The best low light cameras with high ISO are designed not just for night photography. Wedding photographers take dimly-lit reception photos, street photographers shoot city lights to make photos dramatic, etc. That’s why I have picked up top 15 low light cameras for you to take photos clear and beautiful even in low light.
If you often photograph at night or wish to experiment, you need to get the best low light camera for effective work and clear photos. Real estate photographers take dusk property photos, fashion photographers take stylish portrait photos in the darkness, travel photographers take clear sunset photos, etc. That’s why, the best low light DLSR, compact or mirrorless camera may become a real lifesaver. Read about these 15 best low light cameras from 100 to 51200 ISO.
Price: about $500
Thanks to its ISO range and other technical characteristics, this model is considered one of the top low light cameras. It is endowed with an APS-C format CMOS sensor which allows obtaining a resolution of about 23.35 million active pixels.
I would also like to draw attention to a well-designed PRIME III processor. The camera reduces noise effectively. You can also set the desired level of suppression of the moiré. As a result, you get incredibly clear photos that stand out with smooth transitions and well-developed details.
This Pentax lens is suitable for a wide variety of shooting conditions thanks to its extended 7.5X zoom range. It is protected from moisture so you can safely work in conditions of high humidity. Quiet and fast autofocus is ensured by a DC motor. The lens is lightweight and small so you will surely appreciate it if you have to travel with your camera.
Photo by Pentax K3
Price: about $2800
Many shooters consider it the best mirrorless camera for low light photography. The creators equipped the camera with a 42.4MP sensor. You will appreciate the excellent quality of the images that you receive regardless of the conditions.
In the extended mode, the camera can have an ISO range of 50-102400. If you are engaged in portrait photography, then you will certainly appreciate the autofocus that has the function of eye detection. Its aim is to find the eyes of the subject and switch the focus automatically.
Such 85mm lenses are ideal for portrait photography as they provide an incredible focal length. Sony 85mm f/1.8 fully justifies this idea, as it captures the object, highlighting it favorably, and creating a beautiful rich bokeh. Thanks to the sharpness it ensures, you can capture rich and deep colors when shooting in low light.
Photo by Sony a7R III
Price: about $2000
If you are searching for the best low light DSLR camera, then you should pay attention to this model from the famous Nikon brand. It is equipped with a large 24.3MP sensor that can capture even the faintest light.
Its EXPEED 4 image processor is responsible for smooth and fast work. The incredibly fast AF system based on the 51-point sensor perfectly tracks objects despite their speed of movement. Since the camera has an excellent ISO range (up to 12,800) and a sensitivity of up to -3EV, you can take impressively clear pictures with a low noise level even in dim light.
It has a powerful 4.3x telephoto zoom and its photo angle performance is approximately equal to a 105- 450mm lens on a 35mm mirror camera. This model has 2 ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements that allow you to get excellent optical characteristics for both 35 mm and digital photography.
Photo by Nikon D750
Price: about $1100
This camera model is an excellent mirrorless camera that will surely be appreciated by photographers working in low light conditions. Thanks to the improved engine, you get faster image focusing. In addition, it produces almost no noise and the image quality is impressive. You do not need to tune the high ISO, as this model is endowed with a 24.3-megapixel APS-C sensor capable of capturing much light.
Using this best low light camera, you can take sharp photos with less noise. Among the advantages of this model are the electronic viewfinder, an elegant design, and a 325-point autofocus system. You can use the full automatic intellectual shooting thanks to the convenient and simple Advanced SR AUTO mode.
This lens has almost the same performance as the reference focal length of 85mm. Having the X-Trans low- noise sensor and F1.2 aperture at your disposal, you can shoot even in the dimmest light. The 7-lobe diaphragm will provide you with beautiful artistic bokeh.
Photo by Fujifilm X-T2
Price: about $6500
It is another best low light camera but its high price makes it a pipe dream for many photographers. This camera body surpasses lots of other analogs, providing users with beautiful, clear photos taken in the dark. The camera is equipped with a 20.8-megapixel sensor and can shoot at speeds of up to 14 frames per second. If you dream of becoming a real pro in the low light photography and have money to waste, you need this DSLR camera.
This is the upgraded model from the NIKKOR’s series. It will help receive sharp shots at night. Nano Crystal Coating positively affects the interior flare and ghosting, which lead to improved picture quality.
Photo by Nikon D5
Price: about $3300
It has been called one of the best DSLR low light cameras available on the modern market. The camera body will fully satisfy your needs if you are interested in portrait photography and video recording. Still, not every beginning photographer can afford such an expensive camera even if it offers fascinating picture quality and performance.
Many users highly appreciate the long work on a single battery charge. In fact, you can take 1800+ images before changing the battery. A wonderful 45.4MP sensor enables you to take high- resolution pictures. The ISO range is very large – 64-25600.
Nikon has developed the fastest 105mm lens available on the market. The company presented the lens, which fully satisfies the needs of modern photographers, integrating all Nikon’s innovations such as Electromagnetic Diaphragm Mechanism, Nano-Crystal Coating, and approximately ED glass elements. This model is compatible with Nikon full-frame and DX cameras.
Photo by Nikon D850
Price: about $450
This low light camera has a wide ISO range 100-256000, 16MP sensor and powerful viewfinder of 2.36 million. The camera is an evolutionary version of previous E-M10 model. The main bonus is, of course, the five-axis stabilizer, which gives a wide space for shooting in poor lighting at long exposures.
One of the important improvements is the upgraded interface with enhanced touch control functionality and ergonomics. Though, the video recording key isn’t conveniently arranged and exposure metering sensor works with lags. The charge level indicator functions rather strangely.
This is a “must have” for Micro 4/3 camera owners. It is sharp at an open aperture and has a low level of chromatic aberration, which can be easily controlled with aperture setting. The lens works great in backlight. But the main advantage is very pleasant and soft bokeh at 45mm f/1.8. It can be used for both portrait and landscape photography.
Photo by Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II
Price: about $2800
Designing this low light camera, the developers equipped it with a full-frame sensor for both experienced and amateur shooters to get sharp images with realistic-looking colors. Thus, it is a great model for portrait and fashion photography.
This model has a range of ISO 100-256000, so you can get top-quality shots even at twilight. The improved 61-point AF system with 41 cross-over sensors ensure fast and productive shooting.
This Tamron lens is known for powerful optical stabilizer, good sharpness and contrast, as well as durable build materials. But good optics make this lens very heavy - 1.5 lbs. A perfect lens for close-up portraits taken at night.
Photo by Canon 5D Mark IV
Price: about $2000
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5 is the best low light video camera that will fully satisfy the most demanding videographers and YouTube bloggers with its diverse functions. Thanks to very fast video recording speed of up to 180 fps, your slow motion content will be beautiful and crisp even recorded in low light.
You may experiment with angles, using rotary LCD display and integrated optical viewfinder. There is a variety of compatible lenses (both original ones and designed by third-party companies) you may choose from. Another useful feature is the autofocus system with 2 detection types and fascinating 225 focus points.
It is an example of modern, stylish lenses compatible with the best low light cameras. Being the first representative of LUMIX G Series, the G X Vario lens has a constant F 2.8 zoom, which makes it a perfect match for low light portraits and landscapes.
Photo by Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5
Price: about $800
This is one of the best cameras for night photography that can boast of its high-aperture ZEISS Vario- Sonnar T 24–70 mm F1.8-2.8 lens. It will become really useful if you enjoy photographing at a wide-angle at a focal length of up to 24 mm. With this camera, namely with its maximum f/2.8 aperture, you may forget about blurred photos, which appear because of the camera shake.
Compared to the previous model, I can’t but mention the improved sensor design and slightly better performance at high ISO. Anyway, if you know how average amateurish pocket cameras work, you will be pleased with the results Sony DSC-RX 100 Mark IV offers. It happens because of a big sensor and bright f/1.8-2.8 lens.
Photo by Sony DSC-RX100 Mark IV
Price: about $440
This compact camera is one of the best for low light. Canon PowerShot G7 is equipped with universal high- aperture lens and improved photo processing processor.
It has small weight and size, which play a big role for travel, landscape, and wildlife photographers. The modern optical image stabilization system helps a lot when you work with insufficient lighting. Besides, if you wish to shoot at 1250 ISO value, the photos will be still very quality.
Photo by Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II
Price: about $400
This is one of the best compact cameras for travel and sports enthusiasts. It has a reliable case and small dimensions, which make it an ideal photographer’s companion for the most severe shooting conditions. Thanks to the variety of modes and a modern tracking system, you can use Olympus Tough TG-5 in any location and get sharp shots even in poor lighting.
If you are looking for an affordable but lasting point and shoot camera, this one will absolutely please you with its moisture and dustproof case. The videos you’ve recorded will have the exact information on altitude, location, and temperature thanks to the integrated GPS. You can easily activate this function using a switch.
Photo by Olympus TG-5
Price: about $4000
It is deservedly called the best low light DSLR camera because of its powerful characteristics. Being a medium format camera, it ensures the best detail shots, which you may print in 36x48 or 16x20-inch formats. The camera is equipped with a 40MP matrix (44x33mm) and is protected from dust and moisture.
Thanks to the alloy case, you can use a camera even in extreme conditions shooting outdoors or in studio. Having 6 micro pixel pitch, Pentax 645D ensures top image quality even at high ISO. If you often work in poor light conditions and can afford expensive equipment, this high ISO camera will be a perfect camera.
The focal lengths vary from normal to ultra-wide angles, which significantly increases your shooting possibilities. The lens has a high-refraction extra-low dispersion glass element, so the images you take will have natural colors. The aspherical element affects the way the light reaches the focal plane through the lens.
Photo by Pentax 645D
Price: about $120
Canon IXUS 185 is one of the best compact digital cameras for night photography. It’s compact and heap. No need to buy a special bag to transport this 20 MP camera, as you can easily fit it in a pocket. Manufacturers created a stylish model with many useful features, such as Easy Auto mode, fast HD video recording, 8x optical zoom and 16x ZoomPlus option.
All this makes Canon IXUS 185 one of the best low light cameras 2018 for everyday use. Being of a similar size as a smartphone, this camera can take clear and beautiful shots as well as record videos of good quality. Beginners will especially like this model, as it is rather budget- friendly and you don’t need any special knowledge to operate it. Just activate the Auto mode with a single click.
Photo by Canon IXUS 185
Price: about $450
This is one of the best camera for low light photography designed by Canon with an impressive set of functions, natural-looking color reproduction, detail images, great AF, user-friendly interface, RAW files support, and external microphone.
It has a 16MP CMOS sensor, so you can record 1080p videos. It is also called the best point and shoot camera for travel thanks to its Creative Shot mode and conveniently arranged controls.
Photo by Canon PowerShot SX60 HS
|Canon IXUS 185CHEAPEST||VIEW PRICE|
|Pentax 645D||VIEW PRICE|
|Canon PowerShot SX60 HS||VIEW PRICE|
|Olympus TG-5||VIEW PRICE|
|Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark IICOMPACT||VIEW PRICE|
|Sony DSC-RX100 Mark IV||VIEW PRICE|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5FOR VIDEO||VIEW PRICE|
|Canon 5D Mark IVFOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY||VIEW PRICE|
|Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II||VIEW PRICE|
|Nikon D850||VIEW PRICE|
|Nikon D5BEST DSLR||VIEW PRICE|
|Fujifilm X-T2 BEST MIRRORLESS||VIEW PRICE|
|Nikon D750OUR CHOICE||VIEW PRICE|
|Sony A7RIII||VIEW PRICE|
|Pentax K3||VIEW PRICE|
High ISO range, noise control, large sensors, bright lenses, excellent autofocus, and picture stabilization are key features that characterize the best low light camera. However, it should be said that cameras with all the above-mentioned qualities may differ from each other. As a result, these specifications can influence your decisions while choosing the right model.
The amount of light your sensor is capable of capturing is measured by ISO. Making the ISO value higher, you can increase the shutter speed. This feature is useful if you want to take pictures of objects while they are moving or shoot without a tripod. At the same time, we must not to forget that shooting at high ISO has its own difficulties and disadvantages.
First of all, this is a large amount of noise that you get as a result of increased ISO rates. Therefore, if this criterion is important to you, you should choose models that have good performance with higher values. The most optimal indicator for shooting is 1600 - 3200 ISO. However, if you have to shoot in low light conditions, then you need a high ISO camera.
In this case, ISO settings up to 6400 will produce impressive results. By adjusting the camera this way, you make it sensitive enough for even the small amount of lighting available. Photos look sharp and clear. The amount of noise is small, and you can reduce it during further picture editing. However, you must necessarily take into account the features of your low light camera and the conditions in which you are photographing.
The ability of full-frame cameras (equipped with sensors equivalent to 35 mm film models) to capture more light is especially valuable when your shooting takes place under dim lighting. As a rule, this type of camera is better suited for poor lighting conditions than a Micro Four Thirds (MFT) camera or a framing sensor (APS-C).
If you are looking for a good low light camera, then you should pay attention to its image stabilization system. Thanks to this technology, you can avoid blurred areas and get sharp photos. This system is affected by the sensors work that respond to the slightest movement of an object and then change the position of the lens glass or camera sensor. Thus, the image stabilization system ensures the elimination of blur caused by unexpected movements of the camera or object.
Choosing the best low light camera, you need not forget about the appropriate lens. Bright lenses are considered most suitable for shooting in poor lighting. Such lenses result in a shallow depth of field and make it possible for more light to enter the image sensor.
Thus, photographs taken with a bright lens are of better quality. Choosing a lens, you should pay attention to the aperture value. The brightest models have f/3 or lower number. If you are shooting in low light conditions, then to get high-quality images you must have a bright lens at your disposal.
Another important feature is noise control. The amount of noise increases with increased ISO values. It is important to note that noise control affects sensor and aperture value. If we talk about DSLR low light cameras, then they have a wider aperture, and full-frame models typically have a larger sensor.
In fact, autofocus practical in all cameras is designed for taking pictures under poor lighting. Thus, when you take a photo the lens works practically without lags. As a rule, the best low light cameras that have a wider range of ISO are equipped with better autofocus. Regarding this aspect, the type of camera does not make much difference.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.