The 7 Best Cameras for Sports Photography (2024)

Mike Keenan
cameras for youth sports
cameras for youth sports
Every parent keeps a handful of their favorite photos of their kids playing sports. Capturing the excitement and enthusiasm of youth sporting events can create lasting memories for players, parents, and coaches alike.
Most parents simply use their smartphones. But a higher-quality camera can take your youth sports organization’s photos to the next level and create even more timeless keepsakes.
Capturing photos and videos of kids playing sports is a fun way to share their progress with friends and family. Professional photos are also handy when pitching companies that sponsor youth sports and building out your sports website.
But you need the right camera for the job. To help you find the best one, we’ve put together the seven best cameras, including more affordable and versatile options suitable for different levels of enthusiasts.

1. Sony a6400

Best all-around sports photography camera 

✅ Why buy it: Exceptional image quality and a fast autofocus system make the Sony a6400 perfect for capturing detailed action shots. The flip screen is perfect for parents and volunteers wanting to capture their athletes on the field!
sony a6400 camera for youth sports photography
Source: B & H
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C Exmor CMOS
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Monitor: 3.0-inch 921.6k-dot tilting touchscreen (180° up, 90° down)
Continuous Shooting Speed: 11 fps (Hi+), 8 fps (Hi), 6 fps (Mid), 3 fps (Lo)
Viewfinder: 0.39-inch 2,359k-dot electronic viewfinder
Max Video Resolution: 4K UHD at 30p
User Level: Enthusiast
The Sony a6400 is a top-tier option for shooting sports memories. It’s a mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera with 4K video capture and add-on accessories, like a handgrip, to assist with video capture. It also has a built-in viewfinder and 180-flip touchscreen for facing subjects. 
With the camera's APS-C sensor, you get excellent image resolution and enough detail to print large or crop, which is essential for sports photography. Pair it with a monopod for added stability during long shooting sessions.
It also has a fast and reliable autofocus system, so you never miss a play! Because of its autofocus system and clean HDMI output, it’s a good option for live streaming youth sports. 
The Sony a6400 is an excellent choice for youth sports photography, especially for those who prefer a lightweight and compact system without sacrificing performance. 
Price: $898.00

2. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

Best compact sports camera

✅ Why buy it: This camera’s lightweight design makes it easy to carry to every game! 5-axis image stabilization helps capture clear photos, even when the action is high. This is a reliable and portable digital camera you can use to document the entire season.
olympus camera for youth sports photography
Source: Amazon
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Micro Four Thirds Live MOS
Megapixels: 20.3MP
Monitor: 3.0-inch 1.04 million dots tilting touchscreen (180° down, 90° up, 45° down)
Continuous Shooting Speed: Up to 15 fps
Viewfinder: 0.39-inch 2.36 million dots electronic viewfinder (EVF)
Max Video Resolution: 4K UHD at 30p
User Level: Beginner to Enthusiast
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a versatile and user-friendly mirrorless camera with several beneficial features for youth sports photography. It's small, a major plus, especially when shooting long sporting events. It’s easy to handle and carry, making it ideal for moving around different positions on the field.
The M10 Mark IV has a decent autofocus system, which helps track moving subjects, but it might not perform as well as some more advanced systems in low light or fast-paced situations.
Price: $699.00

3. Canon EOS 90D

Best Canon sports photography camera

✅ Why buy it: With a 32.5MP sensor and 10 fps continuous shooting, the Canon EOS 90D can capture every thrilling moment of the game.
canon camera for youth sports photos
Source: Amazon
Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C CMOS
Megapixels: 32.5MP
Monitor: 3.0-inch 1.04 million dots articulating touchscreen LCD
Continuous Shooting Speed: Up to 10 fps
Viewfinder: Optical viewfinder with 100% coverage
Max Video Resolution: 4K UHD at 30p
User Level: Enthusiast to Professional
The Canon EOS 90D DSLR Camera is a great option and perfect for beginners. The functionality is easy to use for both professionals and youth sports enthusiasts. The 90D has a weather-sealed body, which is excellent for outdoor sports events where you might encounter dust or a bit of rain.
This popular Canon camera is user-friendly. Its well-placed controls and comfortable grip make it easy to handle during long sports events.
The Canon EOS 90D offers a solid blend of speed, image quality, and usability for youth sports photography. Its autofocus system and high burst rate are standout features for capturing fast-paced action.
Price: $1,199.00

4. Fujifilm X-S20

Best for sports videography 

✅ Why buy it: Whether filming a full game or capturing slow-motion replays of key plays, this camera ensures smooth, detailed footage. 
fujifilm camera for youth sports photography
Source: Amazon
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C CMOS
Megapixels: 26.1MP
Monitor: 3.0-inch fully articulated touchscreen LCD
Continuous Shooting Speed: Up to 20 fps at 26.1 MP, up to 30 fps at 20.9 MP
Viewfinder: 0.39-inch 2.36 million dots electronic viewfinder (EVF)
Max Video Resolution: 6.2K at 30p, 4K at 60p
User Level: Enthusiast to Professional
The Fujifilm X-S20 Mirrorless Camera works as both digital and video cameras and is known for versatility. This high-end compact camera has a high-capacity battery, ensuring you have the battery life for a full youth sports game—and more. 
It’s equipped with a 26-megapixel APS-C sensor, which can provide high-resolution images essential for capturing detailed sports shots. The company design is perfect for moving around at games and capturing fast-moving subjects. 
Price: $1,299.00

5. Nikon Z9

Best high-end camera for professional sports photography

✅ Why buy it: Nikon's Z9 is perfect for professional photographers. You'll be able to capture every split-second in stunning detail with its 45.7MP sensor and 120 fps burst shooting. A rugged build and a vertical grip make shooting easy for long periods.
nikon camera for youth sports photography
Source: B & H
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full-frame CMOS
Megapixels: 45.7MP
Monitor: 3.2-inch, 2,100k-dot 4-axis tilting touchscreen
Continuous Shooting Speed: 20fps RAW, 30fps hi-res JPEG, 120fps lo-res JPEG
Viewfinder: EVF, 3,690k dots, 100% coverage
Max Video Resolution: 8K UHD at 60p
User Level: Professional
The Nikon Z9 Mirrorless Camera is a full-frame, professional-grade camera great for outdoor photography, especially youth sports. It allows you to easily take high-quality images and videos, capturing the emotion of your team’s biggest games.
Tough, durable construction makes it perfect for traveling to sporting events. It’s also super easy to connect to different devices so you can upload your photos or videos to your laptop, social media, and more.
This option is for youth sports teams with a big budget and a professional photographer on deck. 
Price: $5,499.95

6. GoPro HERO11 Black

Best action and extreme sports video camera

✅ Why buy it: Rugged, waterproof design means you can record in any weather conditions. Advanced stabilization ensures crystal clear video even during the most intense plays.
gopro camera for youth sports photography
Source: Amazon
Type: Action Camera
Sensor: 1/1.9"-Type CMOS
Megapixels: 27.6MP
Monitor: 2.27-inch fixed touchscreen LCD (rear), 1.4-inch LCD live-view monitor (front)
Continuous Shooting Speed: 30 photos per second
Viewfinder: None
Max Video Resolution: 5.3K at 60fps
User Level: Enthusiast to Professional
The GoPro HERO11 Black Camera is the cheapest option on our list, but GoPro comes with a solid reputation for capturing high-quality video and is a great point-and-shoot option for beginners. You can upload your content to the cloud using WiFi, but you’ll still need a MicroSD memory card.
The GoPro Hero11 has a responsive LCD touch screen on the camera body, so operation is easy. It’s also very user-friendly, giving beginners access to advanced performance for a low price. 
The GoPro is also fun because it has TimeWarp and Slow-Mo modes. You can take creative shots and analyze fast-paced action in detail. 
Price: $349.99

7. Panasonic HC-V785

Budget-friendly camcorder for sports videography

✅ Why buy it: A great choice for those wanting high-quality video on a budget. Its Full HD 1080p recording and 20x optical zoom allow you to capture detailed footage from the sidelines without breaking the bank.
panasonic camera for youth sports photography
Source: Amazon
Type: Camcorder
Sensor: 1/2.3-inch BSI MOS
Megapixels: 12.76MP (Total pixels)
Monitor: 3.0-inch touchscreen LCD
Continuous Shooting Speed: Not specified, but it supports various high-frame-rate video recording modes
Viewfinder: None
Max Video Resolution: Full HD 1080p at 60fps
User Level: Enthusiast
The Panasonic HC-V785 camcorder is another budget-friendly option. It’s perfect for capturing full HD images and videos from your youth sports games. The HC-V785’s optical zoom lens is great for sports photography since you can get close-up shots from a distance. You can easily run along the sidelines or sit still and capture stunning footage.
Price: $599.99

Factors to consider in a youth sports camera

So how do you decide which type of camera to buy? Other than ensuring it’s within your sports team budget, of course, there are a few specs that require a good camera to photograph youth sports.
  • You want your pictures to turn out well, especially when there’s movement involved. Pay attention to the camera’s resolution, dynamic range, and low-light performance to determine potential image quality.
  • You’re looking to capture fast-paced sports action, right? This means you need fast and accurate autofocus to ensure you can see the action in a still frame.
  • When the kids are running around, burst mode and continuous shooting speed enable you to capture multiple frames simultaneously.
  • When photographing indoor sports in low light conditions, get a camera with a high ISO range to ensure high-quality photos.
  • Get a camera with a large lens selection and compatibility for versatile sports photography.
  • You may also want to ensure your camera offers video capabilities and features for capturing sports events live.

Tips for capturing youth sports moments

Want to capture the best moments as a beginner youth sports photographer? Remember these top tips when using your new camera for sports photos and videos.
  1. Understand the sport: Familiarize yourself with the rules and key moments to anticipate action.
  2. Choose the correct settings: Adjust shutter speed, aperture, and ISO for optimal results in different environments.
  3. Use burst mode: Capture multiple frames to increase the chances of getting the perfect shot.
  4. Focus on the subjects: Use continuous autofocus or single focus points to keep the main subjects sharp.
  5. Consider composition: Position yourself for a clear view of the action and consider framing techniques.
  6. Anticipate moments: Predict and anticipate action to capture the most compelling shots.
  7. Experiment with angles: Vary your perspective with a wide-angle lens to add depth and visual interest to the photographs.
  8. Edit and enhance: Use photo editing software to improve the captured images and videos.

Find the best camera for your youth sports photos

One of the benefits of youth sports is that it keeps kids active and friendly. A good sports camera is the best way to capture these moments. 
Whether you’re a sports administrator or parent looking for a camera, the options above are your best bets. A good camera helps you save those important memories for your league and parents. Plus, you can take photos to share with the team or put them on your youth sports website

Cameras for sports photography FAQ

What camera do sports photographers use?

Sports photographers often use high-end cameras like the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III or the Sony Alpha 1, both of which are known as the best cameras for sports photography. These cameras feature full-frame sensors, fast autofocus, and mechanical shutters for high-speed shooting.

How do I get high-quality sports photos?

To get high-quality sports photos, use a high-speed shutter to freeze the action and ensure your camera's autofocus is set to continuous mode. A full-frame camera with a telephoto lens like the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM can also enhance image quality.

What camera lens is needed for sports photography?

For sports photography, a telephoto lens with a focal length of at least 200mm is essential to capture distant action. 

Do sports photographers use DSLR or mirrorless?

Sports photographers use DSLR and mirrorless cameras, depending on their preferences and the event'. While traditional DSLRs like the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III remain popular, mirrorless options like the Canon EOS R3 are favored for their high-speed autofocus and lighter weight.
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