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Best camera for car photography in 2021

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best camera for car photography
(Image credit: PhotoPlus Magazine)

If you want to know the best camera for car photography, you’ve parked up in the right place. Whether you’re photographing your vehicle for selling online, or you've got a passion for speed and action photography, we’ve got a selection of top choices for you. 

Taking shots which make your car look good can be quite a challenge. You’ve got strange angles to contend with, reflections, dodgy lighting situations, and that’s before the car even starts to move, where a whole new set of problems emerge. 

If you have the right gear to help you tackle any situation though, you’re halfway there. For that reason, we’ve chosen a good variety of different cameras and types, all of which are suitable for car photography in one way or another. 

When it comes to picking the best camera for car photography, it isn’t always going to be as straightforward as selecting one of the best mirrorless cameras, the best DSLR or the best compact cameras. The cameras you’ll find in those guides are all excellent, but they’re often all-rounders, and may not necessarily have the right specs you’ll need for cars. 

To help you choose the best camera for car photography, have a think about the following attributes:

Resolution For showing off the fine detail of a car, a camera with a high-resolution is an excellent choice. If you’re mainly going to be photographing static cars, you can afford to go super high on the resolution for the highest possible quality.

Fast frame rates  If you want to photograph a car doing what it does best - moving - then you’ll need to be on the look out for a car with fast frame rates to capture those split-second moments. This will usually (but not always) come with the trade off of a lower resolution.

Well-performing autofocus  This is another specification tied to photographing action sports. You’ll need to look for models which offer high-performing tracking focus that can keep up when you’re trying techniques such as panning.

Shutter speeds For freezing fast action, the fastest shutter speeds will be required. Keep an eye out for models which offer fast shutter speeds. Cameras which use an electronic shutter often offer the fastest available. 

Screen When photographing from unusual angles to highlight the different angles of your car, a tilting or articulating screen can be incredibly useful. A touch sensitive screen is also helpful, but almost all modern cameras include this feature.

Image stabilization If you’re photographing a moving car handheld, having good image stabilization will help to keep your shots sharp and in focus.

Good video specs Perhaps you want to also create videos of your car - in which case, look out for models which offer decent video specifications, including 4K video recording, a variety of frame rates and the ability to create slow-motion movies.

ISO range If you’re photographing your car in low light, such as at night, then you’ll want a camera which offers a good ISO range and a good ISO performance.

Best camera for car photography 2021

(Image credit: Sony)

Best overall camera for car photography

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full-frame
Megapixels: 61 Frame rate: 10fps
Shutter speed range: 30sec/Bulb - 1/8000
ISO range: : 100-32000 (ISO 50 - 102400 expanded)
Image stabilization: : Sensor-shift 5-axis, up to 5.5 stops compensation
Video: 4K 30p
Screen: 3-inch 1.4m-dot tilting touchscreen
Weight: 665g (inc. battery and memory card)
Reasons to buy
+Good all-rounder +High resolution sensor +Good tracking
Reasons to avoid
-Relatively slow frame rate 

If going down the medium-format road isn’t for you - and it won’t be for everybody - then the Sony A7R IV is an excellent alternative. It gives you medium format type resolution from a full-frame sensor, and at a much more affordable price. 

This is a camera which will make a good all-rounder if car photography isn’t your only avenue. You get that lovely high resolution, but you also get 10fps shooting, which although not blisteringly fast isn’t too bad either.

Image stabilization puts in a good performance, while it’s also well-suited to video shooting. The high-resolution sensor means that there are better options for low-light shooting, but again if you only shoot that relatively infrequently, it should be enough to meet your needs.

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

Best camera for high-resolution car photography

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Medium format
Megapixels: 102 Frame rate: 5fps
Shutter speed range: 60min - 1/16000 (with electronic shutter)
ISO range: : 100 - 12800
Image stabilization: : Sensor-shift 5-axis, up to 6 stops compensation
Video: DCI 4K 30p
Screen: 3.2-inch 2.36m-dot three direction tilting touchscreen
Weight: 900g (inc. battery and memory card)
Reasons to buy
+Super high resolution+Flexible screen+Great stabilization
Reasons to avoid
-Big and heavy-Slow frame rate

If you’re looking for the ultimate in high-resolution, this is it. It’s a medium format camera, which makes it both big and heavy and small and light, depending on your point of view. It’s also relatively affordable by medium format standards. 

With this camera you’ll get blisteringly sharp results, with superb fine detail. You also don’t have to compromise too much on other specs, with very good AF and excellent image stabilization. That mega high resolution also gives you the advantage of being able to crop to alter your compositions, which always comes in useful.

The frame rate isn’t fast (at 5fps), so it’s probably not going to be your first choice for shooting fast-moving cars, but if you’re wanting to show off their beauty, then it’s an excellent choice.

(Image credit: Sony A1)

Best camera for high-speed car photography

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full-frame
Megapixels: 50 Frame rate: 30fps
Shutter speed range: 30sec/Bulb - 1/32000
ISO range: : 100-32000 (ISO 50 - 102400 expanded)
Image stabilization: : Sensor-shift 5-axis, up to 5.5 stops compensation
Video: 8K 30p
Screen: 3-inch 1.4m-dot tilting touchscreen
Weight: 737g (inc. battery and memory card)
Reasons to buy
+No compromise on speed/resolution+Excellent tracking focus+Up to 8K video
Reasons to avoid
-High price 

Quite possibly one of the best cameras ever made, the Sony A1 pretty much offers you everything - at a price. 

You get a whopping 50 megapixels and a super fast 30fps, along with superb autofocusing and great image stabilization. It’s an action photographer’s dream, being able to handle pretty much everything you can throw at it. 

Whether you're photographing static cars, cars moving, or details, then the A1 will do them all excellently. It’s even got class-leading video specs, with up to 8K available. Naturally, this all comes at a price, though - be prepared to invest heavily for this amount of tech, but you could argue it’s worth it to get the best of the best.

(Image credit: Nikon)

Best Nikon camera for car photography

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full-frame
Megapixels: 45 Frame rate: 10fps
Shutter speed range: 30sec/Bulb - 1/8000
ISO range: : 64-25600 (32 - 102400 expanded)
Image stabilization: : Sensor-shift, 5-axis, up to 5 stops compensation
Video: 4K 60p
Screen: 3.2-inch, 2.1m-dot tilting touchscreen
Weight: 615g (camera body only)
Reasons to buy
+Good all-rounder+High resolution +Good handling 
Reasons to avoid
-Best suited to static shots 

This Nikon mirrorless camera is another good all-rounder that has some useful specs particularly well-suited to car photography. The most obvious is the high-resolution full-frame sensor that will show off your car’s details fantastically well, and also gives you scope to crop if necessary.

A relatively slow 10fps frame rate means it’s not hugely well-suited to action, but if you’re mainly photographing static cars and details, that probably won’t be too much of an issue for you. On the plus side | **Image stabilization:** does a good job, while low light performance is great for such a high resolution sensor. 

If you’re keen on low-light and shooting action, you might also want to consider this camera’s sister model, the Z6 II - which comes with the trade off of a lower-resolution sensor. 

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

5. Fujifilm X-T4

Best APS-C camera for car photography

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 26.1 Frame rate: 30fps
Shutter speed range: 30sec/Bulb - 1/32000
ISO range: : 160 - 12800 (80-51200 extended)
Image stabilization: : Sensor-shift, 5-axis, up to 6.5 stops compensation
Video: DCI 4K 60p
Screen: 3-inch, 1.62m-dot articulating
Weight: 607g (inc. battery and memory card)
Reasons to buy
+Excellent all rounder+Fast frame rate+Excellent focusing 
Reasons to avoid
-Smaller sensor than others here 

One of the most advanced and powerful APS-C cameras on the market right now, the X-T4 is a stunning all-rounder which is particularly well-suited to action photography - great for car enthusiasts.

Here you get a super-fast max 30fps shooting speed, alongside fantastic image stabilization. The cropped sensor (smaller than full-frame) can be used to your advantage to get closer to the subject, which can be handy for race track shooting, too. 

The more modest 26 megapixel resolution is still good for showing off detail, with Fujifilm noted for its excellent dynamic range, too. As well as being an excellent stills camera, it’s also well-suited to video with 60p 10-bit 4K internal video, so vloggers and video content creators should find a lot to like too.

(Image credit: Panasonic)

6. Panasonic G100

Best travel-friendly camera for car photography

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Micro Four Thirds
Megapixels: 20.3 Frame rate: 10fps
Shutter speed range: 60sec - 1/16000
ISO range: : 200 - 25600
Image stabilization: : 5-axis hybrid IS (when paired with compatible lens)
Video: 4K 30p
Screen: 3-inch, 1.8m-dot, articulating screen
Weight: 345g (inc. battery and memory card)
Reasons to buy
+Travel-friendly+Articulating screen+
Reasons to avoid
-Smaller sensor than others here -No in-body stabilization 

If you’re looking for a neat and travel-friendly camera, perhaps for visiting events such as car shows and the like, then the Panasonic Lumix G100 is a good option. 

Although it has a relatively staid 10fps shooting, you can also use Panasonic’s innovating 4K Photo modes to extract stills from 30fps video, which gives you a lot more scope when photographing fast-moving action. 

It’s also ideal for creating video, with lots of vlogging friendly specs, including an excellent in-built microphone. Having a (relatively) small sensor that is paired with similarly small MFT lenses makes this an excellent choice for when you need to travel light.

(Image credit: DJI)

7. DJI Pocket 2

Best pocket-friendly video camera for cars

Specifications
Type: Action camera
Sensor: 1/1.7”
Megapixels: 64
Shutter speed range: 8-1/8000 Lens: 20mm (equiv), f/1.8
ISO range: : 100-3200 (64MP), 100-6400 (16MP/Video)
Image stabilization: : 3-axis gimbal
Video: 4K 60p
Screen: Touchscreen
Weight: 117g
Reasons to buy
+Great stabilization for a pocketable camera +Ideal for vloggers+Excellent video quality 
Reasons to avoid
-Not good for low light -Small sensor

If capturing video content of your car hobby is your number one priority, something small, pocket-friendly and able to show off your vehicles in all their glory is just the ticket. 

The Pocket 2 is ideal for YouTubers and vloggers, so if you’ve got a car channel then it’ll be just the right product for you. As well as capturing excellent video which shows off some impressive stabilization for its size, it’s also capable of producing some very usable 64MP stills. 

You get a number of useful add-ons in the box, with the 15mm ultra wide lens being useful for capturing the entire vehicle while still showing off some of the background / scenery.

(Image credit: GoPro)

Best action camera for car photography

Specifications
Type: Action camera
Sensor: 1/2.3-inch
Megapixels: 20MP
Shutter speed range: Up to 30s Lens: Wide & Linear Lens Modes
ISO range: : Up to 6400
Image stabilization: : Hypersmooth 3.0 Video Stabilization
Video: 5K 30p
Screen: 2.27-inch fixed touchscreen
Weight: 158g
Reasons to buy
+Excellent stabilization +Helpful front display +20MP photos mode
Reasons to avoid
-Laggy touchscreen

Still pretty much the go-to name in action cameras, the GoPro Hero 9 has a lot of enticing specs for those keen to create exciting action content. 

With excellent image stabilization, this is something you could mount inside or outside the car to create POV-style video, which you can also grab stills from. You can also take advantage of clever modes such as time-lapse to create interesting shots. 

“Mods” can be added to the GoPro Hero 9, which includes the Max Lens Mod, which also gives you some extra useful features such as 360 degree horizon lock and an ultra-wide Max SuperView mode.

(Image credit: DJI)

9. DJI Mavic Air 2

Best drone for aerial car photography and video

Specifications
Type: Drone
Sensor: 1/2”
Megapixels: 12MP & 48MP Lens: 24mm (equiv) f/2.8
ISO range: : 100-6400
Image stabilization: : 3-axis tilt, roll & pan
Video: 4K 60p
Screen: N/A
Weight: 570g
Reasons to buy
+Large sensor for a drone+AI Tracking+Great Video quality
Reasons to avoid
-Limited internal storage

Why not take your car photography to the next level - quite literally - by shooting it from above. You can capture some fantastic dynamic angles and show the beauty of a vehicle as it makes its way through some seriously impressive landscapes.

For a drone, the DJI Mavic 2 has a relatively large sensor, with the ability to capture both videos and stills - the latter at an impressive 48MP. 

If you want to follow a moving car from the air, then DJI’s FocusTrack systems do a superb job. The only potential downside for this drone is that it will need to be registered due to its size and weight, but if you’re dedicated to capturing this kind of content, it’s unlikely to be a deal breaker.

(Image credit: Apple)

Best smartphone for car photography

Specifications
Type: Smartphone
Sensor: 3x 12MP
Lenses: 13mm f/2.4, 26mm f/1.6 & 65mm f/2.2 (equivalent)
Low Light: Night mode
Image stabilization: Sensor shift OIS (main camera), OIS (tele), No IS (ultra wide)
Video: 4K 60p
Screen: 6.7-inch, 3.59m-dot touchscreen
Weight: 227g
Reasons to buy
+3x lenses+Excellent night mode +Great video
Reasons to avoid
-High price-No manual mode

Despite this being “just” a smartphone, you get a tonne of features which are helpful for car photography. 

With three different focal length lenses to choose from, you can shoot your vehicle from a variety of angles and compositions, while the ultra-wide angle lens can be helpful for including context / scenery.

A well-performing night mode is excellent for taking pictures of your car after dark, while it’s also great at capturing bright and vibrant 4K video. 

There’s no “manual” or “professional” photography mode with the iPhone 12 Pro’s native camera app, which is a little disappointing, but there’s plenty of third party apps which give you this functionality. Being able to record in Apple’s ProRAW format also gives you plenty of scope for editing after-the-fact to extract detail and tweak colors - which can also be useful for car photography.

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