15 Best Cameras for Sports Photography

15 Best Cameras for Sports Photography

Capturing all the action and triumph that comes with any sport can be a difficult task. It’s not easy to keep the action in focus, and capture those important details. 

But what is the best camera for sports photography?

Luckily, there are quite a few incredible camera options for sports photography. From fast shutter speeds to built-in telephoto lenses, these are the best action cameras on the market. They’re perfect for capturing an athlete's emotions, energy and movement.

With that in mind, this article will cover the top 15 cameras for sports that you can use to create amazing sports photography. 

15 Best Sports Cameras for Photography

  1. Nikon D5

  2. Canon EOS 7D Mark II

  3. Nikon D500

  4. Canon EOS Rebel T6i

  5. Sony a7R Mark II

  6. Canon 5D Mark IV

  7. Fujifilm X-T4

  8. Nikon D6

  9. Sony a9

  10. Sony A7 III

  11. Olympus OM-D E-M1 III

  12. Canon 1Dx Mark II

  13. Panasonic Lumix G9

  14. Nikon D780

  15. Olympus OM-D E-M1X

What is Sports Photography?

Sports photography is all about capturing the action. Athletes often end up in crazy positions or can be seen with heightened emotions. Many sports involve rapid movement of the objects in play and the athletes.  

Your job, as the photographer, is to capture these scenes as crisply and authentically as possible. To do this, you’ll need a fast, lightweight camera. You’ll need one of the best action cameras.

Sounds a bit daunting, right?

But don't worry, we know exactly what you need to go about learning this craft.

DSLR vs. Full Frame Mirrorless Cameras

Best Sports Camera - Best Camera for Sports Photography - Soccer

When looking for one of the best sports cameras, you can consider anything from a DSLR to a mirrorless camera. While it's possible to use a mirrorless camera in sports photography, you’ll find that a DSLR’s autofocus systems are extremely useful. You'll be able to have the best camera for action shots.

Further, you'll be able to track the action using your optical viewfinder, which can be invaluable when your subject is all over the place!

Shutter Speed

Best Sports Camera - Best Camera for Sports Photography - Gymnastics

We've all felt the high tension when there are beads of sweat and other particles flying around athletes. These details aren't always easy to capture. 

Sometimes athletes are moving so fast that their limbs are even hard to shoot! 

One of the most important aspects of highlighting these details is your camera's shutter speed settings. Depending on how crazy the action gets, you'll want to raise your shutter speed. For sports photography, you can usually find a sweet spot at either 1/1,000 or 1/2,000 sec.

Aperture Priority Mode

Best Sports Camera - Best Camera for Sports Photography - Football

Using aperture priority mode can really help you capture that perfect sports photography shot. 

When setting your aperture, go on the larger side (between f/2.8 and f/4). Because there's typically a lot happening on a sports field, this will help you hone in on your target.

Especially when using aperture priority mode, it tells the camera that a fast shutter speed will be needed for the correct exposure. And, this in turn will allow for a faster shutter speed.

Camera Bag Gear List

Best Sports Camera - Best Camera for Sports Photography - Camera Backpack Gear

With those settings in mind, there are also a few tools you’ll want to bring with you, besides the best camera for sports. These include: 

  • Zoom Lens: No matter how passionate you are, no one wants to be in the middle of a battle between football players. Instead, you can capture all the detail you want, and stay safe by using a zoom lens. For sports photography, we recommend using a zoom lens between 200 and 400mm. This is the best lens for sports photography, and will allow you to get close to the action and isolate your more important subjects.
  • Memory Cards: In sports photography, you should expect to take TONS of shots. With that in mind, it can’t hurt to have some extra memory cards on hand. 
  • Monopod: It can be hard to keep your shot focused when you’re zooming in so much, but a monopod can help with that! This tool allows you to hold your camera steadier while you’re zooming in on the action. 

Best Sports Camera - Best Camera for Sports Photography - Tripod on Camera Bag

To carry these important pieces of equipment, make sure you bring your camera bag! This will give you easy access to these tools and keep them safe if the weather goes south. We recommend The Voyager camera backpack, as it’s spacious, well-made, and weatherproof. 

Best Sports Photography Camera Backpack - Sunny 16

This backpack packs a serious amount of gear for its size, fitting two DSLR cameras, up to seven lenses, a laptop, a tablet, and other accessories. All this storage makes it easy to pack anything and everything you’ll need for your sports photoshoot. 

For comfort, this backpack also features both padded shoulder straps and back padding made of a light, breathable material. You’ll have comfort during extended periods of time wearing it, and keep cool when it’s hot out.

For memory cards, extra batteries and other accessories, also consider a tech pouch. This bag makes retrieving these items a synch, which is important when you don’t want to miss any action. 

And, don’t forget those handy microfiber lens cloths! You don’t want a bit of rain, dust or mud getting in the way of taking a great shot. 

15 Best Sports Photography Cameras

Now that you know exactly what you need to start working on your sports photography, it’s time to dig into your most important piece of equipment.

You guessed it, it’s your camera!

But, what is the best camera to buy for sports photography?

Luckily, we have a comprehensive list of the best cameras for sports photography: 

1. Nikon D5

The Nikon D5 is our pick for the best sports camera. By far one of the best DSLR cameras for sports photography, this camera comes equipped with amazing autofocus and subject tracking. It can even do this at its max burst of 12 fps! 

It’s built to last, being weather sealed and offering built-in vertical grips. Plus, this added grip gives the advantage of providing room for a substantially higher capacity battery.

This camera is also top quality, with an anti-reflective coated EXPEED 5 processor sensor. This means that your colors and tones will almost always be on point.

However, Do keep in mind that auto white balance tends to make lighter skin tones look too pale.

Build: ★★★★★

Ease of Use: ★★★★☆

Value: ★★★★☆

Overall: ★★★★★ 

Nikon D5 Quick Specs

  • Price: $3,999
  • External size: 6.3 x 6.3 x 3.7 inches
  • Weight: 3.1 pounds

2. Canon EOS 7D Mark II

If you were wondering what Canon camera is good for sports photography, look no further than the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. More affordable than the previous option, this DSLR camera also delivers as a sports photography must. It can shoot at up to 10fps while still maintaining focus and exposure.  Your photos will be taken with minimal delays, so you never risk missing the action. 

This clarity is captured using a 20.2 Megapixel sensor that delivers high-resolution image files.

The one major thing you have to be careful of with this camera is image noise. While it has stellar noise reduction at standard ISOs, it can start running into problems on the extreme ends of the spectrum. 

Build: ★★★★☆

Ease of Use: ★★★★★

Value: ★★★★★

Overall: ★★★★★ 

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Quick Specs

  • Price: $1,349.99
  • External size: 5.87 x 3.07 x 4.41 inches
  • Weight: 2.01 pounds

3. Nikon D500

If you like the idea of the Nikon D5, but you find that the price tag really turns you away, check out the Nikon D500!

This digital SLR camera is basically a mini D5 with a smaller sensor and no built-in vertical grip. It’s also weather-sealed and can stand up to some heavy rains.

For the price though, it's an excellent choice. The burst shooting performance reaches 10fps. Which, you might be wondering: How many FPS do you need for sports photography? Fortunately, 10 fps is more than capable of capturing any subject. 

Build: ★★★★☆

Ease of Use: ★★★★☆

Value: ★★★★★

Overall: ★★★★☆ 

Nikon D500 Quick Specs

  • Price: $1,496
  • External size: 5.8 x 4.6 x 3.2 inches
  • Weight: 1.9 pounds

4. Sony a9

This mirrorless camera might be on the expensive side, its CMOS sensor has impressive capabilities. In fact, the Sony a9 can shoot at up to 20 fps while still maintaining it's auto-tracking!

This camera also has a pretty decent battery, though not the best on this list. 

The only real downside of this camera is its size, as large lenses might cause it to feel imbalanced.

Build: ★★★★★

Ease of Use: ★★★★☆

Value: ★★★★☆

Overall: ★★★★☆ 

Sony a9 Quick Specs

  • Price: $2,998.00
  • External size: 5.67 x 9.61 x 6.14 inches
  • Weight: 1.3 pounds

5. Canon EOS Rebel T6i

Lightweight and affordable, this digital SLR camera cracks the top five best cameras for sports. It has a nice 24MP APS-C type image sensor, as well as touchscreen and tilting display for your convenience. 

However, the biggest major downside of this camera is that it can take a decent chunk of time to get your focus nailed down. This is because you usually have to set the autofocus point yourself.

Build: ★★★★☆

Ease of Use: ★★★☆☆

Value: ★★★★★

Overall: ★★★★☆ 

Canon EOS Rebel T6i Quick Specs

  • Price: $859.99
  • External size: 5.2 x 3.07 x 3.98 inches
  • Weight: 1.22 pounds

6. Sony a7R Mark II

This full-frame mirrorless camera brings a lot to the table, with amazing resolution and a lack of image noise at high ISOs. This camera also stays stabilized during the height of the action, and is able to reach a max shutter speed of 30secs. 

All that combined, shots in any weather or lighting look balanced and amazing. 

Though, the camera's biggest downside is its mediocre battery life. After all, sporting events can take hours, and it's important that you don't miss anything.

Build: ★★★★☆

Ease of Use: ★★★★☆

Value: ★★★★☆

Overall: ★★★★☆ 

Sony a7R Mark II Quick Specs

  • Price: $$1,298.00
  • External size: 9.61 x 6.1 x 5.67 inches
  • Weight: 1.28 pounds

7. Panasonic Lumix G9

With the ability to stay stabilized during speed burst shooting, this camera is easily one of the best sports cameras. It can even shoot up to 20 fps!

The G9 is a megapixel mirrorless camera, meaning that it's lightweight and easy to carry. This ease is also complimented by its weather sealing and comfortable grip. 

However, the biggest downside of this is that it's abundant controls can be highly overwhelming at first.

Build: ★★★★★

Ease of Use: ★★★☆☆

Value: ★★★★☆

Overall: ★★★★☆ 

Panasonic Lumix G9 Quick Specs

  • Price: $997.99
  • External size: 5.39 x 3.83 x 3.61 inches
  • Weight: 1.45 pounds

8. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

While this camera is more on the pricey side, it takes incredibly sharp photos with well-saturated colors. It's also noise free along its entire ISO range, which isn't an easy feat!

Like many others, this camera also has built-in Wi-Fi, and an easy-to-use touch screen. 

But, its main downside is its low framerate and bulky build.

Build: ★★★☆☆

Ease of Use: ★★★★☆

Value: ★★★★☆

Overall: ★★★★☆ 

Canon 5D Mark IV Quick Specs

  • Price: $2,499.00
  • External size: 3 x 5.9 x 4.6 inches
  • Weight: 1.76 pounds

9. Fujifilm X-T4

This mirrorless camera sits comfortably at a mid-range price, and has plenty to offer. It has decent auto-tracking image stabilization, though it can be thrown off sometimes. 

One of the best things about this camera is that it's highly engaging and customizable. For instance, it has dedicated dials for shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation, on top of command dials. All that makes it a great camera for sports. 

Build: ★★★★☆

Ease of Use: ★★★★☆

Value: ★★★☆☆

Overall: ★★★★☆ 

Fujifilm X-T4 Quick Specs

  • Price: $1,699.00
  • External size: 3.65 x 5.3 x 2.51 inches
  • Weight: 1.16 pounds

10. Nikon D6

This beast of a camera is as expensive as it is fancy. Impressively, it can reach up to 14fps, and can even maintain accurate subject tracking during bursts. The top quality of this camera makes it one of the best cameras for sports. 

The D6 also has incredible battery life, along with being tough and weatherproof. That means that no matter the weather, or how long a game takes, you'll always be prepared. 

Of course, besides being expensive, this camera also has a fairly low pixel count for the price.

Build: ★★★★★

Ease of Use: ★★★★☆

Value: ★★★☆☆

Overall: ★★★★☆ 

Nikon D6 Quick Specs

  • Price: $6,496.95
  • External size: 6.3 x 3.62 x 6.42 inches
  • Weight: 2.8 pounds

11. Sony A7 III

A more mid-range priced camera, the Sony A7 III comes equipped with a 24MP full-frame BSI-CMOS sensor, despite being a small size. This camera also has impressive AF performance, and superb battery life.

Combined with a sturdy grip, this camera is a great camera for sports!

Though, one major downside is the camera's lack of touch screen technology. This leads to some menus feeling overly complex and clunky.

Build: ★★★★☆

Ease of Use: ★★★☆☆

Value: ★★★★☆

Overall: ★★★★☆ 

Sony A7 III Quick Specs

  • Price: $1,998.00
  • External size: 5 x 3.88 x 3 inches
  • Weight: 1.44 pounds

12. Olympus OM-D E-M1 III

Given its great image quality, and rock solid stabilization, this DSLR camera is one of the best sports cameras. This camera can even track subjects at up to 18 fps.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 III is also weatherproof, meaning that you'll be free to shoot in any situation. 

However, the biggest downside of this camera is it's heavy weight and somewhat low-res EVF that lacks contrast.

Build: ★★★★☆

Ease of Use: ★★★☆☆

Value: ★★★★☆

Overall: ★★★★☆ 

Olympus OM-D E-M1 III Quick Specs

  • Price: $1,499.00
  • External size: 5.3 x 2.7 x 3.6 inches
  • Weight: 3.1 pounds

13. Canon EOS 1Dx Mark II

With an amazing autofocus and the ability to shoot at up to 14 fps, this SLR camera can be a great sports photography asset. This camera's optical viewfinder is one of the best!

One of the other great things about this camera is its layout. It's intuitively designed to give you easy access to your settings. 

Though, this camera is held back by the fact that it's outclassed by similar cameras, and is very bulky.

Build: ★★★★☆

Ease of Use: ★★★★☆

Value: ★★★☆☆

Overall: ★★★★☆ 

Canon 1Dx Mark II Quick Specs

  • Price: $3,180.00
  • External size: 7.72 x 6.2 x 6.6 inches
  • Weight: 3.37 pounds

14. Nikon D780

This DSLR 24MP full-frame BSI-CMOS sensor, and can shoot up to 7 fps. Though this fps capability is lower than other cameras on this list, it's still perfectly able to capture great sports photography. 

Another big plus to this camera is its outstanding battery life, making it easy to keep up with overtime sports. 

Though, the biggest downside to this camera is that it's viewfinder is relatively hard to use. For instance, AF modes differ between the viewfinder and live view.

Build: ★★★★☆

Ease of Use: ★★★☆☆

Value: ★★★★☆

Overall: ★★★★☆ 

Nikon D780 Quick Specs

  • Price: $1,996.95
  • External size: 5.65 x 2.99 x 4.55 inches
  • Weight: 1.57 pounds

15. Olympus OM-D E-M1X

This pro sports camera can shoot up to 18 fps while still maintaining a capable auto focus. It also has quality weatherproofing and great stabilization. 

Unfortunately, this camera is the heaviest on this list, and has a pretty overwhelming set of menus.

Build: ★★★★☆

Ease of Use: ★★★☆☆

Value: ★★★☆☆

Overall: ★★★☆☆ 

Olympus OM-D E-M1X Quick Specs

  • Price: $1,799.00
  • External size: 5.7 x 3 x 5.8 inches
  • Weight: 4.7 pounds

Up Next: Best Side Access Camera Bags

Now that you have a master list of all the cameras you should consider, what are you waiting for? Let us know which one stood out to you the most in the comments, and then get everything you need to start shooting! 

And, if you're interested in a nice camera bag to hold your new sports photography camera, check out our article on the best camera bags with side access.

Up Next: Best Side Access Camera Bags →

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