Best Low Light Camera

Best Low Light Camera

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.

15 Best Low Light Cameras

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.


1. Pentax K3

pentax k3

 
 

Price: about $500

 
Pros+
  • Good design quality
  • Enhanced AF and amazing focusing in Live View mode
  • Very compact
Cons-
  • Inconvenient arrangement of buttons
  • The focus is aimed at the center even if you don’t need it
 
 

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.

Recommended camera lens:

Pentax SMC DA 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 ED AL DC WR

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.

 

Pentax 18-135mm photo sample

Photo by Pentax K3


2. Sony a7R III

sony a7r iii

 

 
 

Price: about $2800

 
Pros+
  • It has a rather wide ISO range from 50 to 102400 in extended mode
  • Great autofocus
  • Tilt display
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for geo-tagging
  • 2 memory card slots, one with UHS-II support
Cons-
  • A big menu with many confusing abbreviations
  • Small delays can occur when you work with the menu
  • The touch interface has limited functionality
 
 

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.

Recommended camera lens:

Sony 85mm f/1.8 GM

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.

 

Sony 85mm photo sample

Photo by Sony a7R III


3. Nikon D750

Nikon d750

 

 
 

Price: about $2000

 
Pros+
  • A fantastic dynamic range when shooting at low ISOs
  • Great performance at high ISO
  • It has an innovative highlight-weighted metering mode
  • D-Lighting for difficult lighting conditions
  • AF works in very low light (to -3 EV)
Cons-
  • Small buffer size for shooting 14-bit RAW files
  • In Live View mode autofocus works slowly (but it depends on the lens)
  • The highest shutter speed is 1/4000s
  • AA-filter may cause moiré with some objects
  • OVF coverage is near 97%
 
 

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.

Recommended camera lens:

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E VR

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.

 

Nikon 70-300mm photo sample

Photo by Nikon D750


4. Fujifilm X-T2

Fujifilm X-T2

 

 
 

Price: about $1100

 
Pros+
  • Protected against dust and water
  • Excellent picture quality
  • The build quality is great
  • The camera is equipped with a battery grip
  • Additional space for two more batteries
  • Quick FPS shooting
Cons-
  • You may have some difficulties with internal stabilization
  • Phase AF does not work with all lenses
 
 

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.

Recommended camera lens:

Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2 R XF

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.

 

Fujifilm 56mm photo sample

Photo by Fujifilm X-T2


5. Nikon D5

Nikon d5

 

 
 

Price: about $6500

 
Pros+
  • Wonderful photo quality
  • Low battery consumption
  • Quick autofocus
  • Large ISO range 100-102400
  • Clean HDMI output
Cons-
  • You can’t change the position of the screen
  • Cumbersome and heavy
  • High price
 
 

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.

Recommended camera lens:

Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G

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.

 

Nikon 35mm sample photo

Photo by Nikon D5


6. Nikon D850

Nikon d850

 

 
 

Price: about $3300

 
Pros+
  • Perfect image quality even at high ISO
  • Low noise level up to ISO 6400
  • CMOS matrix with reverse illumination
  • Big viewfinder with 100% frame coverage
  • Supports high-speed SD UHS-II and XQD memory cards
Cons-
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth may lag
  • SnapBridge may work slowly
  • No built-in flash
 
 

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.

Recommended camera lens:

Nikon 105mm f/1.4E ED AF-S Nikkor

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.

 

Nikon 105mm photo sample

Photo by Nikon D850


7. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II

Olympus om-d e-m10 mark ii

 

 
 

Price: about $450

 
Pros+
  • 16MP Micro 4/3 sensor
  • Small
  • Fast shooting
  • You can remotely operate the camera via Wi-Fi
  • Focus Bracketing
Cons-
  • No port for an external microphone
  • Confusing settings
  • Rather outdated sensor
 
 

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.

Recommended camera lens:

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.8

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.

 

Olympus 45mm photo sample

Photo by Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II


8. Canon 5D Mark IV

canon 5d mark iv

 

 
 

Price: about $2800

 
Pros+
  • High-resolution and bright touch screen
  • You can control the camera with your smartphone via Wi-Fi
  • LP-E6N battery lasts for long
  • GPS, Wi-Fi and NFC
Cons-
  • Non-ISO sensitivity
  • Doesn’t support high-speed CFast cards
 
 

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.

Recommended camera lens:

Tamron SP 85mm F/1.8 Di VC USD

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.

 

Tamron SP 85mm sample photo

Photo by Canon 5D Mark IV


9. Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5

Panasonic lumix dmc-gh5

 

 
 

Price: about $2000

 
Pros+
  • Big and bright EVF
  • Built-in stabilization mechanism
  • 10.3 frames per second RAW shooting
  • 4K and 6K image modes
  • Durable housing suitable for any weather conditions
  • Vari-angle touch screen
  • Integrated Wi-Fi
Cons-
  • Slower shooting speed because of focus tracking
  • Expensive
 
 

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.

If you need another cameras for recording videos, check out my list of 11 best Canon for video recording at night.
 

Recommended camera lens:

Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8 G X Vario Lens

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.

 

Lumix 12-35mm photo sample

Photo by Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5


10. Sony DSC-RX100 Mark IV

sony dsc-rx100-mark-iv

 

 
 

Price: about $800

 
Pros+
  • Wonderful picture quality up to ISO 1600
  • Lens with great light and focal length
  • RAW and manual mode
  • Sliding OLED viewfinder
  • Has NFC and Wi-Fi
Cons-
  • Inconvenient grip
  • Microphone port is absent
  • You need to recharge the battery quite often
 
 

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.

sony dsc-rx100 mark iv photo sample

Photo by Sony DSC-RX100 Mark IV


11. Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II

canon powershot g7 x mark ii

 

 
 

Price: about $440

 
Pros+
  • Integrated NFC and Wi-Fi
  • Perfect AF for instant shooting
  • Fast continuous shooting
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Features ND filter
Cons-
  • You need to change/recharge batteries quite often
  • Can’t control the camera with a smartphone while recording videos
 
 

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.

Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II photo sample

Photo by Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II


12. Olympus TG-5

Olympus tg-5

 

 
 

Price: about $400

 
Pros+
  • Low battery consumption
  • Supports 4Kvideo recording
  • Built-in electronic compass
  • Moisture-, dust- and shock protection
Cons-
  • Too small sensor
  • LCD only 460k dots
 
 

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.

Olympus TG-5 photo sample

Photo by Olympus TG-5


13. Pentax 645D

pentax 645d

 

 
 

Price: about $4000

 
Pros+
  • High-resolution 40 MP sensor
  • Conveniently arranged control buttons
  • Great optical viewfinder
  • Dual SDHC card slot
  • Increased ISO 100-1600
Cons-
  • Cumbersome case
  • Expensive
  • Aliasing artifacts
  • Produces ~ 70MB RAW files
 
 

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.

Recommended camera lens:

Pentax 16-45mm F4 ED AL

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.

 

Pentax 16-45mm photo sample

Photo by Pentax 645D


14. Canon IXUS 185

canon ixus 185

 

 
 

Price: about $120

 
Pros+
  • ISO range 100-3200
  • Small size
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Features creative filters and modes
  • Combo 32x zoom
Cons-
  • Very big LCD screen
  • No optical stabilization
  • Wi-Fi is absent
  • Isn’t water- and shockproof
 
 

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.

Need the best cheap camera that will take nice night photos, read about this list of best cameras for amateur photographers that you can use for taking low light photographs.
 

Canon IXUS 185 photo sample

Photo by Canon IXUS 185


15. Canon PowerShot SX60 HS

canon powershot sx60 hs

 

 
 

Price: about $450

 
Pros+
  • ISO range 100-6400
  • Supports RAW files
  • Comes with a connector for the additional flash
  • 21 mm viewing angle
  • Slow Motion at 240 fps
Cons-
  • Focus may lag when zoomed
  • Too small 1/2.3 matrix for 16 MP
  • Poor-quality images in low light
 
 

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.

Canon PowerShot SX60 HS photo sample

Photo by Canon PowerShot SX60 HS


List of 15 Best Low Light Cameras

IMAGE NAME DETAILS  
Canon IXUS 185 Canon IXUS 185CHEAPEST
  • 20MP
  • ISO range: 100-3200
VIEW PRICE
Pentax 645D Pentax 645D
  • 40MP
  • ISO range: 100-1600 (extended mode)
VIEW PRICE
Canon PowerShot SX60 HS Canon PowerShot SX60 HS
  • 16MP
  • ISO range: 100-6400
VIEW PRICE
Olympus TG-5 Olympus TG-5
  • 12MP
  • ISO range: 100-12800
VIEW PRICE
Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark IICOMPACT
  • 20MP
  • ISO range: 100-12800
VIEW PRICE
Sony DSC-RX100 Mark IV Sony DSC-RX100 Mark IV
  • 20MP
  • ISO range: 125-12800
VIEW PRICE
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5FOR VIDEO
  • 20.3MP
  • ISO range: 100-25000
VIEW PRICE
Canon 5D Mark IV Canon 5D Mark IVFOR NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
  • 30.4MP
  • ISO range: 100-25000
VIEW PRICE
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II
  • 16MP
  • ISO range: 100-25600
VIEW PRICE
Nikon D850 Nikon D850
  • 45.4MP
  • ISO range: 64-25600
VIEW PRICE
Nikon D5 Nikon D5BEST DSLR
  • 20.8MP
  • ISO range: 100-102400 (extended mode)
VIEW PRICE
Fujifilm X-T2 Fujifilm X-T2 BEST MIRRORLESS
  • 24.3MP
  • ISO range: 100-51200
VIEW PRICE
Nikon D750 Nikon D750OUR CHOICE
  • 24.3MP
  • ISO range: 100-51200
VIEW PRICE
Sony A7RIII Sony A7RIII
  • 42.4MP
  • ISO range: 50-102400 (extended mode)
VIEW PRICE
Pentax K3 Pentax K3
  • 23.3MP
  • ISO range: 100-51200
VIEW PRICE

How to Choose the Best Low Light Camera?

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.

ISO

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.

Sensor Size

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).

Image Stabilization System

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.

Lenses

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.

Noise Control

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.

Autofocus

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.


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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.

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