We’ve never seen such a rise in the number of photographers as we’re seeing today. After all, a picture is worth more than a thousand words and sharing them has never been easier. Professional photographers and amateurs alike are always looking to improve their skills and art. More often than not, this means upgrading their gear.
You’ll see hundreds (if not thousands) of photography cameras on the market. But not every camera is the same. They come in many different shapes, sizes, and styles. While you may know that there are Polaroid cameras and others that automatically send the digital versions of your shot to your computer, you may not know that there are low-light cameras out there.
Cameras are usually very expensive and fragile pieces of equipment. Photography is a fun but expensive hobby, and all photographers want to make sure their money is being well spent! So how do you know if that thousand-of-dollar camera is worth the investment?
We seem to be bombarded by choices, which makes choosing a good camera a scary task. We understand that choice can be overwhelming, which is why we’ve put together this guide. In it, you’ll find a list of the best low light camera equipment up for sale. Whether you’re on a tighter budget or looking to splurge, we’ll answer the question “which is the best low light camera for me?”
Why invest in a low light camera?
If photography is your passion, you’ll know lighting is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) parts of getting the perfect shot. Everything needs to be just right!
Have you ever tried to take photos at night? Think of football games, of concert venues, of the stars, of the aurora borealis (also known as the northern lights), and dimly-lit wedding venues. If you want to get the best shot possible, whether for your job or personal collection, investing in a low-light camera is something you should do.
While most digital cameras (including the ones you’ll find on iPhones and Androids) are awesome at taking high-quality pictures during the daytime, they fail at getting sharp and professional-looking ones in darker settings.
If you’re serious about photography, you’ll agree that nothing beats the best low light pro camera equipment on the market.
What to look for in a low light camera?
There are two main things to consider when choosing the best camera for low light settings: the sensor size, and the ISO.
Looking at the sensor size of the camera you’re looking to buy is crucial. As a rule of thumb, the larger the sensor size, the more light the camera will be able to capture. This may not seem like much in daylight settings, but when darkness poses such a big barrier to five-star-quality photos, sensor sizes go a long way.
Shooting with a full-frame camera means that you won’t have to raise your ISO (we’ll get there) as much to get a good result. But their downside is that they’re very expensive and heavy, making carrying them a hassle.
This defines how much light your camera’s sensor is able to capture. A higher ISO will let you increase the shutter speed time, something you want when shooting a live concert or a football game.
Cameras nowadays let you increase the ISO to figures never possible before: some even let you raise it to 3,280,000. This means that getting a camera with a crazy-high range of ISO is the best move, right? No!
You can’t increase the ISO too much and expect to end up with perfect pictures. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy and you’ll have to look at other factors as well. Having a too-high ISO means your pictures will have a lot of noise — something you don’t want.
So, when searching for the best low light point and shoot camera or for the best low light mirrorless camera, you’ll want to keep in mind the advantages and disadvantages of the different sensor size and ISO settings.
1. Canon EOS 5D Mark III
There’s a reason why Canon is one of the biggest camera companies out there. The Canon 5D Mark III is the company’s response to photographers who need perfect shots in near darkness.
This model ranks as one of the best DSLR cameras for low-light photography. While it doesn’t have as large of an ISO range as others, it still does its job exceptionally well. You probably wouldn’t want to raise this setting all the way to the max, as you could end up with noisy pictures.
It’s also a full-frame camera, meaning that it captures light like no other. This is crucial when you’re taking photos in dimly-lit venues.
When you’re shooting a moving object, such as a football player, you’ll want to know what the continuous shooting speed is. The Canon 5D Mark III is able to get six frames per second, reasonable when compared to other full-frame cameras.
Lastly, one of its main selling points is the price tag. While the price is still upwards of 2,000 dollars, it’s much cheaper than other full-frame low-light cameras on the market.
2. Sony a6300
This Sony camera is a mirrorless, crop sensor camera that rivals all others on the market. Plus, it is much more budget-friendly than most low-light cameras.
You can raise the ISO setting to 51,200 if you want. But the best setting for low-noise photos is in the mid-to-high range. This flexibility of ISO settings coupled with the great sensors the Sony has means your photos in low light conditions will be amazing.
The Sony a6300 has one of the best autofocus systems to date. It has a whopping 425 phase detection points and it can shoot images at up to 11 frames per second. As an example, the Sony a6300 can focus on an object in just 0,05 seconds! This is any fast-paced live-event photographer’s dream.
This camera was clearly created for low-light photographers who wanted a lightweight and affordable piece of equipment. It costs under 1,000 dollars, weighs less than a pound, and it takes unbelievably good pictures!
3. Nikon D5
We’ve come to love Nikon as the pushers of the photography limits. And that is exactly what they’ve done with this high-end full-frame low-light camera: they’ve made the impossible possible.
For the first time ever, a Nikon camera has an ISO range so expansive that it can be pushed up to 3,280,000. While maxing the ISO setting and shooting a photo won’t get you the crisp and polished photos you may be expecting, it’s great to know you can tinker with the settings.
Nikon has also improved this camera’s autofocus, metering, and image processing, making it the best camera for low light shooting. The continuous shooting with this camera is a whopping 12 frames per second. It’s ideal for taking pictures of objects in motion.
The only downside to this camera is its price, but quality isn’t cheap. Nikon’s D5 is selling for upwards of 6,000 dollars, making it one of the most expensive base camera pieces of equipment you can buy right now.
4. Canon EOS 7D Mark II
The first non-full-frame low-light camera we have included on our list is the Canon 7D. While it won’t capture as much light with its smaller sensors, it is much cheaper and lighter than the full-frame options we’ve mentioned already.
This Canon DSLR camera has a significant ISO range that can be pushed up to 51,200. That, along with the reasonably sized sensors make low-light photography much easier. If you set up the settings just right, the result could be perfect, noise-free pictures even in dark venues.
If you usually shoot objects in motion, you’ll be pleased to know that this camera can shoot at a speed of 10 frames per second, making your photos even better.
Another cool feature is its built-in anti-flicker system. By enabling this system, your photos will come out balanced and beautiful even in places where there flickering lights. Think of concerts, for example. It makes your job of editing the photos a breeze.
Lastly, if you’re an avid nature photographer, you’ll rejoice once you hear about this camera’s GPS system. It will record the precise longitude and latitude of where each photo was taken. You can easily know where exactly you took that stunning picture without having to retrace your steps in your mind.
A big plus this camera has is its price tag. It’s one of the best low light cameras under 1500 dollars. Plus, it only weighs two pounds so you won’t have to break your back hauling it around with you.
5. Sony a7SII
Don’t be fooled by the small size of this full-frame Sony Camera. While it isn’t as big as other full frame cameras, it’s mighty at capturing light in even the darkest venues.
With this camera, you have the freedom to up the ISO to 409,600. Making it that high would probably make your photos noisy, but in some situations, it might be a good thing.
The 12.2 MP full-frame sensor for low light is also one of the best Sony has put out there. Its large pixels make it possible to capture more light when taking pictures and, therefore, making them detailed and low-noise in low-light situations.
Another selling point of the Sony a7SII is its ability to focus almost perfectly in near-pitch-black situations. It offers 169 AF points for fast and precise focus that surpasses that of all Sony cameras that came before it. This is great news if you’re after high-quality photos that need to be taken quickly, such as a football touchdown celebration.
Lastly, the imagine stabilization system of this camera is fine-tuned for capturing 4k-quality video. It will compensate for blurriness caused by camera shake from five different directions: vertical, horizontal, pitch, yaw, and roll. Sony had never implemented this system before, and it’s been any tripod-hating photographer’s dream ever since the Sony a7SII was released!
6. Nikon D7200
This APS-C sensor camera costs a fraction of what the full-frame ones do, yet it rivals them in taking high-quality photos.
Nikon’s camera has the ability to shoot at ISO settings of up to 102,400 — one of the highest ranges for APS-C sensor cameras now. While it doesn’t mean that the pictures will be free from noise, it’s good to have the freedom to up the ISO to that much.
Its shooting speed is also considerable. It can take pictures at a rate of 7 frames per second when in continuous shooting mode and image size is set to 1.3x. While there are cameras out there that can shoot at higher speeds, the D7200 still does a good job at getting great shots of moving objects.
Focusing is also another thing that this camera does well. It has 51 focus points, resulting in high-quality, sharp photos every time.
Coming in at under 1,000 dollars, the Nikon D7200 is another perfect mixture of quality and price.
7. Nikon D5500
If you’re looking for a great budget-friendly low-light camera, look no further than the Nikon D5500. It’s more affordable, has a bunch of cool features, and takes amazing pictures even in low-light settings.
The ISO on this camera can be raised up to 25,600 and so you can play with the settings and see what works best for your shooting conditions. That, coupled with the camera’s 24.2 MP APS-C sensor, makes for amazing low-light pictures.
When you get this camera, you’re not just getting the ability to get perfect low-light shots. You’ll also be able to record 1080p videos at a high-speed frame rate of 60p. But if your thing is photographing moving objects, you’ll be pleased to know this camera shoots at a speed of 5 frames per second in continuous shooting mode.
Since the Nikon D5500 has built-in Wi-Fi, sharing pictures from your camera to your smartphone or computer has never been easier. It’s all at the touch of a few buttons.
8. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II
The Olympus E-M5 Mark II is one of the best low light mirrorless camera units on the market today. It may come in a small and compact format, but don’t underestimate it.
This camera promises to stabilize your image to minimize blurring — and that’s exactly what it does. Its five axis and ultra-smooth voice coil motor system sets the bar high for all other low-light mirrorless cameras. You’ll be able to shoot sharp pictures and smooth video without even using a tripod.
Even if you want to shoot out in the open when the weather conditions aren’t the best, you’ll be able to with this camera. It’s one of the most durable cameras out there when it comes to withholding damage made by water, dust, and frost.
The Olympus E-M5 Mark II is also good for shooting fast-moving objects, as it can capture images at a speed of 10 frames per second.
Considering the price, weight, and size of the E-M5 Mark II, this is a great camera for intermediate-level photographers who are ready to commit to a moderately-priced camera that gets amazing shots in low-light conditions.
9. Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless 18-55mm Lens
Fujifilm has created the best low-light mirrorless camera which is durable even in adverse weather conditions.
This mirrorless camera is Fujifilm’s gift to professional photographers who want to up their low-light shooting game. Its new and improved engine focuses the image much faster, captures it with much less noise, and with great quality.
It has 63 points of weather sealing, making it a sturdy and durable camera even when in humid, dusty, or frosty conditions. This makes it maybe the best low light camera for astrophotography in the market, since it can withstand adverse weather conditions.
The camera shoots at a speed of up to six frames per second without them coming out blurry. The autofocus on the Fujifilm X-T2 is exceptional, only taking it 0.06 seconds to focus on an object.
Its large 24.3-megapixel APS-C sensor captures a lot of light, reducing the need for a high ISO setting. The pictures come out sharp and with a lot less noise when compared to non-low-light cameras.
We’re not surprised that this is a professional-favorite and voted the best mirrorless camera under 2000 dollars. Its weather-sealed body, compact structure, ability to capture light in dark settings, and dynamic colors make this camera worth its price.
10. Panasonic Lumix G9
The last item on our list is the Panasonic Lumix G9, a great camera for professional photographers who usually shoot in low-light conditions.
The ISO settings on this camera can be pushed up to 25,600, but it’s recommended to keep them at a lower level of 6,400, as it will result in noise-free pictures with still a lot of sharpness.
Focusing is something this camera does well. It only takes around 0,04 seconds for the camera to focus on one object, making it ideal for sports photographers, among others. Even if you don’t have a tripod setup, you’ll get blur-free pictures thanks to the Panasonic Lumix’s five axis.
Checking the camera’s settings at any time couldn’t be easier. There’s a big LCD display screen on the upper part of the machine that shows you all you need to know.
A cool feature this camera has is the fact that it can be controlled via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. You can set up your camera away from you and control the shooting videos and photos from afar.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Low Light Cameras
What is the best low light camera phone out there?
Even though we focused on low light cameras, there are excellent low light smartphone cameras out there. The Google Pixel 2, the iPhone X, the Samsung Galaxy S9 and the Note 8, as well as the OnePlus 6, and the Huawei P20 Pro all have formidable low-light cameras.
They can’t reach the greatness of a full-frame low light camera, but for a cell phone, they’re unbelievably good!
What is the best GoPro camera for low light?
The HERO4 camera is the best the company has come up with in general. But this also applies to taking pictures in low-light conditions. In fact, it comes equipped with Night Photo and Night-Lapse mode, which prolongs the exposure time of the photos. Plus, they also come with Protune, a special feature that lets you adjust each setting individually.
Where to buy a good low light camera?
The best place to get cameras is through Amazon. They usually have discounts and other savings programs that can make an overly expensive low-light camera become budget-friendly. Electronics store, such as Best Buy, also carry high-end low-light cameras.