Best cameras for astrophotography in 2024: Shoot for the stars

When you're looking for one of the best cameras for astrophotography, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Not every camera (and lens) is capable of capturing quality images of the night sky — it needs to perform well in low-light conditions, and that means having good ISO handling and a good dynamic range.

In rounding up the best astrophotography cameras, we've taken into consideration how well each camera can capture the brightest and darkest areas of a photo (i.e. its dynamic range). We've also noted each model's ISO performance and how good it is at handling noise. How well a camera can autofocus in poorly lit situations is also an important factor to consider.

Anything that ticks these boxes is also a great option to use day-to-day, incidentally, whether you're hoping to capture stunning vistas or photograph friends and family. But If you are looking for something to use more on a day-to-day basis, consider checking out our guide on the best cameras for photos and videos

Thankfully, we've tested a wide variety of cameras so we can pick out the best for astrophotography — from brands large and small and across all price points. Whether you're a seasoned astrophotographer or just looking to get started with an entry-level model, you'll find a few options that you can consider, each coming with different pros and cons. 

Below, you'll find our top picks for the best cameras for astrophotography — which includes a summary of each unit alongside key stats and information. You can also find the latest deals and discounts on each model from trusted retailers to help you find the perfect model more quickly. 

Once you've picked out a camera that suits your needs, check out our guide to the best lenses for astrophotography so you can get all the equipment you need to take stunning shots of the night sky. If you want to go that one step further, also make sure to read our guide on best telescopes — so you can pinpoint and capture images of the night sky with more accuracy.

The quick list

Best cameras for astrophotography we recommend in 2024

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Best dedicated astro camera

Best astro cam: A dedicated astro camera complemented by zero amp glow

Specifications

Type: Color CMOS astronomy camera
Sensor: 9MP, 1-inch
Lens mount: Scope mounted
ISO range: N/A
Viewfinder size/resolution: N/A
Video capability: 3008 x 3008, 20FPS
Weight: 1.7 lb (800g)
Size: 78mm diameter
Memory card type: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Zero amp glow 
+
80% quantum efficiency 
+
High 20FPS frame rate 

Reasons to avoid

-
Square CMOS sensor unusual for some
-
Difficult to find stock in some merchants
Buy it if:

✅ You're looking for an affordable dedicated astro camera: The onboard cooling system helps minimize noise during long exposure shots. It's also suitable for short exposure lunar and planetary imaging.

Don't buy it if:

 You want to shoot other styles: This is a dedicated astro camera, opt for one of the other best cameras for astrophotography that aren't dedicated models.

The bottom line:

🔎 ZWO Optical ASI533MC Pro: A great option for individuals looking for a dedicated astro-imaging camera at an affordable price. ★★★★★

While the ZWO Optical AI 533 Pro doesn't tick all the day-to-day photography boxes you might want, it certainly delivers on astrophotography. We love the way it can generate images that are clean and noise-free without needing to use any post-processing software, which saves plenty of time. There's no amp glow, too, which means your raw images are much cleaner.

In our ZWO Optical ASI 533 Pro review, we called this camera an affordable and user-friendly option for anyone looking for a dedicated astrophotography camera. In fact, we struggled to find any real negatives. We scored it top marks, giving it five stars out of five.

Having a square 9-megapixel sensor, the ZWO Optical ASI 533 Pro is different to most but don't let that put you off: it's incredibly capable, even with what seems like a low megapixel count. Its images are almost free of noise, and it produces absolutely beautiful colors thanks to its 14-bit ADC. And with other features such as an 80% Quantum Efficiency and a fast frame rate of 20FPS, it's exceptional at capturing light.

The only (slight) criticism we can throw to the ZWO Optical ASI 533 Pro is that it's only able to shoot in color: if you lean towards monochromatic astrophotography cameras, this one isn't for you. But with colors this beautiful, we can't really hold it against it.

Similar to many other specialized astrophotography cameras, the ZWO Optical ASI 533 requires an external power source to operate its cooling system. If you're aiming for long exposure shots, make sure you have this set up beforehand.

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ZWO Optical ASI533MC Pro
AttributesNotes
DesignHeavy for its size.
PerformanceClean data quality.
FunctionalityGreat pixel size for longer focal length telescopes.

Best color astro camera

Best color astro camera: This camera produces beautiful high resolution stills with an enormous frame rate

Specifications

Type: Color CMOS astronomy camera
Sensor: 20.1MP, 1-inch
Lens mount: Scope mounted
ISO range: N/A
Viewfinder size/resolution: N/A
Video capability: 5496 x 3672, 19FPS
Weight: 0.9 lb (410g)
Size: 62mm diameter
Memory card type: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Electronic shutter minimizes camera movement 
+
19FPS perfect for solar/lunar photography 
+
USB-A 3.0 output 

Reasons to avoid

-
Scope mounted only 
-
Requires dedicated software 
-
Images at 12-bit depth maximum 
Buy it if:

✅ You're looking for an affordable dedicated astro camera: The onboard cooling system helps minimize noise during long exposure shots. It's also suitable for short exposure lunar and planetary imaging.

Don't buy it if:

 You want to shoot other styles: This is a dedicated astro camera, opt for one of the other best cameras for astrophotography that aren't dedicated models.

The bottom line:

🔎 ZWO Optical ASI183MC Pro: A great option for individuals looking for a dedicated astro-imaging camera at an affordable price. ★★★★½

Another excellent full-color astrophotography camera is the ZWO Optical ASI 183MC Pro. Lightweight and extremely capable, this dedicated astro camera will create beautifully vivid images with minimum noise.

Weighing only 0.9lbs/410g, we were pleasantly surprised with how light the  ZWO Optical ASI 183MC Pro is. It's also compact, measuring just 62mm in diameter. Despite its small and lightweight exterior though, it's a very capable piece of equipment. It has a resolution of 20.48MP, a peak Quantum Efficiency of 84% and its read noise is minimal at just 1.63.

Additionally, it comes equipped with a full-color sensor, eliminating the need for extra RGB filters in your photography, simplifying your setup, and lightening your gear load. It is a serious astrophotography camera, and you'll need to have experience with dedicated astro cameras to get the most out of it. Read our in-depth ZWO ASI183MC review to see what can be achieved.

The ZWO Optical ASI 183 excels at capturing stunning shots at its maximum resolution, boasting a speed of 19 frames per second (FPS), which is perfect for solar or lunar photography. If you choose a lower resolution, the frame rate shoots up significantly, allowing you to capture hundreds of frames per second! This camera provides versatile options for capturing different types of images.

To use the ASI 183, you'll need a laptop with dedicated software, featuring a USB-A 3.0 port for efficient data transfer. Additionally, you'll need a telescope and a 12V power supply to operate the cooling system.

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ZWO Optical ASI183MC Pro
AttributesNotes
DesignSmall and lightweight.
Performance19FPS perfect for solar/lunar photography.
FunctionalityRequires dedicated software.

Best mirrorless camera for astro

Best mirrorless camera for astro: The Z8 is brilliant in almost every respect

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full-frame
Lens mount: Nikon Z
ISO range: 64-25,600 (expandable to 102,400)
Viewfinder size/resolution: 3.2-inches, 3.69m-dot
Video capability: 8K 60p 12-bit
Weight: 2.01 lb (910g) inc. battery
Size: 5.6 x 4.7 x 3.3-inches (144 x 118.5 x 83 mm)
Memory card type: Single SD UHS-II and single CFexpress/XQD card

Reasons to buy

+
Superb low light performance
+
Extremely detailed images

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
Not ideal for beginners
Buy it if:

✅ You can afford to: Simply put, if you have the budget, there's no reason not to buy this camera — it will be a reliable photography and astrophotography companion for years to come.

You're a pro: This camera is aimed at professionals due to its high price tag and capabilities, so it's a fantastic option if you make money from photography.

Don't buy it if:

 You want something lightweight and portable: This is a professional camera with huge functionality, it is larger than less sophisticated models.

The bottom line:

🔎 Nikon Z8: We think this is the best camera available on the market. If you are lucky enough to have a huge amount of cash to play with, go for it. ★★★★★

Nikon's excellent Z8 camera came to the market in May 2023, and it's nothing short of a pure dream for astrophotographers. Its expanded ISO of 102,400 is incredible, and it also packs in numerous features that make it the ideal camera for capturing perfect shots of the night sky.

We love the autofocus system in this camera. In our Nikon Z8 review we were blown away with how well it performs: it's fast and accurate, and with a dedicated Starlight View, the autofocus detection range drops as low as an incredible -9EV. Even in low-light conditions, it excels at recognizing subjects' eyes without a hitch.

The Nikon Z8 offers a handy night vision mode that's especially beneficial for astrophotography, a feature we wish more popular cameras had. You can tailor how the night vision operates, but essentially, it dims the screen and electronic viewfinder while only displaying red pixels, which helps to preserve your night vision.

If you're into more than just astrophotography, the Nikon Z8 is a top contender as one of the best cameras out there. It performs exceptionally well in various types of photography, and its compatibility with a wide range of lenses adds to its versatility. While it may require a significant investment, we think it's a camera built to last for many years to come.

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Nikon Z8
AttributesNotes
DesignOutstanding build quality.
PerformanceStarlight mode enables autofocus detection down to an unheard of -9EV.
FunctionalityNight vision mode for astrophotographers.

Best Sony for astro

Best Sony for astro: Capture detail in both dark and bright areas and use as a generalist camera

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: 61MP, Full-frame
Lens mount: Sony E
ISO range: ISO 100-32,000 (expanded 50-102,800)
Viewfinder size/resolution: 5.76 million dots
Video capability: 4K UHD 30p
Weight: 1.4 lb (665g)
Size: 5.08 x 3.78 x 3.07-inches (129 x 96 x 78mm)
Memory card type: Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II compatible)

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible image quality
+
Highest resolution full frame camera
+
15 stops of dynamic range

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Huge files
-
Screen is tilt only
Buy it if:

✅ You shoot astrophotography and other styles: This is a great camera for photographers who shoot a range of styles but also shoot astrophotography.

You're a professional: This is an impressive pro-level camera, so anyone making money from photography will love it.

Don't buy it if:

 Your computer or storage system can't handle larger files: The massive 61-megapixel sensor creates huge files that could be too much of a test for your existing file storage or computer processor setup.

❌ You also shoot action or sports: It wouldn't operate fast enough with its current buffer speed when shooting at full resolution.

The bottom line:

🔎 Sony A7R IV: It's hard to beat this camera; the image quality is fantastic, it's highly customizable and it's great in low light. ★★★★½

Sony's A7R V has succeeded the Sony A7R IV, but newer doesn't always mean better. The latest version does include some upgrades on its predecessor — which are not specifically geared towards astrophotography — and it also comes at the cost of a massive price bump. For that reason, we would still recommend the Song A7R IV for astrophotography. 

With its three-inch LCD screen, the Sony A7R IV has an impressive resolution of 2.36 million dots. With a megapixel count of 61MP, too, this is among the best we've seen for a mirrorless camera, which is ideal if you're looking to make giant prints of your photos. 

In our Sony A7R IV review, we praised this camera's exceptional performance and image quality all-round. This camera is remarkable because it can capture incredible details in both bright and dim lighting conditions. It excels at capturing both bright and dim lights in a single shot, which is ideal for astrophotography. In fact, we've struggled to find anything that beats it.

Even at a high-sensitivity setting like ISO 6400, the images stay relatively clean with minimal noise. However, if you increase the ISO further, you'll notice a rise in noise, which is expected in such situations. Although, now that some of the best photo editing apps have pretty impressive AI denoise capabilities, it makes this camera even more usable for astrophotography.

The downside to the Sony A7R IV's huge 61-megapixel sensor is that its images take up a lot of file space. Transferring them to your computer will take longer, and if you don't have adequate storage space it could be a problem. We've also found that the large image size occasionally leads to buffer strain if you're using the camera's continuous shooting function. Thankfully, you can alleviate the issue by opting for lossless compressed RAW files in the camera's settings — and ensuring you're using a high quality, fast memory card will help too.

It's also worth noting that the Sony A7R IV doesn't have a fully articulating screen (something that's been rectified with the newer A7R V), but it shouldn't be a dealbreaker: the screen tilts, which is still helpful when shooting the sky and means you don't have to bend down into uncomfortable positions to check your settings.

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Sony A7R IV
AttributesNotes
DesignTilt only screen.
PerformanceIncredible image quality.
FunctionalityMassive 61MP sensor means noisy images.

Best rugged option

Best rugged option: Great in low light and can tolerate all weather conditions and dust

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: 24.5MP, Full-frame CMOS
Lens mount: Z-mount
ISO range: 100-51,200 (expanded 50-204,800)
Viewfinder size/resolution: 3.68 million dot OLED 0.8x
Video: 4K UHD 60p
Weight: 1.5 lb (675g)
Size: 9.2 x 7.3 x 5.3-inches (134 x 100.5 x 69.5mm)
Memory card slots: 1x CFexpress/XQD, 1x UHS-II SD

Reasons to buy

+
Great for low-light shooting
+
Excellent weather sealing

Reasons to avoid

-
Not worth upgrading from the Z6
-
Lots of competition at a similar or lower price
Buy it if:

✅ You're a Nikon purist: The menus, layout and overall functionality surpass those of Canon's mirrorless cameras in a few areas.

Don't buy it if:

 You already own the Nikon Z6: The revision isn't enough to warrant purchasing the Z6 II as an upgrade.

The bottom line:

🔎Nikon Z6 II: A great second camera for professionals, or first-timers jumping into the world of mirrorless cameras. ★★★★

The Nikon Z6 II, the successor to the already excellent Z6, sits somewhere between entry level and pro-grade cameras. It's a great choice for just about any type of photographer, and it's very capable for day-to-day shooting of images and videos. It's also a great choice for astrophotographers, especially those who like to head out into the wilderness.

Our Nikon Z6 II review praised the durable feel of the body, making it feel great in the hands, and its weather sealing is also impressive — something you don't see on more entry level cameras. You don't have to worry about a slight bit of rain, then, and it's excellent hand grip means you're less likely to drop it.

The Z6 II retains many of the features of its previous version while introducing some minor yet significant enhancements. One notable addition is the second memory card slot, which provides added peace of mind during photo sessions by offering a backup option. Additionally, the camera boasts a faster burst rate, enhanced focus capabilities, quicker image processing and the ability to shoot 4K video at 60 frames per second.

You have more in-camera control over long exposures thanks to the larger range of shutter speeds. The slowest shutter speed is a whopping 900 seconds (15 minutes!), so pair it with one of the best star trackers and you could get some seriously detailed astro shots. With excellent weather sealing, you could even capture images during heavy rain or dust storms if you wanted to!

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Nikon Z6 II
AttributesNotes
DesignDurable feel, good weather sealing.
PerformanceExcellent for stills and video.
FunctionalityMany small upgrades from predecessor.

Best entry level Nikon