Best full-frame DSLR: 8 cameras from Canon, Nikon and Sony compared

Top pro and consumer models rated

Best full frame DSLR

Price: £4,850/US$6,800/AU$7,300 (body only)
Specs: 18.1MP, Full HD video: 1080p, 61-point AFT, ISO 100-204800

Following a similar design philosophy to the Nikon D4, the Canon EOS-1D X restrains resolution to help ensure fast drive rates and super-clean image quality at higher ISO settings. The former is assisted by dual Digic 5+ image processors, delivering a class-leading 12fps burst rate, boosted to 14fps if the autofocus and metering are disabled after the first shot taken in a rapid-fire sequence.

The Canon EOS-1D X also wins out in the ISO stakes, with a massive top setting of ISO 51200 available in its standard range, and up to a huge ISO 204800 in expanded mode. And all of this is available with nearly two extra megapixels under the bonnet, compared with the Nikon D4.

As you'd expect from a fully pro body, there are weather seals aplenty here, and the overall build quality feels pretty much bomb-proof. A little more conservative than the Nikon D4, dual memory slots are both CompactFlash format, instead of mixing in an XQD for novelty value. How well and how quickly the XQD format takes off remains to be seen.

Best full frame DSLR

Other finery includes the same 61-point autofocus system seen on Canon's 5D Mark III, which copes well with tracking fast-moving objects. For continuous shooting, the increased buffer size can accommodate 38 raw files rather than the 5D Mark III's 18 files. It's a good thing, considering that the maximum drive rate is twice as fast, too.

The handling of the full-frame Canon EOS-1D X is sublime. The duplicated shooting controls, along with dual multi-controllers and centralised quick-control dial, make the camera feel equally natural in landscape- and portrait-orientation shooting.

Image quality is stunning straight out of the camera. There's an abundance of fine detail and negligible image noise, even at ISO 6400.

When shooting on overcast days, or in the shade, the colour balance from the Canon EOS-1D X tends to come off slightly warmer than from the Nikon D4. This looks generally pleasant and is particularly flattering for portraiture shots.

Outdoor images

Best full frame DSLR

Metering and autofocus are very accurate here. Fine detail is well preserved, while colour and contrast in outdoor images are excellent.


Best full frame DSLR

Despite a slightly lower pixel count, scores are a close match for the Canon 6D and Canon 5D Mark III throughout the whole ISO range.


Best full frame DSLR
ISO 6400

Extremely well suppressed even at ISO 6400, noise is essentially a non-issue, while texture and fine detail are particularly well preserved.

Colour error

Best full frame DSLR

Compared with the other Canon cameras on test, the 1D X generates a little extra warmth when lighting conditions are cloudy or shady.

Image test verdict

Composition aside, it's almost impossible to take a bad shot with the 1D X. It reacts superbly to even challenging lighting conditions and scenic content.

Read our Canon 1D X review