Best Camera for Safari: How to Choose & What to Avoid

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For many, going on safari can be the trip of a lifetime, and capturing great shots of this adventure will give you something to look back on years later. Choosing the best camera for safari then can be important.

There are a lot of great options out there, but there are a lot of factors to consider before making your purchase. Are you just starting out in the world of photography?

Are you an enthusiast looking to take your photography game to the next level? Or are you professionally minded, experienced and only happy with the best equipment on the market?

On safari, you will encounter extreme weather conditions, from dust to rain, and you’ll need a camera that can survive the trip intact. Your budget will be a major consideration too, as will the type of traveling you intend to do.

Here’s our detailed guide to help you decide which is the best camera for safari.

Top 5 Best Safari Cameras

PRODUCTDESCRIPTION 
Best Safari CamerasFuji X-T20
-24 MP
-3.0-inch tilting LCD screen
-Electronic Viewfinder
-Tilting touch monitor
-X Mount lenses
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Canon EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR CameraCanon EOS 7D Mark II
- 20.2 MP CMOS sensor and ISO 100-16000
- High speed continuous shooting up to 10.0 fps
- 65-point all cross-type AF system
- Full HD video
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF
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Best Safari CamerasNikon D7500
-20.9 MP
-Built in WIFI
-Bluetooth
-Expeed 5 Image Processing
-ISO range up to 51,200
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Sony A9 CameraSony A9
- Full-frame stacked CMOS sensor w/ integrated memory
- Continuous shooting up to 20 fps
- Silent, vibration-free, anti-distortion shutter up to 1/32,000 sec.
- 693 Phase Detection AF points over 93% frame coverage.
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Best Safari CamerasPanasonic Lumix LX10
-F1.4-2.8 LEICA DC Lens in a Small Body
-20.1 MP
-WIFI
-3 in tilt LCD
-4K photo
-3x Optical Zoom
-Power O.I.S. Hybrid+
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Quick Answer: The Best Camera for Safari


Tips for Choosing the Best Camera for Safari

Taking photos on safari in Africa - Best Camera for Safari

Point and Shoot Cameras for Safari

If you are just looking to take some holiday snaps, and don’t want to break the bank, then the best camera for safari could well be a simple point and shoot.

Increasingly, Point and Shoot cameras, while perhaps looked down upon by the professional world of photography, are becoming more and more versatile, with ever-increasing quality.

While you can pick up some cheap, low-quality point and shoots, brands such as Sony and Canon have some fantastic mid-range options (such as the Canon G7X series), which not only offer high megapixel shooting but can also take great videos.

If you want to quickly capture the moment that lion leaps across the savannah on video, then these are the easiest and simplest to handle cameras on the market, while also being small enough to keep hidden away in your pocket or day bag while you are traveling around.

The main downside of a point and shoot camera is the very simplicity that can make them attractive purchases, as you won’t be able to change lenses.

Safari truck in Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania

Action Cameras on Safari

If you don’t just intend to sit back in the vehicle watching the animals go by during your trip, then Action Cameras can be great options for the adventurous. Cameras such as the Go Pro, or the Sony Action Cam are incredibly small, lightweight and almost indestructible.

If you intend on kayaking, or canoeing, snorkeling or even bungee jumping in addition to your safari, then these are perfect and fairly inexpensive too.

While they are great for action-packed activities, this type of camera isn’t exactly versatile, with quality that won’t match a DSLR, and no option to zoom.

Lina Stock on Safari in Sri Lanka

Cameras with Interchangeable Lenses

For the budding photographer up to professionals, the best camera for safari will inevitably be one that allows you to change lenses. These days, the two main types are either the traditional DSLR or the Mirrorless cameras.

A good lens can be just as important a purchase as the camera body itself, and with the option to change lenses, you can be equipped for everything from taking wide-angle shots of landscapes, to photographing animals from a distance with a telephoto.

When it comes to cameras with interchangeable lenses though, there are a lot of factors to consider, but there are options ranging from entry-level to top-class professional cameras.

serengeti safai in Tanzania

DSLR vs Mirrorless Camera Bodies

Traditionally, the only real option when it came to cameras was the DSLR, which although incredibly versatile, is also rather heavy and bulky.

With great developments in technology though, Mirrorless cameras are a much lighter alternative, that are increasingly able to compete with the best DSLRs on the market for quality and price.

DSLR cameras make use of a large mirror to project light onto the sensor, ensuring great quality pictures, but also requiring a large body to house this large mirror.

More professional cameras can be even bulkier than entry-level DSLRs because they have bigger sensors and mirrors to produce better imagery.

Mirrorless cameras, as the name suggests, don’t have this mirror. They project light directly onto the sensor, and for this reason, they can be designed in a much more compact and lightweight manner.

Although this technology used to be much more expensive than a DSLR, many companies are now competing for the price too.

The main disadvantage of a mirrorless camera today then, is the generally shorter battery life and the current small range of lenses. Having been on the market much longer, DSLR producers such as Canon or Nikon, have a huge array of lenses to offer.

Mirrorless companies such as Sony, still only offer a fraction of the number of lenses and at generally higher prices in comparison. In time though, this will of course change.

Elephant in Zimbabwe

APS-C vs Full Frame Sensors

Another factor to consider, once you have chosen whether to go Mirrorless or DSLR, is the type of sensor you want to capture pictures on. The main difference comes down to choosing between either APS-C cameras or Full Frame Cameras.

If you want the absolute best camera for safari, and you are a real enthusiast or professional, then you will want to purchase a Full Frame camera.

Full Frame sensors essentially have a wider surface area and can let in more light, giving you not only better quality pictures but also a wider field of view.

APS-C sensors, on the other hand, are known as crop sensors because they essentially ‘crop’ the image by a certain factor, usually by 1.5x. This actually gives you more zoom, and using a 200mm lens on a crop camera would actually give you a longer range at 300mm in comparison to a Full Frame camera.

This can be really beneficial on safari if you are photographing wildlife from a distance.

APS-C cameras tend to be cheaper and aimed at entry-level photographers, but there are some great value options on the market, and they can be much lighter too.

Full Frame cameras are inevitably always more expensive, although the great value Sony A7 series can be a great choice in this department when it comes to cost.

Cheetah in Zimbabwe

Autofocus Speed and Frames Per Second

When choosing the best camera for safari, you will also need to consider the autofocus speed and the number of frames per second that can be shot.

Having more autofocus points means that you will be able to capture the action in more detail, which is great for taking pictures of wildlife.

More frames per second will mean that you can shoot images faster and in more detail, allowing you to photograph fast-paced events in greater clarity.

Better autofocusing and more frames per second inevitably will mean higher costs, but if you want the best pictures it can be well worth it.

If you are shooting landscapes, however, and composing pictures, you may not necessarily need this extra power, and maybe better off investing your money in better lenses.

Walking safari in Hwange National Park Zimbabwe

Size, Weight & Durability

One of the biggest deciding factors when it comes to picking the best camera for safari may well be the size, weight, and durability of your equipment.

If you are traveling around lots then you will want to keep your weight low, so unless you are a professional, having the largest cameras and lenses on the market will simply slow you down.

A safari can mean lots of dust, adverse weather and a lot of potential for damaging equipment. You will want to invest in a sturdy camera that can survive these conditions and won’t break on its first outing.

This is where paying more for high-quality materials can be beneficial, but of course, you will likely need to compromise depending on your budget.

If you are just taking pictures for fun, then this may not be too much of a problem, but if you are a real enthusiast, then investing in good equipment will be cheaper in the long run for you.


Giraffes on safari in Africa

Best Camera for Safari: Our Recommendations

Canon G9x camera

G7X Series

If you are after a quality point and shoot that is simple to use but also incredibly versatile, then the high-quality G7X series from Canon is a fantastic camera for safari.

Part of the PowerShot series, the G7X doesn’t compromise on quality and can, in fact, produce much better images and video than many entry-level DSLRs. The main downside though is you can’t change the lens.

Check G7X Series price at Amazon


GoPro Camera

GoPro

As far as action cams go, the Go Pro really leads the market. The latest models are tiny, but produce top quality video and stills, with the added bonus of excellent stabilization.

They are almost indestructible and are perfect for outdoor activities. There are a few options to consider depending on your goals. If you are interested in buying a new GoPro, consider reading this first: How to Decide Which GoPro to Buy

Check GoPro Prices


Sony A7ii camera

Sony A7 Range

Sony is the best option for quality, affordable Mirrorless cameras, and the Sony A7 Range will give you a variety of Full Frame cameras to choose from, which can meet many mid-range budgets as well as professional needs.

These are lightweight cameras that don’t compromise on quality, and although the lens range is still small, it is certainly growing.

Check A7 Range price at Amazon


Canon 7D Mark II Camera body

Canon 7D Mark II

The wildlife body of choice in the Canon DSLR line in the Canon 7D Mark II. This camera is designed to meet the demands of photographers and videographers who want a camera that can provide a wide range of artistic opportunities.

More commonly, it is known as the Canon body of choice for shooting action, sports and wildlife. This means it is one of the best cameras for safari shooting.

With a winning combination of cutting-edge operations and a robust, ergonomic design, it is optimized to make even the most challenging photography simple and easy.

It features a refined APS-C sized 20.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor with Dual DIGIC 6 Image Processors for gorgeous imagery. It shoots up to 10 frames per second at ISOs ranging from 100–16000, has a 65-point all cross-type AF system and features Canon’s amazing Dual Pixel CMOS AF for brilliant Live-View AF.

Check Canon 7D Mark II price at Amazon


Canon 80d camera body

Canon 80D

Whether raising your game to SLR level photography or having fun with a feature-rich, versatile SLR you can use pretty much anywhere, the EOS 80D camera is your answer.

It features an impressive 45-point all cross-type AF system that provides high-speed, highly precise AF in virtually any kind of light.

To help ensure photographers don’t miss their shot, an Intelligent Viewfinder with approximately 100% coverage provides a clear view and comprehensive image data.

Improvements like a powerful 24.2 Megapixel (APS-C) CMOS sensor and Dual Pixel CMOS AF for Live View shooting enhance the EOS 80D’s performance across the board.

Complementing the EOS 80D’s advanced operation are built-in wireless connectivity and Full HD 60p movies that can be saved as MP4s for easy sharing.

Merging power, precision and operability, the EOS 80D is a dynamic SLR camera for anyone ready to realize their creative vision.

SPECS:

  • The EOS 80D camera’s Intelligent Viewfinder
  • AF points and AF mode
  • Grid display
  • Horizontal electronic level
  • Wide area, 45 point, all cross type AF system
  • Low luminance performance to EV 3 and 4 types of AF area selection modes
  • 24.2 Megapixel (APS C) CMOS sensor 
  • Ability to shoot up to 7.0 fps during continuous shooting
  • Dioptric Adjustment: 3.0 to +1.0 m 1 (diopter)

Check Canon 80D price at Amazon


Sony A9 camera

Sony A9

The master in mirrorless sports and wildlife photography is the Sony A9. This camera features ultra-fast continuous shooting with a 24.2MP full-frame Exmor RS stacked CMOS sensor and BIONZ X image processor.

The a9 is capable of shooting at up to 20 fps and offers a 693-point phase-detection autofocus system that covers 93% of the image area for accurate and quick subject tracking in a variety of lighting conditions.

Additionally, complementing both the imaging and focusing assets, the a9 also sports 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization to minimize the appearance of camera shake when shooting handheld.

If you are a professional or very serious amateur photographer with an interest in upping your wildlife photography game, this camera is the one for you.

Check Sony A9 price on Amazon


Sony Rx100 III – VA Camera

Sony Rx100 III – VA

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III Digital Camera is a versatile and advanced point-and-shoot featuring a large 20.1 megapixel 1″ Exmor R CMOS sensor to produce high-resolution still imagery and full HD video.

This sensor’s design utilizes backside-illuminated technology to improve clarity and image quality when working in dimly-lit conditions as well as increase the sensitivity to a native ISO 12800.

Benefiting the performance of this sensor is the BIONZ X image processor, which helps to produce images with smooth quality and tonal gradations as well as provide expedited performance throughout all aspects of the camera.

This includes a continuous shooting rate of 10 fps in Speed Priority mode, shutter release lag of 0.008 sec., and XAVC S movie recording at 50 Mbps.

SPECS:

  • Retractable Tru-Finder EVF
  • ZEISS T coated eyepiece.
  • World’s fastest (0.05 sec.) hybrid AF system (contrast + phase)
  • AF Detection
  • Utilizes 315 Auto Focus points
  • World’s fastest continuous shooting speed at 24fps3 w/ autofocus
  • 20.1 megapixel
  • 1″ Exmor RS stacked back illuminated CMOS sensor w/ DRAM
  • 4K Video
  • Super Slow Motion Video Up to 960 fps
  • 3.6x optical zoom

Check Sony Rx100 III – VA price at Amazon


Fujifilm Camera

Fuji X-T20

The X-T20 offers a full Manual Mode for creative control and a handy Auto Mode that makes it simple to capture a wide range of scenes. These two modes combine with the tilting LCD monitor and touch screen operation for intuitive shooting.

The compact and lightweight Fujifilm x-t20 comes with an updated sensor and Processor, a reworked AF algorithm, and a tilting touchscreen LCD monitor. The x-t20 also has enhanced video functionality and is capable of capturing 4K movies with Fujifilm’s popular film simulation modes.

SPECS:

  • 24.3MP X Trans CMOS III APS C sensor
  • No low pass filter and X Processor Pro
  • 5.0Fps Live view shooting
  • Start up time of 0.4sec
  • Shutter time lag of 0.050sec
  • 3.0 inches tilting Touchscreen
  • 4K video
  • Af c custom settings for moving subjects
  • Advanced SR AUTO mode
  • Wireless transmitter:IEEE 802.11b / g / n (standard wireless protocol)

Check Fuji X-T20 price on Amazon


Nikon D7500 - Best Camera for Safari

Nikon D7500

Born from a desire for flagship performance and innovation in a more compact and streamlined connected camera, the D7500 delivers the game-changing resolution, ISO range, image processing and energy efficiency of the award-winning D500 in an enthusiast-level DSLR.

Simply put, the D7500 is built to outperform any camera in its class with top-tier image quality, blazing speed, flawless autofocus, 4K Ultra HD video and pro-grade creative tools—all in a comfortable, rugged design. This is a camera for the new generation of creators.

SPECS:

  • Class leading image quality
  • Large 3.2” 922K dot
  • Tilting LCD screen with touch functionality
  • 51 point AF system
  • 15 cross type sensors
  • Group area AF paired with up to 8 fps continuous shooting capability
  • 4K Ultra HD
  • 1080p Full HD video with stereo sound
  • Power aperture control
  • Auto ISO
  • 4K UHD Time Lapse
  • Built in Wi Fi and Bluetooth for easy connectivity through the Nikon SnapBridge App

Check Nikon D7500 price on Amazon


Panasonic Lumix LX10 Camera

Panasonic Lumix LX10

Inside the Panasonic LUMIX 4K Digital Camera DMC-LX10K beats the heart of a photographic enthusiast. And with a 1-inch, 20.1-megapixel 4K sensor, LEICA lens and more, you’ll feel it in every image.

Photo creativity is based on light, and it all begins with the lens. With the LUMIX DMC-LX10K, a crystal-clear F1.4-2.8 24-72mm LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMILUX lens provides a decisive edge even in low light and adds a beautiful bokeh effect.

The large 3-inch (approx. 1040K-dot) touch-screen monitor tilts upward to capture selfies and make ground-level photography easy. When flipped up 180 degrees, selfie settings are automatically set.

SPECS:

  • 20.1-megapixel MOS sensor
  • 3X zoom
  • Leica DC Vario-Summilux lens (24-72mm)
  • POWER O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer)
  • Rear touch-enabled 3-inch LCD display (1040K dots) tilts upward 180 degree for easy selfie photos
  • 4K QFHD video recording (3840 x 2160)
  • LUMIX 4K PHOTO and 4K Post Focus 
  • Len’s Mounted Control Ring
  • USB Charging
  • WI-FI Connectivity

Check Panasonic Lumix LX10 price on Amazon


Zebra in Africa - Best Camera for Safari

Not finding what you are looking for? Check out our favorite places to go shopping for travel gear.

  • Shop Columbia – The industry leader in outdoor apparel and products; You can find anything from great jackets, gloves, hats, shirts and travel pants.
  • Shop REI – They offer some of the best outdoor gear around. We love REI since they have a year Love it or hate it no questions guarantee.
  • Shop Moosejaw – Has a huge selection of outdoor gear at killer prices.

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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA



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