Best Wildlife Cameras Under $1,000

Written by Antonio Cala.

Last updated on March 17, 2024

Table of Contents

Wildlife photography is a challenging yet rewarding genre that requires the right equipment to capture stunning images of animals in their natural habitats. However, finding the best camera for wildlife photography can be a daunting task, especially for those on a budget. Fortunately, there are many excellent cameras available for under $1000 that offer great features for capturing wildlife.

After researching and analyzing various options, several cameras stood out as the best choices for wildlife photography on a budget. These cameras offer great features at an affordable price, making them ideal for beginners and enthusiasts alike.

For a complete analysis of all wildlife cameras, not just from Sony, make sure to check out the ultimate guide to wildlife photography cameras. 

Key Takeaways

  • A fast and accurate autofocus system is essential for capturing moving wildlife.
  • A high burst rate and long zoom lens are also important features to consider.
  • Several cameras under $1000 offer great features for wildlife photography, including the Nikon D7500, Canon Rebel T8i, and Sony Alpha 6400.

Quick Recommendations

Feel free to check out this summary with our favorite wildlife cameras under $1,000, or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.

Canon Rebel T8i

Absolute Best

Canon EOS Rebel T8i Review

OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

Runner Up

Nikon D7500

Best DSLR

Sony Alpha 6400

Best Mirrorless

Lumix DMC-FZ2000

Best Compact

Best Wildlife Cameras under $1,000

Our Pick For

The Absolute Best Wildlife Camera under $1,000

  • Skill Level: Beginner/Intermediate
  • 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 presents one of the best options for wildlife photography on a budget, particularly for enthusiasts and beginners seeking a capable DSLR. With its 24.1-megapixel APS-C sensor, the camera offers good resolution for capturing wildlife details. 

The 45 cross-type autofocus points enable effective subject tracking, essential for wildlife photography, while the 7 frames per second burst mode allows for capturing fast-moving wildlife moments. Additionally, the camera’s 4K UHD video recording capability provides an added dimension for wildlife documentation.

Pros:

  • Good resolution sensor for capturing wildlife details
  • 45 cross-type autofocus points for effective subject tracking
  • 7 frames per second 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 Rebel T8i serves as a solid option for beginners who want to get started in wildlife photography, offering good resolution, effective autofocus and burst mode for less than 1000 bucks.

Our Pick For

Runner Up

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 is a solid contender to the Rebel T8i as a budget-friendly camera that offers advanced features suitable for wildlife photography. With a compact and lightweight design, this mirrorless camera is easy to handle in outdoor settings. 

It features a 20.3MP Micro 4/3 sensor, 121 autofocus points, and a burst mode of up to 15 frames per second, making it capable of capturing fast-moving wildlife with precision.

Pros:

  • Compact and lightweight design for portability.
  • Advanced photography features with a simple interface.
  • In-body 5-axis image stabilization for sharp images.
  • Burst mode of up to 15 fps for capturing action.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi for easy sharing and remote control.

Cons:

  • Not weatherproof, limiting its use in challenging conditions.
  • Limited battery life, may require carrying extra batteries for extended shoots.

In summary, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a great entry-level option for wildlife photography, offering advanced features at an affordable price point. 

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Our Pick For

Best DSLR Camera under $1,000

  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • 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 budget-friendly option for wildlife photography enthusiasts, particularly those looking specifically for a DSLR model. With its 20.9-megapixel APS-C sensor, the camera delivers good image quality, suitable for capturing wildlife details while remaining cost-effective. 

The 51-point AF system enables precise and quick focusing on wildlife subjects, essential for wildlife photography. Its weatherproof construction adds durability and reliability when shooting in outdoor environments, making it a practical choice for wildlife photographers on a budget.

Pros:

  • Good image quality with the 20.9-megapixel sensor for wildlife photography
  • 51-point AF system for precise and quick focusing on wildlife subjects
  • Weatherproof construction for durability in outdoor conditions
  • 4K UHD video recording capability for high-quality wildlife videography
  • Decent battery life for extended wildlife photography sessions

Cons:

  • Slightly limited buffer capacity for continuous high-speed shooting
  • No in-body image stabilization for handheld wildlife photography
  • The maximum continuous shooting speed may be lower compared to some higher-end models

In summary, the Nikon D7500 serves as a cheap option to get initiated in wildlife photography with a very capable camera. 

Our Pick For

Best Mirrorless Camera under $1,000

  • 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 is an incredibly versatile mirrorless camera that offers a good balance of features at a competitive price point. With a 24.2MP APS-C sensor, 425 autofocus points, and a burst mode of up to 11 frames per second, it provides the necessary tools for capturing wildlife moments effectively. 

The camera’s compact build and lightweight design make it easy to handle in outdoor settings, while its autofocus system ensures sharp and detailed images of fast-moving subjects.

Pros:

  • 24.2MP APS-C sensor for detailed images.
  • 425 autofocus points for precise focusing.
  • Burst mode of up to 11 fps for capturing fast action.
  • Compact build ideal for outdoor photography.
  • Good autofocus system suitable for wildlife photography.

Cons:

  • Limited battery life may require carrying extra batteries for extended shoots.
  • No weatherproofing, which could be a concern in challenging outdoor conditions.

All in all, the Sony Alpha 6400 is a solid choice for wildlife photographers on a budget, due to its compact size, advanced autofocus system, fast burst mode and competitive price point. For less than a thousand bucks, you can get a solid and capable camera to capture stunning wildlife shots.

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Our Pick For

Best Compact Camera under $1,000

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2000

  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Body Type: Bridge
  • Sensor: 1-inch MOS sensor
  • Weight: Approximately 2.02 lbs (915 g)
  • Price Range: $
  • Effective Megapixels: 20.1 megapixels
  • Autofocus Points: 49 focus points
  • Buffer: Continuous drive at 12.0 fps
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 125-12800
  • Image Stabilization: Optical, Hybrid 5-axis available in movie mode
  • Burst Mode: Continuous drive at 12.0 fps
  • 4K Video: Yes, DCI and UHD 4K video at both 30p and 24p
  • Wifi: Built-In, 802.11b/g/n
  • Silent Mode: Yes
  • Weatherproof: No
  • Battery Life: Approximately 350 shots (CIPA)

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2000 is a powerful and versatile compact camera that offers lots of bells and whistles wanted for wildlife photography. Despite its affordability, this camera provides advanced features tailored for capturing wildlife scenes effectively.

Pros:

  • Unlimited Recording: The camera can record for an unlimited amount of time in a single take, advantageous for extended wildlife observation or documentary shoots.
  • Extreme Zoom: With a 24-480mm equivalent lens, the FZ2000 allows photographers to capture distant wildlife with ease.
  • 5-Axis Image Stabilization: Ensures sharp images even at longer focal lengths, crucial for handheld wildlife photography.
  • 4K Video Capability: Capable of recording high-quality 4K UHD video at both 30p and 24p, adding a cinematic dimension to wildlife videography.
  • Integrated ND Filter: Features an integrated ND filter, beneficial for controlling exposure in bright lighting conditions.

Cons:

  • Small Sensor Size: The camera utilizes a 1″ sensor, which may result in limitations in depth of field and image quality compared to larger sensor cameras.
  • Limited Low-Light Performance: In low-light conditions, the image quality may be impacted due to the smaller sensor size.
  • Handling at Extreme Zoom: The camera’s weight and size may become cumbersome when fully extended, requiring additional stabilization techniques or tripods for optimal results.

In summary, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2000/FZ2500 presents a cost-effective solution for wildlife photography enthusiasts seeking a compact camera with advanced features. 

Comparison Table

Best Budget Cameras for Wildlife Photography
(Under $1,000)

-
Canon Rebel T8i
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV
Nikon D7500
Sony Alpha 6400
Lumix DMC-FZ2000

CAMERA

Canon EOS Rebel T8i

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

Nikon D7500

Sony Alpha 6400

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2000 Review

BODY

DSLR

Mirrorless

DSLR

Mirrorless

Compact

WEIGHT

1.13 lbs

0.85 lbs

1.41 lbs

0.89 lbs

2.02 lbs

MEGAPIXELS

32.5 MP

20.3 MP

24.1 MP

24.2 MP

20.1 MP

BURST RATE

Up to 10fps

Up to 15fps

Up to 7fps

Up to 11fps

Up to 12fps

AUTOFOCUS POINTS

45

121

45

425

49

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

Choosing the Right Budget Camera

When it comes to wildlife photography, having the right camera can make all the difference. However, with so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to know what to look for. 

Here are some top features to consider when searching for the best wildlife photography cameras under $1000:

Fast Autofocus

One of the most important features to look for in a wildlife photography camera is fast autofocus. This is especially important when capturing animals in motion. Look for cameras with advanced autofocus systems that can track moving subjects and quickly adjust focus.

High ISO Performance

Wildlife photography often takes place in low light conditions, such as early morning or late evening. A camera with high ISO performance can help you capture clear, sharp images in these conditions. Look for cameras with ISO ranges up to 6400 or higher.

Good Image Stabilization

When photographing wildlife, it’s important to have a steady hand. However, even the steadiest hands can sometimes result in blurry images. A camera with good image stabilization can help compensate for this. Look for cameras with built-in stabilization or lenses with stabilization capabilities.

Weather Sealing

Wildlife photography often takes place in rugged outdoor environments. A camera with weather sealing can help protect it from the elements, such as rain, snow, and dust. Look for cameras with durable, weather-resistant bodies.

Burst Mode

Animals move quickly and unpredictably, so having a camera with a fast burst mode can help you capture the perfect shot. Look for cameras with burst modes that can shoot at least 5 frames per second or higher.

Conclusion

Best wildlife cameras under 1000

When considering wildlife photography cameras under $1000, the Canon Rebel T8i and OM-D E-M10 Mark IV emerge as standout choices due to their exceptional image quality and versatility. 

The Nikon D7500 remains a solid option for those inclined towards DSLRs, offering reliability and performance in capturing wildlife scenes. 

The Sony Alpha 6400 proves to be a compelling mirrorless alternative with its advanced features and capabilities. 

Finally, the Lumix DMC-FZ2000 shines as the premier choice for individuals seeking a point-and-shoot camera, combining ease of use with quality results for wildlife enthusiasts on a budget. 

Each of these cameras caters to distinct preferences and skill levels, ensuring a diverse range of options for aspiring wildlife photographers looking to capture stunning moments in nature without breaking the bank.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s a solid entry-level camera for wildlife shots that won’t break the bank?

For those on a budget, the Canon EOS Rebel T8i is a great entry-level camera for wildlife photography. It has a 24.1-megapixel APS-C sensor and a 9-point autofocus system, which is great for capturing fast-moving subjects. It also has a continuous shooting speed of 3 frames per second, which is perfect for capturing animals in motion.

Can you recommend a camera under a grand that’s great for capturing animals in the wild?

The Nikon D5600 is a great camera for wildlife photography under $1000. It has a 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor and a 39-point autofocus system, which is great for capturing fast-moving subjects. It also has a continuous shooting speed of 5 frames per second, which is perfect for capturing animals in motion.

What are some top picks for budget-friendly DSLRs suited to nature photography?

The Canon EOS Rebel T7i is a great budget-friendly DSLR for nature photography. It has a 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor and a 45-point autofocus system, which is great for capturing fast-moving subjects. It also has a continuous shooting speed of 6 frames per second, which is perfect for capturing animals in motion.

Looking for a mirrorless camera that’s good for wildlife photography and affordable too – any ideas?

The Sony Alpha a6000 is a great mirrorless camera for wildlife photography under $1000. It has a 24.3-megapixel APS-C sensor and a 179-point autofocus system, which is great for capturing fast-moving subjects. It also has a continuous shooting speed of 11 frames per second, which is perfect for capturing animals in motion.

Any suggestions for a camera that’s easy for beginners but also good for snapping critters, all under $1000?

The Canon EOS M50 is a great camera for beginners and wildlife photography under $1000. It has a 24.1-megapixel APS-C sensor and a Dual Pixel autofocus system, which is great for capturing fast-moving subjects. It also has a continuous shooting speed of 10 frames per second, which is perfect for capturing animals in motion.

What’s the best camera for someone into vlogging and wildlife photography, with a budget limit of $1000?

The Panasonic Lumix G85 is a great camera for vlogging and wildlife photography under $1000. It has a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor and a 49-point autofocus system, which is great for capturing fast-moving subjects. It also has a continuous shooting speed of 9 frames per second, which is perfect for capturing animals in motion. Additionally, it has 4K video capabilities, which is great for vlogging.

Other 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

Budget Wildlife Camera Reviews Online

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

Below are a few resources that caught my interest.

6 of the Best Cameras Under 1000 That Have Won Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awardsnomadnaturetravel.com

What’s the best camera for wildlife under $1000?Quora.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 under $1,000
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