Best Mirrorless Cameras for Wildlife Photography

Written by Antonio Cala.

Last updated on March 17, 2024

Table of Contents

Wildlife photography demands equipment that can keep up with the unpredictable and dynamic nature of the natural world. Mirrorless cameras have become increasingly popular among wildlife photographers due to their compact size, reduced weight, and impressive technological advancements. These cameras offer rapid autofocus systems, high-resolution electronic viewfinders, and the ability to shoot silently, making them well-suited to capturing animals in their natural habitats without disturbance.

When selecting a mirrorless camera for wildlife photography, photographers must consider several factors, including sensor size, autofocus performance, frame rate, and overall system weight. These elements are crucial in obtaining clear, sharp, and well-composed images of wildlife subjects that are often moving quickly and may be situated some distance away. High-quality mirrorless cameras for wildlife photography provide the necessary tools for photographers to excel in this challenging genre.

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

Key Takeaways

  • Mirrorless cameras are favored for wildlife photography due to their compactness and advanced features.
  • Key camera aspects such as sensor size and autofocus are vital for capturing detailed wildlife images.
  • Choosing the right mirrorless camera involves balancing performance with the physical demands of wildlife photography.

Quick Recommendations

Feel free to check out this list of our favorite mirrorless 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

Sony Alpha 1

Best Pro Camera

Sony Alpha 7R III

Best Value

Sony Alpha 6400

Best for Beginners

OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

Best Budget

Best Mirrorless Cameras for Wildlife Photography

Our Pick For

The Absolute Best Mirrorless 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 the absolute best mirrorless option for wildlife photography. 

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 solidify its position as the premier mirrorless option for wildlife photography.

Our Pick For

Runner Up

  • Skill Level: Professional
  • Body Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor: Full frame
  • Weight: Approx. 1340 g (2 lb. 15.3 oz.) with battery and memory card
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Effective Megapixels: 45.7
  • Autofocus Points: 493
  • Buffer: 1000 RAW or JPEG frames at 20 fps
  • ISO Sensitivity: ISO 64-25600
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Burst Mode: Up to 120 fps
  • 4K Video: Capable of capturing 8K UHD video
  • Wifi: Yes
  • Silent Mode: Yes
  • Weatherproof: Yes
  • Battery Life: Approximately 700 shots

The Nikon Z9 stands as an exceptional mirrorless camera, offering a range of features that make it a compelling choice for wildlife photography. Its advanced autofocus system, high burst rate, and remarkable low-light performance make it an excellent option for capturing wildlife in various conditions. 

The camera’s 45.7-megapixel sensor provides exceptional detail, ideal for wildlife photographers seeking to capture intricate textures and patterns in their subjects.

Pros:

  • Advanced autofocus system with subject detection for 9 subject types, making it well-suited for tracking wildlife subjects.
  • High burst mode of up to 120 frames per second, enabling photographers to capture fast-paced wildlife action with precision.
  • Excellent low-light performance with an ISO range of 64-25600, ensuring quality images in challenging lighting conditions.

Cons:

  • The camera is priced at a premium level, making it a substantial investment for many photographers. 
  • Getting accustomed to the camera’s advanced features might demand dedicated time to understand its menu system and controls, possibly presenting a learning curve for certain users.

The Nikon Z9‘s combination of cutting-edge technology, exceptional autofocus performance, and high-speed shooting capabilities make it an outstanding choice for wildlife photography enthusiasts seeking uncompromising performance and image quality.

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Our Pick For

Best Professional Mirrorless Camera

  • Skill Level: Professional
  • Body Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor: Full frame
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs (with battery and memory card)
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Effective Megapixels: 50.1 megapixels
  • Autofocus Points: 759 (in-phase detection)
  • Buffer: 155 compressed RAW frames or 165 JPEGs at 30 fps
  • ISO Sensitivity: 100-32,000
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Burst Mode: 30 fps
  • 4K Video: Yes
  • Wifi: Yes
  • Silent Mode: Yes
  • Weatherproof: Yes
  • Battery Life: Approximately 530 shots

The Sony Alpha 1 is a remarkable mirrorless camera that stands as an exceptional choice for professional wildlife photographers due to its advanced features and capabilities. Its high resolution of 50.1 megapixels, outstanding autofocus system, and impressive burst mode make it an excellent option for capturing wildlife in various environments and conditions. 

The camera’s ability to record oversampled 8K video and high-speed 30 frames per second continuous shooting provides wildlife photographers with the tools to capture stunning, detailed imagery of their subjects.

Pros:

  • High resolution of 50.1 megapixels, offering exceptional detail and image quality, ideal for professional wildlife photography.
  • Advanced autofocus system and high-speed continuous shooting capabilities, allowing for precise and rapid capture of wildlife subjects in motion.
  • Capable of recording oversampled 8K video, providing professional-grade video recording capabilities for wildlife documentation.

Cons:

  • High price point compared to other similar models.

The Sony Alpha 1‘s combination of high resolution, advanced autofocus, and impressive video capabilities make it a compelling choice for professional wildlife photographers seeking uncompromising performance and image quality in their work.

Our Pick For

Best Value Mirrorless Camera

  • 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, although the A7 IV has better autofocus capabilities, especially for animals in motion and birds in flight. The A7 IV’s 33MP sensor still provides ample detail for cropping, making it a preferred choice by some photographers for wildlife photography.

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 value mirrorless camera for wildlife photography due to its high resolution sensor and good overall performance. However, photographers looking for the latest autofocus technology may consider newer models like the A7 IV for improved tracking capabilities.

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Our Pick For

Best Mirrorless 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 is a versatile mirrorless camera that offers a good balance of features for beginner wildlife photographers. 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.

The Sony Alpha 6400 is a solid choice for beginner wildlife photographers due to its compact size, advanced autofocus system, and fast burst mode. While it may have limitations like battery life and weatherproofing, its overall performance makes it a good entry-level option for capturing wildlife moments effectively.

Our Pick For

Best Budget Mirrorless Camera

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 budget-friendly mirrorless camera that offers advanced features suitable for wildlife photography. With a compact and lightweight design, this 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. While it may have limitations like weatherproofing and battery life, its overall performance and ease of use make it a compelling choice for beginners looking to capture wildlife moments effectively.

Comparison Table

Best Mirrorless Cameras for Wildlife Photography

-
Canon R3
Nikon Z9
Sony Alpha 1
Sony Alpha 7R III
Sony Alpha 6400
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV​

CAMERA

Canon EOS R3

Nikon Z9

Sony Alpha 1

Sony Alpha 7R III

Sony Alpha 6400

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

BEST FOR

Overall

Runner Up

Pro's

Best Value

Beginners

Budget-friendly

SENSOR

Full Frame

Full Frame

Full Frame

Full Frame

APS-C

Micro 4/3

PRICE

$$$

$$$

$$$

$$

$

$

WEIGHT

1.81 lbs

2.95 lbs

1.61 lbs

1.45 lbs

0.89 lbs

0.85 lbs

MEGAPIXELS

24.1 MP

45.7 MP

50.1 MP

42.4 MP

24.2 MP

20.3 MP

BURST RATE

Up to 30fps

Up to 120fps

Up to 30fps

Up to 10fps

Up to 11fps

Up to 15fps

AUTOFOCUS POINTS

1053

493

759

399

425

121

View at Amazon

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Choosing the Right Mirrorless Camera

When selecting a mirrorless camera for wildlife photography, one should consider several critical features of the camera body that will ensure the best performance.

Sensor Size and Quality

The size of the sensor is crucial for image quality, with larger sensors generally offering better performance in low-light conditions and producing a shallower depth of field. Cameras with full-frame sensors, such as some leading models, excel in capturing images with exceptional detail and dynamic range.

Autofocus Performance

Fast and reliable autofocus (AF) is essential for wildlife photography, especially with the capability for animal tracking. Some cameras are known for their robust AF systems, which are crucial for keeping fast-moving subjects in focus.

Frames per Second

A high frames per second (fps) rate is desirable for capturing wildlife action shots. Certain cameras allow photographers to capture multiple images in quick succession, increasing the likelihood of capturing the perfect shot.

Ergonomics and Weather Sealing

A comfortable camera that can be operated intuitively is essential for extended shooting sessions. Additionally, adequate weather sealing is necessary for wildlife photography, given the unpredictable outdoor conditions. Some cameras are designed with a good grip and robust build quality to withstand various elements, ensuring reliable performance in challenging environments.

Conclusion

Best Mirrorless Cameras for Wildlife Photography

When it comes to the best mirrorless cameras for wildlife photography, the Canon EOS R3 stands out as the best choice overall for wildlife photography, boasting a remarkable combination of speed, resolution, and advanced autofocus capabilities, making it a top-tier option for professional wildlife photographers. 

For those seeking the best value, the Sony Alpha 7R III shines with its high-resolution sensor, impressive autofocus system, and 4K video recording, offering exceptional features at a competitive price point. 

As the ideal option for beginners, the Sony Alpha 6400 excels with its compact size, user-friendly interface, and excellent autofocus performance, providing an accessible entry point into wildlife photography. 

Lastly, for budget-conscious enthusiasts, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV proves to be the most budget-friendly choice, offering a compact form factor, solid image quality, and a range of features at an affordable price, making it a practical and cost-effective option for capturing captivating wildlife scenes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the top budget-friendly mirrorless camera for snapping wildlife shots?

For those who want to take stunning wildlife photographs without breaking the bank, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV shines as an excellent budget-friendly option. Its fast autofocus and high-resolution sensor make it a solid choice.

For newbies to wildlife photography, what beginner-friendly mirrorless camera do you recommend?

Beginners should consider the Sony Alpha 6400 for its ease of use and versatile zoom range, earning its reputation as a top starter camera for wildlife photography.

Any pros willing to share their go-to gear for wildlife photography?

Professional wildlife photographers often gravitate towards the Nikon Z9 for its exceptional speed and image quality. It’s a significant investment, but for pros, the Nikon Z9 is a worthy one.

Got any suggestions for a top-notch Sony mirrorless camera for wildlife snaps?

The Sony Alpha 1 stands tall among the Sony lineup for wildlife photography with its blazing fast autofocus and impressive burst rate. For those committed to the Sony ecosystem, the Sony Alpha 1 is a peerless choice.

What’s the best full-frame mirrorless camera for capturing birds in flight?

For capturing the swift movement of birds in flight, the Canon EOS R3 unmatched autofocus system makes it the top pick for a full-frame mirrorless camera.

Looking for a great camera for nature shots – any ideas?

To take your nature shots to the next level, the OM System OM-1 is a great full package known for its durability, portability, and stellar image stabilization, perfect for hand-held shooting in the wild.

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

Mirrorless Camera Reviews Online

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

Below are a few articles that caught my interest.

Best mirrorless full frame option for wildlife (especially bird) photography?Reddit.com

The Best Mirrorless Cameras for Birds in Flight Rankedmirrorlesscomparison.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 Mirrorless Cameras for Wildlife Photography
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