The Best Astrophotography Camera In 2021

Astrophotography camera

Being one the most interesting and rewarding genres of photography, astrophotography not only requires great skills but an astrophotography camera that is a blend of the right specs. You need a camera that has the right sensor, the right shutter speed, and the right ISO and dynamic range.

There are several options out there, including mirrorless and DSLRs and cameras that are dedicated to astrophotography. But choosing the right tool would be a little confusing in the journey of astrophotography especially for a newbie. But don’t worry we’ll guide you in deciding which camera to buy.

In this post, we have listed the top dedicated as well as consumer DSLR and mirrorless cameras that are reliable to shoot celestial bodies including the moon, stars, Milky Way, northern and even deep skies objects like faraway galaxies, and star clusters. With these cameras, the stars are your limit.


10 Best Astrophotography Cameras In 2021

1 . Canon EOS Ra

astrophotography camera
TypeMirrorless
SensorFull-frame
Megapixels30.3MP CMOS
Dynamic rangeApprox 15 Evs
Shutter speed1/8000 sec
Lens mountCanon’s RF-mount
Autofocus5,655 Dual Pixel AF positions
Screen TypeLCD: 3.15-inch fully articulating touchscreen, 2.1m dots
ViewfinderEVF, 3.69m dots, 100% coverage
Burst Speed8fps
ISO range100 to 40,000 (exp. 50 to 102,400)
Video Resolution4K 30fps, 1080p 60fps
Weight580g/1.46 lb
Battery430 shots
User LevelEnthusiast/Professional
Pros
  • Specialized full-frame sensor
  • 30x Live View & viewfinder zoom
  • Super-fast RF lenses
  • Vari-angle screen
Cons
  • Cropped 4K video
  • Single SD card slot

This Canon’s first full-frame mirrorless camera is a clear winner when it comes to deep sky and night photography. Because it is a specifically designed astrophotography camera. The Canon EOS Ra is an Astro camera with a huge a 30.3 megapixel CMOS sensor, which is no stock sensor; the infrared-cutting filter is modified to enable 4x more transmission sensitivity of hydrogen-alpha (Hα) rays (656.3 nm), enabling a higher transmission of deep red IR rays without the need for specialized optics and accessories. It also offers 30x magnification in both the viewfinder and in Live View shooting for more accurate focus, as well as the ability to record crisp 4K video. Integrated Canon Log also allows users to capture flat images with an improved dynamic range of 800%, or 12 stops.

The camera comes with a fully articulated touchscreen. It allows audio recording through an onboard stereo microphone, or an optional external mic can also be used via the 3.5mm mic jack. It offers WIFI, Bluetooth and HDMI, USB connectivity. It operates with Canon lenses or connects directly to the telescope via a low-cost adapter. It comes with cannon software and can also operate with third-party software available online.


2. Nikon D810A

Astrophotography camera
TypeDSLR
SensorFull frame-CMOS
Megapixels36.3MP
Dynamic range14.8 Evs
Shutter speed1/8000 – 900 sec
Lens mountNikon F
Autofocus11 points AF
Screen Type3.2 inch fixed no-touchscreen
Viewfinderpentaprism
Burst Speed5 fps fx, 7 fps DX
ISO rangeISO Auto, 200-12800 (expandable to 100-51200)
Video ResolutionFull HD 1080p at 24, 30 and 60 fps
Weight880 g /1.94 lb
Batteryabout 1200 shots
User LevelExpert/Professional
Pros
  • Best image quality in the history of Nikon
  • No star eater problem
  • excellent low noise, hydrogen-alpha sensitivity, and excellent dynamic range
Cons
  • Expensive
  • No articulated touchscreen and GPS

Designed exclusively for astrophotography, the D810A is Nikon’s first of its kind, and an excellent astrophotography camera. Its IR filter is optimized for H-alpha red tones, resulting in four times greater sensitivity to the 656 nm wavelength than a standard DSLR. Capture the Celestial objects like emission nebulae in staggering detail by its 36.3-megapixel full-frame CMOS image sensor, which has no optical low-pass filter with even greater resolution. Now you can capture the jewels of the night sky you may not have thought possible before.

Based on the award-winning full-frame D810, the D810A is Nikon’s first DSLR dedicated to long-exposure deep-sky astrophotography. It records the brilliant red tones of H-alpha emission nebulae with a level of detail and rich tonality, wide dynamic range, and sharpness almost unimaginable before. It reveals the faintest celestial objects with exposures up to 15 minutes long; and noise-free performance at ISO levels as high as 12,800 (expandable to 51,000). You can create star trail images that span the entire sky with unlimited continuous JPEG shooting. Whether you use it over a fixed tripod, equatorial mount, tethered to a laptop, or connected to a telescope, the D810A would take your passion for the cosmos and astrophotography to the next level.


3. Sony A7S III

best astrophotography camera
TypeMirrorless
SensorFull-frame CMOS
Megapixels12.1MP
Dynamic rangeMax 14 stops (13.91 EVs)
Shutter speed1/8000 sec
Lens mountSony FE
Autofocus759 on-sensor phase-detect points, eye, and animal AF
Screen Type3-inch fully articulating touchscreen, 1,440,000 dots
ViewfinderElectronic, 9.437m dots
Burst Speed10fps
ISO range100 – 51200(exp. 50, 64000 – 204800)
Video Resolution4K 240fps
Weight699g/1.54lb
Battery600 Stills
User LevelProfessional
Pros
  • Unsurpassed in low light
  • Superb autofocus
  • Max 4K video
Cons
  • Only 12MP

Sony A7S III is another one from the list of Sony cameras which can bring the magical night sky view to life and can perform as an excellent astrophotography camera. With its high-tech features, it is going to make astrophotography easier for its users. Highly featured sensors of the camera have the ability to capture immense details and perform outstandingly in low light. Thus making it an ultimate option for astrophotography. The APS-C camera has a resolution of 12.1MP megapixels with an electronic viewfinder of resolution 9.437m dots that delivers miracles of the night sky as real as through an eyepiece. In low light situations, the camera is capable of 15 stops of dynamic range with its maximum ISO ceiling of 409,600. It has a superlative image sensor with a better autofocus system, improving its performance.

Additionally, it has improved features against dust and splashes, with some extra sealing that protects the data ports and the battery compartment. The stabilization system of the camera compensates for shake along 5.5 axes that smooth away jumps in handheld video footage. Stabilization will be also beneficial for a multi-shot mode to catch the night view. It can capture about 10 images in a row. And can capture UHD 4K video at up to 120p without pixel binning and shoot 4K at 60p uncropped, recording it internally, in 10-bit 4:2:2 and with no limitations on recording time. The camera comes with a fully articulated and bright touch screen. The remote control is possible from PC through WLAN, with Bluetooth connectivity that allows transmitting the GPS data from a smartphone to the camera.


4. Nikon D5

best astrophotography camera
TypeDSLR
SensorFull frame, CMOS Sensor
Megapixels20.8 MP
Dynamic rangeMax 12.3 EVs 
Shutter speed1/8000 – 30 sec
Lens mountNikon F mount
Autofocus153-point AF
Screen Type3.2-inch 2.36M-dot touch screen
ViewfinderPentaprism
Burst Speed12fps
ISO range 100 to 102,400, extensible up to 3,280,000.
Video Resolution3,840 × 2,160 MP
Weight1415 g /3.12 lb 
Battery3,780 shots
User LevelExpert/Professionals
Pros
  • Fast Autofocus system with 153-point
  • Dual card slots
  • Excellent Battery life
Cons
  • No built-in flash
  • Loud shutter
  • No Built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS
  • No Focus peaking

Among the flagship cameras of Nikon, D5 is the action-oriented camera and one of NASA’s favorites. It has a full-frame sensor with a 20.8 MP resolution, mostly favored by wildlife photographers. And this best full-frame DSLR can be the ideal camera for astrophotography because of its right features. It has a fast focusing system, with an autofocus of 153-points and 99 cross-type. The continuous tracking of the camera is very accurate and proficiently keeps up with fast-moving subjects. It beautifully tackles different light situations, giving incredible image quality. It has an impressive native ISO range 100-102400, on expanding covers ISO 50-3280000 range. Thus, in the dark, it performs much better than a human eye. The autofocus system of the camera can focus down to -4 EV in the dark. It uses EXPEED 5 processor, which is remarkably fast with its operations. The continuous shooting speed is 12 fps.

Moreover, it has the capabilities of 4K UHD video recording. It can record 4K up to 30 fps for three minutes at a time. Other video features of D5 include Flat picture control, a movie shooting menu along with smooth exposure compensation. Further, full HD video can be recorded with three options such as FX field-of-view, DX-based with 1.5x cropped, and 1920 x 1080 crop. A camera is considered efficient until or unless it quickly offloads its files. Therefore, D5 proves its efficiency through its built-in LAN capabilities. The 1000 Base T Ethernet port allows the camera to transfer Max 400Mbps files with remarkable speed. The camera comes in two versions, one with two CF-card slots and the other with two XQD slots. However, it does not have built-in Wi-Fi and built-in GPS. There is no built-in flash, so it is unable to trigger optical slaves.
The body of D5 is built with magnesium alloy with protection from dust, moisture, and harsh weather. The battery life of the camera allows about 3780 on a single charge.


5. Sony a7R III

Best camera for astrophotography
TypeMirrorless
SensorFull frame, BSI-CMOS
Megapixels24.2
Dynamic range14.7 Evs
Shutter speed1/8000 – 30 sec
Lens mountSony E-mount
Autofocus399 AF points
Screen Type2.95 inch fully tilt-type touch screen
ViewfinderEVF,3,686,400-dots
Burst Speed10 fps
ISO range100-32,000 (expandable to 50-102,400)
Video Resolution4K/30p 1080/120p
Weight657 g/1.45 lb
Batteryabout 530 shots
User LevelExpert/ Professionals
Pros
  • Wide dynamic range
  • Quality burst-shooting-mode ratio up to 10 fps
  • High autofocus in low-light
  • Excellent external controls with lots of customization
  • Fast autofocus
Cons
  • No 4K supported
  • Small body size can feel unbalanced with larger, telephoto lenses.
  • No built-in flash
  • Confusing abbreviations in the menu

Sony a7R III is another great option for an astrophotography camera that will never disappoint. It is a mirrorless camera with a significant feature of focus speed. It has an impressive capability to capture 42.2 megapixels, which gives ultra-high resolution photos. With an improved battery capacity, a7R III is primed for capturing stunning pictures of stars, the Milky Way, and planets. However, it needs to pair up with a CMOS sensor and an efficient image processor for better astrophotography.

Apart from this, it is very convenient for long exposure shots. It has a built-in digital viewfinder and an efficient stabilizer, which makes it compatible with any optics. It gains ISO 204800 by improving noise performance and low-light capabilities. The amplification feature of the camera allows live-view framing of scenes in the night. The USB-powered operation of the camera is another exciting thing for time-lapse shooting.


6. Nikon D500

Best dslr camera
TypeDSLR
SensorAPS-C CMOS
Megapixels20.9 MP
Dynamic range14 EVs
Shutter speed1/8000 sec
Lens mountPentax KAF2
Autofocus11 points AF
Screen Type3.2-inch tilting touchscreen
ViewfinderPentaprism
Burst Speed10.2 fps
ISO rangeISO 100 – 51200(Expandable: Low 50, High 1,640,000)
Video Resolution4K at 24p, 30p
Weight860 g /1.90 lb
Battery1,240 shots (CIPA)
User LevelEnthusiast/Pro-Level
Pros
  • Red light Display feature for Night Vision
  • 153 Focus points
  • Long battery life
  • Bluetooth and NFC Connectivity
  • Touch and articulating screen
  • Face detecting focus
  • 10 fps continuous shooting
  • External microphone and headphone port
Cons
  • Poor image stabilization
  • Wi-Fi drains the battery quickly
  • No sensor image stabilization
  • Large in size and heavy body weight

Nikon D500 is preferable for shooting portraits and can also serve as an excellent camera for astrophotography. It has 20. MP CMOS sensor and can shoot 10 frames per second and goes up to 200 frames. Also, it is possible to access those images within a second. Perform well up to ISO 51200 and can pull up to ISO 164000.

Furthermore, it has built-in Wi-Fi with Bluetooth and NFC facility. It has a tilt sensor screen with responsive and bright sharp features that can be rotated in any position vertically. There are positive reviews by many professionals on its stellar performance. No pixelation, no noise, or color shift is noticed for low light photography. It has two AF modes with a 153- point AF system. Similarly, its accurate autofocus is a better choice for different situations, whether it is astrophotography or wild photography. It has an optical viewfinder, and it has 4K video resolution.


7. Canon EOS 7D Mark II

best canon camera
TypeDSLR
SensorAPS-C CMOS
Megapixels20.2 MP
Dynamic range11.8 Evs
Shutter speed1/8000 s
Lens mountCanon EF
Autofocus65-point AF
Screen Type3.0-inch no-touch screen
ViewfinderElectronic viewfinder with the image sensor
Burst Speed10fps
ISO rangeISO 16000 (expandable to H1: 25600, H2: 51200)
Video Resolution1080p at 60, 50, 30, 25 and 23.97 or true 24fps
Weight910g /2.0 lb
Batteryabout 670 shots
User LevelIntermediate/professional
Pros
  • APS-C Sensor with high-quality image results
  • 10 fps shooting speed at a single burst
  • Excellent external controls with lots of customization
  • Fast autofocus
Cons
  • Low battery life
  • No built-in Wi-Fi
  • No 4K videos support

Canon EOS 7D Mark II is another best canon camera and a well-performer gear in low light situations. It is demonstrated for long exposures and is a game-changing device for astrophotography. It has an improved autofocus system, available for a lower price as compared to other high-priced cameras with similar features. However, it has tiny pixels to be considered for DSLR. Thus it needs very sharp lenses to capture all the details of an image. It has a built-in-intervalometer that makes it cool for getting time-lapse photography. This APS-Camera has a resolution of 20.2 megapixels and a dual-pixel CMOS sensor. With the capabilities of giving better quality images, Canon EOS 7D II can pull ISO from 100 to ISO 16000 on a standard setting. However, it can expand ISO up to 512000.

In warm conditions, long exposure noise is not possible for more than 60 sec. It is quite annoying to shoot night-view in summers because of the warm, noisy sensor. However, improvements have been noticed in 7D II that can take noise-free long exposures even at 60 to 70 degrees. Furthermore, it is lighter in weight as compared to the previous Canon models regardless of the magnesium alloy body. However, the LCD screen of the camera is not articulated.


8. Nikon D5600

TypeCompact SLR
SensorDX-format (APS-C) CMOS
Megapixels24 MP
Dynamic range11.1 Evs
Shutter speed1/4000 – 30 sec
Lens mountNikon F
Autofocus39-point Multi-CAM 4800DX
Screen Type3.2-inch fully articulated touch screen
Viewfinderpentamirror
Burst Speed7fps
ISO range100 – 25,600(exp.100 – 25,600)
Video Resolution1920 x 1080 at 60,50,30,25,24 fps
Weight465 g /1.03 lb
Battery 970 shots per charge
User Levelupper entry-level
Pros
  • Speedy and simple operation
  • 24 Megapixels sensor
  • Night Vision red-light display
  • Weather-resistant
  • Fast autofocus
Cons
  • Limited Wi-Fi remote control
  • No 4K supported
  • Low battery life
  • No external viewfinder option

APS-C CMOS sensor powered camera, yet at entry-level is an ideal option for astrophotography camera for those with an affordable budget option. With a resolution of 24.2 MP, it can pull ISO sensitivity from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. With a wide dynamic range, it is paired with Nikon EXPEED 4 image-processing engine. It captures at the lowest ISO level at low light, but can also give decent results above ISO 1600.

Also, its auto-focusing feature makes it ideal for shooting at low LV even lower to negative 0.9 EV. Therefore, it is a better option for astrophotography at entry-level with a low price offering. You can enjoy better results for an affordable price.


9. Pentax K-70

TypeDSLR
SensorAPS-C CMOS
Megapixels20.2 MP
Dynamic range11,5 Evs
Shutter speed1/6,000 second
Lens mountPentax KAF2
Autofocus11 points AF
Screen Type3.0 inch fully articulated touchscreen
Viewfinderpentaprism
Burst Speed6.0 fps
ISO rangeAuto, 100-102400
Video Resolution1920 x 1080 pixels up to 30 frames per second
Weight688 g /1.52 lb
Batteryabout 410 shots
User LevelEntry-level/Enthusiast
Pros
  • Red light Display feature for Night Vision
  • Weather sealed and shake reduction capability.
  • Digital Stabilization
  • External Microphone connectivity
  • Fast autofocus
Cons
  • Battery life below average
  • Lack of NFC radio
  • No 4K videos support
  • No option to monitor audio levels
  • No built-in Wi-Fi


Another better camera for astrophotography on the list is Pentax K-70. It is capable of working in all-weathers, and it can be appropriate for astronomical shots at a temperature of -10 degrees Celsius. It has a weather-sealed body that makes it demanding in rough weather conditions. It has an adjustable brightness feature in its LCD monitor with an effective resolution of 24.24 Megapixels. The night vision red-light function in the display is a plus point for astrophotographers.

Another cool feature of Pentax K-70 is its shake reduction functionality that allows capturing a clear picture even in sudden movements. Sometimes, shaky hands spoil the capturing movements, in that case, Pentax K-70 assures you perfect images. However, it lacks a mechanical stabilization feature for its user. Apart from that, Microphone connectivity is another additional feature that helps photographers to adjust noise concerns.

Some advanced features as 4K videos or high frame shot, audio level control are missing from K-70. No in-camera Wi-Fi features added to K-70 and auto-focus is not up to the mark.


10. Nikon D3400

best beginner dslr
TypeDSLR
SensorAPS-C CMOS
Mega Pixels20.9 MP
Dyamic range11.5Evs
Shutter speed1/4000s
Lens mountPentax KAF2
Autofocus11 points AF
Screen TypeFixed Type 3inch LCD screen
Viewfinderpentamirror
Burst Speed5 fps
ISO rangeAuto, 100-25600
Video Resolution1080p at 24p, 25, 30, 50, 60, 720p
Weight445 g /0.98 lb
Battery1200 shots
User LevelBeginner/ Entry-level
Pros
  • Compact and lightweight body
  • The battery can run for hours
  • Snap bridge and blue tooth connectivity
  • Built-in flash and pentamirror Viewfinder
  • 11- point autofocus sensor
Cons
  • Takes a long time to shoot in the Live View mode
  • Lack of built-in Wi-Fi

Nikon D3400 is also an affordable DSLR camera for beginners who are interested in astrophotography or simple night view photography. However, it needs to be coupled with an appropriate lens for getting some outstanding results. It has a resolution of 24.2 MP and EXPEED 4 Image, whereas the auto ISO Range is 100-25600.

Moreover, the autofocus system of the camera is also user-friendly. And comes with a snap bridge connectivity. The budget camera is the right choice for dim light photos. And the best part is that its battery can also run for hours.


What to look for In a camera for astrophotography?

Do it with a dedicated astrophotography camera or a consumer digital camera, astrophotography is going to test your photography skills. And that is why it is one of the most rewarding genres of photography. And there are certain areas that you need to understand and implement rightly to get excellent results from your equipment. Let us explain them to you.

Sensor

There are two things to consider about sensors when choosing your astrophotography camera.

MegaPixels: Generally higher megapixels are preferred on any sensor. But ironically the lower the megapixel on a sensor the better it will be for low light performance and noise tolerance. The lower megapixels mean larger sizes of pixels (telephotos) to cover the same area of the full-frame sensor. And that result is better low light performance and noise tolerance. While higher megapixels mean to fix a higher number of pixels on the same size area of the sensor resulting in smaller sizes of pixels which are preferred when you want to render finer details in the captured scene. So, if you are looking to print larger posters or shooting for a magazine then it is preferred to go with higher megapixels but if you are shooting for online content and social media then lower megapixels will give you finer and detailed images and video.

Sensor type: Similarly, the higher the crop factor the narrower the field of view and the higher the magnification. So bigger crop factor means a narrow field of view and higher magnification.
So in simple words, if you are doing landscape astrophotography and capturing the moon, milky way, auroras, and other large-size celestial bodies that require large views like the andromeda galaxy, large clusters like Pleiades and Perseus then full-frame cameras are the preferred choice. But if you are more interested in smaller celestial objects like shooting distant galaxies, globular clusters, and planetary nebulae and want to use your camera with an astrophotography telescope and long zoom lenses or on a tracker then the APS-C sensor will give you better results and allow you to zoom in on those objects for better magnification.

Dynamic range

In photography, the dynamic range is the difference between the lighter and darker tones that the camera can pick. Low dynamic range will often result in muddy photographs with unwanted star trails while a camera with good dynamic range will give you fine color details and will offer better saturation which is helpful in post-capture photo editing.

Shutter Speed

The shutter controls the amount of light that gets into the camera. Fast shutter speed is essential for capturing fast-moving objects as well as shooting in bright light. But with astrophotography, you need a slow shutter speed in order to let more light incoming from dim and slow-moving celestial bodies millions of miles away. These are called long-exposure shots. And for long exposure shots, you need a camera with a wide shutter speed range.

ISO

ISO means how sensitive the camera’s sensor is to light. For night photography you will need a higher ISO. Generally, a higher ISO is supposed to increase the sensitivity of your camera to extremely faint celestial objects. Or to be more technical, higher ISO simply amplifies the sensor’s signal and thus increases gains to give you better photos in a low light situation. But you’ll have to work it out because you have to adjust it depending on the apparent magnitude of those objects and the luminosity of your night skies.


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