While most cameras come with all-around features that make them ideal for various photography needs, some of them carry specialized features that are suitable for capturing action shots. If you’re looking for the best cameras for action photography, you have come to the right place. Two main qualities of a camera that helps you capture fast movements in a scene without blurs or other distortions are super-fast shutter speeds and large frame rates.
The best cameras for action photography must also employ quick AF systems and phase detection that comes in handy to accurately track the subjects while shooting. Add to this a burst mode feature which will allow you to take several images within a span of a second or sometimes even less. With this, you don’t have to press the shutter button continuously.
Cameras that are particularly designed for sports and action photography niches also need to be lightweight and easy to use as it helps photographers move swiftly while capturing the fast-moving subjects. They should be solidly constructed to withstand the bumps that may often occur from quick movements.
So, what are the best cameras for action photography? To help answer this question, we’ve put together a list of options that will beautifully capture every moment of a fast-paced sporting and action event.
1. Nikon D5 (Overall Winner)
The Nikon D5 is a flagship DSLR that features the best phase-detection autofocus system and dazzling fast 14 fps continuous shooting on the market. It’s durable and designed to withstand years of use and abuse.
Its advanced 153-point multi-mode autofocus system is the headline feature, which is incredibly fast and accurate for a professional camera. A variety of custom options are available to fine-tune the AF system for optimal performance. The D5’s 3D AF tracking mode combined with the 180k-pixel RGB metering sensor delivers wonderful accuracy and performance that no other camera on the market offers.
The D5 not only is great for high-speed stills but also offers a decent FHD video capture. In cropped mode, you can also capture 4K ultra HD videos.
This workhorse camera is an overall winner that delivers outstanding stills in almost any shooting environment.
The OM-D E-M1 Mark II is Olympus’ high-end mirrorless camera that uses a 20-megapixel imaging sensor and a hybrid AF system. Other notable features include in-body image stabilization, 4K video recording, and up to 60 fps burst shooting capability. In its High-Res Shot mode, the camera shifts the sensor and offers to capture 50-megapixel resolution images, however, you can only use this mode for stationary subjects.
The advanced autofocus system of the Mark II allows you to instantly lock on the subject and follow it, even as it shifts around the frame.
Its magnesium alloy body is lightweight and has a comfortable grip. With continuous autofocus, the camera gives you the ability to shoot at 18 frames per second.
The top-end Fujifilm X-T3 is loaded with a 26-megapixel APS-C sensor, which delivers outstanding stills and 4K videos at incredible 60 fps. It’s equipped with an ultra-high-resolution viewfinder and is capable of shooting continuously at very large burst rates.
Autofocus system is significantly improved as both eye-detection AF and subject tracking reach a decent level of performance. Generally, the X-T3 focuses accurately and responds fast to the user input.
The camera has an attractive design and its several customization buttons make it quite enjoyable to use. Battery life is good at 390 shots per charge, however, this state of the art action shooter lacks in-body stabilization.
4. Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 (Budget Winner)
The Lumix G9 is a flagship stills shooter that is built to be fast and reliable. It makes use of a 20-megapixel sensor that has a shooting rate of up to 20 fps with continuous autofocus. Additionally, it includes excellent in-body image stabilization and 4K video recording. It’s been introduced to compete against the most advanced APS-C digital SLRs, which is a tough market for the Lumix DC-G9 to break into.
The camera features a magnesium alloy body that is extensively sealed against bad weather and makes it lightweight as well. Besides that, it’s very comfortable to hold and has a lot of customizable controls.
At 20 fps, its Contrast Detect Autofocus system can easily maintain focus on a subject and track it even if it’s pretty much isolated from the background scene. It allows you to capture images at up to 60 fps with the autofocus locked.
5. Sony a9
The Sony a9 features a full-frame stacked CMOS sensor, which delivers 24MP resolution stills and incredibly fast performance. It also includes oversampled 4K video capture, resulting in great detail.
Its impressive autofocus system features 693 AF points and provides 93 percent frame coverage. Sony’s Eye AF technology has been upgraded and you get improved subject tracking performance as well. The camera allows you to capture the right moment with an incredible shooting rate of up to 20 frames per second.
Compared to the previous a7-series models, it uses a larger battery with enough capacity to capture thousands of photos on a single charge, a high-resolution viewfinder, and better-organized menus that let you easily navigate through different camera options.
The Sony RX10 IV comes equipped with a one-inch type 20-megapixel CMOS sensor and a 24-600mm equivalent lens.
Focus acquisition becomes quick and easy with the camera’s on-sensor phase detection autofocus system. The RX10 IV tracks the subjects very well even if you are shooting at maximum continuous shooting speed of 24 fps. It’s quite impressive for a fixed lens camera.
The camera is enclosed in a weather-sealed body and includes oversampled 4K videos, high-resolution OLED viewfinder, and a reasonable degree of customization options.
Choosing the Best Cameras for Action Photography
You’ll need to put in the research and do a lot of thinking before investing in a new camera. But before you get overwhelmed by the many options on the market, we hope our picks of the best cameras for action photography help out a bit.