8 Best Cameras for Sports Photography (Action Shots!) in 2021

8 Best Cameras for Sports Photography (Action Shots!) in 2021

Sports photography can be frustrating without the right equipment. We’re all familiar with bad results. Some photos are a big blur, while others are empty due to the athlete having moved out of frame.

Cameras for action and sports photography need to be up to the job. When things are moving fast, you need a camera that can keep up.

In this article, we’ve gathered a list of our favourites so you can choose your best camera for sports photography.

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8. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Sensor: Crop Live MOS
Resolution: 20.4MP
Autofocus: Phase Detection 121 & Contrast Detection: 121
Burst Speed: 15fps Mechanical Shutter/60fps Electronic Shutter

At first, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II may seem like an odd choice on a list of cameras for action and sports photography. But it is worth your consideration. This camera is capable of getting some great action shots with its Micro Four Thirds sensor.

The first benefit is the lens. Any lens you use with this camera has a double focal length, allowing the photographer to get close-ups at a distance. You can stay out of the athletes’ way.

This camera has a burst function of 60 frames a second. That’s very impressive and faster than anything else on this list. The autofocus will work up to the rate of 18fps in Raw, not jpeg.

This immediately screams sports and action photography. It also has a place in photojournalism due to its size and 20.4-megapixel sensor size. No DSLR camera can touch this camera for its ability.

The second thing that makes this camera perfect for action photography are the focal points. There are both phase and contrast detection, 121 points for each. Your images will be pin-sharp – all 60 of them.

If you’re looking for a smaller camera for action and sports photography, this could be the one for you. It’s compact, capable, and affordable.

7. Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Sensor: Crop CMOS
Resolution: 20.2MP CMOS sensor
Autofocus: 65 Point Cross-Type System
Burst Speed: 10fps
Video: Full HD

This is certainly not the most modern camera on this list, but it’s still a contender for the best sports photography camera.

It is a crop sensor camera, but don’t let that put you off. It still has everything you need for sports photography. A full-frame lens on this camera gets you 1.6x closer to the subject, making it an excellent camera for sports and wildlife photography.

20.9 megapixels is more than enough for a great resolution and detail in every shot. The camera allows you to crop your image for a more pleasing frame without losing quality.

The EOS 7D MII has a 65 point autofocus system. This will keep your subject in focus as they move across the frame, even at speed.

But the most impressive function is the burst mode. This can capture 10 frames per second in crisp focus. The Dual-Pixel system makes it faster and easier to focus on your subject. With the help of the Digic 6, buffering burst images is not an issue.

6. Sony A7R Mark II

Sensor: Full Frame
Resolution: 42.4MP
Autofocus: 99 Focal Plane Phase-detection
Burst: 5fps

The A7R Mark II isn’t the most highly ranked Sony on the list. But, it is still a great camera for action, wildlife, and sports photography.

It boasts a 42-megapixel mirrorless sensor. That will give you incredible image resolution and it’s far more than you will find on a DSLR camera.

The image processor is the BIONZ X, meaning you can grab five frames a second. That might not sound like much, but the files are huge! It might be slow in that regard, but the images are of fantastic quality.

The Sony A7R Mark II has a 399 point phase detection autofocus. It is accurate, fast, and one of the best focusing systems on the list. It also has a 5-axis image stabilization system, meaning you won’t need a tripod.

It is weather-sealed and reaches an expanded ISO of 25,600. If night starts to fall in the stadium or out in the wild, the Sony A7R Mark II won’t let you down.

5. Nikon D500

Sensor: DX-Format CMOS Sensor
Resolution: 20.9MP
Autofocus: 153 Point AF System
Burst: 10fps
Video: 4K

The Nikon D500 is built explicitly for action and sports photography. It is fast, reliable, and has everything a sports photographer will need.

The Nikon D500 has a sensor resolution of 20.9 megapixels, with an impressive 10fps burst speed. And the burst capture can reach up to 200 frames before buffering if you have a large enough memory card.

It has a tilting touchscreen and 153 points of autofocus that works well in low light. This is the best autofocus system you will find on a DLSR.

The wide ISO range means that indoor or nighttime sports are not an issue for the D500. And the built-in WiFi capabilities are a bonus if you need to send your images or create space on your memory card. The dual memory cards is also a handy feature.

The Nikon D500 is the best DSLR camera for action and sports photography. No matter what you’re shooting, no ball, animal, or athlete is too fast for this camera.

4. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Sensor: Full-Frame CMOS
Resolution: 30.4 MP
Autofocus: 61 Point System
Burst: 7fps
Video: 4K

The EOS 5D series is one of Canon’s most highly regarded camera ranges. And the Mark IV is the leader of the pack. Some of the camera’s features may be of little interest to a sports photographer, but the quality is so good you can’t ignore it.

It has a full-frame CMOS sensor. This means the image quality you get will surpass any crop sensors out there. The focal length on the EOS 5D MIV is very hard to beat.

A 30.4-megapixel sensor gives you amazing quality and allows you to crop the image precisely. This way, you can spend more time concentrating on the focus.

The 7fps continuous shooting rate is solid, if not spectacular. But burst is not this camera’s strong point.

You get the superb Canon Dual-Pixel, 61 point autofocus system. It’s is great for keeping those fast-moving subjects in crisp focus.

For ISO, the Mark IV is a real market leader. It has a native range that reaches 32,000 that expands to 102,400. If night descends, the image quality won’t suffer.

WiFi comes as standard, making this a great camera for sports photographers working in the press. And, Dual memory slots allow you to shoot thousands of images with the right cards.

3. Nikon Z7 II

Sensor: FX-format BSI CMOS
Resolution: 45.7MP
Autofocus: 493 Point Phase-Detect
Burst: 10fps
Video: 4K

The Nikon Z7 II is a mirrorless camera with a compact body. It’s also back with features that make it one of the best cameras for action and sports photography.

The full-frame CMOS sensor captures with an image resolution of 45.7 megapixels. This will provide an incredible level of detail. And, the dual EXPEED 6 image processors allow you to shoot continuously at 10fps, up to 50 frames.

For the Z7 II, low-light conditions are not a problem. With an ISO range from 64 to 25,600, you can still capture detailed and vibrant images when the light is against you. If you’re shooting indoors or at night, this is vital for sports photographers.

The 493 point phase-detect autofocus system is top of the league. No matter how fast your subject is moving, the Z7 II will be able to capture with a crisp and clear focus. The in-body 5-axis sensor-shift Vibration Reduction adds further stability to your shots, even when the action is at its hottest.

It isn’t the cheapest camera on the list, but the Nikon Z7 II is a professional quality camera. The image quality and features make the Z7 II an excellent camera for action and sports photography.

2. Canon EOS R5

Sensor: Full-Frame CMOS
Resolution: 45MP
Autofocus: Duel-Pixel 1,053 Point System
Burst: 12fps Mechanical Shutter/20fps Electronic Shutter
Video: 8K DCI or UHD at 30p Video

If you’re a professional, the Canon EOS R5 is the best sports camera in the business.

The 45-megapixel sensor captures images of the highest quality. And the autofocus system has incredible subject tracking capabilities with head, face, and eye recognition. This is perfect for wildlife and sports photography. No matter what happens on the pitch, your images will be crisp and sharp.

You have two burst function options. The mechanical shutter has a continuous shooting rate of 12fps, and the electronic shutter has a speed of 20fps. Either way, this is more than enough for capturing great action on the pitch, court, or field.

The modern sports photographer needs more than just great image capture. The Canon EOS R5 has 8K video capabilities. That is cinema-quality footage. You can capture the goal of the season in professional level resolution.

For action, sports and wildlife photography, the EOS R5 is hard to beat.

1. Sony A7 III

Sensor: BSI Full-frame
Resolution: 24.2MP
Autofocus: 693 Point Phase-Detect System
Burst: 10fps (Silent or Mechanical Shutter)
Video: 4K

The number one spot on our list is the Sony A7 III. An entry-level full-frame camera that beats the competition hands-down.

The full-frame sensor has a resolution of 24 megapixels. This is more than enough for publication-standard image quality.

The 10fps burst is also excellent for action shots. Be it wildlife, sports or photojournalism, this camera is up to the job. The silent shutter is a bonus, as it won’t distract the players or scare the animals.

The 700 point phase-detection autofocus is unparalleled. And, there are another 425 points of contrast-detection. Whatever you’re shooting, this camera can capture it.

The 5-axis image stabilization system means you don’t have to worry about shutter speed and allows you to work without a tripod. It also improves the low-light capabilities, so you can capture the action at any time, in any place.

The A7 II has dual card slots, excellent battery life, and is even weather-protected. The Sony A7 III tops our list for the best cameras for action and sports photography. You can’t beat it.

Conclusion
Action and sports photography is a discipline with its own specific list of demands. That’s why having the best camera for sports photography is so important.

You will need excellent image quality, fast and reliable autofocus, and a rapid burst mode. An image stabilisation system is also very useful in this field. Your subject will always be on the move, and you need to be able to capture them in full flow.

The camera you select may depend on your budget and your skill level. But these are the areas you need to consider when looking to buy a camera for action and sports photography.

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