Best Wildlife Cameras for Intermediate Photographers

Written by Antonio Cala.

Last updated on March 17, 2024

Table of Contents

Wildlife photography is a challenging but rewarding genre that requires patience, skill, and the right equipment. As an intermediate photographer, you have already mastered the basics of photography and are ready to take your skills to the next level. Choosing the best camera for wildlife photography can be overwhelming, but with the right guidance, you can find a camera that meets your needs and budget.

When looking for a wildlife camera, there are several key features to consider, such as image quality, autofocus speed, burst rate, and durability. The camera should be able to capture sharp and detailed images with accurate colors, even in low light conditions. The autofocus system should be fast and accurate, with a high number of focus points to track moving subjects. A fast burst rate is also essential for capturing action shots, while a durable and weather-sealed body can withstand the rigors of outdoor photography.

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

Key Takeaways

  • Intermediate photographers need a camera that can capture sharp and detailed images with accurate colors, even in low light conditions.
  • The autofocus system should be fast and accurate, with a high number of focus points to track moving subjects.
  • A fast burst rate and a durable and weather-sealed body are also essential for wildlife photography.

Quick Recommendations

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

Canon EOS R5

Absolute Best

Canon EOS R5 Review

Sony Alpha 7R III

Best for bird photography

Olympus OM-1

Best Value

Canon EOS 90D

Best Budget

Top Wildlife Cameras for Intermediate Photographers

Our Pick For

The Absolute Best Wildlife Camera for Intermediate Photographers

  • Skill Level: Intermediate/Professional
  • Body Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor: Full frame (36 x 24 mm) CMOS sensor
  • Weight: Approx. 738 g (1.63 lb / 26.03 oz)
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Effective Megapixels: 45 megapixels
  • Autofocus Points: 1053 AF points
  • Buffer: Capable of shooting bursts at 20 fps with electronic shutter and 12 fps with mechanical shutter
  • ISO Sensitivity: 100-51200 (expandable to 102400)
  • Image Stabilization: In-body image stabilization reducing shake by up to 8 stops
  • Burst Mode: Up to 20 fps with electronic (silent) shutter
  • 4K Video: Capable of shooting 8K video at 30p and 24p, as well as oversampled 4K footage at up to 120p
  • Wifi: Dual-band Wi-Fi with support for real-time FTP transfer
  • Silent Mode: Electronic (silent) shutter available for quiet shooting
  • Weatherproof: Solid build and weather-sealed construction
  • Battery Life: Approximately 490 shots on a single charge

The Canon EOS R5 is considered an exceptional wildlife photography camera, particularly suitable for intermediate photographers due to its advanced features and capabilities.

Pros:

  • Advanced Autofocus System: The Canon R5 boasts a highly effective autofocus system, including features like Animal Eye AF, which significantly improves the accuracy of focusing on wildlife subjects.
  • Fast Frame Rate: With a fast frame rate, the R5 allows photographers to capture fast-moving wildlife moments with precision.
  • Excellent Electronic Viewfinder (EVF): The camera’s EVF provides a clear view without blackout, crucial for tracking and capturing wildlife in motion.
  • High Image Quality: The R5 delivers exceptional image quality with its high-resolution sensor, allowing for detailed and sharp images suitable for large prints.
  • Comfortable Grip and Weather Sealing: Its ergonomic design and weather sealing make it comfortable to use in various outdoor conditions, essential for wildlife photography.
  • Customizable Controls: The camera offers intuitive and customizable controls, enabling quick adjustments tailored to wildlife photography needs.

Cons:

  • EVF Spool-Up Times: Compared to DSLRs, the R5 may have slower EVF spool-up times, which can be a drawback in certain situations.
  • Battery Life: While the battery life is decent, extensive wildlife shoots may require carrying extra batteries due to the camera’s power consumption.

In summary, the Canon EOS R5 stands out as an excellent choice for intermediate wildlife photographers due to its advanced autofocus capabilities, high image quality, comfortable design, and customizable controls. Despite minor drawbacks like EVF spool-up times and battery life considerations for prolonged shoots, its overall performance and features make it a top contender in the realm of wildlife photography

Our Pick For

Runner Up

  • Skill Level: Intermediate/Professional
  • Body Type: DSLR
  • Sensor: Full frame
  • Weight: 2 lb 3.5 oz (1005 g) with battery.
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Effective Megapixels: 45.7 megapixels
  • Autofocus Points: Multi-CAM 20K 153-Point AF system
  • Buffer: Up to approximately 51 frames in 14-bit lossless compressed RAW
  • ISO Sensitivity: 64-25,600 (Expandable to 32-102,400)
  • Image Stabilization: No in-body image stabilization
  • Burst Mode: Up to 7 frames per second
  • 4K Video: 4K UHD video recording at 30 fps
  • Wifi: Yes
  • Silent Mode: Yes
  • Weatherproof: Yes
  • Battery Life: Approximately 1840 shots on a single charge

The Nikon D850 is a top choice for intermediate photographers due to its professional-grade features and exceptional performance. Its high-resolution 45.7-megapixel full-frame sensor captures intricate details, making it ideal for wildlife shots. 

The extensive ISO range allows for excellent low-light performance, crucial for capturing wildlife in various lighting conditions. The camera’s robust build and weatherproofing ensure durability in challenging outdoor environments, essential for wildlife photographers.

Pros:

  • High-resolution sensor for capturing fine details in wildlife scenes
  • Wide ISO range for excellent low-light performance
  • Robust build and weatherproofing for durability in outdoor conditions
  • Fast and accurate autofocus system for capturing moving wildlife
  • 4K UHD video recording capability for high-quality wildlife videography

Cons:

  • The camera’s weight may be considered heavy for extended wildlife photography sessions
  • Limited buffer capacity when shooting in high-speed burst mode
  • High price point compared to some other camera options

Overall, the Nikon D850 excels in capturing wildlife because of its high resolution, exceptional low-light performance, rugged build, and advanced autofocus system. Although it’s a bit on the heavy side and pricey, it’s a fantastic choice for photographers wanting to take their images to the next level.

Adventure Fix Newsletter

Our Pick For

Best for Bird Photography

  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Body Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor: Full frame
  • Weight: 1.45 lbs (660 grams)
  • Price Range: $$
  • Effective Megapixels: 42.4 megapixels
  • Autofocus Points: 399
  • Buffer: Capable of continuous shooting at up to 10 frames per second with full AF/AE tracking
  • ISO Sensitivity: Standard ISO 100-32000 range (expandable to ISO 50-102400)
  • Image Stabilization: 5-axis image stabilization system
  • Burst Mode: Continuous shooting at up to 10 frames per second with full AF/AE tracking
  • 4K Video: Supports 4K video recording
  • Wifi: Built-in Wi-Fi for connectivity
  • Silent Mode: Yes
  • Weatherproof: No
  • Battery Life: Approximately 530 shots

The Sony Alpha 7R III camera is a popular choice for wildlife photography due to its high resolution 42.4MP sensor, which allows for detailed shots even when cropping in for distant subjects. It offers good performance with its 10 frames per second continuous shooting capability. 

The A7R III is praised for its autofocus system especially handy for animals in motion and birds in flight. 

Pros:

  • High-resolution 42.4MP sensor for detailed images.
  • Good performance with 10 frames per second continuous shooting.
  • Solid autofocus system suitable for wildlife photography.

Cons:

  • Autofocus not as advanced as newer models like the A7 IV, particularly for fast-moving subjects like birds in flight.
  • Price may be a consideration compared to newer models with improved features.

In summary, the Sony Alpha 7R III is a great option for intermediate photographers looking for a great camera for bird photography due to its high resolution sensor and good overall performance. 

Our Pick For

Best Value Camera

  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Body Type: SLR-style mirrorless
  • Sensor: Four Thirds (17.4 x 13 mm) Stacked CMOS sensor
  • Weight: Approx. 1.32 lb (599 g)
  • Price Range: $$
  • Effective Megapixels: 20 megapixels
  • Autofocus Points: 1053 focus points
  • Buffer: Capable of continuous shooting at 10.0 fps
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 80-25600 (expandable to 80-102400)
  • Image Stabilization: Sensor-shift 5-axis stabilization with a CIPA rating of 7 stops
  • Burst Mode: Up to 10.0 fps continuous drive
  • 4K Video: Supports MPEG-4, H.264, H.265 formats for video recording
  • Wifi: Built-In for wireless connectivity
  • Silent Mode: Electronic shutter available for quiet shooting
  • Weatherproof: Environmentally sealed with an IP53 rating
  • Battery Life: Approximately 520 shots CIPA rating

The Olympus OM-1 camera is a fantastic value option for intermediate wildlife photographers, offering a blend of advanced features and excellent image quality at a reasonable price point. Here are some reasons why it is a great choice for wildlife photography:

Pros:

  • High Image Quality: The OM-1 delivers exceptional image quality with its 20 MP sensor and advanced image processing capabilities, ensuring sharp and detailed wildlife shots.
  • Innovative Features: It offers state-of-the-art computational photography features like handheld Pixel-Shift high-resolution shooting, HDR, and Focus Stacking, enhancing the creative possibilities for wildlife photographers.
  • Superb Image Stabilization: With up to 7 stops of in-body image stabilization (8 stops with compatible lenses), the OM-1 ensures sharp images even in challenging shooting conditions.
  • Fast Frame Rates: The camera’s ability to shoot at 50 FPS with Precapture mode makes it ideal for capturing fast-moving wildlife moments.
  • Weatherproof Design: The weather-sealed construction of the OM-1 allows photographers to shoot in various outdoor conditions without worry.
  • Great Battery Life: The camera boasts impressive battery life, ensuring extended shooting sessions without frequent battery changes.

Cons:

  • Slow Autofocus in Low Light: Some users have reported that the autofocus performance of the OM-1 under low light and low contrast conditions may not be as fast as desired.
  • Comparative Autofocus Performance: In comparison to other models like the EM5 III, the autofocus speed of the OM-1 may not be as quick in certain scenarios.

In conclusion, the Olympus OM-1 presents an excellent value proposition for intermediate wildlife photographers, offering advanced features, superb image quality, innovative technology, and reliable performance at a competitive price point. While considerations include autofocus performance in specific conditions, its overall feature set makes it a compelling choice for capturing stunning wildlife images

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Our Pick For

Best Budget Camera

  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Body Type: DSLR
  • Sensor: APS-C
  • Weight: 1.54 lb (701 g)
  • Price Range: $
  • Effective Megapixels: 32.5 megapixels
  • Autofocus Points: 45 cross-type AF points
  • Buffer: Up to 58 Large/Fine JPEGs or 25 RAW images
  • ISO Sensitivity: 100-25,600 (Expandable to 51,200)
  • Image Stabilization: No in-body image stabilization
  • Burst Mode: Up to 10 frames per second
  • 4K Video: Yes, 4K UHD video recording
  • Wifi: Yes
  • Silent Mode: Yes
  • Weatherproof: No
  • Battery Life: Approximately 1300 shots (CIPA)

The Canon EOS 90D is a compelling budget option for wildlife photography, offering a blend of advanced features and versatility. With its 32.5-megapixel APS-C sensor, the camera delivers high-resolution imagery, ideal for capturing intricate details in wildlife scenes. 

The 45 cross-type autofocus points enable swift and accurate focusing on moving subjects, essential for wildlife photography. Its impressive burst mode of up to 10 frames per second allows photographers to capture fast-paced wildlife action effectively. Additionally, the camera’s 4K UHD video recording capability provides an added dimension for wildlife documentation.

Pros:

  • High-resolution sensor for detailed wildlife imagery
  • Fast and accurate autofocus system with 45 cross-type points
  • Impressive burst mode for capturing fast-paced wildlife action
  • 4K UHD video recording capability for high-quality wildlife videography
  • Built-in WiFi for convenient image transfer and remote shooting

Cons:

  • Not weatherproof, requiring additional protection in challenging outdoor conditions
  • Limited buffer capacity for continuous high-speed shooting
  • No in-body image stabilization for handheld wildlife photography

In summary, the Canon EOS 90D stands out as a strong choice for intermediate photographers on a budget, due to its affordability, high resolution, advanced autofocus system, impressive burst mode, and 4K video capability. However, potential drawbacks include its lack of weatherproofing, buffer limitations, and the absence of in-body image stabilization for handheld shooting.

Comparison Table

Best Wildlife Cameras for Intermediate Photographers

-
Canon R5
Nikon D850
Sony Alpha 7R III
Olympus OM-1
Canon EOS 90D

CAMERA

Canon EOS R5

Nikon D850

Sony Alpha 7R III

Olympus OM-1

Canon EOS 90D

BEST FOR

Overall

Runner Up

Bird Photography

Best Value

Budget-friendly

BODY

Mirrorless

DSLR

Mirrorless

Mirrorless

DSLR

PRICE

$$$

$$$

$$

$$

$

WEIGHT

1.63 lbs

2.21 lbs

1.45 lbs

1.32 lbs

1.54 lbs

MEGAPIXELS

45.0 MP

45.7 MP

42.4 MP

20.0 MP

32.5 MP

BURST RATE

Up to 20fps

Up to 7fps

Up to 10fps

Up to 10fps

Up to 10fps

AUTOFOCUS POINTS

1053

153

399

1053

45

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

Key Factors To Consider

When looking for a wildlife camera, there are several key features to consider. These features will help ensure that the camera is capable of capturing high-quality images of animals in their natural habitat. Here are some of the most important features to consider:

Shutter Speed and Autofocus Performance

Shutter speed and autofocus performance are two critical features to consider when choosing a wildlife camera. A fast shutter speed is essential for capturing animals in motion, while a quick and accurate autofocus system is necessary for keeping the subject in focus. A camera with a high frame rate can also be beneficial, allowing the photographer to capture multiple shots in quick succession.

Durability and Weather Sealing

Wildlife photography often involves spending long hours in harsh environments, so durability and weather sealing are essential features to consider. A camera with a sturdy build quality and weather sealing will be able to withstand exposure to rain, dust, and other elements. This will help ensure that the camera remains functional even in challenging conditions.

Battery Life and Storage Options

Battery life and storage options are also important features to consider when choosing a wildlife camera. A camera with a long battery life will allow the photographer to spend more time in the field without needing to recharge. Similarly, a camera with ample storage options will enable the photographer to capture more images without needing to swap out memory cards.

Conclusion

Best wildlife cameras for intermediate photographers

When it comes to the best intermediate-level cameras for wildlife photography , the Canon EOS R5 emerges as the top choice overall, offering exceptional resolution, advanced autofocus capabilities, and impressive video performance, making it a versatile and reliable tool for capturing wildlife in various settings. 

Specifically for bird photography, the Sony Alpha 7R III stands out with its high-resolution sensor, remarkable autofocus system, and extended reach, providing bird enthusiasts with the precision and detail required for capturing avian subjects. 

For those looking for the best value, the Olympus OM-1 shines with its blend of advanced features, compact design, and exceptional image quality, offering a compelling combination of performance and affordability. 

Lastly, for budget-conscious photographers, the Canon EOS 90D proves to be the most budget-friendly choice, providing a balance of features, versatility, and cost-effectiveness, making it an accessible entry point into wildlife photography for intermediate-level enthusiasts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s a good budget-friendly camera for capturing wildlife?

For those on a budget, the Canon EOS Rebel T8i is a great option. It has a 24.1-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor that delivers high-quality images, and it’s easy to use for beginners. The camera also has a 9-point autofocus system that can capture fast-moving wildlife with ease.

Can you recommend a camera for someone just starting out in wildlife photography?

The Nikon D3500 is a great camera for beginners. It has a 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor that delivers high-quality images, and it’s easy to use. The camera also has a fast autofocus system that can capture fast-moving wildlife with ease.

Which mirrorless cameras are top picks for taking pictures of animals in the wild?

The Canon EOS R3 and the Nikon Z9 are two of the top mirrorless cameras for wildlife photography. Both cameras have fast autofocus systems and high-quality sensors that deliver sharp and detailed images. They also have great battery life, which is important when shooting in the field.

What do pros like National Geographic photographers use to shoot wildlife?

National Geographic photographers often use high-end cameras like the Nikon D5 or the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. These cameras have fast autofocus systems, high-quality sensors, and fast burst rates that allow photographers to capture fast-moving wildlife with ease.

What should I look for in a camera to get the best image quality for wildlife shots?

When looking for a camera for wildlife photography, it’s important to look for a camera with a high-quality sensor and a fast autofocus system. A camera with a high burst rate can also be helpful for capturing fast-moving wildlife. Additionally, a camera with image stabilization can help reduce blur in your photos.

Is there a solid wildlife photography camera I can get for under $500?

The Canon EOS Rebel T7 is a great option for those on a budget. It has a 24.1-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and a fast autofocus system that can capture fast-moving wildlife with ease. It’s also easy to use for beginners.

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

Intermediate-level Camera Reviews Online

During your research, you might want to consider checking out articles from various publications that provide insights into the intermediate-level cameras for wildlife photography.

Below are a few articles that caught my interest.

What Camera Do You Need For Wildlife Photography?NickDalePhotography.com

7 Advanced Techniques to Improve Your Wildlife PhotosNaturettl.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 Cameras for Intermediate Photographers
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