[2024] 5 BEST Cameras For Car Photography + Examples

After thoroughly comparing multiple options, we can confidently reveal that the Nikon D850 stands out as the superior choice for car photography. Given its outstanding resolution, impressive autofocus system, and the incomparable flexibility it offers, it's easy to see how it's the preferred choice for professionals and enthusiasts alike.

October 31, 2023
[2024] 5 BEST Cameras For Car Photography + Examples
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Best Camera For Car Photography 2023

I remember the time back in 2018 when I bought my brand new Lexus RC350. I also remember the time when I wanted to take photos of it but my iPhone camera wasn't doing it justice... It was then that I realized the importance of a good camera for automotive photography. I thought to myself, 'What if I invest in a quality camera to capture my car's stunning design?' So I did.

The Need for High-Quality Cameras for Car Photography

The automotive photography field isn't just about capturing a car in a photo, but it's about translating the car's essence, its power, and beauty, into a visual form. Whether you're an enthusiast of Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) cars like the Nissan Skyline GT-R or Honda NSX, or you're more into Euro cars like the BMW M3 or Audi RS5, you'd agree that a well-taken photo can often express the car's character better than words can.

Maybe I should highlight that there's a considerable difference between a photo taken with a standard phone camera and one shot by a professional-grade camera. The latter allows you to experiment with depth of field, lens flares, long exposures, and more, giving you the creative freedom to take awe-inspiring shots.

Criteria

Choosing the Right Camera and Shots

When it comes to picking the right camera, shall we consider some factors such as sensor size, lens quality, and ISO performance? As the best camera for car photography is always the one that suits your needs best, let's delve into a list of top-notch cameras ideal for capturing your car, be it an iconic Subaru WRX STI or a luxurious Mercedes-Benz AMG GT.

Furthermore, mastering different types of shots like panning, tracking, or the classic front 3/4 view will make your automotive photography stand out. Suppose I also suggest investing in a sturdy tripod and some quality lenses, like the ones suitable for Canon R5? Such tools can add another level of professionalism to your photos.

Remember, car photography is as much about the car as it is about the context and environment. As we embark on this journey, let's remember to add an artistic touch to our photos, celebrating not just the car itself, but also the world it inhabits."

Sensor Size

Sensor size is the first factor to consider when choosing a camera for automotive photography. Larger sensors often deliver better image quality, especially in low-light conditions, because they collect more light. So, if you're planning on shooting during twilight hours, sensor size is something you should not ignore.

Image Stabilization

Automotive photography often involves motion. Thus, a camera with built-in image stabilization can be very useful. This feature helps prevent image blur caused by camera shake, which is especially useful when shooting moving cars.

Lens Compatibility

The kind of lenses a camera can support is another crucial consideration. Wide-angle lenses, zoom lenses, and prime lenses all have their uses in car photography. Make sure the camera you choose is compatible with a wide range of lenses to provide flexibility in your shots.

Video Capability

Nowadays, many photographers are also videographers. If you plan on recording videos of the cars you're shooting, make sure your camera has robust video capabilities. This can include 4K video resolution, slow-motion capture, and other advanced features.

Ergonomics and Durability

Car photography can be demanding. You might find yourself shooting in less than ideal conditions, and the last thing you want is a camera that can't withstand a bit of rough handling. Look for a camera that feels comfortable in your hands and is made of durable materials.

Cost

Just like domain registrars, the prices for cameras can vary significantly. Some are more desirable than others because of their features and the quality of images they produce. But remember, even the best camera for car photography doesn't have to break the bank. It's often wise to consider a model that fits your budget but still meets your needs.

Mirrorless Vs Dslr For Car Photography

Now, let's consider the age-old debate: mirrorless vs. DSLR for car photography. Both types of cameras have their pros and cons, much like choosing between different domain registrars.

DSLR Cameras

DSLRs, or Digital Single-Lens Reflex cameras, have been the standard in professional photography for many years. They offer exceptional image quality, a wide range of lens options, and superior battery life. However, they tend to be bulkier and heavier than mirrorless cameras.

Mirrorless Cameras

On the other hand, mirrorless cameras have gained popularity in recent years. They are generally lighter and more compact, making them convenient for on-the-go shoots. They also offer excellent image quality and often come with advanced video features. However, their battery life tends not to match that of DSLRs.

Best Car Photography Cameras

Camera Sensor Resolution Video Capability Key Features Main Benefits
Sony A7R IV Full-Frame 61 MP 4K Eye AF, 10 fps shooting High resolution, excellent autofocus
FUJIFILM X-T4 APS-C 26 MP 4K IBIS, 15 fps shooting Great image quality, top-tier video performance
Nikon D850 Full-Frame 45 MP 4K 153-point AF system, 7 fps shooting Outstanding image quality, dynamic range
Fujifilm GFX 100S Medium Format 102 MP 4K IBIS, 5 fps shooting Incredible resolution, superb dynamic range
Nikon D3500 APS-C 24 MP Full HD 11-point AF system, 5 fps shooting User-friendly, great image quality for beginners

Sony A7R IV

A Sensor That Makes a Difference

The Sony A7R IV comes with a staggering 61-megapixel full-frame sensor. This sensor isn't just for capturing extremely detailed still photos; it also contributes to the camera's outstanding 4K video quality. From my experience, the images I captured had exceptional sharpness and clarity that were nothing short of breathtaking.

Real-time Tracking and Eye AF

Another feature that makes the Sony A7R IV an excellent choice for 4K filmmaking is its real-time tracking and Eye Autofocus (AF) feature. These features allow you to maintain focus on moving subjects or when filming in difficult lighting conditions. It saved me from numerous reshoots when I was filming a fast-paced action sequence under low light conditions.

Impressive Video Capabilities

The Sony A7R IV's video capabilities are nothing short of impressive. It provides full-pixel readout with no pixel binning in Super 35mm mode, offering approximately 2.4 times the amount of data required for 4K movies. This means you get incredibly detailed and vibrant footage that looks amazing even when viewed on large screens.

Additionally, I found the camera's 5-axis in-body stabilization to be a game-changer for handheld shots. During one particular project, I was able to film a long tracking shot without the need for a gimbal. The footage came out smooth and professional, much to my delight.

I also noted that the camera supports Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) recording, which simplifies HDR production workflow, a key aspect in modern day 4K filmmaking.

Customizable Interface

The customizable interface of the Sony A7R IV is a feature that cannot be understated. For me, it's like having a personalized workstation where I can set up the most used settings and controls for easy access. This personalization reduces the time spent navigating menus, helping me focus on capturing the perfect shot.

FUJIFILM X-T4

All About the FUJIFILM X-T4: A Filmmaker's Dream

When it comes to high-performance cameras that provide superb 4K video capabilities, the FUJIFILM X-T4 is certainly one that stands out. My journey with this camera has been nothing short of remarkable, as it seamlessly combines professional-grade features with user-friendly operation.

Inside the X-T4: Under the Hood

Powering the FUJIFILM X-T4 is a 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor coupled with the X-Processor 4, an engine that drives the camera's powerful capabilities. The incredible image quality is noticeable from the first shoot, where I noticed how the camera delivered a level of detail and color accuracy that was exceptional.

Filming in 4K: Elevating Your Videography

The FUJIFILM X-T4 is an excellent choice for 4K filmmaking. It can shoot 4K video at up to 60fps, a feature that lends itself particularly well to capturing smooth, high-resolution footage. The dynamic range mode, when set at 400%, allows the camera to achieve approximately 12 stops of dynamic range, a feature that greatly enhances the overall quality and look of the videos.

One of my personal highlights when using the FUJIFILM X-T4 was filming a sunset scene. The camera’s F-Log profile and the ability to internally record 10-bit 4:2:2 footage allowed me to preserve more details and gave me more flexibility in post-production.

Steady Does It: In-Body Image Stabilization

Where the FUJIFILM X-T4 truly excels is its 5-axis In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS). This feature is a life-saver when it comes to filming handheld or shooting in conditions where the camera must be kept steady. When filming a travel documentary, the X-T4's IBIS system effectively compensated for camera shake, giving me smooth and steady footage without having to rely on additional stabilizing equipment.

Nikon D850

It's quite difficult to articulate my fascination with the Nikon D850. This full-frame DSLR has reshaped my perspective on photography, acting as a canvas for my creativity while packing some distinct features that set it apart from the competition.

Nikon D850: The Unrivalled Image Sensor

Firstly, the centerpiece of the D850's prowess lies in its 45.7-megapixel BSI (Backside Illuminated) FX-format CMOS sensor. It captures images with an impressive level of detail, rich in texture and color. The amount of information captured in each shot allows for substantial cropping and enlarging without sacrificing image quality. Imagine my delight when a candid street shot was blown up to a wall-sized print, maintaining stunning clarity and vibrance!

Video Capabilities: A Leap Beyond Ordinary

The D850's capability to record 4K UHD videos in full-frame is nothing short of ground-breaking. This camera provides the ability to harness the full use of pixels in video mode, a unique feature I haven't seen in many other DSLRs. I remember filming a short documentary in 4K, and the image quality was mesmerizing.

A Low Light Companion: Excel in Challenging Conditions

The D850 is equipped with an extended ISO range of 64 to 25,600, making it a beast in low light conditions. There's a particular shot I took during a moonlit night that remains imprinted in my mind – the sharpness, detail, and noise control were nothing short of exceptional.

Never Miss a Moment: Speed and Precision

What sets the D850 apart for me is its impressive continuous shooting speed. At 7 frames per second (fps), or 9 fps with the optional battery grip, I found it perfect for capturing those fleeting moments. Paired with its 153-point AF system, it never misses a beat. When I used it to photograph a lively music festival, I was able to capture every action, emotion, and fleeting moment without compromise.

Robust yet Elegant: A Well-crafted Body

The Nikon D850 is solidly built and ergonomically designed. It's a camera that I've confidently used in various weather conditions, thanks to its extensive weather sealing. Despite its robustness, it’s surprisingly lightweight and comfortable in hand.

Thoughts on the Nikon D850

As I look back at my journey with the Nikon D850, I can say, without a hint of exaggeration, it’s the best photographic companion I've ever had. This is not just a camera, it's an opportunity to realize your creativity without boundaries. With the D850 in hand, I truly feel I have the right stuff. The Nikon D850 isn't just a camera, it's a testament to Nikon's commitment to combining quality and innovation. Can't wait to see where it'll take me next in my photographic journey.

Fujifilm GFX 100S

Right off the bat, I must say - I absolutely love the Fujifilm GFX 100S. This camera has taken my photography to a whole new level. Far beyond the capabilities of any smartphone camera, the GFX 100S is a powerhouse in a compact, portable form.

100 Megapixels: The Story of Unmatched Image Quality

The first thing that stands out about the Fujifilm GFX 100S is its 102-megapixel sensor. This medium format behemoth brings unprecedented detail to photographs, a huge leap from the already impressive capabilities of my previous Sony A5000 and A6000. Whether it's intimate portraits, scenic landscapes, or cityscapes, the GFX 100S captures it all with an unmatched level of precision and clarity.

Autofocus: Superior Speed and Precision

The GFX 100S has elevated my photography experience with its swift, precise autofocus system. It’s noticeably quicker than the A5000, allowing me to keep pace with dynamic scenes, particularly when photographing my ever-energetic kids or while travelling through bustling cities.

The Power of a Viewfinder

One feature I particularly appreciate is the GFX 100S's electronic viewfinder, which delivers bright, clear images even under strong sunlight. Its high-resolution, wide view offers a brilliant preview of the scene, aiding me in composing shots with ease.

Nikon D3500 - Best Affordable Camera For Car Photography

Compact yet sturdy, the Nikon D3500 is designed to fit snugly in your hand for comfortable shooting during long hours at car shows or race tracks. Despite its small size, this camera houses impressive technology that enhances your photography experience.

Specifically, the D3500’s autofocus system stands out, rendering sharp, fast-moving vehicles with precision and speed. Add to this its substantial battery life that allows for up to 1,550 shots per charge, and you've got a reliable tool for weekend-long car rallies or all-day car expos.

Step into 4K Filmmaking

The Nikon D3500 doesn't just capture stunning photographs. It's also an excellent companion for 4K filmmaking. Shooting a late-night car meet or a thrilling race at dusk? The D3500 manages this effortlessly, picking up the intricate details of each scene, including gleaming headlights or shiny chrome finishes. Check out this Adobe Premiere Pro guide to optimize your post-production process.

Balance between Affordability and Quality

Where the Nikon D3500 truly shines is in delivering exceptional value for money. As a regular user of this model for car photography, I have consistently been impressed by the high-quality images it produces. Whether capturing a classic or a brand new sportscar, the D3500 handles various lighting conditions, delivering vibrant colors and maintaining image sharpness even at high ISO levels.

Don't forget about lenses when setting up your camera. Choosing the right lens significantly impacts the quality of your photos. Here is a comprehensive guide on some of the best lenses to pair with your camera.

Bonus - Best Lens Filter For Car Photography

Enhancing your car photography skills takes more than just a powerful camera - you also need to consider the right accessories, like the lens filter. The right filter can dramatically improve your photos, managing reflections, enhancing colors, and adding a professional touch to your images. Let's delve into why a lens filter is your secret weapon for car photography.

Importance of Lens Filters in Car Photography

Car photography often involves challenging lighting conditions and reflective surfaces. This is where lens filters come into play. They manage glares, increase color saturation, and protect your lens. Whether you're shooting under the bright midday sun or capturing a nighttime car show, a lens filter is a handy tool.

Polarizing Filters: Your Key to Vibrant, Reflection-free Photos

A polarizing filter is a car photographer's best friend. It reduces reflections from shiny car surfaces, glass, or water, while enhancing the contrast and color saturation in the sky, making your subject stand out. As a photographer who frequently shoots cars, I've noticed that polarizing filters work wonders for managing distracting reflections while enhancing the overall color and contrast of my shots.

Here's an insider tip: for best results, always adjust the polarizing filter while looking through the viewfinder or the LCD screen, until you achieve the desired effect. This allows you to precisely control the amount of polarization.

Neutral Density Filters: Long Exposures and Bokeh Made Easy

When shooting cars in motion or aiming for those creamy bokeh backgrounds, a neutral density (ND) filter is your go-to accessory. It reduces the amount of light entering your lens, allowing you to use slower shutter speeds or wider apertures without overexposing your images. I've captured some of my best rolling shots and light trails during car shoots using an ND filter.

To select the best ND filter for your needs, consider the best lenses for your camera and the filter diameter they require.

Protect Your Lenses with UV Filters

Lastly, UV filters, often overlooked, are an excellent investment for lens protection. A scratched or damaged lens can be costly to replace, and a UV filter acts as a shield against dust, water, and accidental scratches. Plus, they help filter out UV light, which can sometimes result in a blueish cast in your photos.

FAQ

What is a good camera to take pictures of cars?

When capturing the sleek lines and vibrant details of a car, a camera like the Nikon D850 is an excellent choice. With its 45 MP resolution, 153-point autofocus system, and high dynamic range, it delivers exceptional clarity and vivid color reproduction.

How do you take high quality pictures of a car?

Achieving high-quality car photographs involves a combination of suitable equipment, ideal lighting, and the right settings. A camera with a high dynamic range such as the Fujifilm GFX 100S can help capture the shine of the paint and the intricate details under various lighting conditions. Pair it with a high-quality lens and shoot during the golden hour for the best results.

What is the best budget Canon camera for car photography?

The Canon EOS Rebel T7i is an excellent budget-friendly option for car photography. It offers a solid autofocus system, good image quality, and user-friendly features that are great for beginners and enthusiasts alike. You might also want to check out this comprehensive guide that features other great cameras suitable for photography.

What focal length for car photography?

A focal length of between 20mm and 50mm is often ideal for car photography, allowing you to capture the entire vehicle without distortion. However, for close-up shots of specific details, a macro lens with a higher focal length might be necessary.

Is a 50mm lens good for car photography?

Absolutely! A 50mm lens is often referred to as a "nifty fifty" because it's so versatile. It provides a natural perspective without the distortion of wider lenses, making it perfect for capturing both full-body shots and specific details of a car.

Is 35mm good for car photography?

Yes, a 35mm lens can be excellent for car photography. It's a wide-angle lens that lets you capture the whole car in one frame while maintaining a reasonable distance. This lens is especially useful in tight spaces where backing up to get the whole car in frame isn't an option.

How do you take good pictures of your car with a DSLR?

Taking great car photos with a DSLR involves proper framing, focusing on details, and mastering lighting. Using aperture priority mode and setting it around f/8 will give you sharp details. For more on this, you may want to explore this guide that explains it in more detail.

What shutter speed for photographing cars?

The ideal shutter speed for photographing cars depends on whether the car is stationary or moving. For stationary cars, anything from 1/60s upwards works well. For moving cars, to achieve the panning effect, you'll want a slower shutter speed like 1/30s or even slower.

What shutter speed for automotive photography?

Similar to car photography, for automotive photography of stationary vehicles, a shutter speed of 1/60s and above would suffice. However, for moving vehicles, if you want to create a sense of motion while keeping the car in focus, a slower shutter speed (1/30s or slower) would be ideal.

What is ISO for car photography?

ISO for car photography can vary greatly based on lighting conditions. In bright daylight, a lower ISO (around 100) should suffice. However, in lower light conditions, you might need to increase the ISO. Remember, higher ISO settings can lead to more noise/grain in your images.

What is the minimum shutter speed for auto ISO?

The minimum shutter speed for auto ISO typically depends on your lens' focal length. A common rule of thumb is to match your shutter speed to at least the inverse of your focal length. So, if you're shooting with a 50mm lens, your shutter speed should be no slower than 1/50s.

How do you photograph moving cars at night?

Photographing moving cars at night involves playing with long exposure times. You'll want to use a tripod to ensure stability, keep your ISO as low as possible to avoid noise, and experiment with shutter speeds between 1 and 30 seconds to get light trails and a sense of motion.

What is the best setting for car photography on Canon?

For car photography on Canon, shooting in aperture priority mode (Av) with an aperture around f/8 is a great starting point. This setting will give you a sharp image with lots of details. As for ISO, start at 100 and adjust upwards if necessary. You might find this article helpful, which explains more on Canon lens choices and settings.