5 Best Cameras for Sports Photography in 2018 (Plus Sports Photography Lenses)

The list of the 5 top rated digital cameras for sports photography with the 5 best sports lenses for each camera mentioned.

I believe that choosing and buying sports cameras for 2018 should be a fun process.

That is why we created this guide to list the top 5 best cameras for sports photography (with video) across various price points, whatever your budget is.

To make it even easier for you, we included the best sports photography lenses that is recommended to get with each camera presented in this article.

This buying guide should be useful if you are into sports, which require fast focusing and high frame rate.

This is something to look at in order to get the right digital camera and/or sports photography lenses.

When choosing which cameras to put in our top 5 list, the following things were taken into account:

  • experts’ recommendations
  • personal experience
  • user reviews
  • camera capabilities (fast focusing and high frame rate)
  • price

Note: These are not for children, so here’s an article if you’re looking for the best kids cameras for sports and underwater activities

Before we move on, here is a quick navigation table of what to expect in the article. Every camera choice will be supported by video-reviews.

Best Cameras for Sports Photography in 2018

  • Canon T6i – Good low-end digital camera under $1000
  • Canon 7D II – Great digital camera under $1000 (used), or under $1500 (new)
  • Nikon D500 – Awesome sports camera under $2000
  • Sony a9 – Best mirrorless camera for 2018. The official EISA Award winner.
  • Nikon D5 – The best DSLR camera under $6500 (XQD Version)

* Please note that the prices on Amazon are subject to change.
Also, the prices exclude the lenses recommended here. *


     Quick Overview

Our Rating

Canon EOS Rebel T6i
Read Our Full Review

  • budget-friendly
  • great work in Auto mode
  • articulated touch screen
  • 5 fps continuous shooting
  • good option for beginners


  • small buffer in RAW
  • its kit lens isn’t good for sports

Further details on Rebel T6i

Canon EOS 7D II DSLR Camera
  • advanced ergonomics
  • fine-tuned autofocus
  • burst rate up to 10 fps
  • large buffer in JPG
  • built-in GPS
  • high battery life


  • no touch control
  • fixed LCD screen
  • no 4K video
  • comparatively high price

 Further details on EOS 7D II

Nikon D500 DX-Format DSLR
  • excellent autofocus
  • burst rate up to 10 fps
  • great image quality
  • advanced ergonomics
  • wide dynamic range


  • relatively high cost
  • “damp” WiFi-SnapBridge

Further details on Nikon D500

Sony a9 Mirrorless Camera
  • EISA Award Winner (2018)
  • dust and waterproof
  • 5-axis stabilization system
  • high ISO performance
  • wide dynamic range (RAW)
  • 4K-video shooting


  • pretty high price tag
  • the display may overheat
  • battery life could be better

Further details on Sony a9

Nikon D5 (XQD Version)
  • dust and waterproof
  • amazing quality in low light
  • tenacious focusing
  • thoughtful ergonomics
  • up to 200 frames in RAW
  • high battery life
  • an ideal sports camera


  • no built-in Wi-Fi and GPS;
  • too advanced for beginners

Further details on Nikon D5


You can also have a look at our article on sports photography tips (even if you are a beginner).


Let’s start with a good camera at a low-price point that will help you become a better photographer and take pretty awesome photos – Canon Rebel T6i (EOS 750D).

Best Cameras for Sports Photography (2018)

Canon EOS Rebel T6i

Quick Specs:

  • Type: Compact SLR
  • Weight: 555 g
  • Sensor: CMOS
  • ISO sensitivity: Auto, 100-12800 (expandable to 25600)
  • Category: Best Sports Cameras 2018
  • Price Tag: Under $700 (subject to change*)

Canon Rebel T6i (or 750D outside the US) is a sweet camera in many ways.

  1. First of all, it is one of the best and budget-friendly DSLRs for beginner photographers.
  2. Secondly, it is also one of the great travel DSLR cameras to take that will help you improve your (travel) photography skills.
  3. And finally, since we are talking about sports photography, at the base end it’s recommended that you get Canon T6i. 

(Don’t get it with the kit lens though!)

As I mentioned before sports require fast focusing and high frame rate.

Well, when it comes to T6i, we are seeing a lot of improvements compared to its predecessors.

The camera supports shooting at an exposure of 1/4000 to 30 seconds. During the continuous shooting, it can output up to 5 fps in JPG and up to 8 fps in RAW.

This mode is useful for you in case of reportage shooting (to avoid photo with a mouth open and/or eyes closed), for group photos, and of course during the important moments of sports-related events.

The updated CMOS sensor has at its disposal as much as 24 megapixels.

Together with the new sensor works DIGIC 6 processor. Even though, DIGIC 6 may be well-familiar to us from the professional camera models, it was installed in the entry-level DSLR camera for the very first time.

This processor provides good image clarity and minimizes noise even at high ISO values. 

For examples, pictures at 6400 ISO are of very good quality. Not over-saturated with noise, eating up the detail.

But even greater improvements have been made to the phase detection autofocus used for shooting through the viewfinder.

Instead of the 9 autofocus points that are often found in amateur camera models, in this camera we see 19 of them. All points are cross type and they cover a large area of the frame. 

This means that when shooting, you can manually select not only individual points, but entire groups of points.

Check out the video-review of the T6i camera done by Jim from Jims Review Room:

What you might like about this camera:

  • excellent work in auto mode
  • responsive touch screen
  • tilting display design
  • fast focus
  • 19-point phase autofocus with the ability to select groups of points
  • continuous shooting up to 5 fps
  • large buffer when shooting in JPG
  • high quality images up to ISO 3200 inclusive
  • NFC and Wi-Fi connection
  • an abundance of additional modes from HDR to creative filters
  • video shooting with smooth and fast autofocus

What you might not like about this camera:

  • no direct focus point selection when viewed through the viewfinder
  • non-ideal skin tone when shooting with automatic white balance
  • a small amount of buffer when shooting in RAW

Which Lens to Choose With Canon EOS T6i?

Most of the kits come with the 18-35 lenses but those are not long enough, so that’s why you should get 18-135mm lenses for sports photography.

Make sure you get that 18-135mm lens.

Canon T6i: A Good Budget Camera for Sports Photography (2018)

Canon EOS Rebel T6i (EOS 750D) has received a lot of improvements in comparison with its predecessor, which makes it a very tasty purchase.

Such a workhorse with a bunch of advantages included. 

The 24-megapixel sensor, the tenacious autofocus, and the availability of Wi-Fi and NFC modules all make the Rebel T6i a very good investment in your photographic future.

Read Our Full Review of Canon EOS T6i (750D).

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Best Cameras for Sports Photography (2018)

Canon 7D II

Quick Specs:

  • Type: Mid-size SLR
  • Weight: 910 g
  • Sensor: CMOS
  • ISO sensitivity: Auto, ISO 100-16000 (expandable to 51200)
  • Category: Best Cameras for Sports Photography 2018
  • Price Tag: Under $1,000 used, or under $1,500 new (subject to change*)

Canon EOS 7D Mark II is the most advanced APS-C SLR at the moment.

In fact, it is one of the best Canon cameras available on the market today.

There is no abundance of secondary functions in it common for novelty cameras, but everything a professional photographer or a videographer needs is always at hand.

This is a real workhorse with a perfectly functional shooting functionality.

It has excellent autofocus, both when viewed through the viewfinder, and when using the display.

It also has the highest speed of continuous shooting and a large buffer.

Last but not least is the camera’s high ISO performance and a resolution of 20 MP sensor which allows you use it literally in any situation: from the “greenhouse” conditions of the studio to the dynamic reportage.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II simply shoots: confident in any conditions, without requiring any technical tricks or special shooting techniques from the photographer.

Basically, it doesn’t interfere with the photographer’s work, and this is the most valuable thing in a professional camera.

During the test, there was not a single time that I had any complaints about the autofocus, to the speed of work, or the quality of the image.

The result is always predictable, and this allows you to select the optimal settings before shooting.

Another favourite photography vlogger of mine Chris Nicholls shares a video-review of Nikon D7 Mark II:

What you might like about this camera:

  • Advanced ergonomics and fine-tuning controls
  • excellent fine-tuned autofocus
  • burst rate up to 10 frames per second
  • high volume of buffer
  • high image quality up to ISO 3200 inclusive
  • optical viewfinder with an abundance of shooting information
  • work with two memory cards of different types
  • built-in GPS
  • full HD video shooting with an abundance of fine settings
  • high battery life

What you might not like about this camera:

  • the screen doesn’t support touch control
  • the screen isn’t articulated
  • lack of 4K video
  • comparatively high price

The Best Sports Lens for Canon EOS 7D II

As was recommended earlier, you should get it with the EF-S 18-135mm IS STM lens, which is long enough for sports photography.

To make it cheaper for you, definitely consider getting a used 7D II camera but absolutely do get that 18-135mm lens.

Canon 7D II for Sports Action: A Great SLR Camera Under $1500

We recommend Canon EOS 7D Mark II above all to those photographers who are interested in stable operation of the camera in any conditions.

First of all, we are talking about professional reportage shooting and related genres, including sports photography.

Mark II will also be an excellent working tool for a wedding photographer.

Lovers of natural photography should also pay attention to this model: photo hunting and macro photography is the native element for Canon EOS 7D Mark II.


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Best Cameras for Sports Photography (2018)

Nikon D500

Quick Specs:

  • Type: Mid-size SLR
  • Weight: 860 g
  • Sensor: CMOS
  • ISO sensitivity: ISO 100 – 51200 (expandable to 50 – 1640000)
  • Category: Best Sports Cameras for 2018
  • Price Tag: Under $2000 (subject to change*)

Nikon D500 is one of the amazing digital cameras ever produced by Nikon, equipped with a sensor DX format.

You’d think that full-frame cameras successfully took over the world and wonder what a “professional crop” camera could offer to a demanding photographer.

Well, a lot actually.

Let’s first mention the boring technical features.

The Nikon D500 uses a new 20.9-megapixel CMOS sensor and a new Nikon Expeed 5 image processor.

High burst rate (10 frames per second) and 153 points of autofocus, located throughout the frame area are an excellent offer for that kind of money!

It is complemented by a magnificent inclined touch screen, which enhances the convenience of the camera. The camera has excellent video capabilities and allows you to shoot 4K-videos.

Another bonus is the promising wireless technology based on the SnapBridge application.

Among other features is an XQD card slot, and an optional SD card slot.

Who is Nikon D500 camera NOT for?

First of all Nikon D500 is not for those who really need a full frame camera.

In this category I include photographers engaged in stage portrait photography, as well as those who prefer landscape photography.

They are often able to work with a single point of autofocus, perfectly live without continuous shooting, and they don’t always need high ISO.

Also, this camera is not suitable for those who are looking to buy their first SLR: all the charms of this device will be appreciated only by an experienced photographer, whereas it will be difficult for a beginner to master.

Who is Nikon D500 camera for?

Nikon D500 will be appreciated by those who work in the reportage genre. After all, the speed and accuracy of the device are beyond praise.

The camera can become the main tool of a photo-reporter, sports photographer, traveler, blogger, or a street photographer.

People working with telephoto lenses (animal photographers, photography spotters) will benefit from Nikon D500 too because its lenses give a magnified image 1.5x stronger!

A sensitive even at aperture F8 autofocus will make it possible to shoot with a powerful teleconverter (extender).

The Nikon D500 will be an excellent second camera in the arsenal of a wedding photographer.

Check out the video-review of the camera below by Chris Nicholls:

What you might like about this camera:

  • excellent autofocus system: fast, sensitive and tenacious;
  • continuous shooting at a rate of 10 fps and an almost infinite buffer;
  • excellent ergonomics;
  • tilting touch screen;
  • quick and convenient focusing in Live View mode;
  • close to professional video and audio recording capabilities;
  • low level of digital noise: good image quality up to ISO 6400;
  • wide dynamic range and a well-stretched RAW.

What you might not like about this camera:

  • a bit “damp” wireless communication with SnapBridge

Best Sports Lens for Nikon D500 Camera

I would pair that camera at a relatively lower price-point Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto zoom lens.

The new ones are a bit better but the older one will be just a bit cheaper if you are on a lower budget. (Don’t worry you won’t see that much of a difference in the lenses overall).

Nikon D500 is A Powerful Tool for Sports Photography

What we have here is an interesting and in many ways unique camera.

Of course, there are this camera fans, and those who absolutely don’t understand how you can pay for the “crop” camera as much money as for the full-frame digital camera.

But what’s the point in a large sensor, if you get poor-quality photos?

By all means Nikon D500 is a powerful and convenient creative tool. To understand how good it is, you must first shoot with some other camera.

The camera will certainly find its admirer and will be in demand by many photographers.

If you use D500 with the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto zoom lens, then you have an amazing tool for sports photography.

This camera has every chance to become a new legend in the world of photography equipment.

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Best Cameras for Sports Photography (2018)

Sony a9 is one of the best sports and wedding events cameras, in fact it is the best mirrorless camera for sports photography (2018).

Sony a9

Quick Specs:

  • Type: SLR-style mirrorless camera
  • Weight: 673 g
  • Sensor: BSI-CMOS
  • ISO sensitivity: Auto, ISO 100-51200 (expands to 50-204800)
  • Category: Best Sports Cameras 2018
  • Price Tag: Under $4500 (subject to change*)

At the EISA Awards event, Sony a9 was voted as the best camera in 2017-2018.

The Sony a9 is a high-speed full-frame mirrorless camera that’s designed to go head to head with Canon and Nikon’s flagship professional DSLRs.

Today this camera already demonstrates that in reportage, sports and many other genres, mirrorless cameras can compete with and in some ways surpass SLR cameras.

At the same time, for the more “mobile” photographers in sports, weddings and other events (in comparison to those working for photo agencies), the transition to A9 can become a technical step forward.

An undeniable advantage of Sony ILCE-A9 is its speed of work.

This camera shows a high rate of burst of up to 20 frames/s, and a large buffer of up to 200 RAW frames, as well as a high ISO performance.

Even though smart modes of autofocus (such as focusing on the eyes, Lock-on AF and priority in the recognition of faces) require some time getting used to, they can significantly facilitate photographer’s work.

The 5-axis stabilization this hybrid camera works well (both in photos and videos).

I must say that this camera is great for video shooting: there is 4K and slow-motion shooting of 100/120 frames/s in Full HD. There is only no support for S-Log profiles, however the rest of the traditionally wide range of features is preserved.

Sony a9 should appeal to the lovers of continuous shooting.

This camera will show itself best for example at sports competition events to select the most successful shots of jumping or running.

Check out an in-depth video-review below for further details.

What you might like about this camera:

  • dust and waterproof metal body;
  • built-in five-axis stabilization system;
  • tilting touch display;
  • fast and confident autofocus with original lenses;
  • the possibility of full-fledged work with non-original lenses;
  • wide possibilities of customization of controls;
  • direct selection of the autofocus area by joystick;
  • speed of continuous shooting up to 20 frames / s;
  • possibility of completely silent shooting;
  • buffer up to 200 frames in RAW and 360 JPEG;
  • works with a quick card UHS-II;
  • unique 3.8-megapixel electronic viewfinder without “blackout”;
  • very high detail on low and medium ISO, overall high ISO performance;
  • accurate color rendering, good work of the automatics and white balance;
  • wide dynamic range in RAW;
  • the ability to manage and transfer images over Wi-Fi;
  • 4K-video shooting;
  • Full HD video shooting up to 100/120 fps.

What you might not like about this camera:

  • it is preferable to shoot in RAW at ISO above 6400 for optimum results;
  • the battery life is lower than that of top-end SLR cameras;
  • the speed of continuous shooting with a mechanical shutter is limited to 5 frames/s;
  • the display may overheat.

The Best Lens to Choose With Sony a9 for Sports Photography

Given that we are talking about sports, the best lens that’s recommended to buy along Sony a9 camera is Sony 70-200 GM fixed zoom lens.

Sony a9 Rightfully Voted As The Best Mirrorless Camera for 2018

According to the manufacturer, Sony a9 is the most functionally powerful camera of all existing, both mirror-less and DSLR cameras. 

With this in mind, its high cost doesn’t seem surprising then.

However, if you are looking for the “complete package”, then the Sony a9 camera price will definitely justify itself.

Oh, and did I mention that this camera is an official EISA winner as the best camera for 2018?

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Best Cameras for Sports Photography (2018)

Nikon D5

Quick Specs:

  • Type: Large SLR
  • Weight: 1415 g
  • Sensor: CMOS
  • ISO sensitivity: Auto, 100-102400 (expandable to 50-3280000)
  • Category: Best DSLR cameras for Sports Photography 2018
  • Price Tag: Under $6500 (XQD Version)

Nikon D5 is a serious camera for a reportage (documentary) photographer.

Everything in this camera, every little thing is set up to ensure a simple and guaranteed result when shooting in any conditions.

  1. The camera is not afraid of dust and moisture.
  2. It easily, if not the best out of all cameras, copes with the lack of light.
  3. D5’s autofocus works so stably and quickly that you simply forget about it.
  4. The speed of the continuous shooting and the large volume of the frames in RAW can guarantee you catching the right moment in any photo-shooting scene.
  5. The resource of the battery makes it possible to shoot for a day without stopping, or limiting yourself with the number of frames.

In other words, this is primarily a working tool that is designed to facilitate the work of a professional photographer to such an extent that he doesn’t think about the technical side of shooting at all.

That is the main advantage of the Nikon D5.

Especially it would be worth noting the updated system of an autofocus with 153 points, which works ideally.

Also, a separate praise deserves the image quality at high ISO.

The touch interface that we see present in this camera model has limited functionality, yet still is really a convenient and thought-out management tool.

Check out the video-review below by the amazing Tony and Chelsea Northrup.

What you might like about this camera:

  • continuous shooting up to 12 fps with autofocus;
  • large buffer: up to 200 frames in RAW;
  • excellent image quality up to ISO 6400;
  • still high image quality up to ISO 51200;
  • ideal work of autofocus when looking through the viewfinder;
  • video shooting in Full HD format at 60 frames per second;
  • 4K-video with the ability to save a still picture;
  • dust and waterproof construction;
  • excellent build quality;
  • selecting the autofocus area using the touch screen;
  • large battery life;
  • thoughtful ergonomics;
  • ability to work with two memory cards;
  • silent shooting in Live View mode.

What you might not like about this camera:

  • no built-in Wi-Fi and GPS;
  • there is no focus peaking or Log Gamma profiles.

Best Sports Photography Lens to Buy with Nikon D5

We now established what is the best DSLR if you are into sports.

If you decide to go with Nikon D5 instead of Sony a9 mirrorless camera, then the recommended sports lens for it would be Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 Sports DG Lens.

D5 is the Best DSLR for Sports Photography (Worth Buying in 2018)

Nikon D5 is an excellent choice for those photographers who really do shoot in difficult conditions and are required to guarantee the result.

These include reportage photography, sports and wedding photography, and the shooting of wildlife.

We can safely recommend this camera for photographers in the aforementioned fields.

However, if you are a landscape and/or portrait photographer, it is recommended that you have a look at other models: both because of the mass-dimensional characteristics, and because of the not too wide possibilities for RAW-files.

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Top 5 Best Cameras and Lenses for Sports Photography to Get in 2018

5 Best sports cameras with 5 best lenses for sports photography (2018)
102.0mm · ƒ/7.1 · 1/100s · ISO 250

All the aforementioned cameras are absolutely great for sports photography, whether you are looking for a digital camera under $1000 or under $5000.

In fact, all of them were/are used by professional photographers and it shows that the quality really is top-notch (especially Sony a9 and Nikon D5).

And all the lenses chosen here are great for landscape photography.

As many of you may know, it’s the lens you have that’s more important. So if you are on a budget, it might be a better idea to get a cheaper camera BUT a stellar lens.

However, these cameras are not great for those who prefer shooting landscape images or into portrait photography, for the reasons mentioned earlier in the post.

Happy shooting!

My #1 Recommendation ↓

Now that you have all these awesome photos, it’s time to use your passion for photography and turn it into an income stream.

P.S. Let us know your thoughts on this list of the best cameras and lenses for sports photography in the comments area belowAny other questions and/or suggestions are welcome.

5 Best Cameras for Sports Photography in 2018 (Plus Sports Photography Lenses)
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