Are you eager to delve into the realm of astrophotography, but feeling overwhelmed with the variety of camera options available? Worry not, as we’ve curated a list of the 12 best cameras for astrophotography today, after extensive testing and research.
To top it off, we’ve also included the current prices on Amazon. But here’s the best part: these cameras aren’t solely limited to astrophotography; they’re versatile enough to deliver top-notch performance for daytime shooting as well. So, whether you’re an amateur astrophotographer or someone looking for an all-rounder camera, you won’t need to splurge on extra equipment. Additionally, these models boast impressive high ISO noise handling, making them suitable for low-light events like weddings and parties, while their wide dynamic range and sensor performance make them ideal for landscapes and portraits.
Read on to discover which camera will best suit your astrophotography needs.
12 Best Cameras for Astrophotography
Here are the twelve best cameras for astrophotography:
#1. ZWO Optical ASI533 Pro
- ZWO ASI533MC-Pro cooled color astronomy camera for capturing high-resolution color...
- Advanced 1”-class square CMOS sensor with 3008x3008 (9 megapixel) resolution to...
- Fast USB3.0 transfer at up to 20 frames per second at maximum resolution; 256MB DDR3...
The ZWO Optical ASI533 Pro is an astronomy camera with a color CMOS sensor that boasts impressive features. One of the most noteworthy advantages is that it has zero amp glow, which eliminates the need for editing software and results in cleaner, more efficient images. Although it lacks a monochromatic version, it has an 80% Quantum Efficiency and a fast 20FPS frame rate.
Additionally, the camera has a 9MP square sensor, 1.0e read noise, and a 14-bit ADC for excellent dynamic range. Some photographers may find the square sensor unusual, but it doesn’t compromise the camera’s performance. As with most astro cameras, the ZWO Optical ASI 533 Pro requires an external power supply. Overall, we highly recommend this camera for its user-friendly interface, affordability, and exceptional performance, earning it a perfect 5 out of 5 stars in our review.
#2. ZWO Optical ASI183MC Pro
- ZWO ASI183MC-Pro cooled color astronomy camera for capturing high-resolution color...
- Advanced CMOS sensor with 5496x3672 (20.1 megapixel) resolution and 2.4-micron pixel...
- Fast USB3.0 transfer at up to 19 frames per second at maximum resolution; 256MB DDR3...
Looking for a compact and efficient camera for astrophotography? The ZWO Optical ASI183MC Pro might be just what you need. With its 20.1MP, 1-inch color CMOS sensor, electronic shutter, and onboard cooling system, this camera is perfect for capturing clear and noise-free long exposures. It also boasts an impressive 84% Quantum Efficiency peak and a high frame rate of 19FPS, making it ideal for solar and lunar imaging.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind before buying. The camera is scope-mounted only, and you’ll need dedicated software to operate it. Additionally, the maximum image depth is limited to 12-bit, and the camera is not suitable for mono enthusiasts.
#3. Sony A7R IVA
- ✅ Sony A7R IV 35 mm Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera: Sony ILCE-7RM4 Professional...
- ✅ High Resolution & Advanced Tech: The A7R 4 realizes the level of image quality...
- ✅ Reliable Durability & Weather Resistance: The A7R IV brings you further enhanced...
The Sony A7R IVA mirrorless camera is a slightly upgraded version of the A7R IV, with a higher resolution LCD screen, a reduced battery life, and some cosmetic changes. It comes with a 61-megapixel BSI-CMOS sensor, a Sony E lens mount, and an ISO range of 100-32000 (expandable to 50-102800). The camera also features a 5.76M-dot viewfinder, 4K video at 30FPS, and dual SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slots (UHS-II compatible).
The A7R IVA can capture intricate details in both dark and bright areas, making it ideal for astro imaging. It can produce ISO 6400 images with minimal noise, though noise may increase at higher levels. The camera’s buttons and autofocus joystick are more tactile than previous Sony models, which is useful for night photographers wearing gloves.
However, the 61-megapixel images it produces are huge, resulting in equally large file sizes that require ample storage and processing power. To speed up image processing, the camera can be switched to a 26-megapixel APS-C mode with a 1.5x crop factor.
#4. Nikon D850
- Nikon designed back side illuminated (BSI) full frame image sensor with no optical...
- 45.7 megapixels of extraordinary resolution, outstanding dynamic range and virtually...
- Up to 9 fps1 continuous shooting at full resolution with full AF performance
The Nikon D850 is a DSLR camera that can compete with high-end mirrorless models and is one of the best full-frame DSLR cameras on the market. It’s designed to be a dependable camera that can withstand various environments, which makes it a top choice for professionals, but it’s also a great option for enthusiasts. Despite being over five years old, the D850 has an impressive ISO range of up to 102,400 and quick image processing thanks to the EXPEED 5 processor.
Made of lightweight and durable aluminum alloy, the D850 is weather-sealed and has backlit buttons that are useful in low-light situations. The camera also has an impressive dynamic range and interval timer shooting, which is perfect for creating stunning nighttime timelapses. Shooting in continuous burst mode at 9FPS produces a series of stills, each of which is 45.7MP, resulting in a serious amount of data capture.
In terms of video, the Nikon D850 can record 4K30p video with ‘live’ zebra stripes to highlight potential exposure issues, which is helpful for correcting them in real-time. The camera features a Multi-CAM 20K autofocus sensor module with TTL phase detection, 153 autofocus points, and can autofocus down to -4EV, making it a dream camera for astrophotographers.
#5. Sony A7 III
- Advanced 24.2MP BSI full frame Image Sensor w/ 1.8X readout speed
- 15 stop dynamic range, 14 bit uncompressed RAW, ISO 50 to 204,800. Compatible with...
- Up to 10fps silent or mechanical shutter with AE/AF tracking. Battery life (Still...
The Sony A7 III is a mirrorless camera with excellent performance in low light situations. Despite being released five years ago, it still holds up against newer models and remains a popular choice among astrophotographers. Its autofocus detection in low light is not as advanced as some competitors but performs well at -3 EV. The camera has a low light autofocus detection, and the high dynamic range allows for the recovery of detail in shadow areas. In order to shoot in a low light conditions you’ll have to buy yourself a gimbal. Find our picks for the best stabilization: What’s the BEST Gimbal for Sony a7III?
The Sony A7 III is also capable of capturing 4K UHD video at 30FPS, and stills photography can reach an impressive ISO of 204800. To fit all your 4k videos you need an SD card at least 64GB storage capacity. Pick up your best one: Sony a7III SD Card: Recommended Size, Specs, Price.
In terms of battery life, the Sony A7 III is above average for a mirrorless camera, with the ability to shoot 710 still shots via the rear LCD monitor. However, it is more expensive than other models in its class. Despite its drawbacks, if you’re looking for a versatile camera that performs well in low light situations and can excel in various photography styles, the Sony A7 III might be the right choice for you.
#6. Nikon Z6
- Large, full frame Z mount for Revolutionary optical performance
- Nikon-designed 24. 5MP backside illuminated image sensor
- 273-Point on-sensor Phase detect AF system
The Nikon Z6 is another remarkable mirrorless camera that is particularly well-suited for low-light photography, including astrophotography. Although it has been replaced by the Nikon Z6 II, the Z6 still boasts exceptional features, including a 24.5MP full-frame sensor with an ISO range of 100-51200 (expandable up to 204800), and an outstanding electronic viewfinder that offers exceptional clarity with 3.69 million dots.
The Z6’s lower resolution makes it better suited for astrophotographers than the higher-resolution Z7, as it produces less image noise. Additionally, it is more affordable than the Z7, making it an attractive option for those on a budget. Although the Z-mount lens range is still growing, the FTZ adapter enables the use of Nikon’s F-mount lenses from the past few decades. Overall, this camera is perfect for astrophotographers who want clear and sharp images of the night sky. However, the camera’s stills resolution is not the highest, and it has been superseded by the newer Z6 II model.
#7. Canon EOS 6D Mark II
- 26.2 Megapixel full frame CMOS sensor
- Optical viewfinder with a 45 point all cross type AF system. Compatible lenses: Canon...
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF with phase detection & Full HD 60p
The Canon EOS 6D Mark II is a great option for those interested in timelapse astrophotography, as it allows for easy shooting of 4K time-lapses of the night sky. Although lacking some of the more advanced features found on mirrorless cameras, this DSLR is an excellent full-frame option that is affordable and provides a lot of value for its price point.
For those who prefer to capture moving images, the EOS 6D Mark II offers 4K time-lapse capabilities in timelapse mode, making it ideal for creating detailed videos of the night sky when used in conjunction with a slider or star tracker. While it’s not recommended for fast action photography in low light, this model features a handy vari-angle touchscreen display that makes it easy to compose the scene, even when the camera is pointing upwards.
Although this camera only captures regular video footage in full-HD 1080p, it does so at a smooth 60FPS. However, the dynamic range of this camera leaves something to be desired, though this can be mitigated through the use of calibration frames during image processing.
Capture all your best shoots with a fast and spacious SD Card. You can choose one that fits your needs in our comprehensive guide: 12 Best Memory Cards for Canon Cameras.
#8. Nikon Z 6II
- Mirrorless versatility on a whole new level. 24.5MP BSI resolution that excels in low...
- Full frame. Full pixel readout. Full featured 4K UHD Video. Top of the line video...
- Dual card slots (CFexpress/XQD plus UHS-II SD). Flexibility and peace of mind when...
For those interested in a durable camera for astrophotography, the Nikon Z6 II is an excellent option. It is built to withstand harsh weather conditions and dust, making it perfect for outdoor shoots. With a BSI-CMOS 24.5MP sensor and Z-mount lens, the Z6 II can shoot in low light conditions, and its OLED viewfinder provides excellent clarity.
While the Z6 II doesn’t offer enough upgrades to justify an upgrade from the Z6, it’s worth considering if you’re upgrading from a beginner camera and plan on shooting different photography styles alongside astrophotography. The camera features a second memory card slot for additional storage, faster burst rate, and autofocus, and the ability to shoot 60FPS at 4K video.
Astrophotographers will appreciate the extended range of shutter speeds, allowing for more control over long exposure shots, with a maximum shutter speed of 900 seconds (15 minutes). Additionally, the Z6 II’s weather sealing makes it a great option for outdoor shooting. While the Nikon Z6 II is a little more expensive than other options, it is still a great investment for those looking for a rugged and versatile camera for astrophotography.
#9. Fujifilm X-T5
- Offering the ultimate image quality, X-T5 features the class-leading, 40.2-megapixel...
- X-T5 provides powerful image making performance to ensure it’s ready for action, no...
- Thanks to X-T5’s in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system, camera shake will be a...
The Fujifilm X-T5 is a versatile camera that is great for various photography styles. It has an ergonomic design and a wide range of lenses, making it an excellent option for traditionalists. The camera features a 40.2MP CMOS sensor and a processing engine that is twice as fast as its predecessor, the X-T4. It also has a classic look and body-mounted dial controls that make it easier to use in the dark, although it takes a bit of practice to get used to them.
Adjust the camera to your needs by choosing one of the interchangeable lenses: 7 Top Video Lenses for Fujifilm X Mount.
The X-T5 has a CIPA rating of around 600 shots per charge in everyday performance mode and about 740 shots in economy mode. It also has two SD memory card slots, allowing you to shoot JPGs and RAW files simultaneously or use one as a backup. While the screen isn’t fully articulating and the dials take getting used to in the dark, the X-T5 is an ideal choice for photographers who want a versatile camera that is excellent for action, sports, and timelapse photography, as well as astro.
More options for timelapse photography: 5 Best (Cheap) Cameras for Time-Lapse Video & Photo.
#10. Canon EOS R
- FULL-FRAME CMOS SENSOR & DIGIC 8 30.3 MP IMAGE PROCESSOR: Ensures crisp photos and...
- DUAL PIXEL CMOS AF: Features an impressive 5,655 manually selectable AF points** and...
- RF MOUNT COMPATIBLE: The EOS R camera is designed to work effortlessly with RF...
The Canon EOS R is an astrophotography camera that offers good value for money. Despite being a bit older than some of its competitors, it has some really advanced specs like a full-frame mirrorless sensor with 30 megapixels and an RF lens mount (compatible with EF and EF-S lenses with an adapter). Its ISO range is from 100 to 40000, and it has a 0.5-inch OLED EVF viewfinder, as well as 4K and 10-bit video capabilities.
One of the Canon EOS R’s biggest strengths is its 30MP sensor, which delivers excellent image quality. The autofocus system is also highly accurate and responsive. On the downside, the button layout could be improved, and the camera is not as rugged as some of its competitors. Despite these minor flaws, the Canon EOS R is still a solid choice for astrophotographers. It performs well in low-light situations, making it ideal for long exposures and time-lapse photography.
#11. Sony Alpha A6600
- World’s fastest AF at 0 02 sec with real-time AF and Object tracking
- 24 2MP APS-C Exmor sensor with front end LSI and ISO up to 102 400
- Wide 425-phase/425-contrast detection AF points over 84% of sensor
If you want a camera with the image quality of a full frame but in a more compact and lightweight package, the Sony A6600 is a great option to consider. One of the standout features for astrophotographers is the camera’s ability to maintain image quality and detail even when the ISO is ramped up in low light situations, which is important for capturing celestial objects.
The Sony A6600 has excellent build quality and feels sturdy despite its lightweight design. The buttons on the back are easy to locate and press, even in the dark or while wearing gloves. While the camera has the same 24.2-megapixel sensor as its predecessor, it is powered by a high-performance Z-battery with more than twice the capacity of the previous model, allowing for longer shooting sessions.
#12. Panasonic Lumix S1H
- Newly designed full frame sensor – 24 2MP full-frame MOS sensor offers a wide...
- 6K 10-BIT VIDEO – Includes full-area 3 2 6K24p C4K(4 096 x 2 160) and anamorphic...
- Dual native ISO – offers the advantages of very high sensitivity for low-light...
The Panasonic Lumix S1H is an excellent camera for astrophotography that boasts a full-frame sensor with 24.2 megapixels. Capable of capturing high-resolution images with incredible detail, it also features a high ISO range of up to 51200, allowing you to shoot in low light conditions without sacrificing image quality. Furthermore, the camera has a low pass filter that reduces moiré and false colors, producing clearer and sharper images.
The Lumix S1H’s autofocus system is also noteworthy, with the ability to detect and track stars, making it easier to capture stunning astro images. Another feature that makes the Lumix S1H stand out is its 5.76 million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder, which offers a clear and detailed view of the night sky.
In terms of video capabilities, the Lumix S1H can record 6K video at 24 frames per second, making it a popular choice among videographers. However, it’s worth noting that astrophotography enthusiasts may find the camera’s video features less relevant to their needs.
While astrophotography can be challenging, it’s a rewarding pursuit for photographers of all levels. With the right gear and techniques, capturing stunning images of the night sky is within reach. From the full-frame powerhouses like the Sony A7S III and the Canon EOS R, to the more affordable but still impressive options like the Fujifilm X-T4 and the Panasonic Lumix S1H, there is no shortage of cameras that can deliver fantastic astrophotography results.
But it’s not just about the camera – other factors like lenses, tripods, and software can also make a big difference in the quality of your images. It’s important to do your research and invest in the equipment that suits your needs and budget.
It’s impossible to imagine astrophotography without a tripod. Find our best picks: 5 Best Manfrotto Tripods with Head.
Ultimately, astrophotography is a fascinating and endlessly rewarding discipline that requires patience, persistence, and a willingness to learn. We hope this guide has been helpful in pointing you in the right direction towards capturing some truly breathtaking images of the night sky.
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