The best low-light cameras in 2024: capture dark scenes with detail!

The best low-light cameras are able to take stunning, high-quality images even in dark environments. There are a few different features that make some cameras better than others such as sensor size, design, and pixel count. You might find you have to compromise on other things such as shutter speed or video capabilities but chances are if you're shooting mostly low-light photography, you won't need super-fast shutter speeds anyway.

Whether you're after one of the best mirrorless cameras, best DSLR's or even one of the best compact cameras, certain cameras within these categories will be better for shooting in low light than others. The general rule is that the bigger the sensor, the better equipped it is for low-light scenarios. This is because it has a bigger surface area so it can capture more light but it's not quite as simple as that. While there are a lot of full-frame cameras in our guide, cameras with back-illuminated sensors tend to perform best in low-light conditions. You also need to take into account the pixel count as cameras with a smaller pixel count use larger individual pixels so they are better at gathering light information. 

That being said, you can get excellent APS-C cameras in low-light. You just need to weigh up what is most important to you in a camera system. Cropped sensor cameras are often smaller, lighter, more portable, and have smaller lenses so if you intend to travel a lot or have it on you at all times, it might be an idea to think about that too.

best low-light cameras: our top picks

The best low-light cameras in 2024

Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out how we test.

Best all-round low light camera

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)
Best all-rounder

Specifications

Sensor: Full-frame CMOS
Megapixels: 24.1
AF type:: Dual Pixel CMOS AF II Phase Detection
AF sensitivity: -6.5EV
Stabilization: IBIS in conjunction with lens stabilisation, 8 stops compensation
ISO range: 100-102400 (50-204800 expandable)
Remote app: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
6K oversampled HDMI video
+
40 frames per second
+
AF AI modes are incredible
+
IBIS is class-leading

Reasons to avoid

-
SD slots only
-
Average megapixel count

The Canon EOS R6 Mark II presents itself as a versatile camera, concealing its surprisingly powerful capabilities behind its modest facade. Historically, opting for a mid-range camera like the EOS R6 or its forerunner, the EOS 6D Mark II, often entailed compromising certain aspects. While these cameras consistently performed well, they didn't necessarily lead in any particular category.

With the EOS R6 Mark II, Canon has shifted expectations. This unassuming camera delivers a range of features, including the ability to record 6K videos and capture 24.2MP stills at an impressive 40 frames per second.

Distinguished as a true hybrid, the EOS R6 Mark II accommodates both photography and videography. Adjustments to physical controls and the menu system aim to facilitate a seamless transition between these two mediums. Canon has aimed to provide a well-rounded experience.

Read more: Canon EOS R6 Mark II review

Best low light camera for filmmakers

(Image credit: Adam Duckworth)
Best camera for filmmakers

Specifications

Sensor: Full-frame BSI CMOS
Megapixels: 12.1
AF type:: Hybrid
AF sensitivity: -6EV
Stabilization: IBIS + OIS (5.5 stops)
ISO range: 80-102400 (40-409600 expandable)
Remote app: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Superb low light performance 
+
Ideal for video
+
Great AF performance 

Reasons to avoid

-
Low pixel count 
-
Pretty pricey 
-
Not an all-rounder 

The Sony A7S III is a full-frame camera with a focus on video capabilities, particularly in low-light settings. It boasts excellent dynamic range and smooth image processing, ensuring impressive image quality even in darker environments. The camera features a 12MP backside-illuminated sensor, which, while relatively low in pixel count for a full-frame camera, contributes to its exceptional performance in low-light conditions.

The autofocus is both fast and precise, and the image stabilization is of high quality, allowing for handheld shooting in various situations. Additionally, users have a wide selection of lenses to choose from. The camera offers several notable video features, including uncropped 4K video, 16-bit raw recording, and a high-resolution viewfinder. These attributes make it a compelling choice for those who enjoy capturing video in challenging lighting conditions.

However, it's worth noting that while the Sony A7S III excels in low-light and video scenarios, it may have limitations for individuals who also engage in other types of photography.

Read more: Sony A7S III review

Best phone for low light

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)
Best smartphone for low light

Specifications

Sensor: 1/1.31-inch (main)
Megapixels: 50 (main), 48 (ultrawide), 48 (telephoto)
Autofocus: dual pixel PDAF
AF sensitivity: Not stated
Stabilization: OIS
ISO range: Not stated
Remote app: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Reliable camera with new Pro Mode
+
Smooth performance and clean UI
+
Premium screen and styling
+
Unique Google Android highlights

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than the Pixel 7 Pro
-
128GB starting storage too low for price
-
Occasionally gets warm to hot
-
Strange shadow processing in certain scenes

The Pixel 8 Pro offers a refined user experience and serves as an excellent camera phone. The imaging experience, overall, has seen notable improvements compared to the 7 Pro and stands out as one of the best available on a smartphone currently. This positive aspect prevents the occasional processing issue from being a deal-breaker.

The night mode on the Google Pixel 8 Pro is the bets on any smartphone right now, and now even extends to better nighttime video as well! Google's algorithms so a lot to pull the most detail out of the sensor, as well as using AI to clean up artifacts like noise for cleaner-looking low-light footage.

The Pixel 8 Pro has won us over, particularly for those with a keen interest in low-light photography. The Pro mode and high-resolution capture capabilities bring a transformative aspect to the device, unlocking new possibilities for cropping and enhancing the overall photography experience in the Pixel line.

Read more: Google Pixel 8 Pro review

Best Micro Four Thirds for low light

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)
Best Micro Four Thirds

Specifications

Sensor: Four Thirds Live MOS
Megapixels: 25
AF type:: Phase Detect
AF sensitivity: -5EV
Stabilization: IBIS + OIS (up to 8 stops)
ISO range: 100-25600 (50-25600 extended)
Remote app: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Much improved autofocusing
+
Build & ergonomics top-notch
+
Impressive stabilization
+
Increased focal reach of MTF sensor 

Reasons to avoid

-
No significant size or weight reduction over larger sensor cameras

The Panasonic Lumix G9 II provides a versatile camera experience, offering a comprehensive set of features suitable for both photographers and videographers.

Panasonic is perhaps more recognized for video enthusiasts, and the G9 II reinforces this reputation with its impressive stills capabilities. The in-body image stabilization and enhanced autofocus system contribute to the exceptional quality and is one of the best (if not the best) stabilization systems I have used in a camera.

This helps a lot with low light photography as the excellent stabilization allows you to shoot at even lower shutter speeds to cut out any shake from you moving the camera. Although unfortunately, this cannot help with the movement of your subjects.

The Panasonic G9 II is a commendable successor to the original model. It underscores Panasonic's commitment to the MFT mount and provides compelling reasons for users to consider this camera for their needs.

Read more: Panasonic Lumic G9 II review

Best APS-C camera for low light

(Image credit: Alistair Campbell)
Best Fujifilm camera for low light

Specifications

Sensor: APS-C X-Trans 5 BSI CMOS
Megapixels: 40
Autofocus: Intelligent Hybrid
AF sensitivity: -7EV
Stabilization: IBIS + OIS (up to 7 stops)
ISO range: 125-12,800 (64-51200 expanded)
Remote app: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
10-bit 4:2:2 video at 6.2K/30P
+
Light, compact design
+
Cheaper than Fujifilm X-H2

Reasons to avoid

-
Three-way tilting LCD won't please everyone

The Fujifilm X-T5 sets a new bar for Fujifilm's APS-C range, with its beautiful design and cutting-edge technology proving to be a match made in heaven. The 40MP sensor is not more detailed than ever, as is a BSI CMOS sensor for even better low light capabilities with better handling of ISO. The X-T5 has also been upgraded to up to 7 stops of in-body image stabilization for steadier shooting at night.

You may be interested in understanding the distinctions between the Fujifilm X-T5 and the X-H2, given that they share the same sensor and processor. The main difference lies in their ergonomics and design, with the X-H2 featuring a more modern layout with a top screen and the X-T5 equipped with more retro dials. Otherwise, both produce very similar results, and both cameras are compatible with Fujifilm X-mount lenses.

Read more: Fujifilm X-T5 review

Best iPhone for low light

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)
The best iPhone for low light photography

Specifications

Sensor: 1/1.28-inch (main)
Megapixels: 48 (main), 12 (ultrawide), 12 (telephoto)
Autofocus: dual pixel PDAF
AF sensitivity: Not stated
Stabilization: OIS
ISO range: Not stated
Remote app: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Refined design
+
Fantastic screen
+
Excellent ecosystem
+
Powerful camera system

Reasons to avoid

-
Weak between 2.5-4.9x zoom
-
Occasional noise-handling issues
-
Some users report overheating
-
Very expensive

The camera on the iPhone 15 Pro Max is generally very good, producing brilliant results in most scenarios. However, challenges arise when zooming between the 1-5x range, and in certain low-light situations, where boosting shadows sometimes introduce noticeable noise, which keeps it from the same heights as the Google Pixel 8 Pro in low-light situations.

The additional 5x telephoto camera is a great step forward, however, with the prevalence of smartphones offering four or five optical ranges in the Android market, Apple may need to consider adding a mid-point portrait camera to remain competitive.

For those who do not require the extensive zoom capabilities and more than a day of battery life offered by the 15 Pro Max, the iPhone 15 Pro or 14 Pro Max present excellent alternatives.

Read more: Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max review

Best DSLR for low light

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)
Despite the higher megapixel sensor the D850 still shines in low-light environments

Specifications

Sensor: Full-frame CMOS
Megapixels: 45.7
Autofocus: Phase detection
AF sensitivity: -4EV
Stabilization: Lens stabilisation only
ISO range: 64 - 25600 (32-102400 extended)
Remote app: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Traditional handling 
+
Fantastic all rounder 
+
Great autofocusing 

Reasons to avoid

-
Older tech 
-
Big and bulky 
-
No image stabilization in body 

Although you’d be forgiven for thinking that mirrorless has well and truly taken over, there’s still a lot to be said for DSLRs. Nikon’s once class-leading D850 has now dramatically reduced in price, making it a bit of a bargain in comparison to some of those featured here.

We’ve been saying all the way through this piece that high resolution is no friend to low-light photography, but here’s one camera that provides the exception to the rule. 

With its high-resolution sensor it makes for a good all-rounder, while still putting in a good low-light performance thanks to a fast and sensitive AF system and a good expandable ISO range. 

Many will prefer the handling of a DSLR compared to a mirrorless, while the lens range for DSLRs is still yet to be rivaled by their mirrorless counterparts. The big downside here is that there is no image stabilization in the body, so you’ll be relying on image-stabilized lenses for handheld shooting. 

Read more: Nikon D850 review

Best low light camera for pros

(Image credit: James Artaius / Digital Camera World)
Best low-light camera for professional photographers

Specifications

Sensor: Full-frame stacked CMOS
Megapixels: 24.2
AF type:: Hybrid
AF sensitivity: -3EV
Stabilization: IBIS + OIS (5.5 stops compensation)
ISO range: 100 - 25600 (50-204800 extended)
Remote app: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Superb autofocus 
+
Great image stabilization 
+
Well suited to lots of different subjects 

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive 
-
Overkill for most 

A professional-level camera is probably going to be complete overkill for most enthusiast photographers, but if you want the best of the best and have the budget to spend, the Sony A9 II really is a fantastic option.

Arguably targeted primarily towards action and sports photographers, given that a lot of those subjects take place in dimly-lit environments, you can see why Sony has equipped the camera with decent low-light prowess.

It’s got a very well-performing image stabilization system, while the modest pixel count on the full-frame sensor makes it good for capturing as much light as possible. The AF is incredible, and although it’s only sensitive down to -3EV, that should still be enough for most scenarios.

The major downside here is of course price. A professional camera commands a professional price tag. If you’re keen to get in on the action, try looking at the camera’s predecessor (the Sony A9) for a hefty saving.

Read more: Sony A9 II review

Best compact camera for low light

(Image credit: Future)
Best low light camera for travel

Specifications

Sensor: APS-C CMOS
Megapixels: 24.2
AF type:: Dual Pixel CMOS AF
AF sensitivity: Not stated
Stabilization: OIS (4 stops)
ISO range: 100-12800 (100-25600 extended)
Remote app: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
DSLR sized sensor in compact body 
+
Zoom lens 
+
Fully articulating screen 

Reasons to avoid

-
Narrow maximum aperture
-
An old model 
-
Limited battery life 

If you're looking for a great travel-friendly compact camera that will surely beat your smartphone in low light conditions, then the Canon G1X Mark III could be the one for you. 

Canon impressively included a DSLR-sized sensor in this (almost) pocketable device, so you’ve got a lovely big APS-C-sized sensor perfectly primed for gathering light in dim conditions. It’s a shame that the 3x optical zoom lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.8, otherwise, this could have been pushed even further. 

Now showing its age, the G1X range hasn’t been upgraded since the Mark III. It’s unlikely to be anybody’s primary camera, but for keeping size to a minimum but still having a decent degree of flexibility, it’s certainly a contender.

Read more: Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III

Best rugged camera for low light

(Image credit: James Artaius)
An underwater camera this works surprisingly well in low light

Specifications

Sensor: 1/2.33-inch CMOS
Megapixels: 12
Lens: 25-100mm (equivalent) f/2.0-4.9 AF Points: 25
AF type: Contrast Detection
Stabilization: IBIS
ISO range: 100-12800
Remote app: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Virtually indestructible
+
GPS & field sensor functions
+
RAW images, 4K 30p video

Reasons to avoid

-
Practically identical to the TG-6

Yes, the OM System Tough TG-7 shares a lot of similarities with the Olympus Tough TG-6 – except for the fact that you can't buy the TG-6 any more, as it's been discontinued. 

Sure the tech isn't cutting edge any more, but short of adding phase detect autofocus (which, let's be honest, isn't coming to a compact like this any time soon) or a higher resolution sensor (which previous Toughs have had, but traded up pixels for better low light performance) what more could we really ask for? 

You're not buying this camera for a fancy autofocus system or millions of megapixels; you're buying this camera because you want to take great photos while you're swimming in the ocean, or while your kids are playing in the sand, or when you're hiking through the mud, or when you might drop it on some rocks, or when you're in the freezing snow or the middle of the desert. 

The OM System Tough TG-7 remains the best everything-proof camera on the market, and is an essential all-round compact camera for vacations, adventures, travel and everyday photography. 

Read more: Olympus Tough TG-7 review

Best Nikon for low light

(Image credit: Adam Waring/Rod Lawton)
Nikon's second generation Z6 is great in low light and benefits from dual card slots

Specifications

Sensor: Full-frame BSI CMOS
Megapixels: 24.5
AF type:: Hybrid
AF sensitivity: -4.5EV
Stabilization: IBIS + OIS (up to 5 stops)
ISO range: 100-51200 (50-204800 extended)
Remote app: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Great all rounder
+
Fantastic handling 
+
Good value for money

Reasons to avoid

-
Fairly light refresh of the predecessor 
-
Z lenses still fairly expensive

Here’s another model which is a great all-rounder that puts in a good performance in a number of conditions, including low light. The Nikon Z6 II uses a lower resolution sensor than its more advanced stablemate (the Nikon Z7 II), which suits low-light shooting well. It’s also got a decent autofocusing system which is sensitive down to -4.5EV - that’s not quite as good as some of the others on the list, but this camera is also more modestly priced than some.

You get a very good ISO range and image stabilization is built into the body so handheld shooting in low-light conditions is pretty good here. 

Handling is also excellent, while the screen and viewfinder combination are a pleasure to use. There are two notable criticisms with the Z6 II - the first is that it's not a huge advancement over its own predecessor, and the second is that compatible Nikon Z-mount lenses - especially wide aperture prime lenses - are still a little on the expensive side. Still, if the budget is tight you could save some decent cash by plumping for the older model.

Read more: full Nikon Z6 II review

How to choose the best low light camera

Image Stabilization A lot of modern mirrorless cameras come with in-body image stabilization (IBIS) which helps to not only keep video footage smooth but enables you to shoot at slower shutter speeds and still capture sharp images. Some lenses will come with stabilization on the lend but stabilization on the camera is much better. Often both stabilization will work together to make sure you get the sharpest images possible.

High ISO capabilities Cameras that have bigger ISO ranges will operate better in low light conditions as you'll be able to shoot at higher ISO's without having too much noise in your image. The general rule of thumb is the lower the ISO the cleaner your images will be which is why people shooting in broad daylight like to shoot at around ISO 200-400. However, modern cameras are incredible at minimizing noise, even shooting as high as ISO 10 000 on something like the Sony A7 III you can create passable images with a little bit of noise reduction in post-processing. 

Lenses Most of the cameras we've included are interchangeable lens cameras. This is because the lens you choose often determines how much light can be let in based on the maximum aperture. You'll want a lens that has a wide aperture of f/1.4-f/2.8 if you want to shoot mostly hand-held. Of course, if you're planning on shooting night skies for example, you'll be shooting using a tripod and bulb mode so the aperture doesn't matter so much as you'll be letting a lot of light in with super long shutter speeds.

Remote control apps Lots of modern cameras can be triggered from your smartphone. If you’re mounting your camera on a tripod and are shooting low-light street and landscape scenes, this can be incredibly useful to avoid camera shake and to save you spending money on a remote release. 

How we test low light cameras

We test mirrorless and DSLR cameras both in real-world shooting scenarios and in carefully controlled lab conditions. Our lab tests measure resolution, dynamic range and signal to noise ratio. Resolution is measured using ISO resolution charts, dynamic range is measured using DxO Analyzer test equipment and DxO Analyzer is also used for noise analysis across the camera's ISO range. We use these real-world testing and lab results to inform our comments in buying guides. For compact cameras and phones, we judge on real world handling and photographic results alone. 

Sebastian Oakley
Ecommerce Editor

For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specializing in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound, and many more for various advertising campaigns, books, and pre/post-event highlights.


He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science, and is a Master of Arts in Publishing.  He is a member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected into BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association. 


He is familiar with and shows great interest in street, medium, and large format photography with products by Leica, Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa, and Sinar. Sebastian has also used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI, and everything in between. He now spends his spare time using his trusted Leica M-E shooting Street photography or general life as he sees it, usually in Black and White.