In this article you will find our recommendations for the best cameras for night photography. Photographers who shoot in low light conditions need a camera that can handle these challenging conditions. So if you are looking for a camera to capture beautiful nightscapes, stars, or any low light photographs then this is the guide for you.
Whether you are an experienced night sky photographer or a beginner taking shots at night, I have reviewed the top cameras for night photography and after reading this article you will know my recommendations.
Top Rated Cameras for Night Photographers
When taking night sky still shots and video a camera must be capable of capturing fine detail in the low light night conditions. Not all cameras are capable of doing this. You will find the recommended night photography cameras below.
The Nikon D850 is my absolute favorite camera for shooting the sky at night. It provides truly awesome image quality for jaw dropping images. With an incredible 45.7 megapixel resolution and Nikon’s EXPEED 5 processor this camera produces low noise images with a wide dynamic range. It also provides high speed continuous shooting at 9fps with high definition 4k video capture. This camera offers enhanced light gathering and a increased speed data readout for truer color. With the D850, you can shoot with an ISO set as low as 64. The autofocus function is fast and accurate with 153 focus points and 99 cross type sensors. This is one of the best cameras for shooting in low lighting. The zoom in the D850 is a bid improvement on that of it’s predecessor the D810. It is also offers Focus Peaking which is awesome feature for verifying your manual focus prior to shooting.
- Impressive 45.7 megapixel resolution
- Exceptional low light image quality
- Fast and accurate AF
- Great for shooting still shots and video
Prior to getting my D850 I shot with the D750 for a number of years. It is an exceptional camera for low light conditions. With 24.3 megapixels and a CMOS image sensor this camera will produce amazing images. You will get great image detail and contrast even when shooting at night. The video capture quality is exceptional and it shoots in full high definition. The built in WiFi makes transferring your files a breeze. This Nikon is compatible with many of their best lenses offering you plenty of versatility. It allows you to manually set your ISO or to switch to Power Aperture and auto ISO mode, which offers smooth iris transitions. This camera is very popular with pro and amateur nighttime photographers.
- Great resolution at 24.3 megapixels
- Impressive image quality and clarity at night
- Full high definition video capture
- Manual and auto ISO
Sony A7R III
Nikon and Canon get most of the fanfare in the photography community, and they have earned it, but the Sony A7r III is an equally impressive camera. It provides truly awesome image quality and is a great low light camera model. You can capture highly detailed sky shots and pick up the subtle beauty of the stars with this Sony camera. It features the Exmor R CMOS sensor that picks up more light than most cameras on the market. It is also built to work at peak levels even in cold temperatures which is a great feature for shooting in the colder months. The image processor is one of the fastest out there for 1.8x processing speed. Overall the Sony A7r III is a great alternative to the Nikon and Canon in the same class.
- Exceptional image quality in low light
- Exmor R CMOS image sensor picks up more light than most sensors
- Fast image processing speed
- Excellent alternative to Nikon and Canon
Canon EOS 6D Mark II
I shoot my 6D Mark II a lot and it is a fun camera to shoot with. It produces clear and beautiful night sky images. It features 26.2 megapixel resolution with a full frame CMOS sensor. The viewfinder has a 45 point all cross type autofocus system that is fast and accurate. It also features a dual pixel CMOS AF with phase detection with full high definition 60p video capture. The tilt touch screen is a great feature that I really like. At 3.0 inches it is the perfect size. The DIGIC 7 image processor is one of the best on the market and this camera comes with built in Wifi, Bluetooth and GPS.
- Excellent resolution at 26.2 megapixels
- Impressive image quality
- DIGIC 7 image processor
- 45 point all cross type AF
Nikon D7200 DSLR Camera
This Nikon camera is capable of taking exceptional shots of the night sky. With the ability to capture the beautiful detail of the night sky this camera is incredibly popular with night time photographers. This camera can take incredible still photos at night and video as well. Featuring 24.2 megapixels and CMOS Expeed 4 image processor this camera can capture images at 6fps in full high resolution. It can perform with a 100 frame buffer allowing for extended high speed shots. Whether you want to take your night sky shots in color or high quality black and white, this camera excels. The 3.2″ LCD display monitor offers 1.229 million dots and it features dual SD memory card slots allowing you to capture all the images you want. This night sky camera is snapbridge Wi-Fi enabled allowing for quick and easy transfer to any of your devices and straight to the web.
- Exceptional night photography camera
- Offers high resolution images and video capabilities
- 3.2″ LCD monitor
- Dual SD card slots
- Wi-Fi enabled
- Excellent value
Nikon D810 FX-Format DSLR
Another Nikon camera offering capable of amazing night sky photography. This is a bit higher end and you definitely get what you pay for with the D810. Capture truly awe inspiring shots of the night sky with this cameras 36.3 megapixels FX format full frame image sensor. There is no optical low pass filter and Expeed 4 image processing for exceptional image detail retention and noise free images. This camera captures more than just amazing still shots, it also captures professional quality video with built in camera editing tools. The sensor size is 1.41 x .94 inches and when taking video it has object following technology providing exceptional focus and image quality retention. This is one of the best night photography cameras you can get.
- One of the best cameras for night photography
- Impressive image detail retention
- Profession still shot and video capabilities
- Excellent performance and value
Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR Camera
This is an ideal night time camera for those seeking a package that allows them to get up and running without making extra purchases. The Canon EOS Rebel T7 is an exceptional all around camera fully capable of taking excellent night sky shots and video. Featuring 24.1 megapixels and and APS-C CMOS image sensor you can capture excellent details of the night sky. With the DIGIC 4+ image processor you can shoot continuous shots up to 3 fps with a nine point AF system and an Al Servo AF. The three inch LCD viewfinder provides excellent view coverage with minimal lag. This camera is capable of professional quality video with full HD 1080p video recording. Add on the built in WiFi and Bluetooth for quick and simple transfer and uploading of your night sky shots. This is a great all in one night photography package.
- Excellent all in one night time camera package
- Capture professional quality still shots and video
- Full HD 1080p video
- Wifi and Bluetooth enabled
- Excellent value
Panasonic LUMIX GH5 4K Mirrorless Camera
This mirrorless camera bundle from Lumix is an exceptional value for night sky photography. It comes with a 12-60mm lens, a Koah Pro Panasonic two pack battery and charger, and a 64gb SD card. This camera bundle also includes a quality camera bag and video mic making this a versatile and ready to go all in one night photography camera kit. Featuring 20.3 megapixels and a digital live MOS image sensor this camera is capable of capturing excellent detailed night sky shots. The color is realistic and vibrant even at night allowing you to capture the subtle tones of the night sky. The 4k quality video capture takes video at 30 fps and 60 fps. This is great for moving videos of the night sky when traveling. At a slightly lower price point, this is an exceptional value night sky camera.
- Comes with gear needed for night time photography
- Professional quality still shots
- 4K quality video
- Exceptional image detail and retention
- Excellent value
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is popular among night photographers for good reason. The impressive image quality allows for consistent professional results even at night. This translates to both still shots and high quality video image capture. Featuring 30.4 megapixel full frame image sensor your night sky still shots will have exceptional detail bringing them to life. If you are interested in night sky video this camera provides 4k video quality. The focus accuracy of this camera is great with 61 point AF and the dual pixel CMOS AF is quick and smooth. This night photography camera also features Wi-Fi for quickly uploading your still shots and video directly to the web. This is an exceptional camera for night time photography.
- Incredible night sky image quality
- 30.4 megapixel
- 61 point AF and Dual Pixel CMOS AF
- Excellent value
For more photography guides and tips read these articles:
Night Photography Features to Consider
As with most photography styles, sensor size is important when shooting at night. As a matter of fact, it is even more important as the sensor is what dictates how much light enters your camera. When shooting at night you will want the maximum light to reach your image sensor. Full frame cameras are the best for shooting at night due to their larger sensor compared to those found in crop sensor cameras.
There are areas where a crop sensor does beat out a full frame camera. Crop sensor cameras are generally lighter and less expensive than their full frame counterparts. The best crop sensor models can do a decent job at shooting at night so if cost is a major factor you can still achieve great results with a crop sensor model. But if you are willing to invest more, a full frame model is the way to go.
The ISO of your camera dictates how much light your sensor can receive. As you increase your ISO you are able to also increase your camera’s shutter speed. This is most helpful when shooting subjects in movement. But the higher you set your ISO the more noise you will have in your pictures. The upper limits a camera can go with ISO varies significantly though. A fast shutter speed is generally not that important when shooting the night sky.
Image Noise Considerations
Noise in photography refers to the distortion that occurs when the ISO is set too high. This is a very important consideration for nighttime photographers. Noise is when there is an unnatural variation in the color and brightness in your images. Noise minimizes the sharpness to an image and should be minimized as much as possible. This can be done by shooting at the lowest ISO you can for the conditions.