Full-frame cameras are aimed at photographers who want the best image quality possible and the good news is that there's never been more choice. Read on to find out the best full-frame cameras you can buy right now.
There's a bit of a buzz around full-frame cameras right now. Photokina (the industry's big trade show) saw Panasonic announce it would soon be entering the full-frame market with two new models, while Canon and Nikon have both recently launched full-frame mirrorless cameras as well. This is on top of both manufacturers full-frame DSLR cameras that they already offer, as well as Sony's extensive range of FF cameras.
What makes a full-frame camera so special? Most entry-level and mid-price DSLR and mirrorless cameras sport an APS-C sized sensor, with the physical dimensions of the chip measuring 23.6 x 15.7mm.
A full-frame sensor on the other hand has larger dimensions of 36 x 24mm - the same size as a frame of 35mm film, hence the name 'full-frame', and offering a surface area 2.5x larger than an APS-C sized sensor.
This allows for larger photosites (pixels to you and I) on the sensor, delivering better light gathering capabilities, which in turn means better image quality - especially at higher sensitivities.
Top 5 full-frame cameras
Full-frame DSLRs used to be the preserve of professional photographers, but as the costs have dropped and lower-cost models have started to appear, many serious amateurs and enthusiasts can now enjoy the benefits of full-frame photography.
But it's no longer just DSLRs that enjoy full-frame sensors. Sony muscled in on the full-frame market with its Alpha A7 range of full-frame mirrorless cameras, and as we've just touched upon, both Canon and Nikon have recently launched rival full-frame mirrorless cameras (supplementing but not replacing each company's DSLR range). Panasonic is the latest company to announce it will be launching a full-frame mirrorless camera, but we'll have to wait a bit longer until these cameras hit the shelves.
To get an idea of what kind of DSLR or mirrorless camera you can get at different price points, try Best DSLR and Best mirrorless camera buying guides. Otherwise, here's our pick of the best full-frame cameras, both DSLR and mirrorless, you can buy right now:
Great value option: Sony Alpha A7 II
A brilliant full-frame if you're on a budget
Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Resolution: 24.2MP | Autofocus: 117-point AF | Screen type: 3.0-inch tilt-angle screen, 1,228K dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Movies: Full HD at 50p | User level: Intermediate/expert
Our top ten list of best full-frame camera starts just below, but we wanted to highlight a camera that, while it's not the the latest and greatest, we still think is a great buy. Sony's Alpha A7 II has since been replaced by the A7 III (which is in our top ten below), but is a great option if you're on a bit more of a budget, or you want to spend more money on lenses. Still available (as is the even more affordable Alpha A7), the A7 II includes a great 24.2MP full-frame sensor, a high-resolution electronic viewfinder and a very capable AF system. Handling isn't quite as refined though as the newer camera, but for the incredibly tempting price, this can be overlooked. You'll be hard pressed to find a better full-frame camera for your money.
- Read our in-depth Sony Alpha A7 II review
Best full-frame cameras in 2019
1. Nikon Z6
Nikon's new full-frame mirrorless is the pick of the bunch
Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Resolution: 24.5MP | Autofocus: 273-point AF | Screen type: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 2,100K dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 12fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Enthusiast/expert
Nikon's Z6 is the newest camera here and jumps straight in at the top of our best full-frame mirrorless camera chart. It's our pick thanks for a brilliant blend of features, performance, handling and price. The 24.5MP sensor delivers beautiful results with great color reproduction and fine detail, while the 273-point AF system is more than up to the job. There's also an impressive 12fps burst shooting speed, sensibly laid out controls and a lovely large and bright electronic viewfinder. Existing Nikon user? The FTZ adapter means you'll be able to use your existing F mount lenses too (though check compatibility for older lenses). All this makes the Z6 a brilliant choice for the enthusiast photographer or pro photographer looking for a second body.
- Read our in-depth Nikon Z6 review
2. Nikon D850
The best DSLR we've tested
Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Resolution: 45.4MP | Autofocus: 153-point AF, 99 cross-type | Screen type: 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 2,359,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert
It may be pricey, but the Nikon D850 is the ultimate full-frame DSLR you can buy right now and possibly the most complete DSLR we've ever seen. A bold statement, but when you look at the spec, you can see why. The 45.4MP full-frame sensor delivers detail-rich images with brilliant dynamic range and excellent high ISO noise performance, while the advanced 153-point AF system is hard to beat. Add in 7fps burst shooting, a rock-solid build and refined handling and the D850 is pretty much at the top of its game for any subject you want to shoot. A brilliant piece of kit that won't disappoint.
- Read our in-depth Nikon D850 review
3. Sony Alpha A7 III
One of the best full-frame cameras for the price
Sensor size: Full-frame CMOS | Resolution: 24.2MP | Autofocus: 693-point AF | Screen type: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 921,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Enthusiast/expert
The Alpha A7 III might be the entry-level full-frame camera in Sony's mirrorless range, but it's no poor relation. This is a brilliant camera for both enthusiasts and professionals thanks to the excellent 24.2MP full-frame sensor, advanced 693-point AF (borrowed from the flagship Alpha A9) and 10fps burst shooting should mean you'll never miss another shot. It can also shoot uncropped 4K video, features a very good 5-axis image stabilization system and high-resolution electronic viewfinder. Until recently, our pick of the 'entry-level' mirrorless cameras, but it's just been pipped by the Nikon Z6.
- Read our in-depth Sony Alpha A7 III review
4. Nikon Z7
Nikon's new Z-series gets off to a mighty fine start
Sensor size: Full-frame CMOS | Resolution: 45.7MP | Autofocus: 493-point AF | Screen type: 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 2,100,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 9fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert
Nikon's first full-frame mirrorless camera along with the Z6, the Z7 is triumph. As a first-generation camera we should expect the odd hiccup, but the Z7 has been crafted with consideration and it behaves far better than we should expect. A solid sensor, combined with effective image stabilization, together with a beautiful EVF, excellent handling, very competent AF performance and great response throughout form the bones of what make this camera such a pleasure to use. Nikon has smashed our expectations.
- Read our in-depth Nikon Z7 review
5. Sony Alpha A7R III
Sony's megapixel monster
Sensor size: Full-frame CMOS | Resolution: 42.2MP | Autofocus: 399-point AF | Screen type: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1,440,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert
Like the look of the A7 III but want more pixels? Then the 42.2MP Alpha A7R III is the answer. Not only is the resolution double, but Sony's managed to keep the burst rate at 10fps. And while the 399-point AF system isn't quite as advanced at the 693-point system used in the Alpha A9 and A7 III, it's still performs brilliant - especially with the camera's EyeAF mode that locks onto your subjects eye. Like the Nikon D850 at the top of the list, the Alpha A7R III means you no longer have to sacrifice performance for resolution or vice versa. This is a camera that would be equally at home perched on a mountain as in a studio or shooting action.
- Read our in-depth Sony Alpha A7R III review
6. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
One of the most capable DSLRs we've seen
Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 30.4MP | Autofocus: 61-point AF, 41 cross-type | Screen type: 3.2-inch touchscreen, 1,620,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert
The EOS 5D Mark IV pretty much tweaks and improves on everything the Mark III offered. This includes a brilliant new 30.4MP sensor that delivers pin-sharp results, an advanced and sophisticated 61-point AF system, a pro-spec performance, 4K video and some very polished handling. Put this all together, along with a host of other features and it all combines to make the EOS 5D Mark IV one of the best DSLRs we've seen. Now overshadowed by the mighty D850 as our full-frame DSLR of choice.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS 5D Mark IV review
7. Canon EOS R
Canon's first full-frame mirrorless camera
Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 30.3MP | Autofocus: 5,655-point AF | Screen type: 3.15-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 2,100,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 8fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert
The EOS R is Canon's first full-frame mirrorless camera and features a completely new RF lens mount, though if you're an existing Canon user, there are three EF mount adapters available. The 30.3MP sensor delivers some great results, while the AF performance is excellent. The finish is also lovely (although somewhat prone to the same scuffing as some other matte-finish models) and handling overall is very good, but there's certainly room for improvement here. The lack of an AF joystick, the absence of a mode dial, and the questionable M-Fn control all frustrate. There's also the slightly under-baked 4K video, and the absence of in-body image stabilization. It should certainly satisfy many Canon DSLR owners looking for a solid mirrorless alternative. If we weren't bound by a system, however, we'd find it hard to recommend the EOS R over its rivals.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS R review
8. Nikon D750
A full-frame DSLR packed with features for a reasonable price? Yes please
Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 24.3MP | Autofocus: 51-point AF, 15 cross-type | Screen type: 3.2-inch tilting, 1,228,800 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 6.5fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Enthusiast/expert
Until the arrival of the Alpha A7 III, the Nikon D750 was our pick of the more affordable full-frame options out there. It's starting to show its age, but the D750 is still a very well-rounded DSLR that has a lot to offer. This includes a cracking 24.3MP sensor, decent weatherproofing, an advanced 51-point AF system and useful tilting screen. Its continuous shooting speed of 6.5fps isn't quite as fast as some may have hoped for, while video is only Full HD, but on the whole the Nikon D750 is a well-equipped, well-priced choice for enthusiast photographers.
- Read our in-depth Nikon D750 review
9. Canon EOS 6D Mark II
Canon's enthusiast-focused full-frame DSLR gets an overhaul
Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 26.2MP | Autofocus: 45-point AF, all cross-type | Screen type: 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 6.5fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Enthusiast/expert
Canon has certainly made some significant improvements over the outgoing EOS 6D, packing in a host of new features including a fresh sensor, a faster processor, a much more credible AF system and a stronger burst rate. It's a much more well-rounded and better specified camera than the EOS 6D, but it's not without its issues. These niggles dull what is otherwise a very nice full-frame DSLR that's a pleasure to shoot with. It will certainly please Canon users looking to make the move into full-frame photography, but others might be better served elsewhere.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS 6D Mark II review
10. Nikon D5
Nikon's flagship DSLR has the best AF system we've ever seen
Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 20.8MP | Autofocus: 173-point AF, 99 cross-type | Screen type: 3.2-inch, 2,359,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 12fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert
The D5 is Nikon's latest flagship DSLR, and it certainly doesn't disappoint. 20.8 megapixels might seem a bit stingy, but it means the D5 can shoot at 12fps continuous shooting, while the extended ISO range of ISO 3,280,000 has never been seen before in a camera. That's even before we get to the autofocus system - with a coverage of 173 AF points (99 of which are cross-type), the sophistication and speed of the AF is staggering. The ability to shoot 4K video is restricted to three minutes however, but that aside the D5 is a phenomenal camera that's used by professionals the world over.
- Read our in-depth Nikon D5 review
Not sure whether to buy a DSLR or mirrorless camera? Check out our guide video below.
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