The best cameras for car photography are designed for people to boost their business. While others shoot their favorite sports cars as a hobby. These 5 cameras we review below have advanced features so no matter which car is your subject for the day, you can capture all the small details you see.
However, car photography presents a unique set of challenges, and not every camera is suitable for the job. You need faster shutter speed, an AF system that can match a car’s breakneck speeds, a super-sensitive sensor, and more importantly, compatibility with a wide-angle zoom lens.
To maximize your potential with car photography, we’ve rounded up our list of the best cameras for car photography. Or jump to our #1 pick at B&H Photo here.
Table of Contents
- What Should You Look for in the Best Cameras for Car Photography?
- Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Cameras for Car Photography
- #1: Sony a6400 Mirrorless Camera (Best Value with Lens)
- #2: Canon EOS Mirrorles Camera with 24-105mm Lens (Best All-Purpose)
- #3: Nikon Z6 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Best Advanced Optics)
- #4: Sony a7 IV Mirrorless Camera (Best Video Recording)
- #5: Sony a7R IVA Mirrorless Camera (Best Premium Product)
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Verdict: Your Best Cameras for Car Photography
What Should You Look for in the Best Cameras for Car Photography?
It can be hard for a new hobbyist to separate the must-have features from the gimmicks, especially if you’re trying to find a budget-friendly solution. Like most consumer electronics, cameras are constantly evolving, with new features to look for in the latest models. To make the journey easier for you, we evaluated a number of factors when creating our list of the best cameras for car photography.
For this list, we only evaluated the most essential features that every camera should have. In other words, if a camera doesn’t have these features, you should most definitely start your search elsewhere.
In this section, we’ll analyze important attributes that are a must-have for all cameras.
Feature #1: High Resolution
A high-resolution camera lets you zoom right into the tiniest of details without ruining image quality. If your primary objective is to photograph static cars, look for a high-resolution camera. As a rule, the higher the resolution, the sharper, more defined, and detailed are the results. Higher resolutions mean that there are more pixels per inch (PPI), which can create a high-quality, crisp image.
Feature #2: Higher Frame Rates (moving cars)
If you’re capturing a moving car then you’ll need a camera with a responsive frame rate that can support this type of photography. A high frame rate is needed to capture split-second moments when a car is traveling at its top speeds. It is worth noting that fast frame rates often require you to lower the resolution – there isn’t much you can do to get around this hardware limitation.
Feature #3: Sensitive Autofocus
Autofocus is a feature where the camera automatically focuses on the subject. You could, of course, use manual focus to get the job done, but there are inherent limitations with this method. For example, if you want to photograph a car while it’s in constant motion, you’ll need to find a way to quickly focus the camera. This would be difficult to do while the car is moving at its top speeds and you’re using various techniques such as panning. The only solution is to use a camera with highly sensitive line sensors for auto-focusing a fast-moving target.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Cameras for Car Photography
Not all cameras have the same qualities – and a high price doesn’t always guarantee good results. There are so many options in the market that it can be hard to choose the right one. This is why we’ve come up with a list of the best cameras for car photography after conducting our own tests and comparing the products.
To make this list possible, we also conducted independent research on countless internet forums such as Reddit, collected feedback from customers on Amazon, and reviewed in-depth blog posts, including articles on the “Best Cameras for Car Photography” to see if the cameras on our list performed as they are advertised. We looked at the manufacturer’s advertised specs with a bit of skepticism and preferred to trust the word of accomplished reviewers instead.
With that out of the way, let’s go down our list of the best cameras for car photography.
#1: Sony a6400 Mirrorless Camera (Best Value with Lens)
If you’re looking for a reliable camera for your car photography, then Sony’s a6400 is among the first products to come to mind. It is capable of 4K movie recording at a stable 24/30 fps that captures sharp details. The a6400 is a successor to the highly successful a6300 and shares many features with the pricier a6500. More importantly, it features some of the most useful attributes, namely: excellent resolution, tracking autofocus, and a super-fast AF system.
The a6400 deserves special mention because it allows for extremely sharp images in a variety of situations and lighting conditions. Once you equip this camera, you will have the ability to take photos of cars that are racing at breakneck speeds. It’s also excellent for static car photography.
And when you add a wide-angle zoom lens into the mix, this camera is just about unstoppable. We’ve disclosed two key reasons why the a6400 made it to the top of our list.
Reason #1 to choose this product: Powerful Autofocus System
We found the a6400’s autofocus system to be its most powerful attribute. It is widely known for the hybrid autofocus system with a total of 425 focus points and 425 phase-detection points, which easily beats the a6500’s 169 AF points. It also holds up well to Sony’s flagship full-frame cameras by covering a respectable 84% of the image area compared to the sizable Alpha A9’s 93%.
Sony makes a bold claim that the a6400 is capable of a 0.02-second focus acquisition, and this can be easily verifiable. The autofocus is extremely fast and reacts right away when you half-press the shutter button, and correctly identifies its subjects.
Reason #2 to choose this product: Real Time Eye AF
The real reason why the a6400 is such a versatile camera is the use of Sony’s Real-time AF and tracking AF features. They work by tracking the subject’s body using artificial intelligence. This feature is particularly useful in car photography when moving to a different area of the frame. With Real-time Eye AF, all you have to do is follow the subject with the camera, ensuring the photo is framed to your preferences rather than spending all your time refocusing.
#2: Canon EOS Mirrorles Camera with 24-105mm Lens (Best All-Purpose)
The Canon EOS is a powerful full-frame camera that has the potential to go above and beyond with its wide-angle lens. Covering short telephoto to wide-angle focal lengths. It is one of the smallest full-frame models to date and is priced considerably lower than digital full-frames of comparable value. With that said, Canon has some work to do when it comes to their RP system – we say this without taking anything away from its abilities.
The RP holds its own in the market and is particularly appealing if you’re photographing moving or static cars. It’s also a highly appealing option if you don’t want to pay the big bucks on buying an expensive wide-angle lens. The RP includes a powerful customizable button that you can use to change the active autofocus area.
We’re big fans of this feature because it lets us toggle through various focus area settings with the press of a single button. With that said, the autofocus does appear to be a little lacking. The camera is a little slow to lock on and requires about 0.2 seconds to do so with a burst rate of an okay-ish 5ps using locked focus and 3jps when tracking moving objects. This isn’t enough for most fast-moving cars. You can wrestle with it to get better results but this will require a bit of practice for an hour or two.
All in all, the Canon EOS RP does what it sets out to do best: being a highly successful full-frame upgrade that doesn’t break the bank. It comes with 4K video in a form that is smaller, lighter, and cheaper than nearly all of its rivals. The RP utilizes a 26MP image sensor that makes it one of the best cameras for car photography – as long as they’re stationary.
#3: Nikon Z6 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Best Advanced Optics)
The Nikon Z6 is a powerful camera that has several useful specs and is highly effective when it comes to car photography. In many ways, the Z6 is very similar to its pricier counterpart, the Z7. The main differences are the sensor and the sharp decrease in resolution. The Z6 also has fewer phase-detection autofocus points because of the lower-res sensor.
The most relevant feature is the high-resolution full-frame sensor that lets you capture all of your car’s details with finesse. However, it comes with a slower frame rate of 5.5 fps, which means that it would struggle to capture details in a moving car. With that said, if you are only focusing on photographing static cars, this will be a non-issue for you.
Another feature worth talking about is the highly versatile lens lineup of the Z-series of cameras. Nikon designed their Z-series cameras to mount with the closest flange distance and the largest inner diameter of any full-frame cameras available. This allows lenses from different companies to effortlessly mount on the Z6.
#4: Sony a7 IV Mirrorless Camera (Best Video Recording)
If you’re not particularly fond of car photography and prefer to make videos, then the Sony a7 IV is a great alternative. This is a camera that serves as a good all-rounder with a high resolution and 10 fps shooting, which isn’t lightning-fast, but not too shabby either considering its most immediate competition.
It comes with a powerful new 33-megapixel sensor which allows you to keep shooting uncompressed RAW or JPG. This makes for faster shooting that’s easier to use. It goes without saying that there are other high-resolution sensors, but you would be hard-pressed to find a better all-around hybrid photo and video camera.
The sensor’s processor is similar to Sony’s video-centric A7S III, which is notable for its dynamic range. The a7 IV offers 15 stops of dynamic range with a wide range of post-processing possibilities. The processor also makes this camera a bit faster than prior models. Sony’s new autofocus system takes the cake here with precision subject tracking for superior results. All you have to do is put the autofocus on the subject and the a7 will do the rest.
If you’re in the market for the absolute best that money can buy, this is it. The a7R IVA is a robust mirrorless camera with a 5.5 stop effective 5-axis and stabilization. It also happens to be relatively affordable for a flagship product. You get a whopping 61 megapixels and a modest 10 fps. It is perfect for creating video, with several vlogging friendly specs.
With this camera, you will get extremely detailed results, with crisp details. You won’t have to compromise on other specs thanks to the excellent AF and image stabilization. The ultra high resolution gives you the added advantage of being able to crop based on your preferences, which always comes in handy. The frame rate is also fast at 10fps, making it perfectly suited to shooting fast-moving cars.
It’s also an excellent choice if you want to show off your car’s beauty. Whether you’re a fan of photographic static cars or moving cameras, then the a7R can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. The only negative aspect of the a7R IVA is that it is too heavy to be mounted inside or outside the car to create a POV-style video. But that’s the kind of tradeoff you’ll have to accept in exchange for sheer power.
Frequently Asked Questions
It goes without saying that the world of car photography isn’t without industry lingo that would sound like jargon to the outsider or beginners. The terms and phrases can be bizarre and confusing at times. If you’re just starting out, we recommend working on key concepts and terms to help you make more informed decisions before shelling out over $1,000 on a camera for car photography.
What is an action camera?
An action camera is designed for capturing shots and video in motion. It is mostly used to document fast-moving subjects such as wildlife, birds, sports activities, and, of course, cars in motion. Most action cameras are small and lightweight so you can bring them with you on various excursions without getting bogged down. In addition, most action cameras feature a wider lens so that you can capture more information with your images.
What is image stabilization for moving cars?
As the photographer is usually in motion themselves when filming a moving subject, the cameras need to be shake-proof. Best cameras for car photographers tend to adopt a combination of technologies including Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) to minimize blurring and maintain a decent quality of the image while in motion. T
Verdict: Your Best Cameras for Car Photography
Now that you’ve reached the end of our review, you’ve learned about the top five cameras for car photography. But we know some of you may still have lingering doubts about certain features and cameras. If so, keep reading to get the long and short of which camera is most suited to your photography aspirations.
If you want the absolute best camera for car photography with cutting-edge specs, go with the Sony a6400 Mirrorless Camera.
It has a powerful APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor and boasts Hybrid autofocus with 425 phase-detection points that vastly outperform other cameras in the market for under $1000. If you need one for static or moving car photography, then the Sony a6400 is an excellent chose.
If you’re looking for high resolution images and video shooting, get the Canon EOS RP Mirrorless Camera.
It features high communication speed and 26.2 megapixels that give you complete freedom to capture cars when they’re in motion.
And if you want a high-performing camera for car photography, go with the Nikon Z6 Mirrorless Camera.
While it isn’t really a budget camera, the price point is perfect for car photographers who are just starting out. It is also great for experienced photographers and produces excellent images in every situation.
So there you have it, the end of our list of the best cameras for car photography. If you didn’t like some of the products above, please let us know in your thoughts in the comments section below.
We hope our review contained helpful information to reach your car photography goals.