Photography is a vast world, and most of us only try to shoot in better or more favorable conditions, like dry weather, outdoors and the sun shining upon us. However, there is much more to it than just that.
There are a lot of photographers that have found inspiration in dark and grimy cityscapes, rainy forests, and moonlit nature. For those that are considering night, photography is an extensive category, it is not just moonlight and stars. It requires a lot of creativity which makes it extremely challenging and fun for many photographers.
Night photography demands a certain combination of lighting and composition to achieve the perfect photograph.
For that reason, photographers search for cameras for night photography that can deliver the best performance, and with the most advanced specifications to help them capture the scenery to its fullest extent. For that reason today we are going to check out the buying guide for the best cameras for night photography. We will be taking a look at the top picks in the market, and I will explain to you what makes a camera good for night photography, now without further ado, let’s take a closer look.
The Top 5 Best Cameras For Night Photography
5. Canon EOS Rebel T1i
I am going to start this list with one of the most affordable cameras for night photography, the Canon EOS Rebel T1i or EOS 500D, which was released way back in 2009, but can still deliver some excellent qualities to the table, and I have seen that it can provide excellent performance for night photography.
The Canon EOS Rebel T1i is equipped with a 15.1 megapixel CMOS sensor that goes hand in hand with the DIGIC 4 image-processing engine to deliver some excellent images despite a lacking megapixel count, but this will help us in night photography. It also has an in-built low-pass filter that works rather well. The autofocus also worked pretty well for its price thanks to its 9 point CMOS sensor.
The ISO range of this camera ranges from 100 to 3,200 but can be expanded up to 12,800 and surprisingly it handled the noise rather well in different scenarios. It also has an adjustable white balance including different preset modes for different circumstances. It also has a burst shooting speed of 3.4 fps which is not the best but good enough for its budget price.
4. Pentax K-3
Next up we have an excellent camera that will deliver you excellent value for its attractive price, the Pentax K-3. This camera was released for the enthusiast market in 2014 but it is still a relevant model since it delivers some excellent qualities that have made a lot of photographers jump ship from Canon and Nikon.
The Pentax K-3 is packed with a pretty good 24.4MP APS-C sized CMOS sensor that works rather well. It is also packed with an anti-aliasing sensor and a sensor-shift image stabilization with rotational compensation that will do the job excellently for our needs. I should also mention the superb ISO range of this beast that spans from 100 to 51,200, with great noise cancellation.
I should also mention that the camera has 9 white balance presets and is adjustable manually for your needs. One of the biggest selling points of this camera is its SAFOX 11 TTL autofocus system with 27 points of which 25 are cross-type points. Moving on I should mention that it can shoot 8.3 fps in burst shooting mode to make itself one of the best cameras for night photography.
3. Fujifilm X-T2
Coming up next we have one of the cameras that has made quite a name for itself as one of the best cameras for enthusiast photographers, the Fujifilm X-T2. This camera is a mirrorless model that doesn’t have any disadvantage of mirrorless cameras, it was the first of its kind and in my experience, I have revealed it to be one of the best for night photography. The interesting thing is that it can record pretty impressive videos on low light conditions too.
The Fujifilm X-T2 is packed with an APS-C sized 24MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor that has delivered some perfect images. This camera is also equipped with the X-Processor Pro2 and the X-Trans color filter array that delivers beautiful photographs. The ISO range spans from 200 to 12,800 natively but can be expanded from 100 to 51,200, and it keeps the noise levels rather low.
The Fujifilm X-T2 rocks a superb hybrid autofocus system with 325 focus points of which 169 are phase-detect points, and it does its job accurately and fast. One of the biggest selling points of this camera was that it was super fast as it can shoot up to 14 frames per second in burst shooting mode, which is marvelous.
2. Sony Alpha a7R III
Nearing the top of the list I have the Sony Alpha a7R III, which is a flagship mirrorless camera that has delivered a perfect performance before its successor was released. However, this has made the camera better since its price is pretty attractive right now and I think that if you want a high-end camera this is one of the best choices for low light.
Let’s start by saying that the Sony Alpha a7R III is packed with a full-frame 42MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor that delivers a perfect performance overall with its Bionz X image processor. The processor also helps keep the noise levels pretty low in its super extensive ISO range that spans from 50 to 102,400, which is one of its best qualities in my opinion. The dynamic range is pretty broad on this camera.
Moving on this camera has a super-advanced and sophisticated hybrid autofocus system. It consists of 399 phase detect and 425 contrast-detect points that cover the majority of the scene and deliver one of the fastest performances. Without forgetting I should mention that it has 10 frames per second burst shooting mode at full resolution which results in stunning image quality.
1. Nikon D850
On top of the list, I have the Nikon D850, which came on top barely above the aforementioned Sony Alpha a7R III for its superb low light performance. It is the favorite camera of many photographers these days since it can get everything done without any doubt and I can’t say anything negative about it.
This beast of a camera is packed with a 45.7MP full-frame backside-illuminated CMOS sensor that works wonders. The Expeed 5 image-processing engine also make things better here, as it makes everything way faster. It has an ISO range that spans from 64 to 25,600 natively, but can be expanded from 32 to 102,400, while keeping the noise low.
This camera is also packed with a 153 point autofocus system of which 99 are cross-type super accurate points. I can say that the Multi-CAM 20K AF module has paid off. Taking its 7 frames per second continuous drive speed this camera is perfect for night photography. The amazing resolution, the dynamic range and the features it has to offer makes this camera the best pick.
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Things You Need To Know Before Buying a Camera for Night Photography
Experienced photographers already know the difficulty of shooting in the night time or low light conditions. It is pretty tricky and it is harder than you would imagine, also it requires a camera from the very best manufacturers with the very best specs. I will try to inform you about the specs and features that make a camera better for night photography so you won’t make a mistake now or anytime in the future when buying a camera for night photography. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
The sensor is the most important part of the camera for different types of photography, nearly for everyone to be honest. It is as simple as saying that if your sensor isn’t good your camera is not good either. However, these days you don’t need to be careful about sensor quality since most of them are pretty good overall and do their job excellently. However, some might be better for your needs for night photography than the rest of them so you need to be careful about the type.
For night time or low light photography, larger sensors are usually better since it has a larger area than can capture light. In our case, the more light the sensor can capture the better the photograph will be. Full-frame sensors are usually better in this instance, medium format sensors are even better but they are mostly dedicated to professional photographers that have a vast experience.
Check the number of megapixels as well, but be careful since it might be a double-edged sword. This is because the higher the number of megapixels the harder it will be the image to have less noise in higher ISO settings, so be careful about that. Basically, low light performance should be the main you should focus on.
If you want to get serious about photography then you should learn the importance of the ISO, it is one of the aspects of photography that mostly will affect the quality of your images. The ISO setting is related directly to the amount of sensor sensitivity to the light, and the higher the range the higher your sensor can become sensitive to light. So if we go with that logic it would make sense to buy a camera with a larger ISO range, the higher the better.
While that is true, you have to be very careful, since not every camera that has a high range can work properly at the listed range. Most of the cameras when you shoot at high ISO settings the images come out as grainy, known as digital noise in the photography jargon, or simply as noise. For that reason, if you are looking at cameras with higher ISO ranges you have to make sure that the camera has proper noise cancellation technology as well. By doing that you prepare yourself for better results. However, as i said earlier, if you plan to do night photography, low light performance is the main thing you should focus on.
This is also an important factor that will make or break your night photography. This aspect will mostly depend on the lens you will pair your camera with. In our instance, you will need a camera that has a wide aperture so it can capture the light properly. I can comfortably suggest you buy a camera that has an f/1.4 with 85mm aperture for your night or low light photography.
However, I have seen many photographers utilizing some simple 35mm kit lenses to deliver perfect results. One of the understated advantages of a wide aperture is that it delivers a nice effect to the image which is a bit flattening and delivers a finesse to it, many photographers love it. Also, a wider aperture will deliver a better focusing which will make things even better.
The white balance adjustability and settings are one of the most forgotten things, but it is one that makes plenty of difference. Especially if you are planning to shoot at night with low light conditions, you need to choose the right setting for your needs. While auto white balance cameras for night photography are good enough for some scenarios, if you want the best results you need to check if the camera has an adjustable white balance, so you can capture the best images at all times. White balance performance is pretty important in low light conditions, so this is another important factor you should consider.
Dynamic Range is very important on cameras for night photography. The broader the dynamic range, the more versatile the camera, and the better image quality you will be able to get. If you have the chance, look for a camera that has a broad dynamic range.
Just like with every electronic we own, cameras also run on batteries. Most of the cameras for night photography we listed in this article have a pretty generous battery life ranging from 300 to 1000+ shots with additional batteries to extend the battery life of your devices. I personally always carry some extra batteries for some extra battery life.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Are there any other features that can help with night photography?
Night photography is pretty difficult like I said in the beginning. However, if you follow the tips above you can get yourself a good camera that will help you in your quest. Then again there are a lot of features that will make your job easier. For example, a better focusing performance will make things much easier and blur-free. Image processing engines are also important here and optical low pass filters are beneficial. Burst shooting speed and in-body image stabilization are also important and can help you capture better images.
How to choose a lens for night photography?
There is no straightforward answer to this, but I can comfortably recommend your lenses with filters that have neutral density. This feature will allow the light to pass through with ease. With wide-angled apertures, these work perfectly and will allow you to shoot perfect night photos.
While it is not as easy as shooting during day time, low light or night photography can be done. It is pretty challenging, difficult, and hard to master. However, I recommend it to every photographer since results can be magical and epic. Now you have the means and are informed on how to get the best cameras for night photography. Don’t forget to check the top picks, for the definite best ones in the market, and have fun shooting in the night.