Wildlife Photography Cameras for Beginners

Written by Antonio Cala.

Last updated on March 17, 2024

Table of Contents

Wildlife photography demands reliable equipment that can effectively capture fast-moving subjects in diverse conditions, and for beginners, selecting the right camera is crucial. 

Factors such as sensor size, image quality, speed, durability, and lens availability are essential considerations when choosing the perfect camera for wildlife photography. With numerous options available, finding the ideal camera can be challenging. 

In this article, we have curated a selection of the best cameras suitable for beginners, empowering you to make an informed decision and find the perfect tool for your wildlife photography journey.

For a complete analysis, make sure to check out the ultimate guide to wildlife photography cameras. 

Key Takeaways

  • When looking for a camera for wildlife photography, beginners should consider image quality, autofocus performance, and lens selection.
  • The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV, Canon EOS Rebel T8i, and Sony Alpha 6400 are excellent choices for beginners looking to get into wildlife photography.
  • With the right camera and lens, beginners can capture stunning images of wildlife and develop their skills as photographers.

Quick Recommendations

Check out this quick list of our favorite wildlife cameras for beginners, or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.

OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

Absolute Best

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV Review

Canon Rebel T8i

Runner Up

Nikon D7500

Best Value

Sony Alpha 6400

Best Budget

Best Wildlife Cameras for Beginners

Our Pick For

The Absolute Best Beginner Camera for Wildlife Photography

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Body Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor: Micro 4/3
  • Weight: 0.85 lbs (385 grams)
  • Price Range: $
  • Effective Megapixels: 20.3 MP
  • Autofocus Points: 121
  • Buffer: Up to 14 RAW images
  • ISO Sensitivity: 200-25600
  • Image Stabilization: In-body 5-axis stabilization
  • Burst Mode: Up to 15 fps
  • 4K Video: Yes
  • Wifi: Yes
  • Silent Mode: Yes
  • Weatherproof: No (but weather-sealed)
  • Battery Life: Approximately 360 shots per charge

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV emerges as the absolute best camera choice for beginners. 

This mirrorless marvel combines affordability with a suite of advanced features that cater specifically to the dynamic demands of capturing wildlife.Its ergonomic, compact, and featherlight build ensures that photographers can effortlessly carry and maneuver the camera in the great outdoors. 

The 20.3MP Micro Four Thirds sensor, coupled with 121 autofocus points, empowers you to seize every fleeting moment with stunning clarity and detail. Moreover, the rapid burst mode, firing off up to 15 frames per second, is a game-changer for immortalizing the swift action of wildlife in their natural habitat.

Pros:

  • Compact and lightweight design ensures exceptional portability.
  • Advanced photography features are accessible through a user-friendly interface.
  • In-body 5-axis image stabilization guarantees consistently sharp images.
  • Burst mode of up to 15 fps is ideal for capturing fast-paced wildlife scenes.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi facilitates effortless image sharing and remote camera control.

Cons:

  • Lack of weatherproofing may restrict use in adverse environmental conditions.
  • Limited battery life necessitates carrying additional batteries for prolonged shooting sessions.

In essence, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV stands out as a superior entry-level camera for wildlife photography. Its balance of performance, ease of use, and affordability makes it an attractive option for novices eager to document the beauty of nature through a lens

Our Pick For

Runner Up

  • Skill Level: Beginners
  • Body Type: DSLR
  • Sensor: APS-C
  • Weight: 18.17 oz (515 g)
  • Price Range: $$
  • Effective Megapixels: 24.1 megapixels
  • Autofocus Points: 45 cross-type AF points
  • Buffer: Up to 7 frames per second
  • ISO Sensitivity: 100-25,600 (Expandable to 51,200)
  • Image Stabilization: No in-body image stabilization
  • Burst Mode: Up to 7 frames per second
  • 4K Video: Yes, 4K UHD video recording
  • Wifi: Yes
  • Silent Mode: Yes
  • Weatherproof: No
  • Battery Life: Approximately 800 shots (CIPA)

The Canon Rebel T8i emerges as a commendable contender, positioning itself as a strong runner-up to the Olympus model previously highlighted. 

Tailored for both enthusiasts and beginners delving into the world of DSLRs, this camera boasts a 24.1-megapixel APS-C sensor that excels in capturing intricate wildlife details.Equipped with 45 cross-type autofocus points, the Rebel T8i ensures precise subject tracking, a crucial feature for successful wildlife photography. 

Its 7 frames per second burst mode enables photographers to seize fast-paced wildlife moments with ease. Moreover, the inclusion of 4K UHD video recording capability adds a new dimension to wildlife documentation, enhancing the versatility of this camera.

Pros:

  • Impressive sensor resolution ideal for capturing fine wildlife details.
  • 45 cross-type autofocus points ensure accurate subject tracking.
  • 7 frames per second burst mode facilitates capturing dynamic wildlife action.
  • 4K UHD video recording capability enhances the camera’s versatility for videography.
  • Built-in WiFi streamlines image transfer and remote shooting processes.

Cons:

  • Lack of weatherproofing necessitates additional protection in challenging outdoor environments.
  • Limited buffer capacity may restrict continuous high-speed shooting capabilities.
  • Absence of in-body image stabilization poses challenges for handheld wildlife photography.

In conclusion, the Canon Rebel T8i stands as a reliable choice for beginners venturing into wildlife photography, offering a blend of resolution, autofocus precision, burst mode functionality, and advanced video capabilities.

Adventure Fix Newsletter

Our Pick For

Best Value Camera for Beginners

  • Skill Level: Beginners
  • Body Type: DSLR
  • Sensor: APS-C
  • Weight: 1.41 lb (640 g)
  • Price Range: $$
  • Effective Megapixels: 20.9 megapixels
  • Autofocus Points: 51-point AF system
  • Buffer: Up to approximately 50 RAW/NEF (14-bit lossless compressed) or 100 JPEG shots
  • ISO Sensitivity: 100-51,200 (Expandable to 1,640,000)
  • Image Stabilization: No in-body image stabilization
  • Burst Mode: Up to 8 frames per second
  • 4K Video: Yes, 4K UHD video recording at 30/25/24p
  • Wifi: Yes
  • Silent Mode: Yes
  • Weatherproof: Yes
  • Battery Life: Approximately 950 shots per charge

The Nikon D7500 presents a compelling value option for beginners. Boasting a 20.9-megapixel APS-C sensor, this camera strikes a harmonious balance between image quality and affordability, making it an ideal choice for capturing intricate wildlife details without breaking the bank.

The inclusion of a 51-point AF system elevates the D7500’s precision and speed in focusing on wildlife subjects, a critical feature for successful wildlife photography endeavors. Its weatherproof construction not only enhances durability but also instills reliability when shooting in challenging outdoor environments, catering to the practical needs of budget-conscious wildlife photographers.

Pros:

  • Solid image quality facilitated by the 20.9-megapixel sensor, ideal for wildlife photography.
  • 51-point AF system ensures precise and rapid focusing on wildlife subjects.
  • Weatherproof construction enhances durability in outdoor conditions.
  • 4K UHD video recording capability enriches the camera’s versatility for high-quality wildlife videography.
  • Decent battery life supports extended wildlife photography sessions.

Cons:

  • Slightly limited buffer capacity may impact continuous high-speed shooting capabilities.
  • Lack of in-body image stabilization poses challenges for handheld wildlife photography.
  • Lower maximum continuous shooting speed compared to higher-end models.

In summary, the Nikon D7500 stands out as a pragmatic and cost-effective option for beginners embarking on their wildlife photography journey. Its blend of image quality, advanced autofocus capabilities, weatherproof design, and 4K video functionality makes it a compelling choice, despite minor limitations in buffer capacity and shooting speed.

Our Pick For

Best Budget Camera for Beginners

  • Skill Level: Beginners
  • Body Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor: APS-C
  • Weight: 0.89 lbs (403 grams)
  • Price Range: $
  • Effective Megapixels: 24.2 MP
  • Autofocus Points: 425
  • Buffer: Up to 116 JPEGs or 46 RAW files
  • ISO Sensitivity: 100-32000 (expandable to 102400)
  • Image Stabilization: In-body stabilization
  • Burst Mode: Up to 11 fps
  • 4K Video: Yes
  • Wifi: Yes
  • Silent Mode: Yes
  • Weatherproof: No
  • Battery Life: Approximately 360 shots per charge

The Sony Alpha 6400 stands out as the best budget option for novice wildlife photographers, offering a versatile mirrorless camera that strikes a perfect balance of features tailored for beginners. Boasting a 24.2MP APS-C sensor, 425 autofocus points, and a burst mode of up to 11 frames per second, this camera equips budding photographers with the essential tools needed to capture wildlife moments with precision and effectiveness.

The Alpha 6400’s compact and lightweight design not only enhances its portability but also ensures easy handling in outdoor settings, allowing beginners to navigate their photography adventures seamlessly. Coupled with its advanced autofocus system, this camera guarantees sharp and detailed images of fast-moving subjects, making it an ideal companion for wildlife photography enthusiasts starting their journey.

Pros:

  • 24.2MP APS-C sensor delivers detailed images crucial for wildlife photography.
  • 425 autofocus points enable precise focusing on wildlife subjects.
  • Burst mode of up to 11 fps captures fast-paced action effortlessly.
  • Compact build perfect for outdoor photography expeditions.
  • Advanced autofocus system tailored for wildlife photography needs.

Cons:

  • Limited battery life may necessitate carrying extra batteries for prolonged shoots.
  • Lack of weatherproofing could pose challenges in adverse outdoor conditions.

Finally, the Sony Alpha 6400 is as a solid choice for beginner wildlife photographers on a budget, offering a compact size, advanced autofocus capabilities, and a rapid burst mode. Despite minor drawbacks like battery life and weatherproofing limitations, its overall performance positions it as an excellent entry-level option for effectively capturing wildlife moments.

Comparison Table

Best Beginner Cameras for Wildlife Photography

-
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV
Canon Rebel T8i
Nikon D7500
Sony Alpha 6400

CAMERA

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

Canon EOS Rebel T8i

Nikon D7500

Sony Alpha 6400

BEST FOR

Overall

Runner Up

Best Value

Best Budget

BODY

Mirrorless

DSLR

DSLR

Mirrorless

PRICE

$

$

$

$

WEIGHT

0.85 lbs

1.13 lbs

1.41 lbs

0.89 lbs

MEGAPIXELS

20.3 MP

32.5 MP

24.1 MP

24.2 MP

BURST RATE

Up to 15fps

Up to 10fps

Up to 7fps

Up to 11fps

AUTOFOCUS POINTS

121

45

45

425

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

Key Factors To Consider

When it comes to selecting the best wildlife photography camera, there are several key factors that beginners should consider. In this section, we will discuss six important factors to consider when selecting a camera for wildlife photography.

Body Type

The first factor to consider is the camera body type. There are three main types of camera bodies: DSLR, mirrorless, and point-and-shoot. DSLRs are the most popular type of camera for wildlife photography due to their fast autofocus, high-quality image sensors, and the ability to change lenses. Mirrorless cameras are also a good option, as they are smaller and lighter than DSLRs while still offering high-quality images. Point-and-shoot cameras are generally not recommended for wildlife photography due to their limited zoom range and lack of manual controls.

Sensor Size and Type

The sensor size and type are also important factors to consider. Larger sensors generally produce higher quality images and perform better in low light conditions. There are two main types of sensors: full-frame and crop sensor. Full-frame sensors are larger and generally produce higher quality images, but they are also more expensive. Crop sensors are smaller and less expensive, but they can still produce high-quality images.

Megapixel Count Relevance

The megapixel count is often overemphasized when it comes to selecting a camera. While a higher megapixel count can produce larger prints, it does not necessarily mean that the image quality is better. A camera with a lower megapixel count can still produce high-quality images if it has a good image sensor and lens.

Autofocus and Speed

Fast and accurate autofocus is essential for wildlife photography. Cameras with advanced autofocus systems can track moving subjects and adjust focus quickly. The speed of the camera is also important, as it determines how many frames per second the camera can capture.

ISO Performance and Low Light

The ISO performance of a camera determines how well it can perform in low light conditions. Cameras with good ISO performance can produce high-quality images in low light without producing excessive noise.

Frames per Second

The frames per second (fps) of a camera determine how many images it can capture in a second. Cameras with higher fps are better suited for capturing action shots and fast-moving wildlife.

In summary, when selecting a camera for wildlife photography, beginners should consider the body type, sensor size and type, megapixel count, autofocus and speed, ISO performance, and frames per second. By considering these factors, beginners can select a camera that meets their needs and allows them to capture stunning wildlife photographs.

Conclusion

Best Wildlife Photography Cameras for Beginners

When it comes to the best beginner cameras for wildlife photography, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV emerges as the best choice overall, offering a compact and lightweight design, user-friendly interface, and impressive image quality, making it an ideal tool for learning the art of wildlife photography. 

The Nikon D7500 stands out as the best value option, providing a balance of advanced features, robust build, and versatility at a reasonable price point, offering beginners a reliable platform to hone their wildlife photography skills. 

For budget-conscious individuals, the Sony Alpha 6400 proves to be the most budget-friendly choice, delivering exceptional autofocus performance, compact form factor, and 4K video capability, making it an accessible and cost-effective option for beginners to capture captivating wildlife scenes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s a solid entry-level camera for someone just getting into wildlife photography?

For beginners who are just starting out with wildlife photography, it’s important to find a camera that’s easy to use and offers good image quality. One of the best entry-level cameras for wildlife photography is the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV. It offers superb image quality and autofocus performance, making it ideal for capturing wildlife moments. With its user-friendly features, it is perfect for those starting their wildlife photography journey.

Can you recommend a good budget-friendly camera for taking wildlife photos?

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly camera for wildlife photography, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 is a great option. It offers a 24x zoom lens, which is perfect for capturing wildlife from a distance. It also has a fast autofocus system and can shoot in RAW format, allowing for greater flexibility in post-processing.

What are the top beginner-friendly cameras for capturing birds in action?

Capturing birds in action can be a challenge, but with the right camera, it can be a rewarding experience. Some of the top beginner-friendly cameras for capturing birds in action include the Canon EOS Rebel T8i and Sony a6400. These cameras offer fast autofocus systems and good image quality, making them ideal for capturing birds in flight.

Which mirrorless cameras are best for novice wildlife photographers?

Mirrorless cameras are becoming increasingly popular among wildlife photographers due to their lightweight and compact design. Some of the best mirrorless cameras for novice wildlife photographers include the Sony Alpha 6400Fujifilm X-T30, and Panasonic Lumix G9. These cameras offer fast autofocus systems, good image quality, and are easy to use.

What features should I look for in a camera if I’m new to wildlife photography?

When looking for a camera for wildlife photography, there are several features to consider. Look for a camera with a fast autofocus system, good image quality, and a high burst rate. A camera with a long zoom lens is also important for capturing wildlife from a distance. Additionally, consider a camera with image stabilization, as this can help reduce camera shake when shooting handheld.

Are there any wildlife photography cameras under $500 that don’t skimp on quality?

While most high-end cameras for wildlife photography can be expensive, there are some great options available for under $500. The Nikon COOLPIX B500 and Canon PowerShot SX540 HS are both good options for beginner wildlife photographers. These cameras offer good image quality, long zoom lenses, and are easy to use.

Other Wildlife Camera Reviews

If you would like to read more about camera options for wildlife photography, make sure you check out our Master Guide to Wildlife Photography Cameras.

For even more specific options, you can check out our other reviews below:

 

Camera Type 

DSLR Cameras 

Mirrorless Cameras 

Compact Cameras 

Drones

 

Skill Level

Cameras for Beginners 

Intermediate-Level Cameras 

Pro Cameras

 

Budget

Cameras Under $1,000 

Cameras Under $2,000

 

Brand 

Sony Cameras 

Canon Cameras 

Nikon Cameras

 
 

Planned activitiy 

Cameras for Bird Photography

Cameras for Shooting Wildlife at Night

Travel-friendly Cameras

Cameras for Safaris

Beginner Camera Reviews Online

During your research, you might want to consider checking out articles from various publications that provide insights into the best beginner cameras for wildlife available.

Below are a few articles that caught my interest.

Wildlife camera for beginnerDPreview.com

Beginner friendly camera for wildlife/nature photographyReddit.com

About the Author

Born and raised in Southern Spain, Antonio quit his job in 2013 to travel the world full-time with his wife Amanda for 10 years straight.

Their passion for adventure and wildlife encounters took them to visit 150+ countries and experience countless of wildlife experiences. They cycled 25,000km + from California to Patagonia, sailed over 10,000NM around the Caribbean & Sea of Cortez, rode their motorbikes 30,000 kms+ across West Africa (Spain to South Africa) and visited Antarctica, among many other adventure expeditions. 

Today Antonio runs Adventure Fix with Amanda, where they share their knowledge about the places they’ve visited and the ones still remaining on their list.

Antonio Cala

Co-Founder of Adventure Fix

Best Wildlife Photography Cameras for Beginners
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