What are the best cameras for safari? It’s likely one of the first questions every traveler coming to Africa asks after booking a safari. Having a decent camera for safari is on the top of our recommendation list. While it’s not a necessity, and we’re big believers in making sure to put the camera down and actually save some photos in your memory, there is a thrill in grabbing that perfect safari photo.
It’s also a sure way to share your wildlife experiences with friends and family back at home. There are several aspects to consider when looking for the best safari camera possible. This post is not meant for professional photographers. If you’re likely at that level, you have your own idea of what the perfect safari camera is for you.
Best Camera For Safari
|Canon 90D||• DSLR|
• 34 MP
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|Lumix DMC FZ1000|
• Bridge Camera
• 20.1 MP
• 25-400 Zoom
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|Fujifilm X-T3||•APS-C Mirrorless|
• 26.1 MP
• Exceptional Color
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|Sony Rx100 III – VII||• Mirrorless Point and Shoot|
• 20.1 MP
• 24-70mm Zoom
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|Sony A7 III||• Full Frame Mirrorless|
• 24.2 MP
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|Fuji X-T30||• APS-C Mirrorless|
• 26.1MP MP
• Advanced Auto
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|Panasonic Lumix LX10 II||• Mirrorless Point and Shoot|
• 20.1 MP
• 24-70mm Zoom
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|Sony Alpha a6000||• APS-C Mirrorless|
• Interchangeable Lenses
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|Canon 1dx MkIII||• DSLR Full Frame|
• 20.1 MP & 20 FPS
•RAW 5.5K (60) Video
•Best In Class Camera
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|Nikon D7500||• DSLR|
• 20.1 MP
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1.) Canon 90D
The new Canon 90D is my latest safari camera. I spent some time deliberating what camera would be best for me, and I couldn’t be happier. The camera has many strong suits that make it exceptional for a safari camera. It’s weatherproof, meaning those dusty roads and African thunderstorms won’t take your camera by surprise.
It has a cropped sensor that still shoots a whopping 34MP image with a high dynamic range. The cropped sensor gives a greater focal length, combined with the high processing power of the latest Canon cameras, which means it shoots rock star photos. Also, as an EF mount Canon, it comes with a massive selection of lenses to put on the camera. With a vast selection of quality and price points.
The camera has a WiFi connection so users can shoot from their phones. A sweet flip screen great for low-angle ground shots and shooting video. The touchscreen LCD makes live 4K video focusing and tracking a breeze. It’s far superior, in my opinion, to the 7D MkII that is now sex years old and needs an update! So, it’s arguably one of the best cameras for safari on the market and particularly well-loved by birders!
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2.) Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ1000
This is a bridge camera. It means that it fills the gap between the old-school point-and-shoot cameras and the DSLR. A bridge camera has a fixed lens with optical and digital zoom. It offers the simplicity of point and shoots with superior image quality. For the price point, it’s a hard camera to compete with!
The advantages of this camera include a larger sensor than most bridge cameras, and it shoots 4k video. While the lens is not interchangeable, it has a wide range from 25mm to 400mm. The sensor is larger than most of its competitors at almost 1″, which means it is one of the best in a bridge camera. The camera body is a nice build and will feel natural in your hands.
If you’re looking for a straightforward camera that will be easy to use as a novice photographer, this camera is a great pick. The camera is an exceptional pick for safari-goers who want high-quality images without extensive knowledge of photography or the need for individual lenses. While the camera is now an older version, the current price point offers a ton of value if you want the latest and greatest try-out, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III, for a top-of-the-line bridge camera.
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3.) Fujifilm X-T3
This beautiful and reasonably priced camera is both weather-resistant and mirrorless. It is easily the best ASP-C camera on the market and gives a serious run at many of the full-frame cameras. After all, is a full-frame camera really a necessity? In my opinion, not at all!
The Fuji XT3 will literally check everything down your list of expectations for your ideal camera for any photography enthusiast. This state-of-the-art mirrorless camera has a highly sophisticated autofocus function due to its cutting-edge CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor. Almost unheard of by its competitors, the XT3 can shoot up to 30 frames per second with its electrotonic shutter and 11fps with the mechanical.
For those wanting to shoot video, this Fuji camera also shoots in 4K 200mbps. Oh, and it does 120 fps video at 1080p. This thing is a beast. There is little to complain about when looking at the XT3. It does suffer from lackluster battery life. Also, for such high-end video performance, it lacks image stabilization. However, the latest model Fuji X-T4 does contain image stabilization helpful with video and stabilizing long lenses.
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4.) Sony Rx100 III – VII
There are several versions of this camera so the final choice depends on your price point. The only model I don’t fully recommend is the latest, the RX100 VII as the price point ($1,200) puts it in competition with interchangeable cameras.
We have the RX100 V, one of the fastest fps in the world for still images (24 images a second). It contains a one-inch sensor and shoots 4k video. The built-in lens is also plenty fast enough opening to a 1.8F stop, and it has image stabilization for video. You can also gain full manual control to shoot RAW images even with the RX100 base model that retails for under $400. This produces wonderful images, and when it comes to compressed images on a blog or Instagram, you’ll hardly notice the difference between them and a full-frame camera.
The negatives are the camera’s size makes it uncomfortable for shooting all day, okay at landscapes, it has a small viewfinder and fixed lens. You don’t need a ton of accessories, just a memory card with a lightweight tripod, and you’re done. It’s phenomenal, and the amount of camera that Sony packed into such a small product is amazing. We’ve now owned about a dozen cameras all across the board, and one of my favorite cameras has been this one.
To stress the big negatives again with this camera is the viewfinder, small body, and battery. I find the viewfinder really difficult to use in hard lighting conditions, tough to operate for a full day, and the lack of a spare battery annoying. It’s also doesn’t have the best zoom at 70mm; I like a longer lens more when taking photos on safari.
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5.) Sony A7 III
When it comes to value the Sony A7 III is the best safari camera you can buy at the moment. While, it sits comfortably in the prosumer price point, around $2,000 for the camera body.
It has a full-frame sensor, excellent high ISO quality, an impressive 24.2 megapixels, and full-screen auto-focusing. It is no wonder this is one of the best professional cameras you can get.
If you want to take videos, the A7 III shoots in 4k full-frame format. However, 4K results in a cropped sensor, and the rear LCD still lacks a touch-to-focus feature like the video-friendly Canon models.
The drawback, of course, is the price. The top of a line camera such as this is well out of range for an entry-level wildlife photographer. Other than the price itself, the other complaint would be about the battery life. Other than these two cons, this camera is as the top of the line as you can get for a mirrorless, full-frame camera.
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6.) Fuji X-T30
This is Tasha’s camera, and she has loved it after upgrading from her clunky DSLR. The camera is super stylish and looks great. If you’re looking for a camera that matches your chic safari clothes, this is the one. It has a retro feel with dials, a pop-up flash, and a metal body.
Fuji’s sensor has some of the best jpegs out of the camera I have seen. It has an excellent color representation, and photos require little editing, which is perfect for those who want a great overall camera. In fact, I might say it’s the perfect travel blogging camera where the image is important, but so is time.
With so much power packed into the small X-T30, it’s no wonder that one of the camera’s most significant issues is battery life. Many people only take around 450 photos before the camera calls it quits. Other than this issue – which can be solved by carrying around extra batteries – the X-T30 is an all-inclusive camera, perfect for blogging. We have the first version of this camera, the XT-10. It was tremendous and captured a lot of our Africa content.
The only drawback on the camera for safari is the fact is the limited lens offering and small build that is not weatherproof. That being said, Fujifilm has some excellent lenses with reliable build quality. At just under $700 for the full kit, you can not go wrong with this as an entry-level camera for blogging.
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7.) Panasonic Lumix LX10 II
The Lumix LX 100 II is a compact point-and-shoot camera that still can satisfy even the most experienced photographer’s expectations. The LX 100 II is so versatile that its interface is simple enough for novice photographers while still providing extremely sophisticated manual settings that allow experts to have limitless creative control. Its lens has an aperture equivalent of 1.7-2.8, making it perfect for macro photography and shooting in low light. On top of everything else, the LX 100 II also shoots in 4K ultra-high definition.
For so many advanced functions, one would think the LX100 II would also include a tilting touchscreen which is fairly common with most newer cameras on the market today. If dependent on the EVF (electronic viewfinder), be prepared for the battery to be drained severely. You can conserve battery life, however, by using the optical viewfinder. Even though weighing only 393g, the Lumix LX100 II can hold its own against the most hi-tech of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, making this camera one of the best points and shoots you can buy today.
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8.) Sony Alpha a6000
For coming in just over $500, this is one of the best cameras. It has quick autofocus with both stills and video. It has a great face detection program that is effective at finding and tracking. Sony is quickly emerging as a force to be reckoned with in the photography world, with its class-leading A7III. The a6000 offers an impressive 24.3 MP sensor and a BIONZ X image processor.
It should be no surprise that they have also brought some new cameras to the consumer market. The a600 offers interchangeable lenses that are helpful when shooting in various safari environments. Its super compact size also makes it a rockstar to hold in your hand. B&H Photo offers an excellent camera kit with 16-50mm and 55-210mm lenses that should be perfect for your first safari camera and photography in general.
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9.) Canon 1dx MkIII
The Canon 1D X MkIII is the flagship DSLR of Canon, and it’s a mighty camera. To put it simply, the camera is the toughest, fastest, most versatile, and greatest image quality camera ever made. The full-frame camera is a monster capable of shooting RAW images at 20 fps a second. If you want to know what the guys from National Geographic are carrying these days, it’s the Canon 1D X MkIII.
The rear LCD is super bright so that you can view your photos in the hot Africa sun. Plus, the screen features a wonderful touch screen for adjusting settings, adjusting the focus on video, and swiping through your pictures. Speaking of the video, the 1D X Mkii can shoot 5.5k Raw at 60fps and 1080 at 120fps. That way, you can catch high-definition images in super-smooth slow motion.
There is one negative to Canon’s flagship camera: the high price tag at over $6,000 for the camera body. So, when you add in the cost of lenses, you’re looking at a hefty investment. However, you get one heck of a safari camera prepared to handle the bush and produce professional quality images for the price.
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10.) Nikon D7500
The Nikon DX series is known for its pristine image quality. The D7500 continues the line of great cameras, bringing them a step forward with its highly responsive autofocus feature, shooting at high speed of 8 frames a second, and responsive touchscreen. Unlike the other D7000 models, the 7500 finally offers a tilting screen.
Like many other Nikons, this model is compatible with a slew of accessories and lenses. The D7500 also shoots video in 4K ultra-high definition, but unfortunately only offers stabilization up to 1080p. The only cons about this Nikon model are that it only has one SD card slot and its live view autofocus is fairly slow. The Nikon D7500 surpasses its competition with its outstanding performance and high-definition photos with an increasingly mirrorless market. An excellent mid-level camera for a safari that competes well with the Canon 90D above.
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Best Safari Camera Lenses
Fuji XF 55-200
This lens is a tremendous value. Most long lenses are quite expensive and bulky, but for a reasonable price, Fuji delivers a sharp long lens that is fairly compact. As a plus, the stabilization in the lens is truly impressive.
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Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8
Sony had to compete with Canon’s classic 70-200mm lens that has long been loved by photographers. With this lens, they effectively delivered a razor-sharp lens with image stabilization and quick autofocus.
Shop for Sony 70-200 F2.8
Tamron 150 – 600 G2
The perfect zoom lens will make all of the difference when it comes to wildlife and safari. An excellent focal length for a safari lens should come in at 200mm and up. That’s why Tamron’s 150-600 is a slam dunk. For the price, it’s tough to beat this safari lens.
It has a fantastic feel in your hands and with stable build quality – albeit a bit heavy. The lens is sharp throughout and only sees a slight softening at 600mm, but it’s 600mm, so who cares. You can snap a photo of a lion’s eye at that focal length.
A similar focal length lens from Canon or Nikon will cost several times more, some even $15,000. The value of this lens is unreal, and they produce it for both Canon and Nikon shooters.
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Canon 70 – 200mm
This is the second most popular lens Canon has ever made. The Canon EF 70-200mm is an amazing telephoto zoom that is loved for its image. There is a wide range of models, but I would recommend looking for more recent additions with image stabilization. Just about every working professional has carried this lens at some point or still packs it in their bag.
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Safari Camera Gear Accessories
There are a number of camera accessories that we recommend you carry for your safari. None of these things are must-have, but they’ll help you produce better results.
This is one of the best tools you can pack in your bag. A travel tripod is pretty essential for getting a stable shot with a long lens and can allow you to capture compelling images with long exposures.
If you’re interested in landscape photography, I can’t recommend a tripod enough. Some of our favorite safari photos wouldn’t have been possible without this piece of safari camera gear. Our favorite travel tripod is the Peak Design carbon tripod, which is super lightweight yet stable.
Peak Design Tripod
If you’re making the investment into some nice safari camera gear I’d really suggest picking up a lens filter set. At the very least you should place a UV filter on your lens. A UV filter is a clear piece of glass designed to protect your lens, this will ensure that dust doesn’t cause a permanent scratch on your lens.
You can replace a filter much easier than a lens. This is particularly important for the zoom lens since the magnification will make lens imperfections more noticeable. To get the right size look at the thread size on your camera lens. If you’re having a tough time try reaching out to support or shoot Cameron an email.
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Camera Bag – Lowepro Whistler BP 450 AW
This is the latest addition to our collection of backpacks, and I couldn’t be more stoked on the bag. The camera bag is purpose-built for those who shoot photos and video in the harsh elements, specifically winter conditions such as climb or ski. Since it is designed for tough winter elements, the build quality and design are awe-inspiring.
I love that the bag opens from the backside that allows you to comfortably throw the bag on the ground and reach for gear without fear of the bag tipping or getting gear wet. This bag is the perfect kit addition for any outdoor enthusiast looking to carry some gear high into rough conditions.
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Drones in Africa
If you’ve seen much of our blog or followed us for a while, you’ll know we made a series of videos with a drone throughout Africa. I’ve flown in every country in Africa, including wild animals. There are a couple of things to take note of! First, you should know that drones in National Parks are a big no-no.
With that being said, I have flown a handful of times with the permission of a park ranger in our presence. Suppose you have plans to fly on your safari, be sure to ask your guide or lodge manager first. Private reserves are more lenient (except Selous) than the National Park Systems. Also, keep in mind that the drone stresses a lot of animals out, particularly elephants.
DJI Mavic Air
This compact drone from DJI is by far the most compact. When we saw the release, we got super excited and now carry it with us on our travels. It fits in the palm of your hand and takes up minimal space. The drone is capable of flying at speeds up to 43mph, and its films in 4K. I also love the wide range of flight modes that the camera offers, such as programmed flight paths and follow features. It’s amazing how fast DJI has progressed the drone market. You can not beat the size and convenience of this drone!
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My Safari Camera Setup
This the camera setup that I now carry on safari. The photo above was in Mana Pools National Park, one of our favorites!
- Canon 90D: For wildlife shots. I love the durability, video, and cropped APS-C sensor.
- Fuji X-T3: Amazing for image quality and landscapes. Fujifilm cameras have the best color rendition on the market.
- Canon 24 -105 L Lens: This is possibly the greatest lens ever made and beloved by photographers for its versatility.
- Tamron 150 – 600 G2: Amazing Long Lens
- Canon 16 – 35mm: Fantastic Wide Angle
- Mavic Air: We’ve had the Mavic Pro and Phantom, but the size of the Mavic Air is amazing!
- Tripod: Every serious photographer carries a tripod for a stable shot and long exposures.
- Joby: I love this bendable and lightweight tripod.
- GoPro: Not really any use on a traditional safari, but always fun on the beaches of Zanzibar!
Basics Of A Safari Camera
Several criteria make a great camera for a safari. A lot also depends on the camera’s intended use. Not everyone is in it for the photos, and not everyone wants the same kind of photos. There is no clear-cut answer here for the best camera for safari, but there is the best camera for a specific person.
This one is an obvious criterion. Not everyone has the budget to spend thousands of dollars on a camera, nor should they. There is no point in spending lots of money on a camera to collect dust or confound the user. There is also that best bang for buck aspect. While a high-end professional camera goes for lots of money, price escalation makes it pointless for anyone but a professional. Even some professionals see the additional cost as a waste!
FPS (Frames per second)
This is an essential aspect for many. It refers to how quickly a camera can shoot a burst of photos. With fast-moving subjects on safari, you’ll want to capture that perfect moment. This may require a burst and a fast fps. This refers to how many photos the camera can take in the period of one second. This is not the most important aspect is something to consider when comparing similar cameras.
The sensor refers to the light-sensitive chip in every digital camera that interprets how light is perceived to create a digital image. Sensors come in a variety of shapes and sizes and have the most direct impact on image quality. When it comes to wildlife photography every inch counts. This is why I’ve chosen to pick only cropped sensors that will give an added boost to any lens.
All lenses are measured mathematically for a full-frame sensor – the same size as a 35mm film camera. So, when cameras employ a smaller sensor this results in a cropped effect on lens focal length. This means 100mm on a Canon 90D is really the focal length of a 160mm lens.
The lens is the most important aspect when shooting wildlife photography. You can have the best camera money can buy, but if you have a wide-angle lens you aren’t going to get those stellar close-up wildlife shots. Many cameras opt for interchangeable lenses which allow for a wide range of focal lengths to get wide landscape shots and tight close-ups. When shooting wildlife the far-reaching lens, or zoom is important.
Lens distance is referred to as focal length. The focal length is measured in millimeters with a short focal length (<5omm) creating a wide-angle image and a long focal length (135mm<) creating a tight/zoomed image.
The two images above were taken from the same distance.
The African bush can be brutal on just about everything. Safari lodges and vehicles constantly fight the elements of dust, dirt, humidity, heat, wind, rain, and even wild animals. Although it’s unlikely your camera will have to survive an elephant, the environment should be considered.
Professional cameras are built to be weatherproof, meaning they can handle the dust, dirt, and rain directly on the camera. I’ve personally carried my Canon camera through rainstorms without fear of it being ruined. Several cameras are purpose-built to hold up to the elements.
How does the camera feel in your hands? Are you going to drop it? Is it heavy? Or does it feel like an extension of your arms and eyes? A camera with a solid grip is a lifesaver when shooting photos while walking in the bush, from a moving boat, or the game viewer.
Where to Buy Your Camera for Safari?
We shop for almost all of our photography needs on B&H Photo. They’re easily the best camera shop in America and have been working with professional film, video, and photography needs for decades.
They’re responsible for handling the equipment of major feature films, Pulitzer prize photographers, and everyday consumers like ourselves. Their support is tremendous and knowledgeable. On top of all that, they offer free two shipping, so forget about ordering camera gear on Amazon!
Plan Your Trip to Africa
- Travel Insurance: We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen while traveling so it’s best to be prepared. World Nomads provides good short term coverage.
- Travel Waterbottle: When we’re uncertain about the water supply we use our Grayl Purifier. It’s come in exceptionally handy around Africa.
- Camera Gear: Chances are you’ll want a camera for your trip to Africa. We love the Sony RX100V for a pocket-size camera and the Fujifilm XT-3 for a professional camera. Check out our favorite cameras for Africa.
- Safari Clothes: Lightweight, beige, and moisture-wicking clothing are great for traveling Africa. See our favorite safari clothing here.
- Safari Hat: A good hat is both stylish and functional.
- Safari Bag: A durable bag is ideal for traveling around Africa.
- Safari Pants: We recommend neutral-colored pants as they’re great at hiding dirt and can match most shirt colors.
- Safari Shirt: Shirts like these are lightweight and keep the bugs away!
- Boots: While you don’t need to wear sturdy shoes everyday, at least one pair of safari boots will make your trip nicer!
- Travel Adapter: You’ll need a special travel adapter for traveling Africa. Get one before you get there so you don’t pay a premium on the ground.