Shoot for the Stars: These 9 Cameras Help Make Astrophotography Easy

Thanks to the technology found in modern cameras, astrophotography is now easier than ever.

Astrophotography season is us upon us here in the Northern Hemisphere, and soon we will all start seeing truly magical pictures of the Milky Way and of other galaxies and nebulae in the night sky while swiping through Instagram, or any photo sharing sites. We all look at these images and think, ‘I wish that I could make images like this,’ well, you can, and you don’t need ultra-expensive cameras to do it either. After the break, we will take a look at nine cameras that excel at astrophotography thanks to their modern features, but that also won’t totally break the bank.

Image by Paul Ip captured with the Olympus E-M5 III

All of the cameras we have listed below will help you make stunning images of the night sky. They have features baked right into them that astrophotography lovers of yesteryear could only dream of, and they have the ability to perform really well at high ISO’s too. Pair any of these cameras up with some fast glass with an aperture of at least f2.8, a sturdy tripod, and with a little time and patience on your side, you too will be able to create some stunning astrophotography images.

Canon 6D Mk II

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Nice feel to the camera body
  • Weather sealing
  • Pretty fair color versatility
  • The flippy LCD screen is a nice touch
  • You can push the shadows quite a bit, though don’t expect Sony performance
  • Great battery life
  • Very good high ISO performance; we made a print at 13×17 inches from an ISO 6400 photo
  • Low light autofocus is accurate
  • Canon’s Touch screen menu continues to be the best on the market
  • Canon’s rendition of skin tones continues to be the best on the market

Cons

  • No 4K video
  • Subpar highlight rendition recovery (update, In Capture One, it isn’t that bad)
  • Autofocus points all towards the center
  • Very slow autofocus with Sigma lenses
  • 26MP is a bit too conservative when there are fantastic 24MP APS-C sensors
  • Lower ISOs don’t feel as versatile as the higher ISO settings
  • A single card slot

Buy now: $1,399

Sony A7s Mk II

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Incredibly film-like high ISO results
  • Only missed the focusing twice during the review, and that was during surely impossible situations.
  • Below ISO 80,000, some of the best dynamic range anyone could ask for.
  • Incredible highlight detail retention
  • The overall excellent dynamic range that basically lets you screw up and fix it later; but up to a point as stated in an earlier bullet.
  • Uncompressed RAW photo option

Cons

  • Expensive
  • With the exception of dynamic range, not a major step forward in the technology as could have been possible. Just imagine the A7r Mk II’s processor in this camera and what could have been capable

Buy now: $1,998

Pentax K1 Mk II

Astrophotography

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Enough weather sealing to last a lifetime
  • Rock-solid build quality
  • Easy to read LCD Screen
  • In-Body Image Stabilization / Pixel Shift
  • Gorgeous 100% coverage viewfinder
  • Excellent image quality
  • Dual SD Card slots
  • Great battery life
  • Astrotracer
  • That little light above the lens mount

Cons

  • Only 33 focus points
  • Autofocus system won’t win any races
  • Extremely heavy
  • No touchscreen

Buy now: $1,679

Astrophotography

Pro Tip: Astrophotography is a lot of fun, but because of light pollution, it can be hard to take pictures that don’t have the glow of street lights on the horizon unless you travel for hours away from the city. Fortunately, you can buy light pollution filters that simply screw on to the front of your lens that can block the pollution from sodium lamps. These filters from IRIX are excellent, and they impressed us when we reviewed them. If you want light pollution-free astrophotography images, you should check them out.

Olympus OMD EM1 III

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Feels nice when shooting for a long time
  • The shutter sound
  • Good continuous autofocus which does tracking
  • The processor is fantastic
  • The art filters continue to make Olympus unique amongst other camera brands
  • Live composite is so incredibly pleasant, along with Starry AF
  • It survived sand and saltwater
  • Continuous AF+Tracking works well with wide angles
  • The custom shooting mode switch on the back is something every adventure brand should have
  • This is the foundation for an Olympus camera that we’d want to bring with us everywhere again
  • Handheld High res shot continues to be one of the best things ever
  • Face detection works on monkeys.

Cons

  • Battery life in the heat and the cold
  • Still no rating system in the playback menu. Why?
  • C-AF + Tracking is useless with telephoto lenses
  • Why no touchscreen menus?
  • Olympus’s menu system continues to give me slight headaches
  • Some of the parts seem very dated at this point. Like the EVF, the sensor, and some of the dials
  • A top screen LCD could have made shooting easier
  • We’re not sure why it couldn’t have Dual UHS-II Card slots
  • Above ISO 1600, you really need the art filters to take the most advantage. The sensor is otherwise too grainy
  • Could really use no blackout in the EVF
  • Animal Tracking in autofocus is needed
  • I couldn’t find spot metering AF linked to the Face

Pre-order now: $1,799.99

Canon EOS Ra

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Great ergonomics
  • Great battery life
  • Canon’s menu system is still the best on the market
  • Surprisingly good performance during the day in Auto or Daylight white balance
  • The very good high ISO performance
  • Can really make the colors in the night sky pop
  • Fantastic build quality, which is no less than we expect from Canon
  • A fully articulating LCD will always be a winner
  • 30x magnification makes manually focusing a piece of cake
  • The very sensitive touchscreen makes it easy to snap pictures and not introduce camera shake at the start of your long exposures

Cons

  • No built-in GPS is odd for a camera like this
  • Lack of a night time mode for the LCD
  • No backlit buttons on a camera made to be used in the dark is a joke (come on Canon)
  • Really needs dual card slots
  • No need for the EOS Ra to be more expensive than the EOS R

Buy now: $2,499

Fujifilm X-T3

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pro

  • Brand new 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 Sensor
  • Brand new X-Processor 4 Image Processor
  • Excellent weather sealing
  • Very solid build quality
  • Excellent image quality
  • In body RAW processing with built-in film simulation profiles
  • Versatile RAW files
  • Amazing video capabilities
  • Dual SD card slots (if your workflow requires it)

Con

  • Battery life can use some improvement
  • Lacks in-body image stabilization
  • Low light performance is improved over the previous generation X-T2, but hit rates during high-speed low light situations still leave much to be desired

Buy now: $1,199

Astrophotography

Pro Tip: Regardless of which camera you use for astrophotography, you are going to need a sturdy tripod. You’re going to be dealing with exposures that range from a few seconds to possibly hours if you want to create star trail images. We highly recommend that you spend a little money on a tripod that strong, and that will no shake or wobble at all because if there is play, your shot will be ruined. The Vanguard VEO 2 235CB is one of our faves, and so is the Fotopro E-6H, but be sure to check out our review section to see all of the tripods we have tested.

Nikon Z6

Astrophotography

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Comfortable hand grip
  • Excellent Electronic Viewfinder with 100% frame coverage
  • EVF protrudes from the camera body, minimizing contact between your nose and the rear LCD
  • Top display shows you all of your settings at a glance
  • Intuitive touchscreen rear LCD
  • Solid battery life when using newly designed EN-EL15b batteries
  • Robust weather sealing
  • Works with most existing Nikon F mount lenses using the Nikon FTZ adapter

Cons

  • Single XQD card slot may be a deal-breaker for photographers with certain workflows
  • Colors on the rear LCD were inconsistent when compared to EVF
  • Autofocus performance, while better than the Nikon Z7, still leaves much to be desired
  • Certain settings were oddly organized within the menus
  • There is way too much settings information displayed on the rear LCD, often getting in the way of you framing your shot

Buy now: $1,796.95

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark III

Astrophotography

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Beautiful retro styling
  • Excellent image quality
  • Robust weather sealing
  • Reliable image stabilization
  • Accurate autofocus
  • Compact form factor
  • Built-in Live Composite and 50 MP High Resolution shooting modes are highly effective

Cons

  • Form factor can be too compact for some, particularly for photographers with larger hands or when mated with larger lenses
  • Plasticky build quality
  • Single UHS-II SD Card slot
  • Lacks dedicated joystick
  • Poor battery life
  • Convoluted menu systems
  • No major innovations after over four years

Buy now: $999

Fujifilm GFX 50R

Astrophotography

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Great image quality
  • Excellent high ISO output
  • High-speed sync with the Profoto Air system is a delight
  • Autofocus that isn’t all that bad
  • Weather sealing that is top-notch
  • Lightweight
  • Not at all that large overall
  • The ergonomics are very good

Cons

  • This system really needs lenses faster than f2
  • The autofocus could still use some revamps

Buy now: $3,499

Brett Day

Brett Day is the Gear Editor at The Phoblographer and has been a photographer for as long as he can remember. Brett has his own photography business that focuses on corporate events and portraiture. In his spare time, Brett loves to practice landscape and wildlife photography. When he's not behind a camera, he's enjoying life with his wife and two kids, or he's playing video games, drinking coffee, and eating Cheetos.