Today, you see hundreds of cameras on the market but no two are the same. They come in various sizes, shapes, styles, and feature sets. Each camera is designed to meet the specific needs of the user, like a Polaroid camera or a camera that automatically sends your captured shots to your computer. You’ll also find specifically designed low-light cameras.
Photography is fun but for how expensive cameras are, they can sometimes be difficult to buy. A professional photographer always makes sure their money is well spent. When looking for a camera for low-light conditions, how can you be sure that it’s worth the investment? In the list below, we take a look at some of the best low-light cameras you can find.
1. Nikon D850 (Overall Winner)
The Nikon D850 is one of the best low-light cameras you can find on the market today. Thanks to the full-frame back-side illuminator, Nikon’s camera delivers amazing image quality regardless of the condition or environment in which you are shooting. The large sensor provides a clean output at high ISO with zero crop-factor.
Moreover, the D850 comes with 153 focus points and 99 cross-type sensors which allow users to take stunning photos in low-light situations. Bearing in mind its sensitivity of about -4EV, the D850 gives crisp photos even in the darkest conditions.
Image quality is ensured thanks to the amazing 45.7 MP resolution while users can also record videos in 4K. However, the Nikon D850 comes at a hefty price and may not be suitable for anyone who is on a tighter budget.
The Canon 5D Mark III is one of the best DSLR cameras for low-light photography. It’s the company’s response to photographers looking for the perfect shot in near darkness.
Advantages of Canon’s 5D Mark III extend to advanced ISO range of 100 to 25600 which allows users to take high-quality low-light photos without resorting to the use of flash. But, at the same time, pictures retain their color fidelity.
While it doesn’t offer a large ISO range like some other cameras, it still does the job exceptionally well. You wouldn’t want to stretch the ISO settings to maximum, as it will introduce noise in the images.
The Mark III is a full-frame camera and captures the photos of dimly-lit scenes like no other. It is capable of shooting a moving object at the rate of 6fps, which is quite reasonable compared to other cameras in the same category.
The camera features a CMOS sensor with 22MP resolution which in combination with the DIGIC 5+ processor delivers detailed shots regardless of the time of day. Whether you’re shooting during the day or night, images are clear, sharp, and with vivid colors.
In addition to the sturdy built body, accurate autofocusing, Canon’s camera is also responsive and easy to use. That being said, the camera is a bit heavy and the menu system is not overly intuitive.
3. Sony a7 III
Sony’s a7 range has become a popular choice for both professional and beginner photographers, but their third generation is considered to be one of the best mirrorless low-light cameras ever made. The a7 III has everything you need for optimal shooting experience in a lightweight and compact body.
The famous brand used the new 24MP BSI sensor for the a7 III, which gives this device dynamic range and an amazing high ISO performance. One of the biggest advantages of the Sony a7 III is its ability to deliver images of amazing quality at 6400 ISO without any digital noise whatsoever.
The autofocus system is reliable, the body ergonomics are outstanding, and it’s useful to mention this camera has a ten frame per second burst mode and high-quality 4K video. The Sony a7 III has a large battery, amazing low-light performance, and touchscreen focusing that makes things easier when shooting. Just like the Nikon camera mentioned above, this one is also pricey and not suitable for everyone’s wallet.
4. Sony a6300
The Sony a6300 is a mirrorless camera with a crop sensor that goes up against all others on the market. It’s one of the most budget-friendly cameras for low-light photography. It produces the best low-noise photos if the ISO setting is in the mid-to-high range, but it can be raised up to 51,200 if needed. This ISO flexibility coupled with the powerful sensors from Sony delivers amazing results in low-light conditions.
Due to the excellent autofocusing system, the a6300 can focus on an object in just 0.05 seconds. With an incredible 425 phase-detection AF points, this camera has the capability of taking high-speed photos at up to 11fps.
Panasonic’s Lumix ZS200 was designed to give users the opportunity to capture every moment in exceptional color and detail day or night and regardless of whether the subject is far or close. The compact design makes Panasonic Lumix ZS200 easy to fit into your pocket.
Don’t let the compact exterior to fool you, and this is a powerful device with 15x optical zoom, a large one-inch MOS sensor for high-quality images in low-light conditions, 4K video and photo, as well as WiFi connectivity.
Large sensors capable of 12800 ISO are the reason why the Panasonic Lumix ZS200 has good low-light performance. The clarity and color of images is excellent, but a slight flaw is that the autofocus sometimes doesn’t find the right focus.
6. Nikon D5
Nikon has pushed the limits of photography with the launch of their high-end full-frame low-light camera, the Nikon D5. This camera offers an extensive ISO range that, for the first time ever, can go up to 3,280,000. Although it won’t give you crisp, polished images at maximum ISO, it still allows you ample room to tinker with the settings.
The D5 is an amazing camera for low-light shooting with improved autofocus, metering, and image processing. It can shoot at a rate of 12fps making it an ideal camera to take photos of objects in motion.
The Canon 7D Mark II is the first camera on our list that isn’t a full-frame camera. While it won’t be able to capture as much light with its 20-megapixel APS-C sensor, it costs and weighs much less than the aforementioned full-frame options.
The ISO range of this DSLR can be pushed up to 51,200. If the settings are just right, this significant ISO along with the medium-sized sensors make low-light photography much easier and the results can be impressive even in dimly-lit scenes. The Canon 7D is capable of shooting at a speed of 10fps.
8. Sony a7S II
The Sony a7S II full-frame camera may not have the same heft as the other full-frame cameras, but it proves to be efficient at capturing light in the darkest of areas.
This low-light camera has an abundance of features such as 4K video recording, uncompressed 14-bit RAW, five-axis image stabilization, and much more. Also, Sony’s a7S II has high-speed autofocus while it maintaining its low-light capability at the same time.
The a7S II camera has 12.2MP resolution and full-frame Exmor CMOS sensor combined with a powerful BIONZ X image processor that allows the device to shoot at a sensitivity range of ISO 50-4096004(2). Durable reduced-vibration shutter, WiFi/NFC connectivity, wider lens compatibility are some of many other features that the Sony a7S II has to offer.
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II has a solid black magnesium-alloy body. The camera is weather-sealed and packs some impressive goodies like five-axis image stabilization, which makes it one of the best mirrorless cameras. The five-axis stabilization feature along with its extremely smooth voice coil motor system establishes a desired standard of quality for all other low-light mirrorless cameras.
You don’t need to use a tripod with this camera to capture sharp images and smooth video. It can take photos at a speed of 10fps which makes it an ideal camera for shooting fast-moving objects.
Considering its weight, size, and price, the Olympus E-M5 Mark II can be an excellent choice for intermediate-level photographers who need a moderately-priced camera for low-light photography.
Not many low-light cameras on the market can beat the balance that the Olympus OM-D E-M1 offers and, let’s be honest – balance is important for clear, high-quality images. Olympus’s OM-D E-M1 has a 20.4MP resolution MOS sensor which happens to be one of the most potent and dependable low-light sensors around. In addition to the impressive sensor, this camera also has a wide range of autofocus points.
When it comes to low-light interiors, this camera performs fast and delivers amazing quality photos. Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 are numerous, including image stabilization, vivid colors, image quality, but this isn’t an ideal camera for video.
11. Fujifilm X-T3
Fujifilm used to dominate the photography industry but along came Nikon and Canon. That being said, Fujifilm is still one of the strongest players in the industry, and their X-T3 mirrorless digital camera is a viable option for anyone who wants to capture stunning low-light images.
This particular model has a 26MP X-trans IV APSC-sized sensor, which provides amazing autofocus performance and allows users to record 4K videos at 60p and ten-bit. What makes the X-trans sensor so useful is that it allows you to take impressive images in low-light conditions up to 6400 ISO.
Sturdy and well-built, the Fujifilm X-T3 has a fast and configurable autofocus and is packed with tons of features that every photographer, especially professionals, will find useful.
12. Fujifilm X-T2
Fujifilm has been able to design an impressive low-light camera for professional photographers who want to brush up their low-light photography skills. Its latest engine upgrade focuses faster and delivers quality images with less noise. The number of sealing points for this camera is 63 to achieve a high level of resistance to dust and moisture.
The Fujifilm X-T2 doesn’t need a high ISO setting as it features a large 24.3-megapixel APS-C sensor which can capture a lot of light. It shoots sharp images at a speed of up to 6fps. The autofocus on the camera takes only 0.06 seconds to focus on an object. This feels quite exceptional.
13. Sony RX100 III
Here’s yet another Sony low-light camera and this one is suitable for people who want to buy a reasonably priced camera. The Sony RX100 III has 20MP one-inch BSI CMOS sensor which gives high-quality photos in low-light environments. When it comes to the ISO range, it is between 125 and 12800.
It is worth noting that the Sony RX100 III features in-camera optical image stabilization. The best option for the lowest noise and best detail is the range ISO 80 to 800, but in lower light conditions it’s also useful to choose ISO 1600 to 6400.
Thanks to the f/1.8-2.8 24-70mm lens, this compact camera ensures that photos maintain soft background defocus even when subjects are zoomed in. If you’re looking for an affordable pocket-size low-light camera then you should definitely consider this one.
14. Canon PowerShot SX620 (Budget Winner)
Canon is one of the biggest names in the photography industry, but most people think their cameras are way too expensive. People who want to get a decent low-light camera at a reasonable price may want to consider the Canon PowerShot SX620.
The 20.2MP resolution with CMOS sensor and DIGIC 4+ image process helps deliver stunning image quality even in low-light conditions. Canon’s PowerShot SX620 comes with a powerful 25x optical zoom with Intelligent IS to optimize image stabilization for shake-free images.
This camera is compact and easy to carry around when they’re on the go as well as simple to operate with good battery life. However, the quality of videos is not as amazing as the sharpness and clarity of photos.
Choosing the Best Low-Light Cameras
Even though capturing stills and videos in low-light conditions presents many challenges, it also offers you a great opportunity to excel as well. In our list above, we have reviewed some of the best and most budget-friendly cameras for low-light photography ideal for intermediate to advanced users to help you make your choice. Make sure to grab the low-light camera that best meets your unique requirements.