Last updated: November 21, 2017

Are you a speed freak? Hungry to photograph anything that goes zoom? Or perhaps you just want to get Sports Illustrated level shots of your child's soccer game.

Fortunately, there are a ton of cameras on the market that will help you get the shot. In fact, all of the cameras included in this buying guide could be used to successfully photograph sports or action. Our main recommendations can be found below, but read through this buying guide for a complete overview of your current options.


Our pick: Nikon D5

When it comes to sports shooting, the D5 is virtually peerless. First and foremost, it offers class-leading autofocus and subject tracking performance, even at its max burst of 12 fps. Oh, and the buffer is nearly unlimited—seriously, it just keeps shooting and shooting, maintaining focus the entire time.

Of all the cameras in this guide, only the Canon 1D X Mark II can match the D5's insanely robust build quality and weather-sealing. The same goes for ergonomics: only these two cameras offer built-in vertical grips and secondary shutter releases. This added grip also offers the advantage of making room for a substantially higher capacity battery. The D5 is also one of the most customizable cameras we've ever tested.

If you are a sports shooter who sticks to JPEG for maximum card space and/or edit/transfer time, you're covered: JPEG color and quality are quite good, and the same is true of Raw files (though their dynamic range is a tad limited compared to other full-frame Nikon DSLRs). Finally, the camera can even shoot decent-looking 4K video, albeit with a crop factor.

Also consider: Nikon D500

The Nikon D500 is essentially a mini D5 with a smaller sensor and no built-in vertical grip.

Instead of a full-frame sensor, the D500 uses a 20.9MP APS-C sensor with excellent JPEG and Raw image quality. The AF system and subject tracking capabilities are ripped right from the D5 and as you might have guessed, they're class-leading. The burst shooting performance maxes out at 10 fps, which is still fast enough for just about any subject. It can also shoot decent-looking 4K video.

The D500's build quality, while not D5-level, is still very good. The camera is weather-sealed and built to withstand hard use in tough conditions. The D500 is the best APS-C camera we've ever tested and very much worthy of your consideration.


We considered all of the cameras below when picking our winner, and even though we think the Nikon D5 and D500 are the best choices for sports and action, all of the cameras on our shortlist are also worthy contenders. If you're not convinced by our recommendations, take a look at the following cameras for a detailed breakdown of their strengths and weaknesses.