Sports are an interesting event to cover and if you are looking to build your photography niche in this area, then you need a camera that can bring out the best in you.
Sports are action-packed meaning it’s full of action taking place very fast and you wouldn’t want to miss a piece of it. Whether you are covering a basketball game, that biking tournament in your local hometown or a sports event at your kid’s school, you’ll need a camera with a lens fast enough to catch it all. For a sports photographer, the movement, energy, and emotions witnessed from the athletes ought to be fully captured to bring out the best moments of the event. Fortunately, with advancements, there are quality cameras featuring large sensors and interchangeable lenses which allows you to capture that winning shot. To help you get the best camera for the occasion, we’ve compiled this list of the best.
Best camera for sports photography – A Comparison table
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Nikon D5500 camera
Canon EOS Rebel T7
3.5 - 5.6 fps
Canon 7D II
3.5 - 5.6 fps
Best camera for sports photography review
This camera sharpens your creativity vision from various angles by allowing you to touch and shoot and then instantly share them.
- 3.2-inch full touch screen size
- Vari-angle display
- Up to 5 fps continuous shooting capability
- Wi-Fi compatibility with smartphones
- APS-C photo sensor size
- Manual focus
Nikon is a renowned camera brand across the world and it doesn’t disappoint with this model. The camera comes with a 24.3MP maximum and optical sensor resolution with a 1x sensor optical zooming capacity. It’s compatible with the Nikon FX and DX when it comes to mounting. Nikon DX500 has a 39-point autofocus system with it’s 24.2 DX-format CMOS sensor that lacks an optical low-pass filter. When shooting on the sidelines, the 3.2-inch, high-resolution vari-angle LCD screen is udse-friendly due to its smartphone-like touch controls. This ensures that you don’t have to take too long to get started, and that you don’t miss a single shot. At the end of the day, you can use the inbuilt WiFI to share your amazing images and 1080p HD videos at 60fps anytime from anywhere. Besides sports, the camera is packed with a lot of shooting modes making the camera versatile.
- Easy to use
- Lacks image stabilization
Imagine a small and durable camera that you can pick and use on the go anywhere. This camera is not only ideal for sports’ beginner photography; it can also serve other purposes as well.
A successor of the T6, the camera comes with improved features to keep up with the changing landscape.
- NFC & Wi-Fi connectivity
- ISO range compatible with various lights
- 9-point autofocus system
- 180 MP APS-C image sensor
- The EOS Utility Webcam Beta software compatible with Mac & Windows PCs
Despite having lower specs than some beginner sports cameras, this model features both manual and automatic focus capabilities. Also, it comes with both automatic and creative auto shooting modes that come in handy when on the action sidelines. The continuous shooting speed ranging from 3.5 to 5.6 fps with its 3-inch screen ensures that you don’t miss out on any action. There’s the 18MP maximum resolution and the optical sensor resolution of 24.1 MP combined with an optical zoom of 0x giving you a 1080p video quality. The camera comes with an ISO range of 100 to 6400 that can be expanded to 12800 allowing you shoot in both low and bright light situations compatible with eye Fi cards. The cam offers an impressive autofocus performance with precision using the 9-point and Al Servo AF system. The AF Beam effective range is from 35 to 40 meters and the optical Viewfinder with viewing coverage of around 95%. For sharing, the camera comes with an inbuilt NFC and Wi-Fi compatible with smart devices, the Canon Connect Stations devices, and social media platforms. As a bonus, you can use the EOS webcam software to convert your PC camera into a high-quality webcam.
- Quality images
- Not compatible with multimedia cards
This device is fun to learn on especially when it comes to sports photography. If you are looking for something for say your kid to learn on, this is the ideal camera due to its build and ease of use.
The Nikon D7200 is a slight upgrade on the D5500. It’s the first Nikon DSLR unit to have an inbuilt WiFi capability and NFC in the DX-format line up.
- 6 fps shooting capacity
- Manual focus only
- 24.2 MP optical sensor with a 1x photo zoom
- Full HD 1080p video recording at 60 fps
- 51-point AF system
- Inbuilt NFC and Wi-Fi for instant sharing
This camera is a highly capable DSLR camera featuring a 3.2-inch screen and a 24.2 MP DX-format CMOS sensor without an optical low-pass filter. It captures sharp and exceptionally pure photos & videos all the way to ISO 25,600 and a B&W ISO of up to 102, 400 for shooting monochromatic photos in even challenging lighting situations. Its EXPEED 4 image processing coupled with the 51-point AF system helps the device deliver speeds of up to 6 fps when capturing a subject on the field. What makes it stand out when it comes to sports, its 6 fps shooting capacity with the ability to handle up to 100 shots and around 27 shots in 12-bit compressed RAW. This shooting capacity can rise to 7 fps when you switch it to 1.3x image size. In live view, you can get a maximum frame rate of 3.7 fps. For instant sharing, the camera features Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity allowing you share your shots and videos from anywhere without physical connection.
- Dual card SD slots
Whether shooting videos or still images, by choosing the 1.3x crop mode, you extend the lens reach, getting yourself closer to the action on the ground. This camera is great for a starter that wants to learn by doing without spending a fortune.
At a first glance, you might mistake the camera for a very expensive model given its high-end specifications.
- High-speed continuous shooting capacity of up to 10fps
- 20.2 MP CMOS sensor
- ISO of between 100 and 16000
- 7.5x optical zoom
- 65-point cross-type dual-pixel autofocus for camcorder-like shooting
- Manual focus
- Dual DIGIC 6 image processors for processing speed & excellent image quality
- Accurate subject tracking with EV-3
This mirrorless camera is designed for artistic photographers & videographers looking to share their wide array of art. The camera comes with a 3-inch screen and packs a 20.2MP CMOS sensor and optical sensor with 7.5x optical zoom. It uses a manual focus and lacks image stabilization capability. The autofocus system is a 65-point that comes in the form of a dual pixel and enables you to capture those priceless shots like a camcorder. Besides, for capturing stunning full HD videos, you get a customer movie servo AF that’s fast and sensitive. TO keep up with the action, you can use the high-speed continuous shooting capacity of up to 10fps. When it comes to lighting and noise reduction, the camera has an ISO ranging from 100 to 16,000 and can be expanded to between 25,600 and 51, 200. If you want to mount a lens, you can mount either the Canon EF or EF-S series lens.
- High-quality build material
- High-quality images
- Long lasting battery
- Accurate subject tracking in extreme low-light
- It comes with an inbuilt GPS
- The autofocus is fine-tuned
- Warranty issue depending on location
- Lacks a touchscreen
- Doesn’t support 4K video resolution
This is an artist’s camera willing to go to wider extends to make you all-round in sports photography. It’s packed with awesome features to see you capture your first best shots.
When it comes to the image resolution quality, this Nikon camera is great with its 24MP sensor.
● Interactive Guide shooting mode
● Bluetooth connectivity
● 1080p video resolution
● Good handling and new sensors
The Nikon D3500 is easy to use and handle. It comes with an interactive menu, long battery life and the picture quality is great. It has a 3.0-inch fixed monitor without touch or tilt capabilities. What I liked more about this model is its 24.2 MP APS-C sensor that allows you to capture ton-rich and detailed images. Another thing that I like is its 1,550-shot battery life which makes the camera ideal for outdoors as it will give you enough time to take as many pictures being looking for a charging station. The Nikon D3500 incorporates all of DSLRs traditional advantages at the best value making it a low-budget camera for beginners. This camera is compatible with a lot of senses. However, I would recommend any VR lens since it increases the camera’s stability leading to better shots even in low-lighting.
● Easy to use
● High-quality 24MP Sensor
● Long-lasting 1,550-shot battery life
● Value for money
● Maximum video resolution of 1080p Full Video
● External controls are basic
● Lack of touch functionality with screen
● No Wi-Fi support
For a beginner looking for the all-around Nikon camera, this model meets almost all the criteria. If you want to build your experience outdoors, then this device has the battery life to power you throughout the day.
Buying a camera for sports photography beginner – What to look for
Ease of use
As a beginner, the first experience in covering a sporting event can be overwhelming given the pace. Photography is a learning process and it can be a steep one if your camera is not user-friendly. The most ideal camera for you is one that makes it easier for you to follow subjects and capture the best shots. The good thing is that most cameras come with either an automatic or semi-automatic shooting mode that makes the process simpler for a beginner. The size and weight of the camera too is a factor to consider given that it can intimidate or fatigue you when in use. When it comes to size, go to the store and test the camera.
Besides the ease of use, the controls are a complementary factor. You want a camera that you can identify with and take control. This is because controls are what allow you to be in control and capture those breath-taking shots and videos. It improves your creativity making you feel comfortable that you have the situation under control. Good sports cameras for starters have taken this into consideration and strike a balance between ease of use and control. Since most of us use touchscreen devices like smartphones in daily occasions, an ideal camera to help you ease into the space is one with a touch screen. However, if you feel that the touchscreen doesn’t give you the full control, then go for one with buttons.
There are several factors that contribute to the overall image and video quality of a camera. To demonstrate how diverse these factors are, for example, an experienced photographer can capture better shots on a poor camera than a bad photographer with a good camera. As a beginner, look at the sensors and get one that is able to get you sharper images even in low lighting. One major factor with an overall influence on the outcome is the lens. Also, the aperture will enable you to select your own exposure settings which really make a difference out there. Another important thing to pay attention to when it comes to image quality is image stabilization. It helps stabilize your images when your hands shake while following a subject.
Room for growth
Now that you have a sports camera to learn on as you grow, you need one that you won’t easily outgrow given that these devices don’t come cheap. Most models allow users to mount different lenses on the same camera when looking to improve on your image and video quality.
As a beginner, you aren’t still sure yet about your abilities and passion. Like any other profession, you start out trying and then upgrade when you feel it’s working out for you. It’s important to check and compare prices then see what meets your budget first and then if it’s worth it given that the plan may fail. Also, it doesn’t make economic sense to get a camera with high-quality features that you may never use.
As a beginner, getting a quality camera to keep up with the action’s pace is key. It’s good to know the nature of sports that you intend on covering and how pacy it can be then look for something that is within your budget. So, what camera would I recommend? I found the Canon 7D II, it has a fine-tuned autofocus with more points. Its features are great for learning and give room for growth for a beginner looking to grow. For this reason, I would highly recommend it.
Which camera mode is best for sports photography?
As a starter, it’s good to first put your camera into the Shutter Priority mode and then select a 1/500 of a second shutter speed. Further, test out your camera before the main event.
What’s the best shutter speed for sports?
The best shutter speed for sports action is 1/500 of a second. This is fast enough for most sports. However, try it out first before getting into the main event and adjust accordingly.