Best full frame DSLR 2015: Canon vs Nikon vs Sony

The cheapest full frame DSLRs are surprisingly affordable, but which the best full frame DSLR overall?

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Price: about £2249/US$2499 body only | Megapixels: 22.3 | Autofocus: 61-point AF, 41 cross-type | Screen type: 3.2-inch, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 6fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p

This is a perfect example of a pro-spec SLR that also appeals to serious amateurs. While the 5D Mark III is a very powerful camera, it weighs nearly 400g less than the 1DX. The 22.3MP sensor is outgunned by the 36.3MP Nikon D810, but it still delivers masses of detail. The 61-point AF system is terrific, with 41 cross-type sensors and five are dual cross-type. There's no built-in flash, unlike the D810, and it's a shame that the rear screen is fixed, but these are minor drawbacks.

Canon EOS 5DS

Canon EOS 5DS

Price: about £2999/US$3699 body only | Megapixels: 50.6 | Autofocus: 61-point AF, 41 cross-type | Screen type: 3.2-inch, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p

The 5DS won't be available until the middle of 2015, but the specifications and the pricing suggest that this camera could help Canon recapture the high-resolution pro DSLR market. It offers almost 40% more resolution than the Nikon D810 and externally it's identical to the existing EOS 5D Mark III – so it's easy to handle and much more compact than the heavyweight EOS-1D X. There will also be an 'R' variant with an additional filter to cancel out the anti-aliasing effect of the sensor, for even more detail.

Canon EOS-1D X

Canon EOS 1DX

Price: about £4499/US$5999, body only | Megapixels: 18.1 | Autofocus: 61-point AF, 41 cross-type | Screen type: 3.2-inch, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 12fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p

The 1DX is an amalgamation of the older Canon 1D and 1Ds models, blending their two specialities of speed and resolution. Speed is the real selling point, though – this camera boasts a 12 frames per second burst mode, which can be expanded to to 14fps in the Super High Speed Shooting Mode. The 18.1MP full frame sensor sounds a step backwards from the 21.1Mp chip inside the 1Ds Mark III, but Canon's chosen better image quality at higher ISO settings.

Nikon D4S

Nikon D4S

Price: about £4499/US$5997 body only | Pixel count: 16.2 | Autofocus: 51-point AF, 15 cross-type | Screen type: 3.2-inch, 921,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 11fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p

This is a relatively minor upgrade from the fast, pro-spec D4, with improvements centring on better performance at higher ISO, which now stretches to 409,600 in expanded range, making this a real 'see in the dark' camera. As with Canon's 1DX, the D4S's pixel count is relatively low at 16.2Mp, but Nikon claims the lower pixel count reduces noise at very high ISO settings and enables a faster continuous shooting rate – and the D4S is built for speed.