Best Wildlife Cameras Under $2,000

Written by Antonio Cala.

Last updated on March 17, 2024

Table of Contents

Purchasing a camera for wildlife photography can be an expensive investment. Fortunately, there are budget-friendly options available that can produce excellent results without breaking the bank.

When looking for the best budget cameras for wildlife photography under $2000, there are several factors to consider. These include image quality, autofocus performance, durability, and portability. It’s also essential to choose a camera that can handle the demands of wildlife photography, such as fast-moving subjects and challenging lighting conditions.

After getting our hands on a lot of cameras and conducting extensive research and analysis, we put together this article with our top picks for budget wildlife cameras under $2000. 

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

  • Wildlife photography can be an expensive investment, but there are budget-friendly options available.
  • When looking for a budget wildlife camera, it’s important to consider factors such as image quality, autofocus performance, durability, and portability.
  • The top picks for budget wildlife cameras under $2000 still offer exceptional image quality, fast autofocus performance, and robust construction.

Quick Recommendations

Feel free to check out this summary of our recommended cameras for wildlife under $2,000, or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.

Olympus OM-1

Absolute Best

Olympus OM-1 Review

Canon EOS 90D

Runner Up

Sony RX10 IV

Best Compact

Best Wildlife Cameras under $2,000

Our Pick For

The Absolute Best Wildlife Camera under $2,000

  • 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 option under $2,000 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.

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 superior competitive price point.

Our Pick For

Runner Up

  • 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. There are lots of features packed into this camera that retails for less than 2000 bucks.

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. 

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. It’s our preferred option together with the OM-1.

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Our Pick For

Best Compact Camera under $2,000

  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Body Type: Bridge
  • Sensor: 1.0-type Exmor RS CMOS sensor
  • Weight: Approximately 2.41 lbs (1095 g)
  • Price Range: $$
  • Effective Megapixels: 20.1 Megapixels
  • Autofocus Points: 315 points
  • Buffer: Up to approx. 249 frames at 24fps
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, ISO100–12800
  • Image Stabilization: Optical SteadyShot equivalent to a 4.5-stop-faster shutter speed
  • Burst Mode: Up to 24fps
  • 4K Video: Yes
  • Wifi: Yes
  • Silent Mode: Yes
  • Weatherproof: Weather-sealed magnesium-alloy body
  • Battery Life: Approximately 400 minutes with the monitor, approximately 370 minutes with the viewfinder

The Sony RX10 IV is our preferred option for a camera under $2000 if what you’re looking for is a compact camera. This camera offers speed, reach, and versatile recording capabilities, making it a compact solution for multimedia image-makers. The key features that make it ideal for wildlife photography include:

Pros:

  • Speed: Capable of up to 24 fps shooting at ISO 12800, allowing for capturing fast-moving wildlife with clarity.
  • Zoom Range: Features a 25x Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* zoom lens covering an impressive 24-600mm equivalent focal length range.
  • Image Stabilization: Utilizes Optical SteadyShot to minimize the effects of camera shake by up to 4.5 stops.
  • Autofocus System: Quickened 315-point focal plane phase-detection autofocus system for fast focus speeds.
  • Video Capabilities: Records UHD 4K/30p or Full HD 1080/120p video with high-quality results.
  • Robust Form Factor: Weather-sealed magnesium-alloy body allows for working in challenging environments.
  • Wireless Connectivity: Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for wireless image sharing and remote camera control.

Cons:

  • Fixed Aperture: Aperture control is manual via a ring on the lens, limiting flexibility in certain shooting modes.
  • Limited Aperture Control via App: Some functionality like aperture control is not available through the app, potentially restricting advanced users.

With its exceptional zoom range, image stabilization, and autofocus capabilities, the  Sony RX10 IV offers wildlife photographers a compact yet powerful tool to capture stunning wildlife moments at a competitive price point.

Comparison Table

Best Budget Cameras for Wildlife Photography
(Under $2,000)

-
Olympus OM-1
Canon EOS 90D
Sony RX10 IV

CAMERA

Olympus OM-1

Canon EOS 90D

Sony RX10 IV Review

BODY

Mirrorless

DSLR

Compact

WEIGHT

1.32 lbs

1.54 lbs

2.41 lbs

MEGAPIXELS

20.0 MP

32.5 MP

20.1 MP

BURST RATE

Up to 10fps

Up to 10fps

Up to 24fps

AUTOFOCUS POINTS

1053

45

315

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

Choosing the Right Budget Camera

There are several key features to consider when choosing a camera for wildlife photography, especially if you’re on a budget. Here are some of the most important features to keep in mind:

Sensor Size and Quality

The size and quality of the camera’s sensor are crucial for capturing high-quality wildlife photos. A larger sensor can capture more light, resulting in better image quality, especially in low-light conditions. A high-quality sensor will also produce images with less noise and better color accuracy.

Autofocus and Speed

Autofocus is another essential feature to consider when choosing a wildlife camera. Fast and accurate autofocus is crucial for capturing images of moving animals. A camera with a high frame rate will also allow you to take multiple shots in quick succession, increasing your chances of capturing the perfect shot.

Lens Compatibility and Reach

The lens is another critical component of a wildlife camera. A lens with a long focal length will allow you to get closer to your subject without having to physically move closer. Look for cameras with interchangeable lenses, as this will give you more flexibility in terms of focal length and aperture.

Durability and Weather Sealing

Finally, a wildlife camera should be durable and weather-sealed to withstand the elements. Look for cameras with a rugged build and weather-sealed body to protect against dust, moisture, and extreme temperatures.

Conclusion

Best wildlife cameras under 2000

When considering wildlife photography cameras under $1000 the Olympus OM-1 and the Canon EOS 90D stand out as the absolute best choices under $2000.

The Olympus OM-1 boasts a compact design and exceptional image stabilization, making it a great option for those who prioritize portability and versatility. Additionally, its weather-sealed body allows for worry-free shooting in various environments.

The Canon EOS 90D, on the other hand, offers impressive autofocus and burst shooting capabilities, making it an excellent choice for capturing fast-moving wildlife. Its high-resolution sensor and 4K video recording capabilities also make it a great all-around camera for both photography and videography.

For those who prefer a point-and-shoot camera, the Sony RX 10 IV is the best option available. With a 24-600mm zoom lens and fast autofocus, this camera is perfect for capturing wildlife from a distance. Its compact size and ease of use also make it an excellent choice for beginners or those who want a more straightforward shooting experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s a good entry-level camera for wildlife photography?

For beginners, the Canon EOS Rebel T7 is a great option for wildlife photography. It comes with an 18-55mm lens and a 24.1-megapixel APS-C sensor, which allows for high-quality images. The camera also has a fast autofocus system, which is essential for capturing fast-moving wildlife.

Which mirrorless cameras are best for wildlife photography on a budget?

The Sony Alpha a6000 and the Fujifilm X-T30 are both excellent mirrorless cameras for wildlife photography on a budget. The Sony Alpha a6000 has a 24.3-megapixel APS-C sensor and a fast autofocus system, while the Fujifilm X-T30 has a 26.1-megapixel APS-C sensor and a compact design.

Can you recommend an affordable camera for bird photography?

The Nikon D3500 is a great camera for bird photography on a budget. It has a 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor and a fast autofocus system, making it easy to capture birds in flight. The camera also has a long battery life, which is essential for long days in the field.

What are the top budget-friendly cameras for wildlife photography beginners?

The Canon EOS Rebel T7 and the Nikon D3500 are both excellent budget-friendly cameras for wildlife photography beginners. They both have fast autofocus systems and high-quality sensors, which allow for great image quality. Additionally, they both come with kit lenses, which are great for beginners.

What lenses should I consider for wildlife photography with a Nikon on a budget?

The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR is a great lens for wildlife photography with a Nikon on a budget. It has a long focal length range and image stabilization, which makes it easy to capture sharp images of wildlife. The lens is also relatively lightweight, making it easy to carry around in the field.

Are there any wildlife photography cameras under $500 that are worth buying?

The Canon PowerShot SX540 HS and the Nikon COOLPIX B500 are both great options for wildlife photography cameras under $500. They both have long zoom lenses and image stabilization, which makes it easy to capture sharp images of wildlife. Additionally, they are both relatively lightweight and easy to carry around in the field.

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 some of the options available for affordable cameras for wildlife photography.

Below are a few resources that caught my interest.

The Best Camera for Bird Photography Under $2000thephoblographer.com

What is the best camera (under $2000) for birdwatching/wildlife 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 Cameras under $2000
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