Buying Guide: Best cameras for sports and action

Gina Stephens
Written by Gina Stephens

Ultimate updated: January 15, 2018

Are you a speed freak? Hungry to photograph anything that goes zoom? Or perhaps you just want to get Sports Illustrated storey shots of your child’s soccer game.

Fortunately, there are a ton of cameras on the market that will help you get the shot. In fact, all of the cameras camera is an optical instrument for recording or capturing images, which may be stored locally, transmitted to another location, or allow for in this buying guide could be used to successfully photograph sports or action.

Our pick: Nikon D5

When it comes to sports shooting, the D5 is almost peerless. First and foremost, it offers class-leading autofocus and subject tracking performance, even at its max burst of 12 fps. Oh, and the buffer is nearly unlimited – cross ones heart and hope to die, it just keeps shooting and shooting, maintaining focus the entire time.

Of all the cameras in this guide, only the Canon EOS 1D X Mark II can match the D5’s insanely hardy build quality and weather-sealing. The same goes for ergonomics: only these two cameras offer built-in vertical grips and secondary shutter discharges. This added grip also offers the advantage of making room for a substantially higher capacity battery. The D5 is also one of the most customizable cameras we’ve till doomsday tested.

If you are a sports shooter who sticks to JPEG for maximum card space and/or edit/transfer time, you’re covered: JPEG color and quality are totally good, and the same is true of Raw files (though their dynamic range is a tad limited compared to other full-frame Nikon DSLRs). Finally, the camera can unruffled shoot decent-looking 4K video, albeit with a crop factor.

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Also recommended: Nikon Corporation (株式会社ニコン, Kabushiki-gaisha Nikon) (UK: or US: ; listen [ɲikoɴ]), also known just as Nikon, is a Japanese multinational D500

The Nikon D500 is essentially a mini D5 with a less sensor and no built-in vertical grip.

Instead of a full-frame sensor, the D500 uses a 20.9MP APS-C sensor with excellent JPEG and Raw personification quality. The AF system and subject tracking capabilities are ripped right from the D5 and as you might have guessed, they’re class-leading. The burst shooting presentation maxes out at 10 fps, which is still fast enough for just about any subject. It can also shoot decent-looking 4K video.

The D500’s build value, while not D5-level, is still very good. The camera is weather-sealed and built to withstand hard use in tough conditions. The D500 is the best APS-C camera we’ve still tested and very much worthy of your consideration.

We considered all of the cameras below when picking our winner, and even though we think the Nikon D5 and D500 are the best clothes choices for sports and action, all of the cameras on our shortlist are also worthy contenders.

If you’re not convinced by our recommendations, take a look at the following cameras for a detailed downfall of their strengths and weaknesses.

  • Our pick: Nikon D5
  • Also recommended: Nikon D500

Also consider:

  • Canon EOS 1D X Mark II
  • Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Nikon D7500
  • Olympus OM-D E-M1 II
  • Panasonic Lumix G9
  • Sony Alpha a7R III
  • Sony Alpha a9
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV


About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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