The driving force of photography is the ability to control light. Many photographers have successfully learnt this power and put it to great use. Many have cultivated a remarkable ability to work with even the lowest light to produce truly wonderful images.
In the end, however, even the greatest photographers can be limited by their gear. To really take control of your lighting, you need a camera that is capable of working with the lowest, dimmest light sources.
If controlling light is the greatest strength of photography, then making use of low lighting to achieve high-quality shots has to be the greatest of the greatest strengths.
So how do you do this without going through the series of difficult decisions involved in low light photography? Well, the first step is to get the most appropriate camera for the job. Trust me, this makes your job easier by a large margin, seeing as most of your needs are already automated and customized for optimal efficiency.
15 Best Low Light Camera Reviews
So what are these "best low light cameras" we speak of? Well keep reading, and you'll find a carefully curated list of the best of the best among them. Let's go!
At the top of our best low light cameras review, leading the category of best full-frame DSLR, is none other than the infamous Nikon D850. Where does one even start with this beauty?
Oh I know – its low light focusing!
Without a doubt this device has one of the best low light focus of all DSLRs you'll come across. It is capable of locking in on targets in remarkably dark spaces.
It is also not just great for static subjects, but appropriate for moving objects with an AF sensitivity of EV-4.
When it comes to ISO, the Nikon D850 also boasts a high performance with heightened ISO capabilities. With this device, you get sharp photos at ISO 1600.
Once you start to get to ISO 3200, you may see a slight drop, but images are still acceptable. Once you go above this, you experience some distortion to the photos, though at this level, its performance is still much better than some.
When it comes to resolution, the Nikon D850 also proves its worth as to why it deserves to be at the top of our list. It boasts of a full frame resolution of 45.7 megapixels with a 7 frames-per-second rate.
Other amazing features of this device include 4k capability, no optical low-pass filter, 3.2" tilting screen, and weather sealed exterior.
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Another camera with a ridiculously impressive low light performance is the Canon 5D Mark IV, which could easily have swapped places with the Nikon D850 above, if not for a few technicalities.
That's how great it is for capturing in low light.
Its low light autofocus is just as great as the D850, and it is capable of focusing in dark places with minimal light source. It is rated down to -3 E, can shoot in 4k, but without a doubt, the reason it deserves such a high place on our list is its fantastic performance when it comes to ISO capabilities.
It is safe to say that the sensors of this device received a significant upgrade from the folks at Canon. It is far more advanced than its predecessor, the 5D Mark III and even the 6D Mark II.
It is capable of capturing mind-blowing images up to 1600 ISO. At 3200, you still get high-quality images, same with photos taken at 6400, and even at 12800. That's how great the performance of this device is.
If you have a biting need for a camera for consistent use in incredibly dark places, the 5D Mark IV is definitely capable of getting the job done.
In the aspect of resolution, it falls short of the Nikon D850, having 30.4-megapixel capabilities, but of course, that is no slouch by any means. It shoots 7 frames per second, just like it's fierce rival, and comes with dual card slots, built-in GPS, and weather-sealed exterior.
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras
Sony Alpha A7R IV
Moving on from best low light DSLRs (full frame), we enter into the next category: the best full-frame mirrorless cameras for getting perfect shots in low light. And at the top of our list is none other than the Sony Alpha A7R IV.
When it comes to pure resolution in full frame cameras, the Sony A7R IV is right there at the top with a 61.0MP sensor and Bionz X processor.
Its low light focus, 5-axis image stabilisation, and ISO performance makes it one of the best full frame mirrorless camera for taking amazing photos in low light, and one of the overall best cameras for night photography.
Another particularly fascinating feature of the A7R IV is its high-resolution mode, where the camera is capable of taking simultaneous shots of the same scene using the sensor shift image stabilisation technology to form a final image of 241 megapixels!
Again, that's 241 megapixels, in case you missed that. 241!
Like most of the entries at the top of our list, the A7R IV boasts working without an anti-alias filter, which goes a long way to increase the overall sharpness and detail of final images.
It shoots a continuous 10 frames per second, an upgrade on the 7 frames per second of the first two entries on our list. Other important features of the device include an ISO range of 100-3200, 3" tilting screen, built-in wireless, and 4k video resolution.
As for physical properties, the A7R IV is quite sleek in design, with external dimensions of 129mmx96mmx78mm. It is 666g in weight, which, for some, might be quite heavy, while for some who are used to heavier gear, it might be nothing at all.
Still, it is about 180g heavier than your average camera. So there's objectivity if you need some.
Sony Alpha A7R IV
Canon EOS R
Second entry on our best full frame mirrorless camera list, which also happens to be the second contribution from Canon on the overall list, is the Canon EOS R, which could also pass as great low light camera for video on the list.
First of all, this device features enough impressive technological advancements to make it highly desirable on its own. When you add its remarkable low light performance, you get something of a full package.
No doubt some of its most impressive features are its RF lenses and updated full-frame image sensor, from which it gets many of its significant improvements, both in terms of function and performance.
Resolution-wise, the EOS R shoots with 30.3 Megapixels with a CMOS sensor and a DIGIC 8 image processor! It comes with a control ring, which in our opinion, is a more than worthy addition.
The “single point single shot autofocus” is another feature which makes it especially perfect. When you add all these to its great image quality, silent shutter, great battery life, and, of course, its portability, you realize the EOS R is gear that's truly hard to pass up.
Canon EOS R
The Nikon Z6 was first introduced in August 2018 and has since established itself as one of the better cameras out there for shooting in low light.
It has an ISO range of 100-51200, which is capable of expanding to the range of 50-204800. You're sure to avoid any major noise up to 1SO 6400. At 12800, you can still get some decent shots in.
It also sports a 5-axis sensor-shift stabilisation technology, and 3690k dot electronic viewfinder. All these, along with the 25 megapixel BMI-CMOS sensor, make it a beautiful camera to own.
Its autofocus in low light is also quite sensitive and impressive compared to older versions, and it is even able to hold its own among products in similar or even more expensive price ranges.
Its continuous shooting rate of 12 frames per seconds is another feature that get you high-quality photos with burst depth.
As for physical specifications, the Nikon Z6 is built with an external dimension of 134mmx101mmx68 mm. It also weighs about 675g, which you can take to mean it is solid and rugged, or that it is quite heavy. It's all up to you, of course.
Other main features include 4k video resolution, built-in wireless, and weather-sealed exterior.
Sony Alpha A7 III
One of the more logical tricks to get high-quality images in low light is having a slower shutter speed to allow as much light into your device. This, however, tends to cause blurriness—that is, if you're not working with the right gear, which is where a camera like the Sony Alpha A7 III come in.
Thanks to its built-in image stabilisation and other features, you're able to get good, sharp shots even with slower shutter speeds. It also sports a CMOS sensor, a particular one Sony seems to be really proud of and claims to have a much lower noise level compared to previous models, and a low light focus twice as fast as that of the A7II – which isn't a bad model at all on its own.
The A7 III provides an ISO range of 100-51200, expandable to 50 - 204800, with great noiseless shots up to ISO 6400, and minimal noise up to ISO 51200.
Other features on hand to make the A7 III one of the best low light camera money can buy are its 5-axis optical in-body image stabilisation, which provides a major extension in shutter speed, its low light autofocus, 2359k dot electronic viewfinder, and 4k resolution with 120 fps high speed video.
Sony Alpha A7 III
APS-C/Cropped Sensor DSLR Cameras
Just like the Nikon D850 led the list of best full frame DSLR for low light photography, the Nikon D7500 takes the corresponding place as the leader when it comes to low light photography with APS-C sensor DSLR gear.
Before we proceed on what makes the D7500 one of the best in this category, it is quite important to note that full frame cameras are, without a doubt, the best gear for low light photography. They're just built for it, quite literally. Their larger pixels give them an edge that most APS-C sensor gear just can't attain.
With that said, though, we're glad to let you know that cropped sensor devices are not all useless when it comes to shooting in low light. In fact, some of them will really surprise you. Like this beauty, for example. What makes it so special?
Well, how about we begin with its ISO range, from 100 to 51200, with an extension capability of up to 1.6 million—which, of course, you'll probably never ever use. Still, it's there. And that's got to be worth something, right?
At 1600, you get great clear shots. At ISO 3200, you get noise but nothing major for a camera of its category and affordability.
Other features of the Nikon D7500 include 21 MP with 8 frames-per-second continuous shooting, 4k video resolution, built-in wireless, and weather-sealed body.
Canon 90D is without a doubt one of the best APS-C cameras out there, beloved by both traditional Canon users and even folks who weren't previously a fan of the brand. What's so special about this gear that makes it so acclaimed?
Well, the answer might lie in the fact that it is both a continuation of an impressive line of products and comes at a quite convenient price for its numerous functionalities.
So what are these awesome functionalities? I suppose a good place to start would be it's 32.5 MP resolution, a significant upgrade from the previous 80D and 7D Mark II.
Another impressive aspect of all these is that even with its increased resolution, it is still able to shoot continuously at 11 frames per second.
Its autofocus is great in low light, hence why it secures a place on our list. This, alongside its 100% viewfinder coverage and of course its sharp ISO range (100-25600, expandable to 51200) makes it a really tough camera to pass up.
Other impressive features of the Canon include a great battery life, dual pixel autofocus, built-in wireless, and weather-sealed exterior.
Canon 7D Mark II
While the Canon 90D can boast of some significant upgrades over the 7D II (in resolution, for example), the 7D II also holds its own on a good range of features and specifications, even coming out on top in a few critical aspects.
First, when it comes to low light shooting at high ISO, both the 7D II and the 90D appear to have a lot in common. They both produce great images at ISO 1600. At 3200, we start to see some noise, which increases significantly as one moves up the ladder.
And while the 7D II doesn't necessarily have a sensor-based image stabilisation tech in the system, about 107 of its 321 available native lenses already possesses optical image stabilisation capabilities.
When it comes to physical specifications, the 7D II holds up quite well with a 910g body weight, which is just slightly above the average range, and external dimensions of 149mmx112mmx78 mm.
Canon 7D Mark II
APS-C/Cropped Sensor Mirrorless Cameras
Fujifilm GFX 50R
In our next category, still on APS-C gear but this time on mirrorless cameras, we have the Fujifilm GFX 50R. It is also fitting that it is in this category we have the first Fujifilm product making an entry on our list, seeing as the GFX 50R is a more than worthy contribution indeed.
What makes it so worthy? Well, lots of things, of course, but a great place to start would be its 51 megapixel resolution with CMOS sensor. And if that doesn't get your juices flowing, then its detailed and dynamic range will, all at a price that is at least 3 times less expensive than most gear of the same category.
It also features a native ISO of 100-12,800 which is quite modest but can be extended to 50-102400. And of course, with such a blistering sensor, you know you're sure to get some great shots in.
Physically, the GFX 50R is also quite impressive. It sports a compact design, that is quite traditional and comfortable, and its battery life is quite normal, which is a friendly way of saying it could be worse, and its performance is as strong as they come.
Fujifilm GFX 50R
Sony Alpha a6600
The Sony Alpha a6600 was introduced in late 2019, as the latest in the A6 line. It is quite a tangible upgrade from its predecessors, and one of your best options when it comes to capturing in low light.
What makes the alpha a6600 stand out is its AF, which the company claims to be the world’s fastest at .002 seconds. It shoots continuously at 11 frames per second and offers real-time AF tracking and 5-axis in-body image stabilization.
Among other highlights of the a6600 we have its great battery life, lock dials, compatibility with mics and headphones which makes it one of the best low light cameras for video, and a decent viewfinder.
Of course, we also can't forget to include the 4k 60frames-per-second video.
In terms of physical properties, the camera weighs about 503g, with external dimensions of 120mmx67mmx69mm, which is just a tad above average.
Sony Alpha a6600
If you need a singular highlight to the Fujifilm X-T4, you'll surely find it in its stability, which also happens to be an attribute that comes in handy in low light conditions. Its 5-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS) contributes to this much-needed steadiness and stability, alongside other updated technology such as the image manipulation feature.
The device is capable of 15 frames-per-second continuous shooting and equipped with a vari-angle touchscreen LCD for finding the best angles for a shot.
It is, of course, perfect for taking normal shot, and also for giving that extra mechanical support you need for low light photography. Having personally tested the camera multiple times with multiple lenses, it is hard to not come to the conclusion that the X-T4 may well be the best APS-C from the company so far.
It is no secret that the hierarchy when it comes to the best cameras usually goes from DSLR to mirrorless, and then to point-and-shoot. And when it comes to cameras for low light photography, the same rule generally applies.
Except, of course, for one slight, unavoidable fact, which is that there is always an exception to most rules in photography. Sometimes, certain gear come out that transcend their categories.
One of such examples is the Fujifilm X100V point-and-shoot camera, which, although having a few limitations common to point-and-shoot cameras of its kind, nonetheless manages to set itself apart with its ability to produce some really high-quality images in low light.
Of course, it should be said beforehand that you really can't expect your X100V point-and-shoot camera to provide the same result in low light as a Nikon D850 or a Canon 5D, but for its category and price range, it is totally worth it.
Among some of its noteworthy specifications are a 26MP APS-C sensor, ISO range of 160-12800 that is capable of being expanded to 80-51200, 11 frames-per-second continuous shooting, and built-in wireless.
Sony RX100 VII
Another noteworthy example of an excellent point-and-shoot camera capable of being worked with in low light, the Sony RX 100 VII was first rolled out in 2019 and was generally well-reviewed, thanks to its faster zoom lenses and advanced shooting features compared to earlier models.
It may sport a decent 20MP sensor (not a slouch by any means), but this portable device has way more redeeming features to land it a spot on our list of best low light point-and-shoot cameras.
Among these features is its optical image stabilisation and impressive 4K, 960 frames-per-second high speed video.
For a point-and-shoot camera, this isn't bad at all. The RX100 VII became highly popular after its release, and it isn't hard at all to see why.
Ideally what most regular folks look for in a camera is something lightweight and portable to get the job done with, and this device does that at an impressive level.
If you're a just a regular person who loves to do random shoots, the RX100 VII is just perfect.
Other notable features include 20 frames-per-second continuous shooting, built-in wireless, and ISO range of 125-12800.
Sony RX100 VII
Canon G7 X MIII
Last on our list of best low light point-and-shoot camera, which also happens to be the last entry on the overall list, is the Canon G7 X MIII, legitimately one of the best low light compact cameras.
Physically, the G7 X MIII is quite impressive with a compact and portable build of 304g, which is quite light, even for a point-and-shoot camera of its class.
Its LCD is touch screen compatible, making it a little easier to set focus with your fingertips. It is capable of continuous shooting at 30 frames per second, with a maximum shutter speed of 1/2000s.
And just in case you were wondering, yes, all of these are quite remarkable specifications for a point-and-shoot camera in this class.
Other impressive features of the Canon G7 MX III include it's 24-100mm zoom lens, optical image stabilisation, 4K video resolution, built-in wireless, contrast detection autofocus system, and a face detection AF for automatically detecting and locking in on faces.
Canon G7 X MIII
Tips for Low Light Photography
The first tip to shooting in low light is to find available light sources because let's face it, not even the most expensive camera ever built can help you shoot in a starkly dark place with absolutely no light at all.
First thing to do is check your environment for any light source you can work with, and position your subject in proximity to the source.
Long exposure may sound intimidating, but it is one of the best ways to work with light. By working with really low ISO, ISO 100, for example, and slowing down shutter speed to about a 2-second exposure, you get to gather a large amount of available light and get high-quality noiseless photos.
Working with a high ISO allows your camera to gather more light but with the trade-off of having more digital noise. The trick is to get the perfect spot, which, for APS-C cameras, we've found to be under 1600, and for full frame cameras, about 6400.
Use Lens with f/1.8 or Faster
Yes, lens also matters, and faster lenses such as f/1.8 and f/1.4 are generally recognized as perfect for low light photography, since they allow more lights into the sensor.
Having a stabilized lens or camera body also goes a long way in getting high-quality images in low light. This allows you to get a bit more light even as you stay in your ISO limit range.
Shooting in low light doesn't have to be an insurmountable chore. With the right knowledge and the right gear, you should be able to get more than decent shots with no noise and no blur whatsoever.
Some of the best cameras you can employ for this have been listed above. They are all as solid as they come in their category, with a lot of features to offer. If we had to choose an absolute best, though, we would definitely have to go with the Nikon D850 or Canon 5D MIV for their perfect ISO range for low light photography.