6 Best Canon Cameras For Wildlife (…and 6 to avoid)

Shooting wildlife can be thrilling and extremely rewarding. Capturing an animal in nature in the perfect shot is something you might remember for the rest of your life. But you need the right gear if you want to make that happen.

My top pick for the best canon camera for wildlife photography is the Canon R5. It has all the features you need to get the most out of your wildlife shots.

Keep reading for my full breakdown of this camera and five others that might be right for you.

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Top Pick

1. Canon EOS R5

The R5 has everything you need to get amazing wildlife shots in almost any situation.

You might expect to see the R3 here at the top, but even though it has some amazing features, I think the R5 is going to be the right choice for most of you that are shooting wildlife.

The R5 costs about $2000 less than the R3 and you’re still going to get a lot of features that are perfect for shooting wildlife. Plus you’re gaining 20 megapixels in resolution which allows you to crop in more on the animal for the perfect composition.

So let’s get to why I chose the R5 as the top pick. First let’s take a look at the specs…

Canon EOS R5 Tech Specifications

  • Lens Mount: Canon RF
  • Megapixels: 45
  • Sensor Size: Full-Frame Dual Pixel CMOS
  • ISO Range: 100-51,200 (expandable to 102,400)
  • AF Points: Dual Pixel CMOS AF II covering Approx. 100% Area with 1,053 point AF Area (w/ Subject tracking of People and Animals)
  • Continuous shooting speed: 12 fps with Mechanical Shutter (up to 20 fps Electronic (Silent) Shutter)
  • Stabilization: 5 axis in body image stabilization (IBIS)
  • Viewfinder: EVF, 5.76m dots, 120fps refresh rate, 0.7x magnification
  • LCD: Fully Articulated 3.2-inch touch screen, 2.1m dots
  • Max video resolution: 8192 x 4320 @ 30p / 4096 x 2160 @ 120p
  • Memory Card: 1x SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II and 1x CFexpress
  • Dimensions: (W x H x D): 138 x 97.5 x 88.0mm (5.45 x 3.84 x 3.46 in.)
  • Weight: 738g

One of the most important features to look at for a camera to shoot wildlife is the dynamic range and high ISO performance. You’ll often find yourself shooting animals in low light and needing fast shutter speeds if they are moving.

When it comes to low light performance, the R5 is right up there with the more expensive R3. Here’s a chart from Photons to Photos that shows how they compare:

In terms of fast shooting, you’re getting 12 fps with the mechanical shutter and up to 20 fps with the electronic. In my experience, anything 12 or higher is plenty for shooting even the fastest moving animals and 20 fps is incredible.

But the important feature here isn’t ONLY the frame per second, it’s that you can get that fast shutter speed while using the full features of the R5 autofocus system, which up there among the industry leaders.

Note: The actual frames per second can vary based on the lens you’re using (especially when adapting older DSLR lenses) as well as the speed of the cards you’re using. For fastest rates and minimal buffer, use a fast CFexpress card and set it to write only to that card.

The R5 autofocus system has Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF II system with 1053 available AF zones. The subject tracking works exceptionally well.

Even when shooting animals, the autofocus system does a great job tracking the eyes. In many cases getting the eyes in sharp focus can mean the difference between a keeper and a photo you’ll have to discard.

This is a major reason why I recommend mirrorless cameras for any kind of action shooting. The average person will get better results from a mid-range mirrorless camera than even a high end DSLR when it comes to shooting in tricky focusing situations like wildlife.

Ok, let’s talk a little about the downsides because no camera is perfect.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) does have a blackout for a fraction of a second when shooting. For some, this can make it tricky to follow fast moving animals. There is a “High Speed Display” mode that is available when shooting in High Speed (H) mode, but this replaces the blackout with the shot you just took so you’re still not getting a live feed from the sensor.

This is one place where the stacked sensor of the R3 does outperform the R5. It’s up to you whether it’s worth giving up 20 megapixels to get rid of the EVF blackout.

If you’re not locked into the Canon system then you can get both (and a lot more) in the Nikon Z8 for a similar price.


2. Canon EOS R6 Mark II

Although the R6 Mk II has a lower megapixel count than the top pick above, it still shoots fast, has great autofocus, and is over $1000 less.

The Canon R6 Mark II made the second spot on my list because it gives you many of the important features you need at a price point that is far lower than the R5.

Essentially, what you are getting with the R6 Mark II is a slightly less full featured camera compared to the R5.

Canon EOS R6 Mk II Tech Specifications

  • Lens Mount: Canon RF
  • Megapixels: 24.2
  • Sensor Size: Full-Frame Dual Pixel CMOS
  • ISO Range: 100-102,400
  • AF Points: Dual Pixel CMOS AF II covering Approx. 100% Area with 1,053 point AF Area (w/ Subject tracking of People and Animals)
  • Continuous shooting speed: 30 fps RAW burst mode with 12 fps with mechanical shutter, and up to 40 fps using electronic (silent) shutter
  • Stabilization: 5 axis in body image stabilization (IBIS)
  • Viewfinder: EVF, 3.69m dots, 120fps refresh rate, 0.76x magnification
  • LCD: Fully Articulated 3.0-inch touch screen, 1.62m dots
  • Max video resolution: 3840 x 2160 @ 60p / 1920 x 1080 @ 120p
  • Memory Card: 2x SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II
  • Dimensions: (W x H x D): 5.45 x 3.87 x 3.48 in. (138 x 98.4 x 88.4mm)
  • Weight: 680g

The biggest difference is the 24.2 megapixel sensor. You’ll be giving up some ability to crop in on your shots while maintaining a high resolution. But as long as you don’t plan to make any large prints, this is not a major factor.

The R6 Mk II gives you the same excellent autofocus system as the R5 with the same 100% coverage and 1,053 focus points. You’ll also get the same excellent animal and eye tracking focus modes.

One benefit you get from having a smaller 24.2 MP file size is that this camera can actually shoot at a higher frame rate. The smaller file size makes it easier for the camera to push more frames at a faster rate. The R6 gives you 12 fps with the mechanical shutter and a massive 40 fps with the electronic shutter.

You also have the 30 fps RAW burst mode. This feature allows you to shoot a burst of 30 RAW images in a second and the camera will stack all those photos under a single thumbnail image in your playback screen.

I love this feature for shooting fast moving animals. You can use it in short bursts to try and capture the perfect moment. By giving you a very fast 30 fps and organizing it in a stack, you can treat each burst as a separate shot. It’s a little thing but makes reviewing your images a little easier.

Raw burst mode also includes an optional pre-shooting feature. When enabled, you can half-press the shutter button to tell the camera to begin buffering frames. When you press the shutter button, the camera will capture a half second of buffered pre-click images and a half second of post click images.

The R6 Mk II also has some screen blackout but when you are shooting at frame rates like 30 fps and above, the flicker is so fast that it doesn’t affect your subject tracking very much.

Overall, this is a very impressive camera and even outperforms the R5 in some aspects. So the choice comes down to which features you think are more valuable.

Budget Pick

3. Canon EOS R50

The R50 is a crop sensor camera with a number of high end features that makes it a lighter and more affordable option.

There are some benefits to shooting wildlife with a crop sensor and if they appeal to you then the R50 is a great option. Especially since you can get it for well under $1000.

A crop sensor camera gives you more reach with the same focal length lens compared to a full frame camera. The crop factor for Canon is 1.6x which means that a 100mm lens on a crop sensor camera will have the same field of view as a 160mm lens.

This get’s you a lot closer to the wildlife without having to spend more on expensive long focal length lenses.

Additionally, crop sensor cameras are typically smaller and lighter which can be a big benefit if you are carrying your gear out in the field for a long time.

Now let’s take a look specifically at the R50…

Canon EOS R50 Tech Specifications

  • Lens Mount: Canon RF
  • Megapixels: 24.2
  • Sensor Size: APS-C (1.6x crop) CMOS
  • ISO Range: 100-32,000 (exp to 51,200)
  • AF Points: Dual Pixel CMOS AF II (100% coverage)
  • Continuous shooting speed: 12fps (15fps w/ electronic shutter)
  • Stabilization: None
  • Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36m dots, 60fps refresh rate, 0.95x magnification
  • LCD: Fully Articulated 3-inch touch screen, 1.62m dots
  • Max video resolution: 4K video up to 30p (no crop)
  • Memory Card: 1 slot (SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I)
  • Dimensions: (W x H x D): 116 x 86 x 69 mm (4.57 x 3.39 x 2.72″)
  • Weight: 375g

The 24.2 megapixels is on par with the R6 Mk II and with the crop factor you may not have to crop in as much to get closeups of the animals.

With a shooting speed of 12 fps with a mechanical shutter and 15 fps with the electronic shutter, you’ve got enough speed to capture fast moving animals.

The viewfinder is a bit of a step down in both resolution (2.36m dots) and refresh rate (60fps) compared to the full frame options above, but this is something you might not even notice unless you compared both side by side.

One major downside of a crop sensor camera for wildlife is the decrease in low light performance. You can see in the below chart from Photons to Photos that shows how the R50 compares to the full frame R5:

At all ISO settings, the R50 doesn’t keep up with the R5. That means you’ll start to see more noise at lower ISO settings than the full frame options. This is something that can be dealt with in post processing for the most part, but you’ll always get better low light performance overall from more expensive full frame cameras.

Overall, this is a great budget option if you want to save some money and get started shooting wildlife photography.

High End Pick

4. Canon EOS R3

This camera is the flagship of the Canon Mirrorless lineup and will give you everything you need to nail the perfect wildlife shot, but the price puts it out of the reach of most amateur photographers.

The Canon R3 is their flagship body and the one where they put all the latest technology. The feature list is quite impressive but so is the price tag.

Canon EOS R3 Tech Specifications

  • Lens Mount: Canon RF
  • Megapixels: 24.1
  • Sensor Size: Back Illuminated Stacked Full-Frame Dual Pixel CMOS
  • ISO Range: 100-102,400 (expandable to 204,800)
  • AF Points: Dual Pixel CMOS AF II covering Approx. 100% Area with 1,053 point AF Area (w/ Subject tracking of People and Animals)
  • Continuous shooting speed: 12 fps with Mechanical Shutter (up to 30 fps Electronic Silent Shutter)
  • Stabilization: 5 axis in body image stabilization (IBIS)
  • Viewfinder: EVF, 5.76-million-dot 120 fps blackout free 
  • LCD: Vari-angle 3.2-inch touch screen, 2.1m dots
  • Max video resolution: 6K RAW at 60 fps, 4K 120 fps or 1080p at 240 fps uncropped.
  • Memory Card: 1x SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II and 1x CFexpress
  • Dimensions: (W x H x D): 5.91 x 5.61 x 3.43 in. (150 x 142.6 x 87.2mm)
  • Weight: 1015g

The biggest visible difference between the R3 and all the other cameras on this list is the size of the body. It has a built vertical grip that houses a large battery. This means a few things for shooting wildlife specifically.

First, the vertical grip makes it easy to shoot vertical shots while maintaining the excellent ergonomics of the camera body. This means tracking subjects using autofocus is as easy to do shooting vertically as it is shooting horizontally.

it also means a larger battery and longer battery life, which can be quite important if you’re out in the field tracking wildlife.

In addition to having the exceptional subject and animal tracking autofocus system that’s in many of the Canon mirrorless cameras, the EOS R3 can also focus down to an -7.5 EV which gives you great focus accuracy even in low light.

This ultra-sensitive AF works in concert with the EOS R3’s EVF to clearly capture subjects even when there’s limited light. So shooting animals at dusk and dawn when they’re most active is a lot easier.

One of the most interesting features I’ve tried in a camera lately is the Eye Control AF. This allows you to control the AF by looking through the viewfinder at the subject that you want to track and then selecting that spot by pressing a button on the camera to start tracking that object.

This is a leap forward in autofocus technology and a feature that is going to make it much easier to acquire focus on wildlife faster to get the shot.

You’ll also get a built in GPS that is very helpful for categorizing your photos after the shoot. This is particularly helpful to wildlife photographers that want to find patterns in the locations they saw specific animals so they can be more efficient finding those animals in the future.

Crop Sensor Pick

5. Canon EOS R7

The R7 is a crop sensor camera with professional features that is perfect for the aspiring wildlife photographer looking to upgrade to a mid-range camera body.

Every major brand has a crop sensor body that’s built with near professional level specs and the R7 is that in the Canon Mirrorless lineup.

It’s more expensive than the R5 but still comes in about $1000 less than the R6 Mk II with a lot of features that are perfect for wildlife photography.

Canon EOS R7 Tech Specifications

  • Lens Mount: Canon RF
  • Megapixels: 32.5
  • Sensor Size: APSC (1.6x crop) CMOS
  • ISO Range: 100-51,200 (expandable to 102,400)
  • AF Points: Dual Pixel CMOS AF II covering Approx. 100% Area with 651 point AF Area (w/ Subject tracking of People and Animals)
  • Continuous shooting speed: 15 fps with Mechanical Shutter (up to 30 fps Electronic (Silent) Shutter
  • Stabilization: 5 axis in body image stabilization (IBIS)
  • Viewfinder: EVF, 2.3m dots, 120fps refresh rate, 0.7x magnification
  • LCD: Fully Articulated 3-inch touch screen, 1.62m dots
  • Max video resolution: 3840 x 2160 @ up to 60p / 1920 x 1080 @ up to 120p
  • Memory Card: 2x SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II
  • Dimensions: (W x H x D): 5.20 x 3.56 x 3.61 in. (132.0 x 90.4 x 91.7 mm)
  • Weight: 530g

To me this camera body is in that sweet spot right in the middle for the photographer that wants to shoot wildlife and perhaps is beginning to invest in some quality telephoto lenses, but isn’t quite ready to spend a ton on a body.

The R7 is going to give you a little bit better low light performance than the budget pick above, but not as good as the full frame options.

The 15fps mechanical shutter and 30fps electronic shutter speeds are plenty for shooting wildlife. So you can feel comfortable that you have the ability to capture the right moment.

The R7 also has Canon’s excellent subject tracking autofocus system. Because this is a crop sensor, you’re only getting 651 focus points (which is less than the full frame cameras above). But with the smaller sensor, that’s plenty for covering the entire frame.

The 32.5 megapixel resolution is also a really good choice by Canon. Higher than that would be overkill on a crop sensor but it still gives you plenty of resolution to crop in post-production.

I really liked the feel and handling of this camera, especially for a crop sensor camera. Sometimes crop sensor cameras sacrifice ergonomics for a smaller size, but this has enough size to make it easy to handhold even with larger lenses.

While it’s not the overall best Canon camera for wildlife photography, this is probably one that that would be perfect for a lot of you out there looking for a body that’s affordable but still has some pro level features.


6. Canon 6D Mark II

For those of you that aren’t ready to give on on DSLRs, the 6D Mark II is a great choice for shooting wildlife.

You can probably tell that I am not a big proponent of buying a new DSLR at this point. They are still great cameras (and I still use my old DLSR all the time), but there’s really not a compelling reason to invest in buying a new one if you need a camera now.

That being said, if you are looking for a solid Canon DSLR for shooting wildlife photography, then you can’t go wrong with the 6D Mark II.

As an added bonus, you can find it for under $1500 currently.

Crop Sensor DSLR Pick

7. Canon 90D

As far as crop sensor DSLRs go, this is one of the best on the market for wildlife photography.

The Canon 90D is a great crop sensor camera body that you can usually find for around $1200. It’s basically the DSLR sibling to the R7 above…a crop sensor body with a lot of professional features built in to it.

6 Canon Cameras You Should AVOID For Shooting Wildlife


This is a great camera and a proven professional wildlife powerhouse that you can probably find in the bags of National Geographic photographers and other such pros.

So why did I list it down here are one to avoid?

Because there’s really no good reason to spend over $6000 on a DSLR nowadays.

If you really want the top of the line pro camera and have that much to spend then go for the R3 instead. Although, you can save over $2000 and do quite well with the R5. But however much you want to spend, there are better options out there now for less than the 1DX Mk II.

M6, M50, M200

If you can still find these available new online, avoid them. Canon’s experiment with the M line was more or less a failure. The cameras themselves aren’t necessarily terrible, but they aren’t developing the M lens lineup anymore and have gone all in on the RF system.

5D Mark IV

Another good camera whose day has past. The R6 Mark II can be had for a similar price and the difference in the autofocus systems alone is enough to choose the R6 Mark II over the 5D Mark IV.

7D Mark II

This was an excellent camera when it was released in 2014. It’s a crop sensor body with pro features at an affordable price point.

So why am I saying to avoid it?

Well, it’s old. Almost 10 years old at the time I’m writing this. Even if you can find it at a great price in some places, you’ll just get better capabilities with something like the R50 above that has a faster shutter speed and better low light image quality.

So it’s not a bad camera (if you already have one) but just not something I would recommend investing in now.

Why You Should Trust Me

As an active professional photographer and owner of Photography Goals, I get the opportunity to use many different cameras.

When I’m not shooting portraits for clients, I love to get out in nature to shoot as well. So I know which features are important when choosing a camera for getting great wildlife photos.

Top Factors For Choosing A Canon Camera for Wildlife

Dynamic Range and Low Light Performance

Most people associate wildlife photography with high-speed continuous shooting, and while that may sometimes come in handy, more often it’s dynamic range and low light performance that is the key factor in getting the best image in a given situation.

Wildlife is typically most active during dusk and dawn so that’s when you want to be out shooting. But that also means lower light conditions than the middle of the day. Add to this the fact that most long focal length lenses are not as fast as their shorter counterparts. So, in order to expose the image properly, you’re going to need to crank up that ISO setting.

Having a camera that can get you sharp and relatively noise-free images even at higher ISOs is essential to shooting wildlife.

In addition, when you shoot wildlife, you may not always have the opportunity to get the exposure settings exactly right. But the better dynamic range your camera can give you, the more you can recover underexposed and overexposed images while editing after the fact.

Continuous Shooting Speed

While you might be surprised how often you’ll get the best shots while the animals are standing still, continuous shooting speed can be important while shooting wildlife.

If you like to capture animals in action like running, playing, or hunting down their prey, having the ability to fire off a series of shots in quick succession can make the difference between nailing the perfect shot and missing it.

But I want to offer two items of caution about continuous shooting. First, don’t rely on it too heavily when shooting. You should still be looking for that perfect moment to take the picture and use short bursts rather than 50 shots in a row. Second, don’t make your camera decision on continuous shooting speed alone. Look at some of these other factors as well.

Ease of Use

When you’re out in the field shooting, you want to be able to get the right settings on your camera quickly so you can get the shot. A good camera will be intuitive to use and “get out of your way” rather than require a lot of hunting through menus to get the shot.

Canon has a long history and lots of research and development behind it when it comes to ergonomics and ease of use. They’ve been making professional-level cameras for many decades and all that research and development has filtered down from the flagship models to the entry-level models.

Every camera on this list was a pleasure to use and the button layouts were quite intuitive. The more expensive models have more dials and buttons which means faster changes to settings. So that may be something to keep in mind when making your choice.


Image resolution is important for wildlife photography because you can’t always get as close as you want, even with long lenses. So you may have to crop in on the image after the fact to get the best composition.

If your camera has more resolution (ie. megapixels) then you can crop in more without losing much in terms of image quality.

There are some downsides to more resolution, though. It means much larger file sizes, which require a faster computer to edit as well as larger hard drives to store your images. Of course, these are all problems that can be solved and if you are diligent in deleting your outtake images, then you can be more efficient with your storage space.

Lens Selection

When choosing a camera, you’re also choosing the lens lineup that will work with that camera. The good news when it comes to Canon cameras is that their lenses are exceptional.

One place where Canon currently falls a little short of its competition is in the number of native RF mirrorless lenses available.

I fully expect this to change over the next few years and you can use an adapter to put EF DSLR lenses on the mirrorless cameras in the meantime.

I do wish that Canon would open up the development of RF lenses to third party manufacturers like Tamron and Sigma. They make a lot of great quality and more affordable lenses. But for now, if you want native RF glass, you’ll have to get it from Canon.

Ruggedness and Durability

Shooting wildlife means a lot of time outdoors. With that comes rain, dust, sand, and even sometimes dropping the camera.

So weatherproofing and durability becomes quite important.

Throughout their history, Canon has had cameras in every condition imaginable. So they know how to build them to withstand a lot.

The durability and weather sealing generally is reflective of the price of the camera. Canon’s higher-end models will be substantially better sealed than their low-end models. So this is more of a budget concern than simply choosing the “right” camera.

DSLR or Mirrorless For Wildlife Photography?

In general, modern mirrorless cameras are going to be better for shooting wildlife photography. The new and quite impressive autofocus systems in mirrorless cameras are often going to give you better results than DSLRs.

DSLRs will eventually become outdated so it is a smart decision to invest in one of the mirrorless systems if you are buying a camera today.

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