Best Canon Cameras for Astrophotography (2024)

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canon cameras for astrophotography

We analyzed 685 images shortlisted for the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition in the past five years to find the Best Canon Cameras for Astrophotography.

Our data shows us that the Canon EOS 6D has been the most successfully used model overall and is our budget recommendation:

Budget Pick
Canon EOS 6D

Full frame interchangeable-lens DSLR camera

Pros:
  • Most successfully used camera in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition from 2018 to 2023
  • Bargain to picked up on the used market
Cons:
  • Fairly old
  • No Live View functionality
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The 6D is a 20-megapixel full-frame DSLR that has a near-legendary reputation in the astrophotography world.

The only downside to this camera is that it is over ten years old now and can only be bought used. However, this makes a great option if you have less money to spend and you just want a separate camera for your astro work.

Our upgrade pick is the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV:

Premium DSLR
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Full-Frame DSLR Camera

Pros:
  • Canon's premium DSLR and one of the top models for astrophotography
  • 30.4 megapixel full-frame sensor for versatile shooting in any light
  • ISO range 100-32000; expandable up to 50-102400
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This is Canon’s top-of-the-range DSLR and a fantastic all-round camera.

It is the second most successfully used Canon astrophotography camera in our data.

This is a premium-priced model and well-proven for astrophotography as well as all other photography types, but is older than Canon’s more recent mirrorless models.

Our budget mirrorless pick is the Canon EOS RP:

Budget Pick
Canon EOS RP
4.7
$899.0010

Full Frame Mirrorless Digital Camera

Pros:
  • Lightest, smallest full-frame EOS camera
  • High image quality with 26.2 Megapixel Full-frame CMOS Sensor
  • Cheapest full frame mirrorless camera on the market
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07/21/2024 01:30 pm GMT

The RP is one of Canon’s new mirrorless models.

We are recommending it as it ticks all the boxes as a camera for astrophotography (full frame, 26MP), and has all the advantages of mirrorless in terms of being lighter and smaller.

It is also a great budget option if you want a new model instead of opting for a used full-frame DSLR like the 6D.

Finally, our premium mirrorless pick is the Canon EOS Ra:

Astrophotography Specialist
Canon EOS Ra

Astrophotography Mirrorless Camera

Pros:
  • Modified filter for enhanced astrophotography imaging - better capture of H-Alpha light
  • 30.3 Megapixel Full-frame Sensor
  • Rf mount compatible with RF lenses and EF/EF-S lenses
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This is the only specialist Canon astrophotography camera on the market – the “a” in the name stands for “astrophotography” and it is a modified version of the mirrorless Canon EOS R.

The modification is an altered filter that better captures light from deep sky objects and so is specifically tailored to astrophotography.

The downsides are:

  1. That it has been discontinued and so can only be bought on the used market now (and is even hard to find there)
  2. It is expensive.

Read on to see all of our data.


Canon Astrophotography

In our research to find the Best Cameras for Astrophotography, we analyzed 685 images shortlisted in the past five years for the world’s most prestigious astrophotography competition – Royal Museums Greenwich Astronomy Photographer of the Year.

We are able to dig into this data here to learn what we can specific to astrophotography with Canon cameras.

Firstly, when we look at the data for DSLR and Mirrorless cameras used, we see that Canon has been the most successful camera manufacturer in the past five years:

Canon for Astrophotography
Images taken with DSLR or mirrorless cameras in Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2018-2022

Let’s look now at the best-performing Canon camera models and their common characteristics.

Canon Cameras for Astrophotography

When we look at the most used Canon cameras, the Canon EOS 6D is top, followed by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV:

Canon Cameras for Astrophotography

We can now look at the data for DSLR vs mirrorless, and full-frame vs crop sensor use.

DSLR vs Mirrorless

Looking then at the key characteristics of these cameras, we can see that Canon DSLRs have been much more used that Canon mirrorless cameras:

Canon DSLR vs Mirrorless astrophotography

This does not mean at all that Canon DSLRs are better than mirrorless models for astrophotography because this data goes back five years and Canon’s DLSRs have been around much longer than their mirrorless models.

Many astrophotographers own and trust their Canon DSLRs and will not immediately jump to a new mirrorless model even if they may in the future.

In the overall data including all camera brands, mirrorless models use overtook DSLR use in the competition for the first time in 2022.

We make no distinction in favoring DSLR or mirrorless cameras for astrophotography as there is no inherent reason that one is better than the other for this purpose.

Full Frame vs APS-C

One thing to look for in a camera for astrophotography though is a full-frame sensor.

These are much better than APS-C (crop) sensors for photography in low-light conditions and capture a wider expanse of the night sky in images, whereas APS-C sensors crop them smaller.

As you can see, Canon full-frame models have been much more used than APS-C models:

Canon fullframe vs aps-c astrophotography

The exception to this is if you are doing deep-sky photography with a telescope. In this case, a crop sensor can be better can it effectively increases the magnification and zooms you more into the object you are imaging.

Now we will dig deeper in to our four recommended models.


Best Canon Cameras for Astrophotography

Canon EOS 6D

Best Budget Canon Camera for Astrophotography

Canon EOS 6D 20.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD (Body Only) - Wi-Fi Enabled - International Version (No Warranty)

The Canon EOS 6D is a 20-megapixel full-frame DSLR that has a legendary reputation for astrophotography from the past decade.

Our data shows that it is the most successful camera of any type or any brand in the last five years of the most prestigious astrophotography competition in the world in the last five years.

It is therefore a great option that has the evidence behind it and also a great budget option, as it can be picked up for cheap on the used market given its age.

The only disadvantage is that it is an older DSLR and will not appeal if you are after a newer model.

This video discusses our findings on this and talks about the Canon EOS 6D as an astrophotography camera:

Overall, many will overlook this in favor of new models, but our data shows that it is still performing for astrophotography to this day and can be picked up for a bargain price.

It makes a great option for a photographer that has a camera they are happy with for daytime use but doesn’t excel at night. If this is you, then you could consider picking up a used 6D as a second camera just for nighttime use.

Key specifications

  • Camera Type: DSLR
  • Sensor Type: Full-frame
  • Megapixels: 20.2 MP
  • ISO: 100 to 102400
  • Weight: 1.7 lbs (0.8 kg)
  • Year of release: 2012
Budget Pick
Canon EOS 6D

Full frame interchangeable-lens DSLR camera

Pros:
  • Most successfully used camera in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition from 2018 to 2023
  • Bargain to picked up on the used market
Cons:
  • Fairly old
  • No Live View functionality
Buy on Amazon Buy on KEH Camera

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Best Canon DSLR for Astrophotography

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body

The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is another legendary Canon DSLR.

It has a full-frame sensor and 30 megapixel resolution.

This camera delivers for all round photography in the daytime and night, so is a great option if you want a proven astrophotography model that also does it all.

The downside is that it is expensive and getting older.

It’s likely that many looking to buy a new Canon model will think hard about spending thousands on one of these over a newer mirrorless model released in the last few years. Buying used therefore also makes sense to bring the price down if this is what you want. Check the options for this by clicking below.

Key specifications

  • Camera Type: DSLR
  • Sensor Size: Full Frame
  • Megapixels: 30.4MP
  • ISO: 50 to 102,400
  • Weight: 2.7 lbs (1.2 kg)
  • Year of Release: 2016
Premium DSLR
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Full-Frame DSLR Camera

Pros:
  • Canon's premium DSLR and one of the top models for astrophotography
  • 30.4 megapixel full-frame sensor for versatile shooting in any light
  • ISO range 100-32000; expandable up to 50-102400
Buy on Amazon Check All Stores

Canon EOS RP

Best Budget Mirrorless Canon Camera for Astrophotography

Canon EOS RP Full Frame Mirrorless Vlogging Portable Digital Camera with 26.2MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4K Video Recording and 3.0” Vari-Angle Touch LCD Screen, Body, Black,

We recommend the Canon EOS RP as the best budget mirrorless Canon camera.

It has a full-frame sensor and 26 megapixel resolution and can therefore deliver for astrophotography. It is also extremely small and light and so makes a great option as an all round camera for all types of photography.

Its other big selling point is its price. This makes a great budget option for anyone who favors buying a new Canon model.

This video from Canon shows the EOS RP at work for astrophotography:

Key specifications

  • Camera Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor Size: Full Frame
  • Megapixels: 26.2MP
  • ISO: 50 to 102,400
  • Weight: 1 lbs (0.4 KG)
  • Year of Release: 2019
Budget Pick
Canon EOS RP
4.7
$899.0010

Full Frame Mirrorless Digital Camera

Pros:
  • Lightest, smallest full-frame EOS camera
  • High image quality with 26.2 Megapixel Full-frame CMOS Sensor
  • Cheapest full frame mirrorless camera on the market
Buy on Amazon Check All Stores
07/21/2024 01:30 pm GMT

Canon EOS Ra

Best Canon Mirrorless for Astrophotography

Canon EOS Ra Astrophotography Mirrorless Camera, Black

Finally, the Canon EOS Ra is the only specialist Canon astrophotography camera around.

It features a converted filter which enables it to better capture light from deep sky objects like nebulae.

It is also full-frame with a high-resolution 30MP sensor.

The only real downsides are that it was discontinued in 2021 and so is hard to find in 2024. Plus, even if you can find it, it is very expensive.

Key specifications

  • Camera Type: Mirrorless
  • Sensor Size: Full Frame
  • Megapixels: 30.3MP
  • ISO: 100 to 51200
  • Weight: 3 lbs (1.4 KG)
  • Year of Release: 2019
Astrophotography Specialist
Canon EOS Ra

Astrophotography Mirrorless Camera

Pros:
  • Modified filter for enhanced astrophotography imaging - better capture of H-Alpha light
  • 30.3 Megapixel Full-frame Sensor
  • Rf mount compatible with RF lenses and EF/EF-S lenses
Check Price on Amazon Check All Stores

Canon Astrophotography Cameras FAQs

Which Canon DSLR is best for astrophotography?

The most successful Canon astrophotography DSLRs in recent years have been the Canon EOS 6D and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Which Canon mirrorless is best for astrophotography?

The Canon EOS Ra is the only specialized mirrorless astrophotography camera ever produced, but it was discontinued in 2021.

The Canon EOS RP is a great mirrorless camera for astrophotography and a good budget option.

Are Canon cameras good for astrophotography?

Canon cameras are great and well-proven for astrophotography.

Our data shows that Canon has been the most successful camera brand in the last five years of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition (2018-2022).

Which Canon camera is best for star photography?

The best canon cameras for star photography are the Canon EOS 6D, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon EOS RP, and Canon EOS Ra.


Verdict: Best Canon Cameras for Astrophotography

We believe that there are four great options for Canon astrophotography cameras if you are looking to buy in 2024 – two DSLRs and two mirrorless:

  1. Canon EOS 6D: An aging classic. Perfect for anyone looking for a cheap full-frame on the second-hand market to use specifically for night sky use.
  2. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV: The top DSLR option from Canon. In the premium price bracket but well-proven for all types of photography.
  3. Canon EOS RP: A great budget option for those that prefer a newer model and/or want to go mirrorless.
  4. Canon EOS Ra: The only astrophotography-specialized option. Perfect for the job but discontinued and so hard to find and expensive.

It is possible to overthink what the best camera for astrophotography is, as there is no single model. These models above are proven astrophotography performers as evidenced by our data and so we recommend them as objectively as we can.

A key thing to look for in an astrophotography camera is a full-frame sensor, especially for landscape astrophotography and capturing the Milky Way. All these models above are full-frame.

Related articles:

About the Author

Anthony Robinson is the founder and owner of Skies & Scopes, a publication and community focused on amateur astronomy and astrophotography. His work has been featured in publications such as Amateur Astrophotography, Forbes, the Guardian, DIY Photography, PetaPixel, and Digital Camera World - read more.

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