Being a well rounded photographer means we could do many different genres, but we still will most enjoy and pursue our passion. For some, their passion is cars. I know this is definitely true for me!
But where does one start when starting to capturing stunning images of cars, trucks, race cars, classic cars or even motorbikes?
What type of cameras and lenses are best for car photography?
Automotive photography can mean several different things. Beauty shots of pretty cars, much like a portrait for cars. Events like car shows. Sports like track or off road racing.
For those beauty shots of cars, twilight and nighttime are often used for interesting images. At night, light painting can be another option. Close up views of some aspect of the vehicle might also be desired. For events, being versatile with lens and flash choices keeps a photographer ready to capture a variety of images.
All of this points to DSLRs and mirrorless ILCs being the best cameras for car photography. With these cameras, we have options of interchangeable lenses from very wide angle to long telephoto, zooms in those ranges, and lenses for close up photography. These cameras also usually have a variety of flash units they can use, as well as remote controls.
With DSLR and ILC, we have the ability to adjust our exposure to whatever we need it to be. We can even keep the shutter open indefinitely for light painting. Having larger sensors, these cameras also provide a car photographer with high quality images.
How I found the best cameras for car photography
- DSLR or mirrorless ILC is the best choice. With sensor sizes in full frame or APS-C formats, these cameras offer high quality and the versatility of interchangeable lenses.
- Sensor size. Higher MP is nice, gives us room to adjust in post processing. Also gives better low light performance than smartphones or Point & Shoot cameras.
- The kit lens supplied with many SLRs are usually very good general purpose lenses. Other lenses to look at will telephoto zooms, ultra wide angles, and macro lenses.
- Having a flip screen or tilt screen makes it easy to frame shots in unusual camera angles, and is very useful for video. If not tilting, large and bright is preferred.
- Sometimes, the best shot for what we’re attempting to convey may be a video. Having high quality video capability is a great asset.
- Battery life. Having good battery life keeps us shooting pics or filming video longer, which is a good thing.
- Ease of use. If it’s hard to do, a lot of times we simply won’t do it. DSLRs and ILCs are usually pretty good in this regard. Some functions may be buried in menus, but the most used functions are generally readily accessible.
Top 5 Best Cameras For Car Photography + Reviews!
1. Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm EF-S f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens Review
Coming in first on my list is the Canon Rebel T6 18MP APS-C sensor DSLR camera, which is one of the more capable entry level cameras on the market. It is nicely priced for smaller budgets, and yet still offers photographers very high quality and a lot of usable features.
The large and bright viewscreen is great for viewing the pics already taken and works well for video. It doesn’t flip or tilt, but the T6 has built in wi-fi and NFC. This means you can view your photos on a smartphone, and with third party apps some camera control is possible.
Its APS-C sized sensor is 18MP in resolution, making it better than what was available in professional cameras just a few years ago. An 8MP camera from 2008 made awesome 16×20 prints, so this camera will give you great images.
Canon DLSRs all have decent video, the T6 does as well. Not professional grade video, but more than good enough for web posting. Battery life goes way down when shooting video because it of switching to live view. Still good for a couple of hours of video. Around 800 or so exposures on a charge for still images.
Canon’s controls are quick to get used to, and the majority of the most used features and functions are out in the open, not buried in a deep menu. A very good choice for anyone searching for the best cameras for car photography. Highly recommended!
2. Nikon D3400 DSLR Camera with AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G Review
Next up is Nikon’s version of entry level cameras includes the D3400 APS-C format DSLR. Sporting a 24.2MP sensor, the D3400 is as good in the sensor department as several pro series cameras out there, including from Nikon. A smaller, lighter camera, it is lacking some features of its big brothers, but the quality possible from the image files is quite high.
An 18-55mm kit lens comes with most of the camera packages it is sold in, and it a fine performer as well. Slow, at f/3.5 to f/5.6, it is lighter duty to match the most likely users of this camera. Another fine lens, the 70-300 f/4.5-6.3, is included in a couple of popular packages. The price of the two lens kit can often be found to be less expensive than some other cameras body only price.
A large fixed viewscreen that is very bright is great for live view, such as when shooting video, and for reviewing photos just taken. The viewscreen is also how you manage the menu items for setting different options and camera controls. Most of the basic functions are easy to find and adjust. Built in Bluetooth LE connectivity is an added bonus feature.
Video quality is great, equal to anything else in the entry level camera world. Battery life goes way down in video mode, but otherwise the battery charge is good for 800 or so exposures.
Lightweight and simple to use, the Nikon D3400 offers superlative image quality for any photographer.
3. Canon EOS 80D Digital SLR Kit with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Review
A prosumer model, the Canon 80D is closely competing with cameras like Nikon’s D7200 camera, which is another great choice for car photography.
By prosumer, I mean a camera that has features, functions, and build quality that a more advanced user or a professional on a lower budget would be comfortable with. In truth, any camera can be used by a professional for great images. Conversely, the best cameras at any price can be used for lousy pics. But generally speaking, a higher level of usability and ruggedness is expected by advanced users.
Autofocus is outstanding on this model. The EOS 80D camera features a 45 point (all cross-type) AF system that provides fast, accurate AF in virtually any kind of light. AF is usable on all Canon EF mount AF lenses and many other brands of lenses.
Designed around a 24.2MP APS-C sensor, EOS 80D is fully capable of delivering image files that can be blown up to large size prints. Using the higher quality series of lenses from Canon will take full advantage of this sensor.
A vari-angle touchscreen viewscreen is perfect for a wide variety of shooting situations, and the camera also has built in wi-fi and NFC. Many basic functions are accessible from the touchscreen menu, and the most basic functions are changed by means of dials and buttons on the camera.
Sealed against dust and moisture, it can stand up to heavier use overall. Battery life is higher than earlier Canon prosumer cameras. Besides a couple of hours of video use, close to 1000 still exposures can be taken per battery charge.
4. Sony a7 Full-Frame Mirrorless Digital Camera with 28-70mm Lens Review
This may well be the best bargain for photographers wanting a full frame sensor for their digital photography. Available with a kit lens for less than many other full frame cameras are going for body only.
Though full frame format, the mirrorless Sony a7 is quite compact. Some of the lenses won’t be very tiny, but there are plenty of moderate aperture lenses that you can pair up with this camera to keep size down. When I tested this camera with the Sony 28-70 kit lens, the first thing I thought of in comparison was how the Olympus OM-1 felt after using larger cameras from other major brands.
Sony’s a7 has a 24.3MP full frame sensor and being mirrorless, there are adapters that will fit almost any lens ever made for a 35mm SLR to this digital camera. The 28-70 kit lens is optically very sharp and is a bit slow in aperture, as kit lenses often are.
Camera controls feel both old school and high tech, an interesting mix. Dials adjust some options, a hugely deep menu for accessing other functions.
All other things being equal, many photographers would choose full frame over APS-C any day. All things are not equal, though, especially in regards to price and size. This camera goes a long way towards evening the playing board.
5. Canon EOS 6D Mark II Digital SLR Camera Body Review
For outstanding performance, the Canon 26.2 MP EOS 6D Mark II camera puts full-frame performance into a compact, fully featured DSLR.
This DSLR is larger, heavier, and more expensive than the other cameras on this list, but the rewards for paying those prices are superb image quality, improved ruggedness over entry level cameras, and access to truly gigantic array of lenses, both from Canon and from other lens makers.
Canon has made EF mount lenses since the late 1980s, so have a bevy of other third party brands. Using those lenses on this full frame digital allows us to have all the options we may want for al types of photography.
Besides ultra fine image quality and improved ruggedness of construction, battery life is also very good. Over an hour of high quality video or close to 1000 still images can be exposed before needing to change or recharge the high capacity battery. Auxiliary battery packs add extra battery life for extended shoots.
Though somewhat pricey, it is well below the cost of other full frame cameras. If full frame is how you choose to go, then this is definitely one of the best cameras for car photography. You can learn more about advancing your photography skills by enrolling in a great photography school. Thanks for reading!