The Best Fishing Cameras Under $1000

If you’re beginning to hit your local waters or prep for that big summer trip, you may be thinking about buying a camera to capture those moments. As a photographer/videographer, what I look for in my cameras may be completely different from someone who just wants a few pictures for bragging rights back home. However, regardless of your end goal, it is always nice to have a camera that will help you get the results you want. Here are my top 5 picks for fly fishing cameras under $1,000 that will help you capture pictures and videos that will wow everyone from the local guide shop to the family dinner table.

Disclaimer: this isn’t a complete technical review, however, I will highlight a few specific specs for each camera that I think stand out.

Sony a6400 – $999

The release of the new Sony a6400 is a great addition to an already phenomenal a6000 series line up. The a6400 is a mirrorless micro 4/3 camera that has some great features for stellar photography and videos. The camera is compact, featuring a small body with small lenses and is the living embodiment of the benefits of using a mirrorless camera, but it is not too small to where it sacrifices usability. It is weather-sealed (not waterproof) which is great for the accidental spray of water or light drizzle. The camera features photo priority modes for those who understand manual settings, but also includes an auto setting if you aren’t too keen on the technical aspects of photography. Other features like a brighter and flip up LCD screen make the camera perfect for sunny conditions and can help you frame that perfect picture of yourself and your catch on the water without trying 100 times and sacrificing the fish’s health. Overall, this is an excellent starter camera with higher-end capabilities and is perfect for fast action situations like fishing. Below I will list some video and photo features that stand out:

Photo:

  • 24 megapixel sensor
  • Takes incredible photos
  • Features sharp and quick autofocus (including a new animal eye-autofocus which if perfect for nature photography)
  • Interval mode for time-lapses
  • Fast continuous shooting at 11fps for those crispy action shots of casting or getting that fish drip

Video:

  • 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)


GoPro HERO 7 Black – $349

Ever since its first release, the GoPro quickly became a staple action/adventure camera, especially in the fishing world. The GoPro HERO 7 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. Below are some features from the HERO 7 that make it a great choice:

Highlights:

  • Stabilization options — introduction of the new HyperSmooth stabilization at 60fps in 4k
  • TimeWarp or Hyperlapse feature creates smooth moving time-lapses
  • Easy to use interface
  • Live-streaming capabilities to show off your monster fish in real-time
  • SuperPhoto Mode — capture quality HDR photos

Canon 80D – $899 (Body Only)

While a few years old, Canon’s 80D full frame DSLR still holds its own in the camera world. As a DSLR, the 80D is much larger and less compact, but along with that comes superior build quality, weather-sealing and is especially better ergonomically for people with bigger hands. Don’t underestimate the ergonomics of your camera, the size of your camera can make a significant difference in your shooting experience. While the 80D is okay in the video department, it shines with photos and its fully articulating LCD screen allows you to see your screen in even the most awkward situations to ensure you get the shot. With its larger size and intuitive interface, the 80D centers around ease of use. It offers some of the best dynamic range in its price range for an APS-C camera and is a solid camera that continues to be a great choice for an introductory DSLR. Below I will list some video and photo features that stand out:

Photo:
  • 24 megapixel sensor
  • Great quality photos
  • 7 fps Continuous shooting
  • Benefit of access to Canon’s range of EF mount lenses

Video:

  • 60fps at 1080p
  • Canon color science — great for shooting in flat profiles

At a great price point, the TG-5 is a rugged camera that is waterproof and shockproof. The compact body is chock-full of features such as GPS, compass, LED light and a built-in F2-4.9 / 25-100mm equivalent lens. Its plastic body actually stands up to being dropped, dinged, scratched and dented much better than full metal bodies, and it also makes it a light and pocketable camera — perfect for family fishing vacations. While this camera does have the disadvantage of not having interchangeable lenses, don’t let this fool you into thinking this is just another point-and-shoot camera. Not only can it serve as something to get a quick shot of your personal best brook trout, but there are also some features that allow you some creative capability as well. Below I will list some video and photo features that stand out:

Photo:

  • 12 megapixel sensor
  • Great Macro capability
  • Can shoot RAW (which is hard to find at this price point and in a point-and-shoot type camera)

Video:

  • No crop factor in 4k video at 25/30fps
  • Can shoot 120fps in HD

iPhone X (or comprable smartphone)

What can’t you do with your phone at this point? While I’m specifically focusing on the iPhone, this suggestion can apply to many smartphones out there at the moment. This is a great option because you already have a great photo and video tool right in your pocket. Never underestimate the power of your phone to take great pictures. Plus, using your phone means you don’t have to spend money on a separate camera and it also means one less piece of great to worry about. Those comments aside, your iPhone is great because its waterproof, compact and easy to use. 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 Water Housing which we did a review on last year. Here are some general features that stand out:

Highlights:

  • 12 megapixel sensor
  • F 1.8
  • Optical stabilization
  • Good Dynamic Range
  • Excellent slow motion capabilities 60fps in 4k or 240fps in 1080p (the autofocus does suffer)
How do I choose what’s right for me?

Now I’ve just thrown these 5 options with a lot of information at you. So, you may be asking how to I choose what is right for me? Well, I hate to be that guy, but it really depends. You should definitely factor in price, how careful you are with cameras, mirrorless vs. DSLR, what your goal is (high quality content or just something to post to the bragging board), and whether you want to focus on pictures, videos or both, to list a few. However, this article should not be your only go to when it comes to making a decision. Buying a camera is a process that should take time, research and countless hours spent reading reviews. Hopefully this article acts as another tool in your search for the camera that will help you capture some epic memories out on the water this summer.

*Cover photo from FlyLords’ latest trip with Aussie Fly Fisher and Waterline Charters.

Article written by FlyLords Media Intern Matteo Moretti.

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