Do you love to capture stars but don’t have enough funds to buy specialist astrophotography cameras? You need not worry because we are going to review the best cheap camera for astrophotography in our guide.
Gone are the days when astrophotography was accessible only to astronomers. The dedicated astrophotography cameras such as Canon EOS RA are still very expensive no doubt. But – you can take brilliant images of the night sky using considerably cheaper cameras as well. Now, everyone has a chance to take pictures of the stars, moon, and other heavenly bodies without spending a fortune.
However, you cannot just use any camera for astrophotography. For example, your compact camera may take amazing pictures but it cannot take excellent pictures of the sky because it may not have a high ISO to shoot in the dark. Similarly, you need a camera that can take photos at an extremely slow shutter speed or have the ability to shoot in RAW. The camera must also be compatible with different lenses besides having a tripod mount for long exposures. Therefore, only DSLR or mirrorless makes the best cameras for astrophotography.
Best Budget Camera for Astrophotography
The following are the top budget cameras you can use for shooting stars, Northern Lights, Perseid meteor showers, etc. We checked these cameras against parameters like RAW images, LCD brightness, ISO, image stabilization, shutter speed, aperture range, etc.
|Image||Camera Model||Comparative Features||Check Price|
Fujifilm X-T30 II
Canon EOS Rebel T7i
Canon EOS 6D Mark II
So, here is the first camera on our list.
1. Fujifilm X-T30 II: Best Midrange Camera for Astrophotography
The successor of the massively popular X-T30, the X-T30 II is the ultimate cheap camera for shooting stars and the night sky.
The best thing about all Fujifilm cameras is the tactile details. For example, you don’t need to go to the menu to change settings. The camera is a delight to use thanks to the combination of the latest features and the retro feel.
The camera has a 26 megapixels backlit X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor as well as Quad Core X-Processor 4. These two work together to deliver sharp, crisp, and extremely detailed videos. The colors are vivid and correct as well.
The native ISO of 80-51200 (extendable to 102400) is ideal for shooting in low light such as the sky at the night. The camera also has the best-in-class autofocus.
Another nice feature for astrophotography is the Control mode. It allows you to quickly switch between exposure modes. The 8fps continuous shooting speed is below average but great for a cheap camera. You don’t need this feature much while shooting the night sky though.
If you want to record videos of the sky, X-T30 II shoots spectacular videos oversampled from the original 6K signal.
The viewfinder seems to be very slow and cannot match the fast camera movement.
Fujifilm X-T30 II is the best advanced beginner camera for astrophotography in our opinion. It is a lightweight and compact camera that enables you to learn the art of shooting the night sky without spending much.
I love the picture quality, compactness, form factor. The colors that come out of this are demonstrated in this example picture.
- 26 megapixels sensor
- The highly advanced image processor
- Very fast autofocus
- Good performance in low light
- Nice and crisp images
- Various video modes
- Slow viewfinder
2. Canon EOS Rebel T7i: Cheap Canon Astrophotography Camera
Canon EOS Rebel T7i is one of the most popular DSLRs by Canon. It offers features like 24 megapixels sensor, continuous shooting speed of 6fps, and a DIGIC 7 image processor.
The camera’s 45-point autofocus increases the speed of shooting through the optical viewfinder. Also, keep in mind that many people prefer an optical viewfinder over an electronic VF. The Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus is among the fastest in cheap cameras. It can track an object in 0.03 seconds.
The photos of the stars are colorful and detailed thanks to 24 megapixels sensor and DIGIC 7 image processor. The ISO of 100-25600 is not the highest but still enough to capture clear photos in low light.
Rebel T7i is easy to use and customizable as well. Another nice feature is the vari-angle touchscreen to take images from various angles. Connectivity options include NFC, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth for easy sharing of images.
You cannot fine tune the autofocus according to your requirements. The camera only has one memory card slot and doesn’t support 4K.
Canon EOS Rebel T7i is a cheap yet very capable camera to photograph the night sky. It has its limitations but you get what you pay for.
This camera is super easy to use and has a lot of great options as far as remote controlling of the camera- you can have a live feed on your phone or on the camera itself and its super nice! This camera holds its own in low lighting.
- 24 megapixels sensor
- DIGIC 7 image processor
- Sharp and detailed images
- High ISO
- Vari-angle touchscreen
- Optical viewfinder
- Very fast autofocus
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC
- No 4K
- Cannot fine tune autofocus
- Only one memory card slot
3. Pentax K-70 DSLR Camera: Best DSLR for Astrophotography
Pentax K-70 is not only cheap but also has some great features for astrophotography. The ergonomic and weather sealed camera helps you take pictures in all conditions as well.
First and foremost, it is quite a cheap camera and therefore, everyone can afford it. Despite its low price, it boasts built-in image stabilization or shakes reduction to be precise. Therefore, it is a perfect camera to take handheld images of the sky.
What makes it the best astrophotography camera is the night vision red light display. The night vision offers maximum or optimal visibility in darker areas and during the night. The high ISO of 100-102400 results in excellent low light images as well.
The camera helps you calculate the movement of heavenly bodies through the optional GPS module. Therefore, it becomes easier for you to capture these objects.
Pentax K-70 features a 24 megapixels sensor. So, the images are sharp and detailed in general. The optical viewfinder with 100% coverage is also a boon for photographers.
The major drawbacks are the lack of a touchscreen and a bulky body just like traditional DSLRs. The battery life is also quite low and there is no 4K as well.
Pentax K-70 is the best cheap camera for astrophotography for its low price, night vision display, and very high ISO. The shake reduction and electronic viewfinder also add to its functionality.
I switched from a Cannon T5i to the Pentax K-70. I shoot mainly outdoors by the ocean. I purchased this camera specifically due to weatherization and dust protection features. It is well built-durable, but heavier than most DSLR cameras.
- In-body shake reduction
- Night vision red light display
- Very high ISO
- Optional GPS module
- Very cheap camera
- Good images in general
- Low battery life
- No touchscreen
- Bulky body
4. Sony A6600 Mirrorless Camera: Good Camera for Astrophotography
You have to splash a bit more money to get this camera but it is worth it. You can even get the camera with a kit lens at a very reasonable price.
The kit lens will help you get going in astrophotography even though it is not the best lens to use with A6600. The most recommended lens to pair with A6600 is Samyang 12mm f/2.0. It is not only a wide angle lens with great coverage but it is known to take splendid images of the night sky. On top of that, it is quite affordable.
Other features include the world’s fastest real-time autofocus with the ability to track an object in just 0.02 seconds. The 11 fps continuous shooting speed is also quite impressive although not necessarily required for astrophotography.
The highlight of the camera is built-in 5-axis image stabilization. It enables you to take sharp and crisp images of celestial objects even without a tripod.
The native ISO range of 100-32000 and a shutter speed of 1/4000 to 30 seconds are also ideal for astrophotography.
Due to a smaller sensor, the image quality at high ISOs tends to decline. The best images are under ISO 32000.
Sony A6600 is a great camera for both beginners and experienced photographers. It has all the features to take beautiful images of the stars and other heavenly objects.
The best part of this camera comparing it to my other A6400 i the battery life! I do travel vlogging with it and somedays I only need to use 1 battery.
- 11fps continuous shooting speed
- Extremely fast autofocus
- High native ISO
- Perfect shutter speed for astrophotography
- 5-axis image stabilization
- Excellent images
- Image quality suffers at very high ISOs
5. Nikon D7500 DSLR Camera: Best DSLR Camera for Astrophotography
Nikon D7500 is one of the best crop sensor cameras on the market. It is also a great alternative to Canon EOS Ra, Nikon D500, and other expensive cameras for astrophotography. It offers almost the same features and image quality as Nikon D500.
The camera is very ergonomic with a comfortable grip. The lightweight body is quite easy to hold for longer periods which is usually the case in astrophotography.
The metering quality of both the D500 and 7500 is the same. The 20 megapixels sensor is smaller than Nikon D500. However, it still delivers excellent images thanks to the superior low light performance and a huge dynamic range. The camera has extremely high ISO capping at a whopping 1640000. As a result, the low light images are some of the best you would ever take.
The native shutter speed of 1/8000 to 30 seconds is also perfect for astrophotography. It is pertinent to mention that you need to keep your shutter open for at least 30 seconds to take a beautiful image of the sky.
The camera also has an 8fps continuous shooting speed and 51-point autofocus. However, both these features are irrelevant for astrophotography.
The sensor is not the most powerful, even in this price range. The camera has a ridiculous amount of crop for 4K which is disappointing.
Nikon D7500 is popular among night photographers mainly for its low light capabilities. Similarly, it is quite an affordable camera, available for just $750.
Nikon put together a product that gives the photographer a combination of two great cameras professional photographers use. It’s a blender between the artistic quality of the D750 and the iso and autofocus speed of the D500 under one house.
- Lightweight and ergonomic
- Solid construction
- Excellent image quality
- Very high ISO
- Very high dynamic range
- Excellent metering
- Perfect shutter speed for astrophotography
- 4K video and 4K timelapse
- Very long battery life
- Not the most powerful sensor
- Very high crop in 4K
6. Canon EOS 6D Mark II: Best Astrophotography DSLR Camera
Canon EOS 6D Mark II was the first full-frame camera that even amateur photographers could easily afford. It is still considerably more expensive than all other cameras on our list but we have to include it for its amazing set of features and functions.
Compared to 20 megapixels sensor of the Nikon D7500, the 6D Mark II has a much more powerful 26.2 megapixels sensor. Combine the sensor with DIGIC 7 image processor and impressive low light capabilities and you will get amazing pictures of the celestial objects.
The full-frame sensor means the camera also has extra dynamic range. The ISO of 100-40000 is no match for that of the Nikon D7500 but it is more than enough for astrophotography.
The highlight of the camera is the optical viewfinder without any doubt. Similarly, you can use Dual Pixel autofocus in live view. There is a vari-angle touchscreen, enabling you to shoot from different angles.
The 6D Mark II has a native shutter speed of 1/4000 to 30 seconds, becoming a great camera for astrophotography.
The camera has a rugged and compact design and therefore, you can use it in a variety of conditions.
The camera is quite slow having only 6.5fps continuous shooting speed. Similarly, there is no 4K video resolution. However, both these features are not required for astrophotography, especially if you don’t shoot too many videos.
Canon EOS 6D Mark II is the best camera for astrophotography when it comes to affordable DSLR cameras. However, it couldn’t manage to beat Nikon D7500 just for its relatively higher price tag.
I am amazed about the kind of photos this camera produces. I am new to photography and used it for Real Estate and Landscape photography. I haven’t used it for Video yet, but sure it will preform well.
- 26 megapixels sensor
- DIGIC 7 image processor
- Impressive low light performance
- Optical viewfinder
- Vari-angle touchscreen
- Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus in Live view
- Lightweight and rugged
- High dynamic range
- Slow camera
- No 4K
7. Nikon Z6 Mirrorless Camera: Best Cheap Mirrorless Camera for Astrophotography
Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera gives some of the best night-time shots and that too for just around $1000. It is ahead of many comparable cameras and can easily leave them in the dust.
The camera delivers exceptional images in low light due to a high ISO of 100-21500 (extendable to 204800). The 24.5 megapixels sensor is slightly lower than that of the Nikon Z7. However, it is a blessing in disguise because a smaller sensor also means low noise in the final image, perfect for astrophotography.
Nikon Z6 is also much cheaper than Sony A7 III. However, it has a superior electronic viewfinder with a million more dots. The fantastic viewfinder delivers clear, sharp, and realistic images of the night sky.
The camera also has a brilliant low light autofocus. All the above features combine to make it the best Nikon astrophotography camera on a budget.
Nikon Z6 also has 4K at 30fps video resolution if you want to shoot videos apart from taking spectacular stills.
The camera has a limited but expanding lens range. However, this shouldn’t be a problem because you can use any Nikon lens you can think of with this camera albeit with an FTZ adapter.
Nikon Z6 is an ideal camera for astrophotography for its affordability and excellent low light performance. It has some discrepancies but its merits easily outweigh its demerits.
Got this after 9 months of eyeing it and i must say it was worth every penny … great for work and hobby
- Fantastic electronic viewfinder
- 25 megapixels sensor
- Excellent low light performance
- Negligible image noise
- Brilliant low light autofocus
- 4K video resolution
- Affordable camera
- Limited lens range
- Superseded by Nikon Z6 II
How to Buy the Best Cheap Camera for Astrophotography?
You need to look for certain features such as ISO, shutter speed, LCD, focus, and ability to shoot in RAW while buying a camera for astrophotography.
ISO plays an important part in taking beautiful images of the sky. As astrophotography is often done at the night, your camera needs to have a high native ISO to deliver good images. The ideal ISO is from 2000 to 5000 but it also depends on your camera’s sensor, ambient light, maximum aperture, etc.
High Dynamic Range
Cameras with a high dynamic range also perform better in low light. Another thing to look out for in astrophotography cameras is a larger sensor.
You need as wide an aperture as possible for astrophotography. The wider the aperture, more light it will allow to enter the sensor, and the better will be the images, especially in the dark.
You usually need long exposures to capture the night sky or celestial objects. Therefore, the camera shutter should be able to remain open for long periods. The ideal shutter speed for astrophotography is 30 seconds but it also depends on the focal length you are using.
Choose the camera that allows you to adjust the brightness of the LCD. You need an LCD with as low brightness as possible to accurately see the actual image on the back screen.
RAW images, as you already know, offer you much more flexibility when it comes to post processing. They also help you record as much information about the night sky as possible in the file.
Your camera should also be compatible with a wide variety of lenses. You can choose any lens you want for astrophotography. However, most people recommend using a wide angle lens because it offers greater coverage, more area compared to other lenses.
Image stabilization is essential because you to have shoot long exposures. It becomes difficult to keep the camera steady during long periods and this is where image stabilization will come to your rescue.
You can also choose a high quality tripod if your camera does not have built-in image stabilization.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Do you need a special camera for astrophotography?
There are dedicated cameras for astrophotography but you can capture celestial objects with a normal camera as well. Just make sure that your camera has a wide aperture, high ISO, large sensor, low noise, and excellent image sharpness. The camera should also be compatible with different kinds of lenses.
- Which budget camera is best for night photography?
The following are the best budget cameras for night photography.
- Fujifilm X-T30 II
- Canon EOS Rebel T7i
- Pentax K-70 DSLR Camera
- Sony A6600 Mirrorless Camera
- Nikon D7500 DSLR Camera
- Can you use any camera for astrophotography?
Yes, you can use any camera for astrophotography. The best and the cheapest way to go for a beginner is to invest in a budget DSLR.
- How many pixels do you need for astrophotography?
The best astrophotography images have an average of 29 megapixels. Therefore, we recommend cameras having somewhere from 20 to 30 megapixels sensor.
- Which camera is the best to see planets?
The best camera to see planets and for solar imaging is ZWO ASI174MM. It uses a global shutter besides having a high frame rate of 164fps and a large 1/1.2 inch sensor. It is also an ideal camera for capturing the Moon, planets, ISS, and other high speed objects.
Finally, the choice of the best cheap camera for astrophotography depends on your preferences, budget, and requirements. It may be tempting to buy an expensive camera but if you cannot afford it, it is not for you. You can practice astrophotography even with a budget camera. Once you have earned enough experience and money, you can happily spend that on a high-end astrophotography camera.