SLR Camera

Nikon D5 20.8 MP FX-Format Digital SLR Camera Body

The Nikon D5 DSLR camera is the larger sibling of our editor’s choice and features a full frame CMOS sensor with 20.8 megapixels, the equivalent of shooting 35mm film.

The sensor acquires image data with perfect balance of high resolution, rich tonal gradation, and refined signal-to-noise ratio for quality images.

With image stabilization and a new mirror driving mechanism, you can confidently track your subject matter even during high-speed continuous shooting.

Expand To See More

Recommended Lens: Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6GNikon D5 20.8 MP FX-Format DSLR at a Glance:

  • Sensor: Full frame 35.9 x 23.9 mm CMOS sensor, 20.8 MP
  • Autofocus: 153 AF points
  • Frame Rate & Burst: 12 fps up to 200 frames, 200 RAW
  • ISO Range: Native ISO 102400, extend to ISO 3280000
  • Lens mount: Nikon F mount (AF coupling & contacts)
  • Extras: 4K UHD video recording at 30 fps, time-lapse with auto-ISO. Includes Li-ion battery, charger, USB & HDMI cable clip, DK-17F eyepiece, strap, body cap, accessory shoe & battery chamber cover.

#3 Canon EOS-1DX Mark II DSLR Camera

Canon EOS-1DX Mark II DSLR Camera

The Canon EOS-1DX Mark II is among the fastest DSLR cameras available and therefore an excellent choice as the best camera for bird photography.

The full frame CMOS sensor is equipped for high-speed signal reading and features 20.2 megapixels. Canon achieves outstanding performance with dual image processors.

Paired with precise, reliable and fast autofocus features, the camera allows for up to 16 fps or 14 fps in full resolution with a burst rate of 170 shots.

Expand To See More

Recommended Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8LCanon EOS-1DX Mark II DSLR Camera at a Glance:

  • Sensor: Full frame 36 x 24 mm CMOS sensor, 20.2 MP
  • Autofocus: 61 AF points
  • Frame Rate & Burst: 16 fps, 170 RAW
  • ISO Range: Native ISO 51200, extend to ISO 409600
  • Lens mount: Canon EF Mount (excluding EF-S and EF-M lenses)
  • Extras: Built-in GPS for geotagging, 4K UHD video at 60 fps and Full HD at 120 fps for slow motion. Includes battery pack & charger, wide strap, eyecup, cable protector and interface cable.

#4 Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame DSLR Camera

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera

The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is a full frame DSLR at almost entry-level price with comparable specs to the previous model.

However, in a nutshell, for the lower price tag you have to make concessions when it comes to speed and light sensitivity: you get only half the frame rate and an ISO range of up to 32000.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t take amazing pictures with this model: the image sensor is paired with Canon’s DIGIC 6+ image processor and features two photo diodes per pixel and stunning total of 30.4 megapixels.

Expand To See More

Also available as a kit with a EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM LensCanon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame DSLR at a Glance:

  • Sensor: Full frame 36 x 24 mm CMOS sensor, 30.4 MP
  • Autofocus: 61 AF points
  • Frame Rate & Burst: 7 fps
  • ISO Range: Native ISO 100-32000, 50-102400 extended
  • Lens mount: Canon EF Mount (excluding EF-S and EF-M lenses)
  • Extras: 4K UHD video at 30 fps, WiFi, NFC, GPS for geo-tagging. Includes battery pack & charger, wide strap, eyecup, cable protector and interface cable.

#5 Sony a99 II Digital SLR Camera

Sony a99II 42.4MP Digital SLR Camera

The Sony a99 II DSLR camera breaks up the dominance of Nikon and Canon on our list, and rightfully so. This camera is smaller and more compact than the previous version, the Sony a99.

The more manageable dimensions, refined grip and improved hold are all contained in a strong, rigid magnesium alloy body for reliable shooting and steady handling in the field.

The full frame sensor boast an incredible 42.4 megapixel resolution and features a back-illuminated structure with a wide sensitivity range and extra-low noise performance and uncompromised sharpness.

Expand To See More

Recommended Lens: Sony 24 -70mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Vario SonnarSony a99II 42.4MP DSLR at a Glance:

  • Sensor: Full frame 35.9 x 24 mm Exmor CMOS sensor, 42.4 MP
  • Autofocus: 79 AF points
  • Frame Rate & Burst: 12 fps, 54 RAW
  • ISO Range: Native ISO 100-25600, 50-102400 extended
  • Lens mount: Sony A-mount (operation with Minolta/Konica Minolta lenses confirmed)
  • Extras: 4K UHD video at 30 fps, WiFi, NFC, image stabilization. Includes battery pack & charger, shoulder strap, eyepiece & body cap, accessory shoe cap, USB cable.

#6 Canon EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR Camera Body Wi-Fi Adapter Kit

The Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR combines a 20.2 MP cropped APS-C sensor with dual DIGIC 6 image processor and Canon’s fast AF system. The high-resolution images are full of detail and clarity.

With a total of 65 AF points and dual pixel CMOS sensor, the camera delivers a frame rate of 10 fps. The burst rate sustains 1090 JPEGs or 31 RAW images in a single burst.

The cameras processors handle lens aberration, variances in peripheral illumination and image distortion in real time for accurate correction.

Expand To See More

Also available as a kit with the EF-S 18-135mm IS USM LensCanon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR at a Glance:

  • Sensor: Cropped 22.4 x 15 mm CMOS sensor (APS-C), 20.2 MP
  • Autofocus: 65 AF points
  • Frame Rate & Burst: 10 fps, 31 RAW
  • ISO Range: Native ISO 100-25600, 50-102400 extended
  • Lens mount: Canon EF mount, incl. EF-S lenses (35mm equivalent focal length is approx. 1.6x the lens focal length due to cropped sensor)
  • Extras: Full HD video at 60 fps, dual memory card slot, built-in GPS. Includes battery pack & charger, wide strap, cable protector and interface cable.

#7 Nikon D7200 DX-format DSLR

The Nikon D7200 is a very affordable DSLR ready for wildlife photography. The cropped APS-C sensor is paired with an EXPEED 4 image processor for finessed shots with less noise even in low-light conditions.

The images are remarkably sharp and pure thanks to the 24.2 MP hardware. The camera can maintain 6 frames per second for a single burst of 100 JPEGs or 18 RAW images.

The 1.3x crop mode will even deliver 7 fps. 51 AF points provide sufficiently satisfactory tracking and focusing of your subject matter.

Expand To See More

Also available as kit with a carry bag and a 18-55mm & 70-300mm lens
Nikon D7200 DX-format DSLR Body at a Glance:

  • Sensor: Cropped 23.5 x 15.6 mm CMOS sensor (APS-C), 24.2 MP
  • Autofocus: 51 AF points
  • Frame Rate & Burst: 6 fps, 18 RAW
  • ISO Range: Native ISO 100-25600, 102,400 expanded (BW only)
  • Lens mount: Nikon F mount (AF coupling & contacts)
  • Extras: Full HD video recording at 60 fps, WiFi, NFC. Includes battery pack & charger, neck strap, USB cable, body cap, eyecup, eyepiece cap.

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.

Leave a Comment