The best cameras for beginner sports photography combine ease of use with a long lens and a quality AF system that will allow you to track fast-moving subjects. What’s more, you’ll want a camera that has a fast burst rate.
But when you’re a beginner and just finding your feet with sports photography, you might not want to make the investment in a top flight body and long telephoto lenses. You’ll probably want something more affordable, which offers enough of the features you need to get started and hone your craft.
In our opinion, the best cameras for beginner sports photography will be bridge cameras – those bodies that offer you the whole package in a self-contained unit. With a fixed long zoom lens, decent frame rate and AF systems, these cameras should be the perfect tool to help you get your feet wet in sports photography.
Below we’ve listed some of the best bridge cameras to get you started in sports photography. We’ve also suggested a few popular action cameras for capturing POV sports photography, as well as some older cameras that are built for capturing sport and have fallen in price over the years.
Photography for beginners: essential techniques and kit you need
The best cameras for beginner sports photography you can buy today
All of the cameras in our list of the best cameras for beginner sports photography were chosen based off our experience testing them. For more options, you might find our guides to the best cameras for beginners, best DSLRs for beginners and best beginner mirrorless cameras useful. What’s more, many of the options in our guide to the best cameras for beginner nature photography also have features that are well-suited for beginner sports photography.
For a deeper dive into the many different camera types and features available, check out our range of camera buying guides.
Panasonic FZ2000 / FZ2500
- Sensor: One-inch, 20.1-megapixel MOS Sensor
- Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 24-480mm (equivalent) f/2.8-4.5
- Autofocus: 49-area contrast detect
- Viewfinder: OLED Live View Finder, 2,360k-dots
- Screen: 3-inch Vari-angle TFT LCD touch-sensitive monitor, 1040k-dots
- Max video resolution: 4K
- Max frame rate: 30fps (using 4K Photo)
Panasonic’s FZ2000 is another fantastic all-round performer, with its well-performing one-inch sensor and variety of appealing features. Compared to the other models in this group, the focal length range is a little more limited, but with a maximum reach of 480mm, it should still suit pretty much any occasion.
The articulating touch-screen is great to use, as is the large viewfinder – the body of the FZ2000 is quite large to accommodate these features, which will be good news for some, and bad news for others.
Like all other current Panasonic models, it features 4K Photo – this allows you to extract 8MP stills in-camera from 4K video, in essence meaning you can shoot at 30fps. A good back-up or travel camera, the FZ2000 is also available for a much cheaper price than the Sony RX10 IV.
- 4K video/photo
- Great viewfinder
- (Relatively) limited focal length
- Large size
Sony RX10 IV
- Sensor: One-inch, 20.1-megapixel Exmor RS CMOS
- Lens: Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-600mm (equivalent) f/2.4-4
- Autofocus: 315-point focal-plane phase-detection autofocus
- Viewfinder: 0.39-inch electronic viewfinder, 2,359,296-dots
- Screen: 3-inch, tilting, touch-sensitive, 1,440,000-dot
- Max video resolution: 4K
- Max frame rate: 24fps
Unlike most bridge cameras, the Sony RX10 IV uses a larger one-inch sensor that offers 20.1-megapixel resolution. This is combined with a 25x optical zoom (24-600mm equivalent in 35mm terms) and Sony’s powerful BIONZ X processor and front-end LSI. Mix all these together and you’ve got something which has been designed for serious performance.
Other features include a 2.35-million dot EVF, a tilting, 1.44-million dot 3.0-inch screen which now offers touch-sensitivity, 4K video recording, inbuilt Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth and both an electronic and mechanical shutter.
What’s great about the RX10 IV is that because it copes so well with a variety of different subjects, it’s perfect for beginner photographers who haven’t yet found their niche and are exploring how to shoot a different types of images.
The RX10 IV isn’t cheap, and it might be more money than you want to splash out for a beginner camera with a fixed lens, but with such an impressive number of feature, super image quality and performance and in a lightweight body, this is not only one of the best bridge cameras but one of the best cameras full stop.
- Super-fast AF
- 4K video
- Very high price
Canon PowerShot G3 X
- Sensor: One-inch, 20.2-megapixel CMOS
- Lens: 25x (24-600mm equivalent) f/2.8-5.6
- Autofocus: 31-point contrast-detect
- Viewfinder: N/A
- Screen: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen 1,620,000-dot
- Max video resolution: 1080p
- Max frame rate: 60fps
Canon’s G3X is another camera which is a little older, but it’s still yet to be replaced. Canon’s G series cameras all feature one-inch sensors, and the G3X is no different. It produces excellent images, with the same amount of vibrancy and warmth which we usually associate with Canon cameras.
With its long focal length lens, you get plenty of flexibility, but while it has a very useful tilting touchscreen, there’s no viewfinder – something which is likely to be a big disappointment to many enthusiasts.
It’s also arguably a little awkward in use, having a small body thrown off body by the large lens. If you’re a Canon DSLR (or CSC) user, you’ll be at home with the menu systems, and many of the buttons, so it could be a good choice as a backup camera for travelling if you can get over using the screen to compose.
Of the one-inch sensor bridge cameras in our best bridge cameras list, it’s currently the cheapest proposition too.
- Tilting touch-sensitive screen
- Dustproof and splash proof
- No viewfinder
- Full HD only
GoPro Hero10 Black
- Photo : 23MP
- 5.3K: 60fps
- 4K: 120fps
- Video stabalisation: HyperSmooth 4.0
- LCD: Front and Rear (Touch screen)
- Battery: Removable 1720mAh Lithium-Ion
- Slow-mo: 8X
- Waterproof: 33ft (10m)
- Processor: GP2
- Cloud compatibility: Auto upload to GoPro cloud (Sub required)
- Voice control: Yes
- Livestreaming: 1080p
The GoPro Hero10 Black is an exciting, if not overwhelming, update to the world’s most popular action camera. While internal electronics are never the most exciting of upgrades, the performance they bring often is. The GP2 delivers overall improved performance, and that has to be a good thing.
The GoPro Hero10 Black is a refinement of the Hero9 and gives a power boost to all of the features. It’s also launched into a market with only two real competitors, the DJI OSMO Action 2 and the Insta360 One R.
The GoPro Hero10 Black is a great camera for capturing POV sports and action, but also for everyday sports photography. As well as being a great camera for those wanting to experiment with sports photography, it’s still the best action camera you can buy today.
DJI Action 2
- Dimensions: 39x39x22.3mm
- Waterproof: 10m without waterproof casing
- Weight: 56g
- Touchscreen : 1.76-inches
- Sensor : 1/1.7-inch CMOS
- Lens: FOV 155º f/2.8
- ISO Range: 100-6400
- Stills : 12mp
Video : 4K (4:3): 4096×3072 @ 24/25/30/48/50/60fps
4K (16:9): 3840×2160 @ 100/120fps
4K (16:9): 3840×2160 @ 24/25/30/48/50/60fps
2.7K (4:3): 2688×2016 @ 24/25/30/48/50/60fps
2.7K (16:9): 2688×1512 @ 100/120fps
2.7K (16:9): 2688×1512 @ 24/25/30/48/50/60fps
1080p (16:9): 1920×1080 @ 100/120/200/240fps
1080p (16:9): 1920×1080 @ 24/25/30/48/50/60fps
Slow Motion: 4K: 4x (120fps)
2.7K: 4x (120fps)
1080p: 8x (240fps), 4x (120fps)
- Max Video Bitrate: 130Mbps
The DJI Action 2 is a small cube that features a lens on the front, a screen at the back and a record button on top. You really couldn’t get anything more simple. It’s a modular design allows you to attach other elements, even a macro lens, for the type of work you want to do. This means you can adapt it for a multitude of uses, from an action camera to an FPV camera to a more complex imaging solution.
Image and video quality are fantastic, as you’d expect from DJI, and it’s one of the best action cameras you can buy.
But don’t think of the DJI Action 2 as just an action camera. Its small size and form make it ideal for all your video needs. It’s robust enough to be mounted anywhere, GoPro style, but has the advantage of being almost half the size. That means it’s truly wearable, mountable and can be attached to almost anything, including drones.
- Compact size
- Fast video transmission
- Modular design
- Limited to 4K
- Camera type: DSLR
- Announced: 5th January 2016
- Sensor: APS-C (23.5 x 15.7mm) 20.9Mp (5568 x 3712)
- Lens mount: Nikon F
- Processor: Expeed 5
- Sensitivity range: ISO 100-102,400 expandable to ISO 50-1,640,000
- Autofocus system: Viewfinder: 153-point with 99 cross-type Live View: contrast detection
- Max continuous shooting rate: 10fps
- Max video quality: 4K (3840 x 2160) at 30p, 35p, 24p
- Viewfinder: Optical using a pentaprism with 100% view
- Screen: 3.2-inch 2,359,000-dot TFT LCD touchscreen
- Storage: XQD and SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II)
- Battery: EN-EL15b rechargeable Li-ion battery (supplied)
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 147x115x81mm /5.8x4.6x3.2 in
- Weight: 860g with battery and XQD card
Nikon introduced the D500, at the same time as the full-frame D5, as its flagship APS-C (DX) format DSLR. It also has the same sensor architecture and 153-point Multi-Cam 20K autofocus module as the D5, which means it’s extremely capable. The AF system particularly impresses, getting fast-moving subjects sharp (and tracking them) in very low light.
Also, thanks to the Expeed 5 processing engine, the D500 has a maximum continuous shooting rate of 10fps (frames per second), which gives it extra appeal to wildlife and sports photographers.
Another bonus for photographers who like shooting outdoors is that the D500 is weather-sealed to a high standard. There’s also an optional grip available to make it more comfortable to use with long lenses when shooting in portrait orientation.
While the D500 is capable of shooting 4K video, the screen is fixed and the Live View AF system relies on contrast detection, which means it’s not really the ideal choice of camera for shooting video.
However, the D500 produces high-quality stills with a good level of detail maintained all the up to around ISO 6400 and even images shot at ISO 12,800 look very good. This, combined with D500’s rugged build, excellent viewfinder-based AF system and fast-shooting capability, make it a popular choice for wildlife photographers.
- Same sensor design as the Nikon D5
- Same AF system as Nikon D5
- Dual card slots
- Modest pixel count
- Poor Live View and video AF system
- Limited use of touch-screen
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II
- Camera type: Mirrorless camera
- Sensor: Four Thirds-type 20.4Mp Live MOS
- Processing engine: TruePic VIII
- Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
- Autofocus system: Hybrid with 121 all cross-type focusing points
- Max continuous shooting rate: 18fps with AF tracking, 60fps with AF locked on first frame with electronic shutter
- Max video resolution: 4K (4096 x 2160) at 24p
- Viewfinder: 2,360,000-dot electronic viewfinder
- Sensitivity range: ISO 64-25,600
- Screen: Vari‑angle 3-inch 1,037,000-dot touchscreen
- Storage: 2x SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II)
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 134.1 x 90.9 x 68.9mm
- Weight: 498g (body only), 574g (including battery and memory card)
The E-M1 II is a complex and versatile camera. It takes a while to get to discover all its features and understand some of its quirks, but it’s a rewarding experience.
Its stabilisation system is incredible and allows you to rethink how you shoot, leaving the tripod behind and avoiding high ISO settings. Olympus has also packed in the clever technology that we have come to expect with Live Bulb, Live Time and Live Composite mode making long exposure photography easy and in-camera focusing stacking enabling greater depth of field than is normally possible. In addition, High Res Shot mode turns this 20Mp camera into a 50Mp device – and you can use it for normal landscape photography with no concern about a breeze blowing through the trees.
High Res Shot mode has impressed us in the past with its ability to produce larger files with greater detail by combining a sequence of images in-camera. According to Olympus the latest version of the system in the OM-D E-M1 II produces images with resolution equivalent to 50Mp shots. It can also compensate for the slight movement in landscape scenes – leaves and grass etc.
Olympus’s Image Stabiliser (IS) is widely respected, but the latest version in the E-M1 II raised a few eyebrows at the launch event because it’s capable of extending the safe hand-holdable shutter speed by up to 6.5 stops with stabilised lenses like the new Olympus 12-100mm f/4.0 IS Pro. That’s an incredible figure, higher than any other camera. It could produce some interesting creative opportunities that are only normally possible with a tripod.
Further good news is that the Olympus OM-D E-M 1 Mark II is capable of recording 4K footage at up to 30p. Combining this with the claimed IS performance could mean the OM-D E-M1 Mark II prove popular with run-and-gun shooters.
Add in a high-quality viewfinder and a vari-angle touch-screen that helps you shoot from more creative angles and you have a very attractive camera.
- Fast and accurate focusing with moving subjects
- Superb stabilisation system
- Innovative features
- High price
- Comparatively small sensor limits scope to restrict depth of field
- High Res Shot mode a tripod only mode