See in the Dark: 8 Affordable Cameras With Great High ISO Performance

Cameras that perform miracles in low light used to cost a fortune, but here are eight affordable options.

In the not too distant past, things weren’t all peaches and cream when it came to high ISO performance in affordable cameras. Unless you had bottomless pockets and could afford top of the line cameras, shooting in low light was a challenge. Now, there’s a bevy of cameras that can shoot up to ISO 6400 and beyond that won’t break the bank. If you’re in the market for a camera with excellent high ISO performance that won’t destroy your bank account, the camera we have rounded up after the break should be on your radar.

Captured with the Canon M6 II at ISO 6400

Not only are the cameras below great performers when it comes to high ISO shooting, they are great performers across the board. Whether you still prefer DSLR or Mirrorless, there is something here for everyone. Over the last six or seven years, sensors have become so good that capturing images at higher ISO settings is really nothing to worry about, and these slightly older yet now very affordable cameras prove it. If you find yourself doing a lot of low light shooting, you’d be crazy to pass on these cameras.

Nikon D500

High ISO

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Fast, accurate autofocus
  • A dedicated thumb joystick on the back for changing AF points
  • The new touchscreen is an interesting and welcome addition
  • Integration of Wifi is welcome
  • Top-notch build quality
  • Battery life that refuses to die
  • Such a good camera that we honestly think it’s overkill for a lot of people

Cons

  • Pretty big and tough to get into some messenger bags

Buy now: $1,496.95

Rent: $97 for 7 days

Sony A7 MK II

High ISO

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Image stabilization is pretty effective
  • Improved grip, though there wasn’t much of a problem with the first
  • Improved battery life performance with the same batteries every other Sony mirrorless camera uses
  • Better autofocusing than we’ve seen in previous versions in that it acquires a subject faster than before

Cons

  • Slow startup time
  • Not a whole host of differences from the A7

Buy now: $898

Canon EOS M6 Mk II

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Beautiful colors
  • The sound of the shutter will appeal to long-time photographers
  • It feels like a solid, impressive camera
  • Canon’s implementation of the Touch and Drag AF system is the best it’s ever been
  • Pretty stellar battery life
  • You’ve got more megapickles than you need. U DONT NEED MOAR MEGAPICKLES!!!!

Cons

  • We wish it were weather sealed
  • An integrated viewfinder would have put this over the top

Buy now: $799

Rent: $60 for 7 days

Captured with the Fujifilm X-T3 at ISO 6400

Pro Tip: Saying you want to shoot in low light is one thing, but knowing how to do it effectively is another thing entirely. While these cameras are great when it comes to high ISO shooting, there is so much more you need to know than just cranking up the ISO. Take the time to learn about exposures, what ISO is, what’s actually happening when you turn that dial, and you will be better off for it. This book is an excellent resource if you really want to learn more about low light photography.

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

Buy now: $1,199

Rent: $89 for 7 days

Canon EOS RP

High ISO

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • This isn’t Canon innovating on the inside, but instead on the outside
  • This is the smallest and lightest ILC full frame camera on the market
  • Goes well with a wrist strap and a light prime lens
  • Weather sealing
  • The autofocus isn’t bad, and it’s quite usable in a number of working conditions
  • Pretty good image quality

Cons

  • This camera is begging to be paired with a nice 50mm f1.8 lens
  • Could have done better with a joystick

Buy now: $999

Rent: $74 for 7 days

Nikon D7500

High ISO

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Solid build
  • Incredible battery life
  • Control wheels and thumb ‘Multi Selector’ changes settings quickly
  • Touchscreen to preview images, and control finer settings
  • Wi-fi and Bluetooth integrated
  • Burst function works wonderfully
  • Much more affordable than the D500

Cons

  • Needed to remove the lens to carry in small messenger bags
  • Probably overkill for anyone short of semi-professionals

Buy now: $896.95

Rent: $60 for 7 days

Captured with the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 at ISO 12,800

Pro Tip: Shooting in low light is tough as it is even when your camera is working at its peak. It becomes even more difficult if your camera isn’t performing properly due to dirt on the lens contacts. If you want to make sure you are getting the best possible performance out of your camera and lenses, clean the contacts on both frequently. This will ensure that your camera will be able to perform in even the most challenging environments. You don’t need to spend a fortune on a cleaning kit either; this one will do just fine.

Nikon D750

High ISO

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Deep grip
  • Intuitive and well laid out control scheme
  • Renders amazing detail and color
  • Clean files at ISO 6400
  • Usable images up to ISO 10000
  • Built-in Wi-Fi transmission
  • Tilting screen

Cons

  • Plastic front plate

Buy now: $1,496.95

Rent: $74 for 7 days

Fujifilm X Pro 2

street photography

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Fujifilm kept mostly the same ergonomics
  • Massively improved autofocusing
  • So many new autofocus points
  • Uncompressed RAW file format
  • Thumb joystick for quicker AF point selection is a God send
  • The absolute best high ISO output from an APS-C sensor camera that we’ve seen in years. It beats some full frame cameras!
  • Weather sealing
  • Fujifilm Acros is fun to play with in the right situations
  • Nice JPEG output
  • RAW file versatility is excellent
  • Autofocus performance in OVF mode is even more improved than the EVF performance was.
  • ISO dial built into the shutter speed dial is very nice
  • Menu system is a bit easier though can still be complicated at times

Cons

  • Wish that the WiFi uploading process were more fluid
  • A locking button should be placed on the exposure compensation
  • Autofocus could still be faster despite coming ahead. Though it’s great for candids at events, you’ll want to use zone focusing to ensure the best images for street photography

Buy now: $1,199