New to fly fishing photography or looking for a quality camera that won’t break the bank? This guide will help identify some of the best fishing cameras you can buy for under $1,000 along with their key features. These are cameras are all capable of taking stunning nature and fish photos and videos. Ultimately you’ll need to consider what’s most important to you like price, waterproof rating, interchangeable lenses, video quality and more when purchasing your next camera but this guide should help you focus on some great fishing friendly options that are capable of producing high quality content.
Disclaimer: this isn’t a complete technical review, however, we’ll highlight a few specific specs for each camera that make them each a worthy option.
The Sony a6400 has been a perennial favorite here at Flylords when it comes to cameras with interchangeable lenses for under $1000. The Sony A6400 is a mirrorless camera equipped with APS-C Sensor which allows for a more compact form factor amongst other technical benefits, perfect for stowing in a pack or bag for fishing adventures. The A6400 can take top notch photos thanks to the 24 megapixel sensor and sharp autofocus ( 0.02 seconds) that makes capturing fish and wildlife photos a breeze. This camera is weatherproof and can withstand a little drizzle or snow but it’s not waterproof, so you’ll still need to be relatively careful with this camera around water. The A6400 is also capable of capturing stunning 4K video for aspiring and seasoned videographers alike.
The Sony A6400 is capable of producing pro quality images in a user-friendly format we’ve come to know and love from Sony. The Sony A6400 camera body can be purchased for around $899 new, but there are great kit deals available that include a lens for under $1000. With the Sony A6400, you’ll have a camera that will meet your needs for years to come with Auto, Aperture, and Manual modes to accommodate various skill levels. The A6400 is our top vote for fishing cameras under $1000.
- 24 megapixel sensor
- High Quality Photos
- Sharp and Quick Autofocus
- Interval mode for time-lapses
- Fast continuous shooting at 11fps for incredibly crisp actions shots
- Electronic ViewFinder
- Good Dynamic Range
- No crop factor in 4k at 24fps
- Real time autofocus tracking
- Con: no in camera stabilization (solved by purchasing lenses that have optical steady shot)
Ever since its first release, the GoPro quickly became a staple action/adventure camera, especially in the fishing world. The GoPro HERO 10 Black is no exception. Not much needs to be said about the GoPro — it is compact, high quality, waterproof, can take the brunt of a high-intensity fishing expedition, and doesn’t break the bank. While GoPro’s are best known for video performance, the GoPro HERO 10 is capable of taking some great still photos too. Below are some features from the HERO 10 that make it a great choice:
- All-new GP2 processor makes this the most powerful GoPro ever
- 5.3K60 + 4K120 video resolution
- 23 megapixel photos
- Advanced HyperSmooth 4.0 video stabilization
- Waterproof to 33ft + built tough
The Canon EOS Rebel T8i is one of Canon’s best offerings under $1,000. The EOS Rebel T8i is a 24-megapixel DSLR equipped with an APS-C sensor. Unlike the Sony A6400 which is a mirrorless camera, the Canon EOS Rebel T8i has an optical viewfinder which prevents lag when capturing action shots. This camera is also capable of 7fps continuous shooting to capture every moment out on the water. Users will need to be careful shooting around water as this body is not waterproof.
While mirrorless cameras certainly have their benefits in terms of compact size for carrying and real time feedback when adjusting aperture, ISO, or shutter speed on the back screen, larger DSLR camera bodies like the Canon Rebel T8i are far more comfortable to hold when taking for users with larger hands. The Canon EOS Rebel T8i is compatible with Canon EF and EF-S lenses as well as third party lenses, allowing this camera to serve it’s owner for years to come as shooting ability and content change.
- 24 megapixel sensor
- Great quality photos
- 7 fps Continuous shooting
- Benefit of access to Canon’s range of EF & EF-S mount lenses
- Compatible with third party lens
- 24p 4K video at up to 24fps with 1.6x crop, or full-sensor 1080p
- Canon color science — great for shooting in flat profiles
The Olympus TG-6 is our recommendation for a completely waterproof compact camera, at a price that won’t leave your wallet empty. That’s right, this camera can capture stunning stills and video underwater without any additional housing or equipment for under $400, less than many underwater housings alone. In addition to being waterproof, the TG-6 is also shock proof, making it the perfect adventure, kid, and fishing friendly camera.
This camera is easy to use and can function as a simple point and shoot camera for beginners but also offers Aperture mode giving flexibility to users looking to get more from their camera. The Olympus TG-6 is also incredibly compact compared to the Sony A6400 or Canon EOS Rebel T8i. For less than $400 anglers can begin to capture stunning underwater footage with the Olympus TG-6, an option worthy of some serious consideration.
- 12 megapixel sensor
- Sharp images with great color contrast
- Great built-in Macro capability ideal for detailed fish shots and fly photography
- Can shoot RAW
- 5 underwater preset modes: snapshot, wide, macro, microscope, and HDR
- Aperture Priority mode
- 4k/30P Underwater Video
- Can shoot 120fps in HD
Ok, maybe the latest and greatest phone might retail a little above the $1000 price point, but with specials and deals you’re likely able to get a phone with in a “Pro” version or with other enhanced camera capabilities for under a grand. Not only do some of the latest phones have better cameras than many mirrorless cameras and DSLRs on the market, but you likely already have one in your pocket.
A “Pro” version phone will offer users some of the more in depth camera settings like exposure and f-stop which will help enhance your photos and will be waterproof, making it an ideal fishing camera. Additionally, there are so many great accessories that can help turn your phone in a photo and video machine including add-on lenses and products like the AxisGo Waterproof Housing which we’re big fans of. Be sure to check out our complete review of the AxisGo Waterproof Housing if you’re interested in learning more.
- 12MP camera
- ƒ/2.2 aperture
- Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control
- 4K video recording at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
- Dual optical image stabilization
- Slow motion video support for 1080p at 120 fps or 240 fps
- Time lapse video with stabilization
Choosing Your Next Camera
Ultimately, whatever camera you have on hand is the best one, but if you’re in the market for a new camera this guide should help you in your decision making process. Practicing with your current camera will result in better composition in your photos which is fundamental to great shots and will set you up for success whenever you’re ready to pull the trigger on an upgraded fishing camera. Take your time when purchasing your next camera and consider what’s most important to you: size, interchangeable lenses, waterproof rating, etc and go from there.
Article by Evan Garda on the Content Team here at Fly Lords. He can be found chasing fish throughout the west with his trusty fly rods. Check out his adventures at @evangarda.