Are Mirrorless Cameras Good for Wildlife Photography?

Wildlife photography is a captivating genre that requires precision, speed, and the ability to capture fleeting moments in the natural world. With the constant advancements in camera technology, photographers have many choices when selecting the right gear for wildlife photography. One question often arises is whether mirrorless cameras are good for wildlife photography.

mirrorless camera best for wildlife photography

Let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using mirrorless cameras for wildlife photography. Additionally, the camera settings to look for, compare Canon and Nikon offerings, and provide recommendations for beginners.

Advantages of Mirrorless Cameras for Wildlife Photography:

a) Compact and Lightweight: Mirrorless cameras are notably compact and lighter than their DSLR counterparts, making them easier to carry on long hikes or while tracking wildlife in challenging terrains.

b) Silent Shooting: The absence of a mirror mechanism in mirrorless cameras enables them to shoot silently, a crucial advantage when photographing skittish or sensitive wildlife.

c) High-Speed Continuous Shooting: Many mirrorless cameras boast impressive continuous shooting speeds, quickly capturing fast-moving subjects and increasing the likelihood of obtaining that perfect shot.

d) Real-Time Feedback: The electronic viewfinders in mirrorless cameras provide real-time feedback, displaying exposure and composition adjustments before you take the shot, which can be incredibly beneficial in dynamic wildlife scenarios.

e) Advanced Autofocus Systems: Mirrorless cameras often incorporate sophisticated autofocus systems that utilize on-sensor phase detection or contrast detection, ensuring quick and accurate focus, even on erratic wildlife subjects.

Disadvantages of Mirrorless Cameras for Wildlife Photography:

a) Battery Life: Due to their electronic viewfinders and continuous live view, mirrorless cameras consume more power, resulting in shorter battery life than DSLRs.

b) Lens Selection: While mirrorless lens selections have improved significantly in recent years, DSLRs offer a more extensive range of specialized lenses, particularly for wildlife photography.

c) Heat Issues: With continuous shooting and extended use, some mirrorless cameras may experience overheating, leading to potential performance limitations.

d) EVF Lag: Although modern electronic viewfinders have reduced the lag significantly, some photographers may still experience a slight delay, particularly in low-light situations.

What is the best Type of Camera for Wildlife Photography? Mirrorless vs. DSLR

Regarding wildlife photography, the camera type that fits the bill balances high image quality, fast autofocus, and portability.

DSLR and mirrorless cameras have their merits, but mirrorless models are gaining popularity recently due to their compact size and innovative technology.

Mirrorless cameras lack the traditional mechanical mirror found in DSLRs, allowing for a more streamlined design.

How Many Megapixels Do You Need for Wildlife Photography?

The megapixels needed for wildlife photography largely depend on the photographer’s intended output. In general, 20-24 megapixels are more than sufficient for most wildlife enthusiasts. Moreover, it provides ample detail and allow for cropping without sacrificing image quality.

Ultra-high megapixel counts can benefit professional wildlife photographers who must produce large prints or require significant post-processing flexibility.

Camera Settings for Wildlife Photography:

Shutter Speed: Use 1/500 to 1/2000 seconds to freeze fast-moving subjects and avoid blur.

This setting allows you to capture sharp images of animals in motion, whether running, flying, or engaging in other activities.

Aperture (f-stop): Set it at a wide range of f/4 to f/8 for pleasing background blur and subject isolation.

This setting isolates your subject from distracting backgrounds, making them stand out in your images.

ISO Sensitivity: Stick to ISO 400 to ISO 1600 (or higher if needed) for better low-light performance.

This setting helps you capture sharp images with minimal noise.

Autofocus Mode: Choose continuous autofocus (AI Servo, AF-C) for fast and accurate tracking of moving subjects.

This mode continuously adjusts focus as the subject moves within the frame, ensuring sharp and accurate focus throughout the sequence.

Metering Mode: Use evaluative or matrix metering for well-balanced exposures.

This mode analyzes the scene’s lighting conditions and provides a balanced exposure for most situations.

Image Stabilization: Utilize image stabilization (IS or VR) to reduce camera shake, especially with longer lenses.

It reduces the impact of camera shake, resulting in sharper images even when shooting at slower shutter speeds or with long focal lengths.

Drive Mode: Set the camera to continuous shooting (burst mode) for capturing action sequences.

This mode allows you to take a rapid series of shots, enabling you to capture a sequence of movements.

RAW Format: Shoot in RAW rather than JPEG for more post-processing flexibility and better image quality.

It ensures to preserve all the image data captured by the camera’s sensor, providing greater flexibility in post-processing.

Wildlife Photography Camera Prices:

The cost of wildlife photography gear can vary significantly depending on brand, model, and lens selection. Professional-grade mirrorless cameras with the latest features can be expensive, ranging from $2000 to $4000.

However, more affordable options are available for enthusiasts and beginners, typically falling in the $800 to $1500 range.

Additionally, consider investing in quality lenses equally crucial for exceptional wildlife shots. 

Best Mirrorless Camera for Wildlife Photography Beginners:

Investing in a mid-range mirrorless camera can be an excellent starting point for beginners in wildlife photography.

Cameras like the Sony Alpha a6400, Fujifilm X-T30, or Canon EOS M6 Mark II offer a good balance between price and performance. Paired with versatile lenses like a 70-200mm telephoto or a 100-400mm super-telephoto, beginners can start their wildlife photography journey.


In conclusion, mirrorless cameras have proven to be competent tools for wildlife photography. It offers advantages such as compactness, silent shooting, and advanced autofocus systems. However, they also have limitations, including battery life and lens selection.

The ideal camera for wildlife photography should feature a robust autofocus system, a fast burst rate, and good low-light performance. While the choice between Canon and Nikon depends on personal preference, both offer excellent mirrorless options.

Moreover, it’s essential to consider the number of megapixels and the key specifications that align with your wildlife photography goals. For beginners, affordable and mid-range mirrorless cameras provide a solid foundation to develop their skills for capturing the natural world. Additionally, this can be an excellent option to start a wildlife photography business.

With the right camera and lens combination, wildlife photography enthusiasts can create stunning images that capture the essence of the animal kingdom.

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