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Which camera is best for me? Wildlife Photography Recommendations


So I’m getting into wildlife photography, birds mostly. I’ve been set on the r6ii, but am a little weary of the 24 mp because I’d like to be able to crop and still have great detail. I’m also considering the r7 and the r5 ( although the r5 is definitely pushing it budget wise). My only concern is lowlight performance with it being a crop sensor AND having 30+ mp. Does anyone with an r7 struggle in lowlight situations? It it really worth the $2000 price increase to get the full frame high MP r5 simply for better low light handling? I struggle with my current apsc dslr, and definitely want better low light performance than what I’m currently getting.


Greetings ,

The R7 is a great camera, and very good for wildlife photography. We are not sure what you are coming from, so it's difficult for us to make any comparison between the R7 and what you are using now.

Josh Sattin did a pretty good video demonstrating the R7's low light capability at various ISO levels.  The R7 might surprise you.  Have a look.

Tomorrow is the last day of the bild sale at B&H. The R7 and the R5 are both heavily discounted.  Canon lenses are on sale too.    

It's difficult to compare the R5 and the R7.  Each are a different class of camera.  Both are extremely capable, but if you want high resolution and the best low light performance available, the R5 is likely the better choice.  

One other thing you will probably want to take into consideration are lenses. What lenses do you own now? Can they be adapted.  This might influence your purchase decision.  I have not heard complaints from people who own the R7 in regard to its low light capability.  Based on the reviews I've read it does a very good job in low light, but the R5 is in a class of its own.  I'm not trying to talk to you into spending more money, or to buy the R5.  

I will add that R series cameras work best with RF series lenses.  Let see what others have to add to the discussion.


R7 is on sale for $1299

R5 $3099, R5 C $3399

The lens savings are good as well.



Bay Area - CA

~R5 C ( ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100 Macro, ~RF 100~400, ~RF 100~500, +RF 1.4x TC, +Canon Control Ring, BG-R10

~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~DaVinci Resolve ~Windows11 Pro ~ImageClass MF644Cdw ~Pixel 8 ~CarePaks Are Worth It


I went from EOS 80D to EOS R5. I wanted the higher resolution so that I might try some landscape as well as bird photography. I only use EF lenses and have not purchased any RF lenses. All of my EF and EF-S lenses work better on my EOS R5 than on the 80D. I often use the EOS R5 in crop mode and in crop mode it has only a few pixels less than my 80D and it seems to me more likely to find the eye of a far away bird in crop mode.

I guess that either R5 or R7 would work for you.

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, United States on September 6, 2023, does not usually come this far north, EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM +2x III, about 75 meters away, hazy skies, low lightTricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, United States on September 6, 2023, does not usually come this far north, EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM +2x III, about 75 meters away, hazy skies, low light



Hi and welcome to the forum:

I shoot wildlife, and right now mostly birds, so I hope I can be of assistance.  There are some questions I hope you will consider, as they are critical to you getting the right gear.

1. What IS your budget, and does that include allowance for lenses?

2. What lenses do you have now - please be precise here as there are often several different versions of a lens focal range.

3. What are you going to produce?  Are you looking to create for social media, viewing on digital displays, small-medium prints, or very large prints (i.e. bigger than 11"x19") with fine detail.  As you go along that list the demands get more expensive.

4. What kinds of birds and how far away are you likely to be from the wildlife you are photographing?

I have done a fair bit of testing on different cameras for my purposes, which are to produce images mostly for digital display on large screens.  However, I have also produced images with a 15MP camera that look absolutely fine an a 4ftx 3ft print.  People normally look at an image from a comfortable distance - so for an 8"x10" print, that might be at arms length, but the average viewer is unlikely to view a very large image from the same distance.  Pixel peeping is generally only done by photographers, and that's mostly a hangover from the days of painting when artists would scrutinize images closely to understand brush technique - which is not so relevant with a digital device that generates pixels or printed DPI. 

All that said, and considering your concern about low light, I have a couple of observations.  Modern Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras (MILCs) have far better low light performance than previous generations.  However, you can still make an image noisy by under-exposing a shot.   I investigated the low light performance of several R-series bodies: specifically the R5 (45MP FF), R6 (20MP FF), R6II (24MP FF) and R7(32MP APS-C).  In order of ranking for low light, this is how they ended up: R6II, R6, R5 and R7.  Basically, apart from the R6II (which is the newest) the ranking follows sensor size in reverse, or to put it more accurately, photosite density.  Photo-sites are the tiny tubes into which light is captured and sent to the light sensor for recording.  The smaller they are the less efficient each one will be.  While the R7 has only 32MP compared to the R5, it's low-light performance suffers because it is a much smaller (APS-C) sensor, so in converting the density to that of a full-frame (FF) sensor, it would be lik a FF 83MP sensor!  So, for me, logic would suggest one go with one of the FF sensors.  However, as Rick said, the R7 is popular as a wildlife camera because it offers a Field of View (FoV) 'boost' to any telephoto lens.  To understand this, I suggest you read the following article I wrote discussing the implications of crop-sensor cameras. Equivalence.pdf

But the sensor does not work alone.  Arguably, the lens has a bigger impact on the quality of the image than the camera, and your investment in glass will last much, much longer than that of the body - as the latter change relatively rapidly. In fact, one can very easily invest as much, if not  more money on a lens than the camera body. This is where the question of what you shoot comes in.  You don't want to get up close and personal with a grizzly, and a bird may not let you get very close either, so you want long telephoto lenses. 

Right now, the best in class of the RF-series native lenses would be the RF 100-500L, but that is expensive.  A good, and cheaper alternative is the RF 100-400 IS USM. Both of these Canon lenses have Opical Image Stabilization (OIS) that works in combination with the R-series In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) to really help with avoiding camera movement at low shutter speeds or in low light situations.  If you want more reach, then lenses like the Sigma 150-600 Contemporary are excellent (as is apparently the Tamron equivalent), or one of the Canon legacy EF lenses like the EF 100-400MkII L - however, all of these require an EF-RF lens mount adapter and the lens stabilization does not work with the IBIS - so it's a balancing act. That said, I have never found an issue with using legacy lenses via the Canon adapters.  I get absolutely fine results with all of these lenses (except the Tamron that I have not used) and at distance the 20MP and 24MP sensors of the R6 models work fine and can still tolerate some cropping.  

Then we come to the desire for detail, and that is why I ask what you are shooting and what you will produce.  For large, detailed landscape images I would want the R5 for it's FF and high MP size.  However, for wildlife, and producing mostly for digital output or prints up to about 11"x19" either of the R6 units will work fine and offer the best low light capability.  Right now the R6II is, IMHO, the best balance of cost, MP size and low light performance, and is certainly much cheaper than the R5.  (I note that R5's are on sale right now, and I suspect that a possible new version early in 2024 may drop that price further, if you can wait).

There is no perfect solution when one is balancing budget, optics, sensors in the context of different subjects but I hope this will give you some food for thought.

FWIW, I have taken a series of images with my R5, R6 and R6II bodies to investigate their performance, perhaps reviewing those may be of assistance to gauge what these bodies and lens combinations do:
Sigma 60-600 with EOS R6MkII - Canon Community
A Quick Try with the Sigma 60-600 Sports and the C... - Canon Community
Thinking Small with a Big Lens: - Canon Community
Spot On Focus with the R5 - Canon Community
Legacy Lenses with the Canon EOS R5 - 1: EF 70-300... - Canon Community
The New EOS R6 MkII is a BEAST! - Canon Community
A Day at the Zoo with the RF 100-500 - Canon Community
Testing the Sigma 150-600 with the Canon EOS R5. - Canon Community
Farewell to the Sigma 150-600c on a trip to the zo... - Canon Community
I LOVE the R5 with the RF 100-500 - Canon Community - example of heavy cropping
Tiritiri Island Open Scientific Sanctuary - Canon Community Specifically, birds in the wild.
Zoo Images - Canon Community
Legacy Lenses with the EOS R6 MkI: EF 100-400L MkI... - Canon Community

These are only my images, and there are many others from great photographers posted in the General Discussion, Share Your Photos section, for example the following post of images from Florida Drafter: The Moon and Jupiter. - Canon Community

cheers, TREVOR

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"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
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