Canon vs Nikon vs Sony Astrophotography Cameras: What’s Best?

Canon, Nikon, and Sony all make great DSLR and mirrorless cameras, but who makes the best models for astrophotography?

We looked at hundreds of photos shortlisted from the past three years of results for the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. From this we examined the data for Canon vs Nikon vs Sony cameras to see what are being most commonly used by the best astrophotographers in the world today:

Canon vs Nikon vs Sony Astrophotography
(Percentage of all images taken with DSLR or mirrorless cameras)

As you can see, Canon are first, followed closely by Nikon, with Sony in third.

Read on for the full results and analysis and to see what the best models from each manufacturer have been.

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Canon vs Nikon vs Sony for Astrophotography

We looked at all 376 images shortlisted in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition for the years 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Of these images, 205 were taken with DSLR or mirrorless cameras (the others were taken with CCD/CMOS dedicated astronomy cameras).

The vast majority of these (97%) were taken with Canon, Nikon, or Sony cameras (the other 3% are from Pentax, Fujifilm, Hasselblad, Olympus, and Panasonic).

You can see from the chart above, Canon cameras have been the most successful, followed closely by Nikon, with Sony in third.

However, when we look at the data year-on-year we can see that Nikon has actually pulled narrowly ahead in the two most recent years:

(Percentage of all images taken with DSLR or mirrorless cameras)

A possible reason for this may be the popularity of the Canon EOS 6D for astrophotography.

A lot of astrophotographers love using this camera and our results show it really delivers, but it was originally released in 2012 and so is getting fairly old now and can only be bought used.

Naturally people will be moving away from this camera over time and there isn’t really a single model that dominates for astrophotography these days. This video from astrophotographer Alyn Wallace uses our findings to talk about the Canon EOS 6D and is worth a watch:

If you want to delve more into this data around cameras, see our article on the Best Cameras for Astrophotography.

Now, we’ll look a little more at the best Canon, Nikon, and Sony astrophotography models from the results.

Canon Astrophotography Cameras

By far the most successfully used Canon cameras for astrophotography are the:

These two camera models account for 62% of all astrophotography images taken with Canon cameras:

Canon Astrophotography Cameras
(Percentage of all images taken with Canon cameras)

In total, there have been 23 different Canon camera models used for shortlisted images in the astrophotography competition. In order of most frequently used, these are:

  1. Canon EOS 6D
  2. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
  3. Canon EOS 600D
  4. Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  5. Canon EOS R
  6. Canon 450D
  7. Canon EOS 750D
  8. Canon EOS 760D
  9. Canon EOS-1Dx Mark II
  10. Canon 1200D
  11. Canon 550D
  12. Canon EOS 100D
  13. Canon EOS 1100D
  14. Canon EOS 4D Mark II
  15. Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  16. Canon EOS 6Da
  17. Canon EOS 700Da
  18. Canon EOS 77D
  19. Canon EOS 90D
  20. Canon EOS M5
  21. Canon EOS R5
  22. Canon EOS Ra
  23. Canon EOS Rp

To read more about the best performing Canon models, see here.

Nikon Astrophotography Cameras

The top Nikon astrophotography camera models are the:

These account for nearly 40% of images taken with Nikon models:

Nikon Astrophotography Cameras
(Percentage of all images taken with Nikon cameras)

16 different Nikon camera models have been used in photos shortlisted in the competition. In order of most successful, these are:

  1. Nikon D750
  2. Nikon D850
  3. Nikon D810A
  4. Nikon D600
  5. Nikon D610
  6. Nikon D810
  7. Nikon Z6
  8. Nikon D3400
  9. Nikon D5300
  10. Nikon D5600
  11. Nikon D800
  12. Nikon Z7
  13. Nikon D7100
  14. Nikon D800E
  15. Nikon Z6 II
  16. Nikon Z7 II

If you want to investigate more about these cameras, see our article on the Best Nikon Cameras for Astrophotography.

Sony Astrophotography Cameras

The most successful models from Sony are the:

These account for 45% of all images taken with Sony cameras:

Sony Astrophotography Cameras
(Percentage of all images taken with Sony cameras)

9 different Sony models have been used in shortlisted images in the astrophotography competition. In order of most successful, these are:

  1. Sony A7R III
  2. Sony A7 III
  3. Sony A7R II
  4. Sony A7S
  5. Sony A7 II
  6. Sony A99
  7. Sony a6300
  8. Sony a6500
  9. Sony A7R IV

To read more about the best performing Sony models, see here.


FAQs: Canon vs Nikon vs Sony Astrophotography

Are Nikon cameras good for astrophotography?

Nikon cameras are excellent for astrophotography, especially their full-frame sensor DSLR and mirrorless models.

Which Nikon camera is best for astrophotography?

The best Nikon cameras for astrophotography are the Nikon D750 and Nikon D850, according to our findings. Use of the newer Nikon mirrorless models is becoming more frequent though.

Read more on this in our article on the Best Nikon Cameras for Astrophotography.

Are Sony cameras good for astrophotography?

Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras in the Alpha range are excellent for astrophotography, as demonstrated by their success in leading astrophotography competitions.

Sony dominates for mirrorless models – see the Best Cameras for Astrophotography for more on this.

Which Sony mirrorless camera is best for astrophotography?

As results indicate that the Sony A7R III and Sony A7 III have been the most demonstrably successful sony cameras for astrophotography.

Are Canon cameras good for astrophotography?

Our research indicates that Canon has been the most successful camera brand for astrophotography in the past three years.

Which Canon camera is best for astrophotography?

The Canon EOS 6D and Canon EOS 5D Mark IV are the best Canon cameras for astrophotography according to our results.

Which is better for astrophotography Canon or Nikon?

They are both excellent, but Canon is slightly ahead of Nikon according to our research, although Nikon has lead in recent years.

Which DSLR is good for astrophotography?

The Canon EOS 6D, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Nikon D750, and Nikon D850 are great DSLRs for astrophotography.

See the Best Cameras for Astrophotography for more insight on this.

What kind of camera is best for astrophotography?

Our research indicates that the most important thing is to have a full-frame sensor. This is the common denominator across all cameras whether they are Sony, Canon, or Nikon, mirrorless or DSLR.

See Full Frame vs APS-C: What’s Best for Astrophotography? for more insight on this.

Are DSLR or mirrorless cameras best for astrophotography?

There are pros and cons to both, but neither are inherently better for astrophotography.

See DSLR vs Mirrorless Cameras for Astrophotography for more on this.

Do astrophotographers make money?

You can make money with astrophotography. See our article on How to Make Money with Astrophotography.


Conclusion: Canon vs Nikon vs Sony Astrophotography

Overall, these results should demonstrate that Canon, Nikon, and Sony cameras can all deliver for astrophotography.

Canon and Nikon are ahead from our data from the past three years, but we believe that Sony will catch up in future years since they dominate for mirrorless models and more and more photographers are shifting to mirrorless from DSLR.

We hope you found this useful. Please let us know below if you have any comments or questions.

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