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Which camera is best to take pictures of fish

the loach

AC Members
Looking for a cheap camera to take pictures of fish, if that exists. I am sure there are expensive professional ones that do the job.
Main problems with cameras that I have so far:
Unable to take a picture without flash in low light/aquarium conditions.
Sloooww reaction. Fish out of frame before the picture is taken.

Any recommendations, or specifications what to look for, or not to look for?
Really depends on your definition of cheap,

and the requirements you have for the size of the final picture.

some people prefer to take frames out of a video than single pictures.

the loach

AC Members
Less as $100?
I have done that in the past, make a video and then take frames out. There must be an easier way?
Buy an old, used DSLR, maybe a tripod; and watch YouTube videos to learn to use it.

the loach

AC Members
Already did that in the early 80's, so you're saying digital photography has no benefits when taking pictures of aquarium fish?
It really depends on what is causing your current problems, so difficult to advise further.

Ultimately there is going to be no substitute for sensor sensitivity and focusing speed.

You really need to say what sort of photographs you are looking to take, if you want close up shots of individual fish, whole tank shots, or whatever, Like all other kinds of photography the equipment needed is going to be different.

A budget of $100 is going to be relatively limiting, personally I'd go with a DSLR, tripod, macro lens (say 100mm), a couple off camera flashes/strobes and then go from there.

or practice with a cheaper camera and try differing settings.. using a low light mode will help enormously, or a flash off of the camera,

the loach

AC Members
I just read a site that says about any smartphone camera will do for fish photography, is that right? I just want to take some photographs of fish, no super macro stuff.
I have had the same digital camera for 10+ years, but there is always a 1 second delay between pressing the button and taking the picture. Other than that it always has motion blur with fish. At one point I had a Nokia phone 10+ years ago that camera was a bit faster, and it didn't had motion blur without a flash, but the pictures were always grainy.
I just wonder how much digital photography has advanced since, or are the phones/cameras just smaller/flatter.

I had all that camera equipment in the 80's, no thanks. Sometimes I see folks post pics of their fish on the forum and I wonder what they use. Can't imagine everybody going full retro for a couple of fish pics.


Global Moderator
Staff member
I wouldn't say ANY smartphone camera will do but most of the top of line phones are all most people need for fish pics. I don't know where the cut off is but if you have a 5yr old or less phone you should be good. I never have a phone that new...

I'm kinda like you, but obviously less experienced, I just wanna take pics of fish. They don't have to be amazing just be able to see the fish clearly. I'm still working on this lol. I almost always takes pics in low light mode these days so make sure your camera has that feature and/or has manual settings (and know how to use them, which I assume you do if you had all the gear) and can shoot RAW so you can doctor up photos easily after you get shots of fish in frame.

Just about everything I just mentioned I learned from dougall so I'd recommend taking his advice of at least a used DSLR and tripod then a macro lens if you want good close ups.
If you have a cellphone with a camera, give it a try, taking digital pictures costs little more than time.

If you don't have one, and don't need one, I wouldn't suggest that one that will work well will fit into your budget, unless you come across an incredible deal.

Off camera flash is due to the reflections from a flash that is on the camera being close to the focal plane and basically being right at the lens itself.

Macro is due to the ability to focus close to the camera... You aren't necessarily going to be able to take a good picture of a fish if you are going to need to keep your camera 5 feet from the fish

A DSLR will allow you to manually focus, so you can set your camera up and wait for your fish to cone into where you have focused rather than trying to chase around the fish.

The more light will allow a smaller aperture to be used, allowing a greater depth of field, and hence more will be in focus.

Ultimately budget is likely to be the biggest factor at play here. You can hone your skills and work with what you currently have and then see if that meets your needs.

But look for guides online about photographing exactly how you want to. I don't know if he ever posted any guides here but Aquamojo posted some incredible pictures here a good few years ago, and continues to post pictures currently online.

I've also been pretty impressed by the work of Krish Weinholf, Karen Randall, Gary Lange and Chris Lukhaup.. but there are plenty of folks around the internet these days who take great pictures and give plenty of information as to how they do them.

You can always increase the chances of getting a good picture by taking many more, you will be more likely to get one that meets your needs that way.

You can increase the ratio of good to bad pictures by practicing, researching techniques and maybe having better equipment.

Also don't underestimate the power of using editing software to crop and clean up photographs after they have been taken.. you don't need to buy Photoshop, you can use something like GIMP for free.

I also think that Monster Fish Keepers has a dedicated section entirely for aquatic photography.

Hope that helps.