Want to find the best cameras for astrophotography but don't know where to start? We've made the job a little easier for you — we've selected and tested models that we know will help you capture the best astro images. You can also see the current prices for each camera from trusted and reputable retailers.
The cameras we've mentioned aren't just the best for astrophotography, they're also all incredibly adaptable and deliver excellent results for daytime shooting. Whether you're looking for an astrophotography camera for beginners or need something to double up as a general camera, this negates the need to spend on additional equipment.
These models are also great for low-light indoor shooting, such as weddings and parties, thanks to their excellent high ISO noise handling. On the whole, they have a wide dynamic range as well as solid sensor performance, making them suitable for both landscapes and portraits.
Astrophotographers will need equipment that matches their camera so take a look at our guide to the best lenses for astrophotography. If you aren't looking for something that's astro-specific, check out our guide to the best cameras for photos and videos, but pair an astro camera with one of the best telescopes and you may get some incredible astrophotographs of the cosmos.
Best cameras for astrophotography 2023
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Best cameras for astrophotography 2023 ranked
The ZWO Optical ASI 533 Pro's most attractive feature is likely that it has zero amp glow. Even though you can typically get rid of this using editing software, the added processing time can mount up and lower productivity, especially when you could just pick an astro camera like this and avoid it altogether. By removing the need for extra processing, you also keep a cleaner, more efficient resulting image.
This camera only comes in a color version, so monochromatic enthusiasts should leave their RGB filters at home. It has a good 80% Quantum Efficiency and a quick 20FPS frame rate for those needing to shoot fast. Some photographers might find a 9MP square sensor a little odd, but it offers 1.0e read noise and a 14-bit ADC for good dynamic range. Like almost all dedicated astro cameras, the ZWO Optical ASI 533 Pro needs an external power source.
In our ZWO Optical ASI 533 Pro review, we thought that it's a great choice for those looking for a simple-to-use, dedicated astro-imaging camera at an affordable price — so much so that we gave it a whopping 5 out of 5 stars.
- Read our ZWO Optical ASI 533 Pro review
The ZWO Optical ASI183MC Pro is the color version of the ZWO Optical ASI183 and is one of the best dedicated astrophotography cameras out there. This compact full-color camera has an onboard cooling system to minimize noise while shooting long exposures.
In our ZWO Optical ASI183MC Pro review, We think it's a fantastic option for astrophotographers looking for a dedicated astro-imaging camera, and you won't need to bring a set of RGB filters when you go out to shoot. It's also much smaller and lighter than other astro cams. Still, at 1.6e read noise, it's a serious camera.
It's one of the more efficient camera models for astrophotography and provides a whopping 84% Quantum Efficiency peak. Considering that it is a dedicated astro camera, it also has a lot of pixels — approximately 20.48MP.
The ZWO Optical ASI183MC shoots an all-out frame rate of 19FPS at maximum resolution, which makes it perfect for solar or lunar imaging. However, if you lower the resolution, it has the capacity to capture hundreds of frames per second if you so choose. As with all dedicated astro cams, one small downside is that you'll need to plug it into a computer with dedicated software to run it. A fast USB 3.0 port means a healthy data transfer for the higher frame rate captures.
- Read our full ZWO Optical ASI183MC Pro review
The Sony A7R IVA is ultimately the same as the Sony A7R which was released two years prior but with a few minor upgrades. One of the biggest differences is the 3-inch LCD screen's increased resolution (2.36M vs 1.44M dots), but the higher resolution also slightly reduces battery life. Other differences are only superficial, such as the removal of the Sony logo underneath the LCD monitor.
You can see from our Sony A7R IV review that we think it is an incredible camera with a hard-to-beat performance and image quality, although it is expensive — and the A7R IVA is no different. Even though the A7R IVA only costs a few hundred dollars more than the A7R IV, if you currently own the A7R IV, the differences certainly aren't significant enough to warrant upgrading.
This camera is perfect for astrophotography due to its ability to capture incredible detail in dark and bright areas. You can use images from the camera at ISO 6400 without any visible noise, however, as you'd expect, the noise will become apparent at higher levels.
The buttons and autofocus joystick are more tactile than previous Sony models, which is great news for photographers who shoot at night while wearing gloves.
The 61-megapixel images are enormous, equating to equally enormous file sizes, so you'll need a computer and storage to keep up with processing and storing files of this size. However, the A7R IVA can be converted to a 26MP APS-C camera with a 1.5x crop factor just by pressing a button for faster image processing.
Although the screen doesn't fully articulate, it does tilt, so you should be able to capture stunning astrophotos without any difficulty. The battery performance is excellent too, so you will have no problem having all the power you need for a lengthy astro shooting session.
- We've yet to review the Sony A7R IVA but you can read our full Sony A7R IV review in the meantime
Since you'll also find the Nikon Z6 in this guide, it makes sense to talk about its successor, the Nikon Z6 II. As we discussed in our hands-on Nikon Z6 II review, there aren't enough upgrades to warrant upgrading from the previous model to the newer one, and if you're only going to be shooting astro with it, it's probably not worth the extra cost.
However, if you're upgrading from a beginning model, recording video, and shooting other types of photography in addition to astro, the Z6 II is undoubtedly something to think about. If you can spare the extra dollars, the update makes the Z6 II a little more refined.
Take note of all the Z6 has, but add a second memory card slot for extra storage and assurance, a faster burst rate and focusing, speedier image processing, and 60FPS at 4K video capture, and you have the Z6 II.
Astrophotographers will love the better range of shutter speeds, allowing more control over those long exposure shots. The shutter speed limit is now 900 seconds (15 minutes). The Nikon Z6 II also has excellent weather sealing, so there's no need to worry if you get caught out in the rain or a dust storm.
- Read our full Nikon Z6 II review
The Nikon D850 is probably one of the best DSLR full-frame cameras you can buy, and it can easily compete with high-end mirrorless models. It's a workhorse of a camera and is built to last in various environments, making it a top choice for professionals. That said, it's also an excellent enthusiast camera. The EXPEED 5 processor gives it a remarkable ISO range (up to 102,400) and an exceptional image processing speed; which is impressive considering that it's now over five years old.
The D850 is built of an aluminum alloy, which is strong, lightweight, and completely weather-sealed. It also has backlit buttons, which are super handy in the dark, something we really liked during our hands-on Nikon D850 review. We also like the impressive dynamic range and the interval timer shooting to make stunning nighttime timelapses.
You can choose from a series of stills when shooting in continuous burst mode, which shoots at 9FPS. Although this may not seem particularly high, each image is 45.7MP, which is a serious amount of data to capture.
In terms of video, the Nikon D850 provides 4K30p video recording with 'live' zebra stripes that help highlight potential exposure issues so you can correct them in the moment rather than in post-processing.
This camera is a dream for astrophotographers — it autofocuses down to -4EV with a Multi-CAM 20K autofocus sensor module with TTL phase detection and has 153 autofocus points to choose from.
- Read our full Nikon D850 review
Even five years after its release and despite having not one but two successors, astrophotographers that prefer to use mirrorless still favor the Sony A7 III, and it's one of the brightest stars of the astro camera world (pardon the pun). Even though its EVF is less detailed than some of the others we've mentioned, it still offers a useful exposure-ramped view to help with composing astrophotography. Its low light autofocus detection, while not as sophisticated as some in this list, still performs well by working in -3 EV. In our Sony A7 III review, we were particularly impressed with the high dynamic range, allowing you to recover fantastic detail from the shadows — something Sony cameras are well known for.
Even when ramped up to a massive ISO 51200, this camera handles image noise well and produces excellent image results. If you're not too worried about shooting movies with this camera (though it can capture 4K UHD at 30FPS), the ISO can jump even higher, expanding to an insane 204800 for stills photography.
This camera is CIPA-rated well above average for a mirrorless camera of this type and can shoot 710 still shots via the rear LCD monitor. Although slightly more expensive than competitors in its class, the A7 III might be the right choice for you if you're looking for a camera that performs well in low light and is also adaptable enough to excel in other photography styles.
- Read our full Sony A7 III review
Currently, the Sony A1 is Sony's most expensive full-frame mirrorless camera. It has a whopping 50.1MP sensor, an insanely detailed 9.44 million-dot electronic viewfinder and is capable of stunning 8K video (a great feature for night-sky timelapses). In our full Sony A1 review, we loved how it rendered colors and were very impressed by its dynamic range. It's also fully weather sealed and has two memory card slots.
It seems the only thing this camera can't do is order you a coffee, however, if we were to address the elephant in the room — this camera is expensive. The RRP for the A1 is $6500, which is just way out of range for most photographers, particularly those who only shoot astrophotography, even if you manage to find it discounted or secondhand. We'd have a hard time not recommending this camera to anyone, however, its price is the reason why it's so far down on this list, particularly when you'll find more affordable Sony cameras that also do a great job.
That said, if you do shoot multiple styles of photography and make a living from it, then this camera will suit you very well for astro shooting (as well as everything else). The 50.1MP sensor may ring some alarm bells initially as higher resolution sensors typically produce more image noise, but Sony cameras are so good in low light that we didn't find noise to be a problem, especially if you take enough calibration frames. We took advantage of its interval shooting feature and were very impressed with the astro shots it produced.
Though one slight niggle we do have with it is that the screen is tilt-only, which isn't so much of a dealbreaker that it would stop anyone from buying it, but for that amount of money, a fully articulating screen seems like a small thing that Sony could've easily included to make shooting upwards towards the sky a bit easier.
- Read our full Sony A1 review
This model is one of the best DSLR Canon cameras for astrophotography. Canon EOS 6D Mark II is an affordable DSLR for those wanting to dip their toes into astrophotography without breaking the bank. Even though it lacks some of the more contemporary capabilities found in mirrorless cameras, this full-frame choice is still fantastic value.
The EOS 6D Mark II is ideal for capturing detailed videos of the night sky since it can shoot 4K time-lapses (in timelapse mode), which is especially useful when combined with a slider or a star tracker. We found in our Canon EOS 6D Mark II review that it's best to avoid this model if you're planning on shooting fast action in low light, but that's not an issue for astrophotography. Its fully articulating touchscreen display makes it easy to compose the scene even if the camera is pointing skyward.
While it only captures regular video footage at full-HD 1080p, it records this at 60FPS for smooth results. Its dynamic range is somewhat lacking, however, when used in conjunction with enough calibration frames, this shouldn't really matter after picture processing.
The fact that it only has a single SD card slot might have nervous shooters biting their nails during longer sessions, but with 102,400 expandable ISO and 26.2MP stills capture, you can relax knowing results will be clear and crisp every time.
- Read our full Canon EOS 6D Mark II review
While the Fujifilm X-T5's predecessor, the Fujifilm X-T4 is still an excellent option for astrophotography enthusiasts, the XT-5 has several improvements that don't actually cost that much extra.
The camera's timeless design makes it stylish, but once you get used to which dials do what—which, as we found in our Fujifilm X-T5 review will take some practice — it is easier to use in the dark. The 40.21MP CMOS sensor in the X-T5 offers even greater picture quality than its 26.1MP predecessor thanks to a processing engine that is twice as fast as the XT-4.
The Fuji X-T5 uses the NP-W235 battery with a CIPA rating of around 600 shots per charge in everyday performance mode and about 740 shots in economy mode. We found the battery life noticeably impressive when we conducted our full review. Though the extended exposures required to capture the night sky do drain the battery more, so expect somewhat fewer shots than what they suggest.
You can shoot JPGs and RAW files simultaneously using one of the two SD memory card slots, or you can use one of them as a backup in case the unthinkable happens to your primary storage.
This camera is also a versatile option for photographers who regularly dabble in other photography styles alongside astro. It features exceptional low-light performance, a high-speed processing engine, and a generous seven stops of in-body image stabilization, which would make it a great choice for action or sports photography. It's also a top choice when it comes to timelapse photography. Check out our best cameras for timelapse videos for alternative options for this capture style.
- Read our full Fujifilm X-T5 review
Though it's now four years old, Canon's first-ever full-frame mirrorless RF system camera still holds its own against the more recent releases.
As we discussed in our Canon EOS R review, it's neither the sleekest nor best-built body we've tested, so you'd have to be a little gentler with it than you would some of the more robust models — like the Nikon Z6 — and the layout of the buttons could be more intuitive. That said, none of these issues will prevent you from purchasing this camera, but they could require some getting used to.
Body and build quality aside, when it comes to shooting in low light, the performance of the Canon EOS R is above average. It performs especially well when using long exposures, which is ideal for traditional astro shooting, including long exposures and time-lapse shooting (don't forget your tripod). It also rapidly processes the images with barely any noticeable buffer lag, which is also useful for other types of photography.
The vari-angle touchscreen is large and clear, with impressive touch functionality. Like a smartphone, you can drag and set the focus with your finger.
- Read our full Canon EOS R review
The Sony A6600 is a camera to consider if you want something as good as a full frame with just as many pixels.
Astrophotographers will love that you can ramp the ISO right up before seeing unwanted noise in your photos, something Sony are well known for. When taking pictures in low light, especially for astrophotography, having the ability to increase the ISO is essential.
Though compact and lightweight, as we mentioned in our Sony A6600 review, this model boasts excellent build quality and feels robust and rugged, more so than some of Sony's previous models. The buttons on the back of the camera are nicely pronounced, making them easier to find in the dark and press while wearing gloves, although we'd love it if Sony introduced backlit buttons.
While the sensor in this camera is the same as its predecessor (the Sony A6500), it's the first APS-C camera from Sony to use the high-performance Z-battery, which has more than double the capacity of the preceding FW50 battery and enables many more long exposures before requiring a backup.
The screen is tilting rather than fully articulated, which can be a little annoying if you're shooting at awkward angles, but it's not a dealbreaker and this shouldn't deter astrophotographers who shoot up at the sky. Aside from the astro-friendly features, it's worth mentioning that Sony's real-time tracking is fast and highly accurate, making it a good option for sports and action photography too.
- Read our full Sony a6600 review
Though superseded a while back by the superior Nikon Z6 II, the Z6 (one-half of the first two mirrorless cameras Nikon ever produced) is still one heck of a camera and excels in low light. Although the Z7 would seem better on paper, for our money, we think the Z6 is better for astrophotographers than its big brother, the Z7, due to the lower resolution. While a higher resolution does result in greater detail, a lower resolution on a full-frame picture sensor results in less image noise that detracts from the final image, which is advantageous for astrophotography. What's more, the Z6 is also much cheaper than the Z7.
The EVF has excellent detail, with a million more dots than the aforementioned Sony A7 III, and gives a realistic, clear image. Though the Z-mount lens range is expanding, it's still not as established as other models in this guide. However, you can use any of Nikon's F-mount lenses from the previous several decades when connected with an FTZ adapter, so this is not a problem.
Our Nikon Z6 review found that even shooting up as high as ISO 12,800 adds very little noise or softness to the image, making it perfect for low-light situations like astro and night-time photography. This is especially true if you're attempting to pick out darkened landscapes or objects in order to provide context for the night sky. The image quality only degrades a little on the maximum and expanded settings.
- Read our full Nikon Z6 review
How we test the best cameras for astrophotography
To guarantee you're getting honest, up-to-date recommendations on the best cameras to buy here at Space.com we make sure to put every camera through a rigorous review to fully test each product. Each camera is reviewed based on many aspects, from its construction and design, to how well it functions as an optical instrument and its performance in the field.
Each camera is carefully tested by either our expert staff or knowledgeable freelance contributors who know their subject areas in depth. This ensures fair reviewing is backed by personal, hands-on experience with each camera and is judged based on its price point, class and destined use. For example, comparing a 60MP full-frame mirrorless camera to a sleek little crop-sensor DSLR wouldn't be appropriate, though each camera might be the best-performing product in its own class.
We look at how easy each camera is to operate, whether it contains the latest up-to-date imaging technology, whether the cameras can shoot high-quality stills photos and high-resolution video and also make suggestions if a particular camera would benefit from any additional kit to give you the best viewing experience possible.
With complete editorial independence, Space.com are here to ensure you get the best buying advice on cameras, whether you should purchase an instrument or not, making our buying guides and reviews reliable and transparent.
Best cameras for astrophotography: What to look for
It can be difficult to know what to look for in the best cameras for astrophotography, but there are some crucial factors to consider to help you decide. Budget is significant, with new users who want to dabble perhaps setting aside a little less than more seasoned photographers that will only settle for the very best images. However, image clarity is critical, and you'll find that larger sensors with fewer pixels can capture astro shots with minimal image noise. By negating the effects of image noise, we're able to process imagery more efficiently with better-detailed results.
While not particularly useful for astrophotography, autofocus may still be helpful for those who want to combine night-time shooting with near-twilight landscapes that show the brightest stars, planets, and satellites hanging above a beautiful foreground. A low EV rating on the autofocus ability is crucial for sharp shots in the dark.
Fiddling around with one of the best headlamps can be helpful, but for those with inferior headlamps, a dim-lit red light to set up your shot can be frustrating, so consider whether you need backlit illuminated buttons to help guide camera setup in the dark.
Specialist astrophotography cameras have a predisposition to heat up during long exposure shots. Suppose you're interested in getting an astro camera that has built-in cooling to keep the performance of the image capture high; it will likely be larger and heavier and a little noisier as the fans whir while operating.
Photographers must consider lens choice when choosing a camera for astrophotography. While most major manufacturers have excellent ranges of top-quality glass, not all camera models can accept the full range of lenses due to differences in mount types. Ideally, fast lenses with wide apertures and excellent optical sharpness and clarity are what to look for when shooting astrophotography, take a look at our guide to the best lenses in astrophotography. Pair this with a camera body that handles high ISO and image noise well, and you should be ready to go.
Still, it's important to remember it's not just about cameras and lenses, we've also put together a guide for the best camera accessories for astrophotography and the best light pollution filters for astrophotography, especially important if you're shooting in an area prone to skyglow.
DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have long been known for their night sky shooting prowess. Low image noise, high ISO capabilities, and flexibility for regular daytime shooting make them ideal devices for many users. However, there are also astro-specific cameras that traditional photographers often overlook. These specialized devices mount to telescopes for incredibly clear astrophotographs that can easily surpass DSLR or mirrorless cameras, although they are unsuitable for conventional photography.
Astrophotographers must be mindful of the noise-handling abilities of each system, as this is an issue often encountered by night and low-light photographers. Also, be sure to assess the camera's capacity to block out infrared light since this is necessary to capture cosmic objects. If necessary, a professional can remove the infrared filter after purchase. Factors like size and weight should also be considered, as they are essential for portability and durability when you are out searching for the perfect dark sky.
Despite the common misconception, expensive doesn't necessarily mean best (for your purpose). Some cameras cost far less but give superior astro image quality than even the most expensive models. There does always tend to be a trade-off. That might be shooting flexibility or lens mount versatility.
We've also rounded up some of the best headlamps for stargazing and the best power banks for astronomy, making your night of skywatching and astrophotography more enjoyable.
Want to bag a bargain? We've sourced all the best camera deals: discounts on cameras in one place. But, if you simply need one of the best mirrorless cameras or best DSLR cameras, we've got that covered too. Read on to discover which camera is best for astrophotography and find out which model is the best camera for astrophotography beginners and pros alike. Of course, you won't be able to capture the stars without a sturdy tripod, so check out our guide to the best tripods for astrophotography.