Best full-frame camera 2024: the top big sensor DSLRs and mirrorless cameras

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Full-frame is still regarded as the holy grail of sensor formats in 2024’s mirrorless and DSLR cameras, with the latest and greatest models offering superb image quality in any light and speedy performance. The format isn’t just for professionals and/or those with high-end budgets either, with a number of affordable options included in this guide.

We’ve whittled the best full-frame mirrorless and DSLR cameras to 12 entries covering a range photo and video needs and budgets, where you’re into sports, landscapes or a bit of everything. Sony’s A7 IV stalwart remains a superb all-rounder with 33MP still and powerful video performance, while Nikon wowed us with the Z8 that’s extremely capable for just about everything, period, and comes in much cheaper than the Z9.

There are so many other great options out there not included in this list, too, such as the Canon EOS R6 II and Nikon Z6 II all-rounders and the supremely powerful Sony A1. We keep this guide regularly up to date with the latest models, and do scroll down to the bottom of the guide for more full-frame camera info and buying advice. 

The quick list

The summary below gives you an instant overview of the best full-frame cameras for every budget. When you find one that looks right for you, use the links beneath each entry to jump down to our full write-up.

Best full-frame cameras in 2024

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Below you'll find full write-ups for each of the best Sony cameras in our list. We've tested each one extensively, so you can be sure that our recommendations can be trusted.

The best full-frame camera for most people

The Sony A7 IV camera sitting on a wooden bench

(Image credit: Future)
The dream full-frame camera for many people

Specifications

Sensor: Full-frame
Megapixels: 33MP
Autofocus: 759-point AF
Screen type: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,037 dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 10fps
Movies: 4K at 60p
User level: Enthusiast

Reasons to buy

+
Impressive 33MP sensor
+
Class-leading autofocus

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricier than its predecessor
-
Heavily cropped 4K video
-
Complex for beginners

Sony’s A7 III has long been a full-frame favorite among enthusiasts, so improving on its superb skill set was never going to be easy – but the A7 IV more than delivers. A price increase means it’s not quite the entry-level option that its predecessor was, but there are plenty of improvements to justify the inflation. While a new 33MP sensor doesn’t dramatically improve the quality of still images, it does contribute to a versatile shooting experience that’s better all round. 

Powered by a Bionz XR processor, this is a hybrid camera that’s good in almost any situation. Though there’s a crop on 4K footage, Eye AF and 10-bit support also give it proper video chops. Sure, it’s not the easiest camera for beginners to get to grips with. Nor is it the best value for purist stills photographers. But add a huge CFexpress card buffer into the mix and the Sony A7 IV shapes up as a compelling full-frame all-rounder.

The best advanced full-frame camera

Nikon Z8 camera in the hand

(Image credit: Future)
The best full-frame camera for advanced users

Specifications

Sensor: Full-frame CMOS
Megapixels: 45.7MP
Autofocus: 493-point AF
Screen type: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2,100K dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: Up to 120fps
Movies: 8K at 60p
User level: Advanced

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible stacked sensor
+
Smaller and cheaper than Z9 but with many of the same features

Reasons to avoid

-
EVF has fairly low resolution
-
Better image stablization in other systems

The 5 star-rated Nikon Z8 takes everything that made the Z9 our camera of the year 2022, and squeezes that powerful performance into a smaller and cheaper package. It's one of the most capable mirrorless cameras money can buy and the more sensible option of those two models for most people. Like the Z9, the Z8 features the quickest-ever stacked sensor, and doesn't have a mechanical shutter. That means you get superb shooting speeds with no distortion of fast-moving subjects: 20fps burst shooting at full-quality or up to 120fps if you’re happy with 11MP output. 

In testing, we found the Z8 to be a superb hybrid camera, producing pin-sharp 45.7MP stills and fantastic 8K video up to 60fps. It marries speed and quality perfectly. The 61MP Sony A7R V might have better detail, but it's twice as slow in general. We did find battery life a little limited in testing – that's where the larger Z9 battery shines – while in-body image stabilization is only OK. Otherwise, you'll struggle to find a more capable hybrid full-frame camera.  

The best entry-level full-frame camera

The Nikon Z5 full-frame camera on a table with a 24-50mm lens

(Image credit: Future)
The top entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera right now

Specifications

Sensor: Full-frame CMOS
Megapixels: 24.3MP
Autofocus: 273-point hybrid AF
Screen type: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,040K dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 4.5fps
Movies: 4K at 30p
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Great to hold and use
+
Very capable autofocus

Reasons to avoid

-
Low burst speed
-
Average video specs

A dead-ringer for the Nikon Z6, Nikon’s latest large-sensor effort is the best entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera on the market. As a beginner’s option, it ticks a lot of boxes. Its weather-sealed body features a big, comfy grip and a neat control layout that’s accessible in the hand, with a 3-inch tilting touchscreen that makes menu navigation a cinch. The 24.2MP full-frame sensor inside serves up lovely images in a range of shooting scenarios, while the large, bright EVF is fantastic for framing shots. Autofocus is very impressive, too, with the 273-point hybrid system working well for both static and moving subjects. 

There are some compromises, though: the 4.5fps burst speed is underwhelming, while a 1.7x crop on 4K footage is disappointing. And if you regularly shoot in low-light, the back-illuminated sensor of the Z6 performs better at higher ISOs. Still, the Z5 delivers plenty for those looking for their first full-frame camera – provided you have a healthy budget. It’s pricier than several rivals and, as the cost of the older but more capable Z6 continues to fall, buyers will have a tricky choice to make.

The best full-frame camera for photography

The Canon EOS R5 full-frame sitting on a wall with its 24-105mm lens

(Image credit: Future)
The best-ever Canon camera for shooting stills

Specifications

Sensor: Full-frame CMOS
Megapixels: 45MP
Autofocus: 5940-point Dual Pixel AF
Screen type: 3.15-inch articulating touchscreen, 2,100K dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 20fps
Movies: 8K at 30p
User level: Enthusiast

Reasons to buy

+
Hugely versatile stills camera
+
Incredible autofocus

Reasons to avoid

-
A serious investment
-
Video recording limits

As its spec sheet confirms, the Canon EOS R5 is an incredibly powerful tool. The 45MP full-frame sensor is exceptional, producing superlative images in low light, with fantastic noise-handling even past ISO 4000. Next-gen Dual Pixel autofocus, backed up by Canon’s Digic X processor, is similarly excellent, with outstandingly accurate tracking and animal detection skills that will blow away safari shooters. The electronic shutter also delivers rapid 20fps continuous shooting, completing a package that’s as capable on the street as it is in the studio. 

Less solid are its hybrid credentials: while it’s hard to ignore 8K footage at up to 30fps – and 4K at up to 120fps – the R5’s versatility for videographers is limited by heat restrictions on recording times, with long ‘cool down’ periods. What’s more, the EOS R5 represents a serious investment, especially if you shell out for the speedy CFexpress cards needed to unlock its ultimate performance. But if money is no object, it’s arguably the top full-frame option for stills photographers.

The best full-frame camera for video

Panasonic Lumix S5 II camera on a table with view of the front

(Image credit: Future)
The best compact full-frame camera for video

Specifications

Sensor: Full-frame
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Autofocus: 225-point AF
Screen type: 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,840K dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps
Movies: 6K at 30p
User level: Enthusiast

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent video specs
+
Small yet ergonomic body

Reasons to avoid

-
Low max burst shooting speed
-
Autofocus isn’t best in class

We rate the Panasonic Lumix S5 II as the best full-frame video camera for most people. During our tests, it delivered rich and detailed 6K/30p footage with wide dynamic range, courtesy of its various color profiles. Standouts include real time luts and 10-bit recording across almost all resolutions. The cherry on the cake is recording from the full width and height of the sensor: also known as 'open gate', this means you keep more detail when cropping to vertical formats for social, compared to cameras like the Nikon Z8 which shoot at 16:9 or wider. 

The rugged S5 II is also Panasonic’s first ever mirrorless camera with phase detection AF for video, addressing the previous downside to the system. You get staggeringly good image stabilization which we found smooths out shakes effectively for run-and-gun video, but there is a 1.5x crop on 4K/60p video which is a shame. There's also a costlier Lumix S5 IIX version to consider which has a few extra video-centric features. Panasonic has been adding useful new features via firmware updates, too, such as proxy recording. 

The best high-resolution full-frame camera

The Sony A7R IV on a stone floor with a 24-70mm GM lens

(Image credit: Future)
The best high-res full-frame powerhouse

Specifications

Sensor: 61MP Full-frame CMOS
Lens: 24-105mm, f/4 (kit)
Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1,440,000 dots
Viewfinder: EVF
Continuous shooting: 10fps
Movies: 4K 30fps
User level: Expert

Reasons to buy

+
Superb detail - highest MP full-frame sensor
+
Speedy and intelligent AF system

Reasons to avoid

-
Rolling shutter in videos
-
Touchscreen could be better

The A7R IV is the studio-friendly camera in Sony’s full-frame line-up, albeit one that's just as at home shooting action or landscapes. It has an extremely high resolution 61-megapixel sensor, up from 42.4 megapixels in the last version. Such a high pixel count lets the camera retrieve incredible amounts of detail when mounted to a sturdy tripod, in controlled lighting. 

Noise predictably creeps in more quickly than in a lower-resolution full-frame model, but this is an excellent all-round camera. And while it demands careful shooting for the best results, effective stabilization means it still works well handheld. 4K video quality is great too, aside from some rolling shutter effect. You also get an AI autofocus chip that delivers industry-leading autofocus performance. 

The best full-frame camera for sports

Sony A9 III with wireless radio commander alongside the Sony HVL 46RM flash on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
The best mirrorless camera for sports and action

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: 24.6MP stacked sensor with global shutter
Lens mount: Sony FE
Screen: 3.2-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 2,095K dots
Autofocus: 759-point AF with AI chip
Video: 4K up to 120fps
Battery life: 400 shots
Weight: 702g (battery and card included)

Reasons to buy

+
Industry-leading speed
+
Versatile for flash photography

Reasons to avoid

-
Low light image quality
-
Only 4K video

One of the more exciting mirrorless camera developments of recent years can be found in the Sony A9 III, which comes equipped with a global shutter. You can learn more about this tech in our in-depth review, but the result is fastest-ever burst shooting up to 120fps in full-quality, zero distortion in fast-moving subjects, and flash sync at any shutter speed. It simply is next-generation performance.

There's a slight image quality trade-off in using a global shutter which means the A9 III isn't for everyone – especially if you don't need its industry-leading performance – but it's undoubtedly the best mirrorless camera for high-speed action and flash photography, backed up with the most reliable autofocus we've ever used. We also think the A9 III is Sony’s best-designed mirrorless camera yet, although the use of slower CFexpress type A cards is a bottleneck preventing the best possible performance. Still, the A9 III is one of the most fascinating cameras around right now. 

The best full-frame Leica camera

The Leica SL3 camera sat on a wooden bench

(Image credit: Future)
The best full-frame Leica you can buy

Specifications

Sensor: Full-frame CMOS
Megapixels: 60MP
Autofocus: Hybrid phase detect AF
Screen type: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2,300K dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: Up to 15fps
Movies: 8K at 30p
User level: Expert

Reasons to buy

+
Awesome build quality
+
Excellent interface

Reasons to avoid

-
Most expensive in its class
-
Poor battery life

There's plenty of competition in the full-frame mirrorless camera space for pros, with the likes of the Sony A7R V and Nikon Z8. The pricier Leica SL3 has a hard task to stand out, but it does so by offering the classic Leica hallmarks such as a minimalist design and a simple user interface through a punchy 3.2-inch tilt touchscreen. And for Leica fans, the SL series of cameras take a different approach to most of the German brand's red dot cameras, being SLR-style pro workhorses. 

The simplistic handling is complemented with incredible 60MP images and 8K video from the SL3's full frame sensor and Leica's best ever hybrid phase detection autofocus. Featuring the L-mount, the SL3 is compatible with a superb and ever-growing range of lenses too. Where it lacks the battery life and image stabilization performance of its rivals, the SL3 is the best L-mount camera yet with fantastic handling.

The best full-frame premium compact

Leica Q3 camera in the hand

(Image credit: Future)
The best compact you can buy for big money

Specifications

Sensor: Full-frame CMOS, 60.3MP
Lens: Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH
Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,840,000 dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 5,760,000 dots, 120fps
Continuous shooting: 15fps
Movies: 8K/30p
User level: Intermediate

Reasons to buy

+
Superb lens design
+
Class-leading photo quality
+
Every day camera

Reasons to avoid

-
Autofocus is bettered elsewhere
-
Average optical stabilization
-
Middling 350-shot battery life

Our favorite camera to use in 2023 wasn't a Sony or Canon, but the high-end Leica Q3. Calling it a compact camera is a bit of a stretch – it's the same size as many full-frame mirrorless cameras with a pancake lens attached, such as the Panasonic Lumix S5 II, but the Q3 has a built-in Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH fixed lens and is as superb every day camera. The lens in particular is a fantastic bit of design, capable of manual and autofocus, plus it's super sharp too, complemented by the class-leading 61MP full-frame sensor. 

With high-resolution sensor, the Q3 can crop into full-size pictures to effectively give you different lenses, recreating the perspective of lenses all the way up to 90mm, albeit with reduced image size. Most of all, the Leica Q3 offers a premium tactile shooting experience that the best camera phones can’t hope to match. Being a red dot camera the Q3 is pricey, but it's not too bad for Leica and is regularly on back order such is its popularity. If you want the highest-quality every day camera, the Q3 should be high up the list.

The best full-frame DSLR

Canon 1DX Mark III

(Image credit: Future)
The best full-frame DSLR you can buy

Specifications

Sensor: Full-frame CMOS
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Autofocus: 191-point AF; 155 cross-type
Screen type: 3.2-inch touchscreen; 2.1 million dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 20fps
Movies: 4K RAW/DCI/UHD at 60fps
User level: Expert

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent autofocus
+
Practically unlimited buffer
+
Superb battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
No IBIS
-
Big and heavy
-
Expensive

Canon’s flagship DSLR the EOS 1D X Mark III is the fastest of its kind there will ever be, what with Canon and Nikon now focusing on mirrorless camera tech instead. It remains a formidable camera in every way: built like a tank, equipped with pro sports features for photographers on location, and with superb battery life. There's no quicker mechanical shutter in the business, rattling off at 16fps and backed up by the 1DX III's practically unlimited buffer. Sports, wildlife, any kind of action in any kind of weather: the EOS 1DX Mark III can do it all.

Besides its 20MP stills, video capture is impressive with 4K/60p capture available, plus Canon's deep-learning autofocus works a treat. It being a DSLR we don't get in-body image stabilization, plus the 1DX Mark III remains one of the most expensive full-frame cameras ever, but for pros that love the DSLR experience, they won't find any better.

The best full-frame DSLR for enthusiasts

The Nikon D780 full-frame DSLR on a tree trunk with a 24-120mm lens

(Image credit: Future)
The best modern DSLR for enthusiasts

Specifications

Sensor: Full-frame CMOS
Megapixels: 24.5MP
Autofocus: 51-point AF
Screen type: 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 2,359K dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 12fps
Movies: 4K at 30p
User level: Intermediate

Reasons to buy

+
Great image quality
+
Fast live-view focusing
+
Superb battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
No IBIS
-
Big and heavy
-
Expensive

Don’t believe the naysayers: the DSLR isn’t dead and the Nikon D780 proves it. One of the best full-frame cameras you can buy, it delivers a fantastic shooting experience that should appeal to fans of DSLR handling, while also offering many modern features familiar to mirrorless users. Its sturdy, water-resistant magnesium alloy body might be big and heavy, but the trade-off is a satisfyingly chunky grip. 

Image quality from the D780’s full-from 24.5MP sensor is truly fantastic, too, aided by Nikon’s EXPEED 6 image processor. Exposures are nicely balanced, courtesy of a metering and scene recognition system borrowed from the D850, while the 273-point on-chip phase detection system – as used by the mirrorless Z6 – ensures fast and reliable autofocus performance when using Live View on the tilting touchscreen. The lack of in-body image stabilization is a shame, but superlative battery life rounds out what is a superb – if pricey – full-frame all-rounder.

The best budget full-frame DSLR

Hands holding the Canon EOS 6D Mark II full-frame DSLR

(Image credit: Future)
The best full-frame DSLR if you're on a budget

Specifications

Sensor: Full-frame CMOS
Megapixels: 26.2MP
Autofocus: 45-point AF
Screen type: 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040K dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 6.5fps
Movies: Full HD at 60p
User level: Intermediate/expert

Reasons to buy

+
Good image quality
+
Advanced features
+
4K timelapse

Reasons to avoid

-
Full HD video only
-
EVF covers 98% of frame

When the original EOS 6D launched, it offered the best bang for your buck and that trend continues with the second generation DSLR. Released in 2017, it has a significant bump in features over it's predecessor, including a higher sensor resolution at 26.2MP, a better autofocus system with 45 cross-type AF points, 6.5fps burst speed and introduces touchscreen functionality to the 6D line. 

Performance in the real world is smooth and you won't find much to complain about in terms of image quality. And you get all that for around $1,500 / £1,349 / AU$1,999, which is very good value for money– making the EOS 6D Mark II an excellent entry point into the full-frame market.

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How to choose the best full-frame camera for you

There are several things to look for when choosing the right full-frame camera for your needs and budget. Every full-frame camera will feature a larger sensor than an APS-C or Micro Four Thirds model, meaning you should benefit from improved image quality and enhanced low-light performance. But there are a few key specs to look at in addition. 

While sensor resolution is an important consideration, it’s not always an indicator of outright image quality. The Sony A1, for example, features a 50.1MP resolution for capturing stunning stills. In contrast, our favorite full-frame camera right now – the Canon EOS R6 – only features a 20.1MP resolution, but that lower pixel count means bigger pixels, which can translate into better light sensitivity for shooting in dim scenes.

Canon EOS R5

(Image credit: Future)

Another key factor to keep in mind is the physical dimensions of a full-frame camera. Due to the size of the sensor, full-frame cameras are inevitably larger than most mirrorless and premium compact models. That said, some are bulkier than others. The Nikon D780, for example, is big and heavy, but the trade-off is a chunky, comfortable grip. On the flip side, the Panasonic Lumix S5 manages to squeeze a full-frame sensor into a Micro Four Thirds-style body that’s small yet ergonomic – and more convenient to carry.

As for other considerations, these are the same as for any other camera purchase and will depend primarily on your style of shooting. Whether you need a tilting touchscreen or a fully articulating screen, for example, will come down to how you like to frame your shots. Equally, the relevance of 4K (or even 8K) video resolution will be determined by your desire to shoot footage with your full-frame camera. It’s a similar story for connectivity and live-streaming features.

Nikon Z8 camera in the hand

(Image credit: Future)

Of course, budget will often be the most important factor, but value isn’t always easy to determine. While entry-level models are usually cheaper, a more advanced but accessible camera is likely to go further with you on your photographic journey. Equally, slightly older models may not offer the most cutting-edge specs, but many continue to represent excellent value. It’s also a good idea to keep lens availability in mind: a full-frame camera with support for a wide range of compatible lenses will offer greater creative flexibility.

Are full-frame cameras better?

There are many reasons why you might want to buy a full-frame camera. As the name suggests, the primary advantage is sensor size. Full-frame sensors are substantially larger than those found in APS-C, Micro Four Thirds and compact cameras.

That extra sensor size can be used in a few ways. Some full-frame cameras fill their sensor with more pixels, to record stills at higher resolutions. The Canon EOS R5 shoots images at a 45MP resolution, for example, while the Sony A1 captures snaps at 50.1MP.

Alternatively, a full-frame sensor with a lower resolution can benefit from bigger pixels, which can capture more light in a particular scene and enhance low-light performance.

Either way, full-frame cameras will generally be able to shoot higher quality images in a given scene, particularly in more challenging lighting. The trade-off is often body size, which needs to be larger to make space for the larger sensor. There are a few more compact full-frame camera options, such as the Panasonic Lumix S5, but travelers might find that a mirrorless model or premium compact is more suited to their needs.

Whether full-frame cameras are better in other ways will depend on what and how you like to shoot. A larger sensor doesn’t necessarily mean that a full-frame camera will shoot at higher burst speeds than a APS-C mirrorless model, for example, or that it will have faster autofocus. That’s why it’s important to consider all of a camera’s specs and features when selecting one that’s right for you, not just its sensor size.

Hands holding the Leica SL3 camera

(Image credit: Future)

How we test full-frame cameras

Buying a full-frame camera these days is a big investment, so every camera in this guide has been tested extensively by us. These days, real-world tests are the most revealing way to understand a camera's performance and character, so we focus heavily on those, along with standardized tests for factors like ISO performance.

To start with, we look at the camera's design, handling and controls to get a sense of what kind of photographer it's aimed at and who would most enjoy shooting with it. When we take it out on a shoot, we'll use it both handheld and on a tripod to get a sense of where its strengths lie, and test its startup speed.

Side view of the Sony A9 III camera with 24-50mm lens attached

(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to performance, we use a formatted SD card and shoot in both raw and JPEG (if available). For burst shooting tests, we dial in our regular test settings (1/250 sec, ISO 200, continuous AF) and shoot a series of frames in front of a stopwatch to see if it lives up to its claimed speeds. We'll also look at how quickly the buffers clears and repeat the test for both raw and JPEG files.

In various lighting conditions, we also test the camera's different autofocus modes (including Face and Eye AF) in single point, area and continuous modes. We also shoot a range of photos of different styles (portrait, landscape, low light, macro/close-up) in raw and JPEG to get a sense of metering and its sensor's ability to handle noise and resolve fine detail.

Panasonic Lumix S5 II camera on a table with close up of the on off switch and video record button

(Image credit: Future)

If the camera's raw files are supported by Adobe Camera Raw, we'll also process some test images to see how we can push areas like shadow recovery. And we'll also test its ISO performance across the whole range to get a sense of the levels we'd be happy to push the camera to.

Battery life is tested in a real-world fashion, as we use the camera over the course of the day with the screen set to the default settings. Once the battery has reached zero, we'll then count the number of shots to see how it compares to the camera's CIPA rating. Finally, we test the camera's video skills by shooting some test footage at different frame-rates and resolutions, along with its companion app.

We then take everything we've learned about the camera and factor in its price to get a sense of the value-for-money it offers, before reaching our final verdict.