Best Canon Cameras for Wildlife Photography

Written by Antonio Cala.

Last updated on March 17, 2024

Table of Contents

Canon cameras are often the gear of choice for many wildlife photographers, offering a variety of options that cater to the diverse needs of this genre. Selecting the right camera involves evaluating a range of features, including dynamic range, low light performance, and continuous shooting capabilities.

The debate over mirrorless versus DSLR cameras continues, but Canon provides strong contenders in both camps. High-resolution sensors, fast autofocus, and durability are hallmarks of the best wildlife photography cameras. 

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

Key Takeaways

  • Selecting a Canon camera for wildlife photography involves assessing features like dynamic range and shooting speed.
  • Canon offers both mirrorless and DSLR cameras suited for capturing wildlife, each with unique strengths.
  • Durability, autofocus speed, and sensor quality are critical considerations for wildlife photography.

Quick Recommendations

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

Canon EOS R3

Absolute Best

Canon EOS R3 Review

Canon EOS R5

Best for Bird Photography

Canon Rebel T8i

Best for Beginners

Canon EOS 90D

Best Budget

Best Canon Cameras for Wildlife Photography

Our Pick For

The Absolute Best Canon Camera for Wildlife Photography

  • Skill Level: Professional
  • Body Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor: Full frame
  • Weight: Approx. 822 g (1015g with card and battery)
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Effective Megapixels: 24.1
  • Autofocus Points: 1053
  • Buffer: 540 JPEG or 140 RAW files at 30 fps
  • ISO Sensitivity: ISO range of 100-102400
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Burst Mode: 30 fps with electronic shutter and up to 12 fps with mechanical shutter
  • 4K Video: Can record at a top resolution of 6K at up to 60 fps.
  • Wifi: Not specified in the search results
  • Silent Mode: Not specified in the search results
  • Weatherproof: Dust and water resistance.
  • Battery Life: Approximately 860 shots.

The Canon EOS R3 is a top-tier professional mirrorless camera renowned for its exceptional capabilities in wildlife photography. Its advanced features and performance make it our preferred choice of this list. 

The camera’s remarkable autofocus system, high ISO performance, and rapid continuous shooting capabilities make it ideal for capturing fast-moving wildlife in various lighting conditions. The camera’s 24.1 effective megapixels and impressive image detail further enhance its suitability for wildlife photography.

Pros:

  • Extraordinarily capable autofocus system, ideal for tracking wildlife subjects with precision.
  • Ground-breaking eye control focus, providing intuitive and accurate focus control.
  • Rapid continuous shooting up to 195fps with fixed AE/AF, enabling photographers to capture fast-paced wildlife action.

Cons:

  • The Canon EOS R3 comes with a premium price tag, which may be a significant investment for some photographers.
  • Utilizing the camera’s advanced features may require a dedicated effort to familiarize oneself with the menu system and controls, potentially posing a learning curve for some users.

The Canon EOS R3‘s combination of cutting-edge technology, exceptional autofocus performance, and high-speed shooting capabilities makes it the best choice for  wildlife photographers wanting the very best.

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Our Pick For

Best Canon Camera for Bird Photography

  • 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 an exceptional wildlife photography camera, particularly suitable for bird photography due to its advanced features and capabilities. Let’s explore some of those.

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 bird photography due to its advanced autofocus capabilities, high image quality, comfortable design, and customizable controls.

Our Pick For

Best Canon Camera for Beginners

  • 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 great Canon camera for those getting started with wildlife photography. 

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.

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Our Pick For

Best Budget Canon 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 those photographers on a budget, due to its affordability, high resolution, advanced autofocus system, impressive burst mode, and 4K video capability.

Comparison Table

Best Canon Cameras for Wildlife Photography

-
Canon R3
Canon R5
Canon Rebel T8i
Canon EOS 90D

CAMERA

Canon EOS R3 Review

Canon EOS R5

Canon EOS Rebel T8i Review

Canon EOS 90D

BEST FOR

Overall

Bird Photography

Beginners

Budget-friendly

BODY

Mirrorless

Mirrorless

DSLR
DSLR

PRICE

$$$

$$$

$

$

WEIGHT

1.81 lbs

1.63 lbs

1.13 lbs

1.54 lbs

MEGAPIXELS

24.1 MP

45.0 MP

32.5 MP

32.5 MP

BURST RATE

Up to 30fps

Up to 20fps

Up to 10fps

Up to 10fps

AUTOFOCUS POINTS

1053

1053

45

45

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

Choosing the Right Canon Camera

When considering Canon cameras for wildlife photography, the features one should prioritize include swift and reliable autofocus, high ISO performance for low-light conditions, rapid continuous shooting capabilities, and a build that stands up to nature’s elements.

Autofocus Performance

Canon cameras such as the EOS R5 and EOS R3 boast impressive autofocus systems with technologies like Dual Pixel CMOS AF II. The EOS R5, for instance, features an autofocus system that covers approximately 100% of the area with 1,053 AF points, including subject tracking for people and animals.

High ISO Capabilities

The full-frame sensors found in models like the EOS R5 provide a wide ISO range of 100-51,200, expandable up to 102,400. This capability is crucial for wildlife photographers often shooting in varying light conditions.

Frame Rate and Buffer Depth

Shooters need a camera that won’t miss a beat when the action unfolds. The EOS R5 allows for continuous shooting at 12 fps with a mechanical shutter and up to 20 fps with an electronic shutter. The EOS R3 goes further with speeds of up to 30fps, ensuring photographers capture every critical moment.

Durability and Weather Sealing

On-the-go wildlife photographers require gear that can withstand harsh conditions. Canon’s EOS 90D and the EOS R series feature robust builds with weather sealing that provide protection against the elements, giving peace of mind when shooting in unpredictable outdoor environments.

Conclusion

Best Canon Cameras for Wildlife Photography

For wildlife photographers who demand nothing but the top-tier performance, the Canon EOS R3 stands out with its blazing-fast autofocus and high-speed shooting capabilities. It’s a powerhouse, enabling photographers to capture split-second moments with precision.

Bird photographers will appreciate the Canon EOS R5 for its impressive resolution. The high megapixel count paired with rapid burst speeds is ideal for snapping birds in flight, ensuring crisp images even when cropped.

The Canon Rebel T8i is an approachable choice for novices. It balances user-friendliness with solid performance, guiding beginners through the learning curve of wildlife photography without overwhelming them.

Budget-conscious enthusiasts will find a friend in the Canon EOS 90D. It offers a remarkable mix of quality and affordability, proving that capturing wildlife doesn’t require a hefty financial investment.

These Canon cameras cater to diverse needs and budgets, ensuring there’s an option that fits each wildlife photographer’s unique requirements. Whether one is just starting out, seeking value, or pursuing professional-grade gear, Canon has a camera to match the quest for stunning wildlife imagery.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

For those just dipping their toes into wildlife photography, the Canon EOS 90D comes highly recommended. It boasts a 32.5MP APS-C sensor and a 10fps shooting speed, which is very helpful for catching animals in motion.

Which affordable Canon cameras are recommended for wildlife shooters?

Budget-conscious photographers might consider the Canon EOS 6D Mark II, known for its solid performance in wildlife photography and is currently priced under $1500. The Canon 90D is another great option when affordability is a priority, usually found around $1200.

What’s the top Canon camera for bird photography enthusiasts?

For bird photography, where speed and detail are key, the Canon EOS R5 stands out with its high-resolution sensor and fast autofocus system, suitable for capturing birds in flight or perched in natural habitats.

What are the best Canon camera settings for capturing wildlife shots?

When shooting wildlife, photographers should aim for a fast shutter speed of at least 1/1000th of a second to freeze motion, a low aperture to isolate subjects, and an ISO that adjusts to the lighting conditions without introducing too much noise.

How does the Canon EOS R3 fare for wildlife photography?

The Canon EOS R3 excels in wildlife photography with its speedy burst rate and advanced autofocus capabilities, making it especially effective for tracking fast-moving subjects and shooting in various lighting conditions.

Can you recommend a reliable used Canon camera for wildlife work?

Photographers seeking value might look for a used Canon EOS R6. Despite being a predecessor to the R6 Mark II, it still performs well in low-light conditions and has competent burst rates, offering a cost-effective solution for wildlife photography.

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

Canon Camera Reviews Online

During your research, you might want to consider checking out other resources from various publications that provide insights into Canon cameras for wildlife photography.

Below are a few articles that caught my interest.

Canon Wildlife Camera Recommendations for 2024the-digital-picture.com

5 Best Canon Cameras for Wildlife Photography in 2024Naturettl.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 Canon Cameras for Wildlife Photography
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