By Ann Young 3 days ago Cameras & Lenses
Take breathtaking photos of the Milky Way with the best camera for night photography.
Do you want to find the best camera for night photography? The quality of the photos doesn’t always depend on a photographer's skills, especially if you’re shooting in bad lighting conditions. For instance, when you need to capture the night sky or a model under streetlights. In such situations, you need a camera that offers great performance in poor lighting.
Such a camera should have a large sensor lens that can handle noise well and is supplied with optical image stabilization, fast shutter speed, and maximum ISO values. I’ve picked 10 best night cameras and broken down everything you need to know about them below.
The best choice for night photography
Resolution: 45.7 MP | Maximum ISO: ISO 40 000 | Auto Focus Points Qty: 153 | Max Shutter Speed: 1/8000 sec | Battery life: 1 840 shots
⊕ Very impressive megapixel value
⊕ Terrific low light and dynamic range results
⊕ Long battery life
⊕ Backlit control buttons
⊕ Advanced shot-by-shot shooting capabilities
⊖ Not found
This full-frame reflex camera by Nikon has 46MP resolution and is one of the fastest models produced by the company. The burst shooting mode offers a speed of 7 frames per second. The model is supplied with a backlit sensor that greatly improves the characteristics of the camera and the image quality when taking photos of the Milky Way and nightscapes.
In addition to the increased speed, the D850 also has one of the best autofocus systems. It includes an autofocus module, an expometer sensor, and a special autofocus processor, as well as a full range of autofocus modes and configuration options, which have to comply with the comparative high-resolution, focusing performance.
Thanks to the BSI technology of the sensor and the “double enhancement” ISO processing, the night sky photos taken with this camera end up looking quite good, which is why it’s often considered to be the best camera for night photography.
Mirrorless night camera with super-high ISO
Resolution: 12.2 MP | Maximum ISO: ISO 409 600 | Auto Focus Points Qty: 169 | Max Shutter Speed: 1/8000 sec | Battery life: 310 shots
⊕ Big sensor with a small megapixel number
⊕ Maintains true-to-life colors
⊕ Extra-high ISO
⊕ Can be recharged with a power bank
⊖ Poor print resolution
⊖ Disappointing battery life
When I was shooting with the A7SII at a festival at night, I was swept away by its dynamic range and low noise to signal ratio at high ISO values. At ISO 100, the noise is basically non-existent. Even at ISO 3200, the level of noise remains low. The camera restores shadows and light in a way that makes the photos look realistic.
Thanks to the sensor with a lower megapixel count, you receive natural and deep colors. The camera is also supplied with 5-axis image stabilization technology. You can take photos with slower shutter speeds than usual, which is especially important for night photography.
The A7S II takes clear, detailed images with minimum sharpness distortions and a small loss of detail, making it possibly the best night photography camera on this list.
Mirrorless night camera with long battery life
Resolution: 24 MP | Maximum ISO: ISO 204 800 | Auto Focus Points Qty: 693 | Max Shutter Speed: 1/8000 sec | Battery life: 710 shots
⊕ Improved noise reduction
⊕ Shooting speed of 10 frames per second
⊕ Up to 700 shots without recharging the battery
⊕ Can be recharged via USB
⊕ Improved autofocus
⊖ Display isn’t true vari-angle
⊖ Doesn’t have a built-in flash
Sony Alpha A7 III is a full-frame camera with terrific image quality, an object tracking system with 10 shots per second, and 4K video recording support. The model has a CMI BSI sensor that works great in all possible lighting conditions and offers an unbelievable dynamic range.
The A7 III turns on, focuses, and snaps a shot in about 2.2 seconds. The rear display is a 3” LCD screen with touchscreen controls.
As a rule, the higher the ISO value, the more noise there will be in the photo. The A7 III is very good for shooting in nightclubs, festivals, and taking photos of nightscapes and the sky, as the camera handles noise very well.
I enjoy using this model up to ISO 12800, but can even increase it up to ISO 25600 in some cases and still receive decent image quality. In my opinion, the A7 III is one of the most powerful cameras due to the lesser number of megapixels.
The best night camera with a large inner diameter
Resolution: 24.5 MP | Maximum ISO: ISO 51 200 | Auto Focus Points Qty: 273 | Max Shutter Speed: 1/8000 sec | Battery life: 310 shots
⊕ High-res EVF
⊕ 12 fps continuous shooting mode
⊕ Touchscreen display
⊕ Deep colors
⊕ User-friendly controls
⊖ Restricted dedicated lens range
⊖ Small buffer size
Nikon Z6 is a mirrorless camera with the same low level of noise that can be found in a 24-megapixel full-frame model. If the photo wasn’t taken at high ISO, then you can restore all details from the shadows. The ISO-invariant sensor performed well with dark, underexposed shadows, typical for nightscapes.
Pro-class full-frame night DSLR
Resolution: 30.4 MP | Maximum ISO: ISO 32 000 | Auto Focus Points Qty: 61 | Max Shutter Speed: 1/8000 sec | Battery life: 900 shots
⊕ Canon’s realistic integrated color balance
⊕ High-resolution sensor
⊕ Impressive 7 fps continuous shooting mode
⊕ Terrific results at high ISO
⊕ Fast launch and mode transitions
⊖ 1/200s maximum flash speed
⊖ Object look low contrast in poor lighting
Canon 5D MK IV is a fast and responsive full-frame sensor camera that allows you to easily adjust the focus points. 30 MP resolution opens a huge variety of potential scenes for a photoshoot: from wedding and street photography to nightscapes and festivals.
With Canon 5D MK IV, you can increase the exposure time by choosing a high ISO sensitivity setting. Despite the poor nighttime lighting, this model is capable of capturing clear nightscapes, the faces of people at a concert, and even photos that were taken without a tripod remain sharp and highly-detailed, making it one of the best night cameras on the market.
The best night camera for beginners
Resolution: 26.2 MP | Maximum ISO: ISO 40 000 | Auto Focus Points Qty: 45 | Max Shutter Speed: 1/4000 sec | Battery life: 1 200 shots
⊕ Quick and accurate AF system
⊕ Impressive battery life
⊕ Full-frame 26 MP sensor
⊕ Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS
⊕ Intuitive touchscreen controls
⊖ Mediocre dynamic range
⊖ Limited autofocus coverage zone
Canon 6D MK II is a full-frame, entry-level, digital camera with a screen resolution of 26.2MP and maximum ISO sensitivity of 40 000.
All the benefits of this camera can be experienced in real-world conditions: a terrific tilting touchscreen and autofocus that performs equally fast through the viewfinder and when using Live View.
However, when taking photos of landscapes with huge brightness fluctuations, the image quality produced by the 6D MK II is far from ideal. The camera has a small dynamic range, which is especially noticeable during Milky Way and nightscape photoshoots. This model is probably the best night photography camera for photographers, who want to switch from a crop sensor model to a full-frame camera.
Micro Four Thirds camera for night shots
Resolution: 10.2 MP | Maximum ISO: ISO 51 200 | Auto Focus Points Qty: 225 | Max Shutter Speed: 1/8000 sec | Battery life: 440 shots
⊕ Large ISO range
⊕ Built-in 4K sensor
⊕ Dual card slots
⊕ Vari-angle LCD touchscreen
⊕ Comes with V-Log L and HLG
⊖ Doesn’t have built-in image stabilization
⊖ Low resolution
Panasonic Lumix GH6S combines a compact body, a standard DSLR sensor, and DSLR-level image quality. The camera also allows you to pick one of 3 available ISO modes. Thanks to the difference between the Low and High modes, the camera offers great performance for night shoots at concerts and festivals and a larger ISO range for photoshoots.
When I was taking pictures of the Milky Way at ISO 25 600, I received good results as the camera allowed me to reduce noise and improve the color saturation. Of course, photos don’t look as nice as the ones taken with Sony A7S II. However, most standard Micro Four Thirds cameras don’t even have an ISO 51 200 setting to begin with, which is the Panasonic Lumix GH5S is on the list of the best cameras for night photography.
Night camera with durable metal body
Resolution: 36.3 MP | Maximum ISO: ISO 12 800 | Auto Focus Points Qty: 51 | Max Shutter Speed: 1/8000 sec | Battery life: 1 200 shots
⊕ Impressive image resolution
⊕ Advanced settings
⊕ Improved build quality of the shutter and mirror
⊕ Low level of noise and vibrations
⊕ Reliable weather-resistant body
⊖ Low shooting speed
⊖ Doesn’t have a low-frequency filter
According to reviews, photographers choose Nikon D810 because of the crystal clear images and color reproduction it offers. The focusing system with 4 squares provides higher image quality even when taking photographs of the night sky.
The manufacturers toned down the camera’s noise, which reduced the vibration and noise levels. You can notice that if you shoot in the main ISO range: nightscape photos look clear and highly-detailed.
The camera isn’t suited for dynamic scenes since it has a relatively slow burst shooting mode of 5 shots per second. The camera has a secure metal body, which is perfect for shooting in rough field conditions and something you’d want to find in the best camera for night sky photos.
Budget camera for night photography
Resolution: 24.1 MP | Maximum ISO: ISO 6 400 | Auto Focus Points Qty: 51 | Max Shutter Speed: 1/8000 sec | Battery life: 950 shots
⊕ Weather-proof magnesium alloy build
⊕ Satisfyingly bright and sharp screen
⊕ Battery-friendly optical VF
⊕ Wi-Fi module
⊕ Impressive shooting speed
⊖ Wi-Fi and GPS require accessories
⊖ Noticeable noise
Nikon D7100 has a modernized autofocus system. The camera is capable of focusing even at -2EV values. The crop mode offers increased shooting performance: you can take 15-megapixel photos at a speed of 7 shots per second.
The D7100 has a Wi-Fi module that allows wirelessly transferring images to smartphones and tablets so that they can be uploaded to various social network websites. The well-designed Auto ISO program also deserves a separate mention as it allows the camera to set the minimum needed shutter speed automatically, depending on the focal length of the used lens.
Due to the smaller sensor and limited ISO capabilities, I couldn’t find a star to focus on in Live View. However, if you’re looking for the best camera for night sky photography on a budget, then Nikon D7100 is a great choice. The camera takes high-quality photos at ISO 6400, and if you also use a good lens, then you’ll have a killer combination for night sky photography.
Super durable and weather resistant night camera
Resolution: 24.3 MP | Maximum ISO: ISO 51 200 | Auto Focus Points Qty: 325 | Max Shutter Speed: 1/8000 sec | Battery life: 310 shots
⊕ Super-sturdy body
⊕ Integrated image stabilization
⊕ Incredible AF speed
⊕ Impressive noise characteristics
⊕ Reduced vibrations
⊖ Additional grip needed for maximum performance
⊖ Not a true vari-angle display
Fujifilm X-H1 has an ISO range from 100 to 51,200 and allows saving all details as clearly as possible. Thanks to the included image stabilization system, you can take sharp photos of the night sky and the Milky Way at low shutter speed.
The camera is supplied with a new spring mechanism that lowers the vibrations when using a mechanical shutter. When comparing this camera to the previous Fujifilm models, you’ll notice that the X-H1 has improved autofocus for shooting in poor lighting conditions.
The camera can shoot with a speed of 14 frames per second thanks to the digital shutter and at 8 shots per second with the mechanical shutter.
Nikon D850OUR CHOICE
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Sony A7S IISUPER-HIGH ISO
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Sony Alpha A7 IIIGREAT BATTERY
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When choosing the best camera for night photography, the offered resolution isn’t the only characteristic you should pay attention to. What other parameters affect the quality of the photo?
ISO. This is the main characteristic you need to look at when trying to find the best night camera. The model should take good photos at high ISO. When taking pictures in poor lighting, photographers select ISO values from 3200 to 12000 and even higher.
Dynamic range. When picking a camera for night photography, check its capability to lighten the shadows and darker parts of the shot without adding an unacceptable level of noise. The optimal dynamic range lies within 10-14.8 Evs. A scene with a high dynamic range has incredibly bright glares (like the sun) and very dark spots (like a completely blacked-out black rock). A scene with a low dynamic range has relatively even light spread out through the entire scene, with the brightest parts of the image not being significantly brighter than the darkest areas.
High slow-shutter speed. When taking photos of the night sky, you might need an exposure time of 10 seconds or even longer, while a nighttime city photoshoot will likely require the exposure to be set between 2-10 seconds. It all depends on the amount of available light and the desired effect.
Full-frame camera. You’ve probably already heard that it is not obligatory to have a full-frame high-end mirror camera to take beautiful night photos. You can simply pick a modern camera powered by advanced technology. That being said, professional night photographers share the opinion that a full-frame camera allows capturing broader scenes and creating the desired compositions for night photography.