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DSLRs are better than mirrorless for astrophotography – and the Canon EOS 6D is king

Canon astrophotography

It's official: DSLRs are more successful than mirrorless cameras for shooting astrophotography – and the Canon EOS 6D is the single most successful camera. 

That's according to a detailed analysis of three years of astrophotography competitions, which found that DSLRs accounted for 39% of shortlisted images, while mirrorless cameras only represented 15%. 

• Read more: PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine

Dedicated CMOS and CCD astrophotography cameras accounted for 24% and 21% respectively, while smartphones and tablets unsurprisingly made up just 2% of shortlisters – an "other" category (presumably comprising things like film cameras) makes up 1%. 

The information comes from astro website Skies & Scopes, which analyzed the last three years of images entered in the the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Competition operated by Royal Museums Greenwich in the UK. 

Among the many fascinating finds in the report, it is notable that Canon (23%), Nikon (22%) and astronomy camera specialist ZWO (22%) each have an almost identical share of successfully shortlisted images, while Sony is a distant forth (11%) and no other big brand manufacturers made up even 1%.

The cameras most used to photograph shortlisted images in the competition are: 

1) Canon EOS 6D (10%)
2) ZWO ASI174MM (6%)
3)
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (4%)
4) ZWO ASI1600MM (4%)
5)
Nikon D750 (4%)
6)
Nikon D850 (4%)

Of course, DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are ideal for landscape astrophotography images, but deep sky astrophotography is usually dominated by pure CMOS and CCD cameras.

Which makes it interesting to note that not only is the Canon EOS 6D the most used camera for landscape astro, at 20%, but also the second most-used camera for deep sky shooting at 6%, beaten only by the ZWO ASI1600MM at 14%.

Read more: Best cameras for astrophotography

Also fascinating is that, despite manufacturers producing a very limited number of specially modified astro bodies like the Canon EOS Ra, the only dedicated astrophotography DSLR or mirrorless camera highlighted by the study is the now-discontinued Nikon D810a

The full report is well worth reading, and also covers other astro equipment like telescopes and star trackers

Read more: 

Best CCD cameras for astrophotography
Best filters for astrophotography
What is astrophotography?
Best lenses for astrophotography
PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine

James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Phot0: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.