Sports photographers are a tough old bunch who stay committed to the job at hand, no matter what the weather is doing. These guys and gals need cameras for sports photography that will do the same.
Come wind, rain, snow, cold temps or shine; you’ll always see photographers along the sidelines at sporting events. Their job is simple, capture the game-defining moment of any match. Fortunately, technology in cameras these days makes that pretty easy, thanks to incredible autofocus systems, fast burst rates and huge buffers. However, not all cameras are created equally when it comes to ruggedness. So, we’ve rounded up the best (in our opinion) cameras for sports photography based on weather sealing and more.
All the cameras we have listed here are absolute titans of the sports photography game. These cameras are ultra-reliable, fast, responsive, comfortable to hold and use, can help produce stunning images thanks to their sensors, and have weather sealing of the gods. When the going gets tough, these cameras pound their chests and ask for more! If you’re in the market for a camera that will make sports photography in any weather easy, check out the options listed below.
Canon EOS R7 — The new kid in town
For years, many sports photographers used Canon’s EOS 7D and 7D II for sports photography, thanks to their incredible performance and rugged build qualities. Now, the Canon R7, the spiritual successor to the 7D, is here, and it’s mighty impressive. At under $1,500, the EOS R7 is a bargain, considering how much tech you get. The R7 features the largest APS-C sensor on the market (at the time of writing) that boasts a whopping 32.5-megapixels. The sensor is paired with Canon’s incredible Dual Pixel CMOS AF II and can rattle off 30 frames per second with its electronic shutter. In addition, the mechanical shutter fires off 15 frames per second.
On top of the features listed above, you’ll also get incredible IBIS, dual UHS-II card slots and a 2.36-million dot OLED EVF. Of course, the Canon EOS R7 is also weather sealed. So, you can take this camera to any sporting event without worrying about Mother Nature. The ergonomics of the EOS R7 make this camera comfortable to hold for long periods too, which is essential, seeing as sporting events can last an eternity. For the price, the Canon EOS R7 is one of the best bang-for-the-buck mirrorless cameras for sports photography.
Nikon D500 — Sports photography royalty
It should not shock anyone that the legendary Nikon D500 has made this list. There’s a good reason why you’ll still see these cameras along the sidelines at professional sporting events. This camera might be six years old now; still, it’s one of the best cameras for sports photography that budget-conscious photographers can get their hands on, thanks to fast burst rates (10 fps) and its rugged construction. In addition, the weather sealing on the D500 is simply incredible. Snow, rain, dirt, freezing temps, you name it; the D500 can handle it.
The 3D tracking that Nikon used in the D500 makes sports photography a piece of cake. Photographers have access to 153 responsive autofocus points, Wi-Fi connectivity, a large 3.2-inch LCD and dual card slots. On top of this, the Nikon D500 is an absolute beast when it comes to low-light photography. The 21-megapixel APS-C sensor and the EXPEED image processor work their magic at high ISOs.
Olympus E-M1X — As tough as they get
The Olympus E-M1X (which costs less than $2,000 these days) makes sports photography easy thanks impressive autofocus system. You can track athletes quickly and easily, and thanks to the IPX1 weather sealing, you can use the E-M1X in any weather scenario without worrying about your camera. This is perfect for those days when you’re stuck on the sidelines in torrential rain or blowing snow or for when you’re trackside at a motocross event being covered with mud.
The E-M1X has a built-in battery grip that can house two batteries. The articulating screen makes getting any shot easy. The 20-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor offers good dynamic range and excellent performance up to ISO 6400. You’ll also find dual UHS-II card slots, class-leading IBIS, an easy-to-learn control layout and fantastic ergonomics. In all, the E-M1X is an excellent camera for sports photography. If you need a rugged camera that will last you many years, the E-M1X is the one to get.
Nikon Z 9 — A sports photography powerhouse
The pro-body Nikon Z 9 is the new darling of the sports photography world. The Z 9 welcomes the 3D tracking that made Nikon DSLRs so formidable. The camera uses 493 AI-infused autofocus points that can track subjects with ease. There’s also blackout-free real-time EVF which will help you keep up with fast-paced sports.
Powering the Z 9 is a 45.7-megapixel stacked full-frame sensor. What’s different about this camera is that there is no mechanical shutter, and because of this, performance is off the charts. There’s a built-in vertical grip and two CFexpress card slots. The Nikon Z 9 can shoot 20 frames per second, and the buffer can handle 1000 RAW files. This camera is a weather-sealed monster that can take on any weather condition. The Z 9 is one of the best mirrorless cameras and is well suited to sports photography.
Canon EOS R3 — It laughs at Mother Nature
The Canon EOS R3 is a pro body camera with all of the bells and whistles you’d expect to find in a camera with a premium price tag. The camera features a rugged design that allows it to be outside in the worst that Mother Nature can deliver. The EOS R3 uses a stacked 24-megapixel full-frame sensor which helps eliminate rolling shutter while still providing top-notch files. The R3 can shoot 30 frames per second with the electronic shutter and 12 frames per second with the mechanical shutter. So, you’ll have no problems capturing the moments that matter. The R3 has a neat party trick too.
The eye-controlled autofocus is the real party piece of the Canon EOS R3. All you have to do is look where you want to focus, and the camera tracks what you’re looking at. It takes a little while to get used to, but soon, you’ll find yourself immersed in what you’re doing, and you’ll be capturing the shots of your life. On top of this, you’ll get dual card slots (CFexpress and UHS-II). 5-axis image stabilization, a 120 frame per second EVF and a vari-angle touchscreen. For professional sports photographers, cameras don’t get much better than the Canon EOS R3.
Canon EOS 1DX III — The stuff of legends
Oh my goodness! Another DSLR made the list! It sure did and for good reasons. The Canon EOS 1DX III is the mac daddy when it comes to DSLRs for sports photography, and it’s a camera that Canon themselves said will be supported for many years to come. This camera is loved and cherished by many because of its mirrorless-like performance when it comes to autofocus and burst rates and because of the advantages an optical viewfinder has over many EVFs.
The Canon EOS 1DX III sports a 20.1-megapixel full-frame sensor mated to a Digic X processor. This is the same processor found in Canon’s mirrorless cameras. It has a blazing fast EOS iTR AF X 191-point autofocus system and a Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus system with 525 selectable points. The 1DX III rattles off 20 frames per second, supports two CFexpress memory cards, has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS connectivity, and is weather-sealed to the nines. A nuke could go off, and this camera would probably survive thanks to its rugged construction and sealing. For hard-core sports photographers, there’s probably no better camera around.