Full-frame cameras are aimed at photographers who want the best image quality possible without resorting to medium format models. So what's the best full-frame camera right now?
It used to be a fairly easy decision to make, as there were only full-frame DSLRs made by two manufacturers – and you were lucky if you could afford them. Slowly other brands joined, and full-frame cameras got cheaper and cheaper, before mirrorless cameras arrived and changed everything.
And we expect a few might get cheaper still as Prime Day Deals start to bubble up to the surface. Amazon is expected to slash prices on whole heaps of tech, and full-frame cameras often make the cut. Sony's A7 models are often subject to discounts, but will we see some savings on those from Canon, Nikon and Panasonic too? Stick around as we'll be flagging all the best deals we find ahead of the event and once it all officially kicks off on Monday 15 July.
Today, Sony rules the full-frame mirrorless roost with the most models, but it's been joined by the likes of Canon, Nikon and Panasonic in the past year, all racing to get their systems populated with tempting camera bodies and high-performing lens options to match. There's no doubt that full-frame photography is not only more exciting than ever, but more accessible too.
So 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 these measuring around 23.6 x 15.7mm. A full-frame sensor, on the other hand, has larger dimensions of around 36 x 24mm. That's the same size as a frame of 35mm film, hence the name 'full-frame', and is around 2.5x larger than an APS-C sized sensor.
This allows for larger photosites on the sensor, which deliver 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, whether it's in DSLR or mirrorless form.
We reckon the best full-frame camera right now is the Nikon Z6, thanks to its blend of excellent performance, lightweight body, masses of features and low price. To get an idea of what kind of DSLR or mirrorless camera you can get at different price points, try our 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 top full-frame option if you're on a budget
Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 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, not the the latest and greatest, is still a great buy. Sony's Alpha A7 II has since been replaced by the A7 III (which is in our top ten below), but it's a great option if you're on a bit more of a budget, or you want to spend more money on lenses. Still available new (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 as the newer Mark III version, 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 right now.
- Read our in-depth Sony Alpha A7 II review
Best full-frame cameras in 2019
1. Nikon Z6
Almost a year old but the Z6 is still our pick of the bunch
Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 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 was the first of two cameras in Nikon's Z system, and while it's no longer the newest model here, it retains its spot at the top of our best full-frame mirrorless camera chart. It's our pick thanks to 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 works very well and has excellent frame coverage. There's also an impressive 12fps burst shooting mode, 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. We can't wait to see where this system goes from here.
- Read our in-depth Nikon Z6 review
2. Sony Alpha A7 III
One of the best full-frame cameras for the price
Sensor size: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 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 in large part to the excellent 24.2MP full-frame sensor. The advanced 693-point AF has been borrowed from the flagship Alpha A9, while the 10fps burst shooting option should mean you'll never miss another shot. It can also shoot uncropped 4K video and features a very good 5-axis image stabilization system, and also packs a high-resolution electronic viewfinder. Until recently, this has been our pick of the 'entry-level' mirrorless cameras, but it's just been pipped by the Nikon Z6. Still, as a rare winner of a full five stars in our recent review (below), it's just as worthy of consideration if you're not tied to any particular system right now.
- Read our in-depth Sony Alpha A7 III review
3. Nikon Z7
The more senior Z-system option adds a whole lot of pixels
Sensor size: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 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 would 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. The fact that Nikon allows you to use F-mount lenses through the FTZ adapter also makes the journey from DSLR to mirrorless relatively painless if you've already built up a collection of lenses.
- Read our in-depth Nikon Z7 review
4. Nikon D850
The best DSLR we've tested
Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 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
The D850 may have had some of its thunder stolen by the similar Z7 (above) but it retains a lot of appeal. It's one of the most advanced DSLRs we've ever tested, with the winning combination of a 45MP full-frame sensor and 7fps burst shooting at its heart, and has a wonderful 153-point AF system that makes light work of keeping up with moving subjects. Videos are recorded in 4K quality and are top notch, while build and design are as close to perfect as it gets right now. Its weight and size make the Z7 a little more desirable for most uses, but if you're shooting sports or other moving subjects and plan on getting the most out of that focusing system, it's a cracking option.
- Read our in-depth Nikon D850 review
5. Sony Alpha A7R III
The big daddy in the A7 line
Sensor size: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 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 do you get twice the number of pixels, but Sony has 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 brilliantly - especially with the camera's EyeAF mode that locks onto your subject's eye. Like the Nikon D850 (above), the Alpha A7R III means you no longer have to sacrifice performance for resolution or vice versa, while it's versatility means it's just at home perched on a mountain as it is in a studio or out 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 everything the Mark III offered. This includes a brilliant 30.4MP sensor that delivers pin-sharp results, together with an advanced and sophisticated 61-point AF system, a pro-spec performance, 4K video and some very polished handling. We have a few reservations, such as the crop factor and inefficient Motion JPEG option when shooting 4K videos, while the 30MP sensor resolution and 7fps burst rate aren't as competitive at this price point as they used to be when the camera was first launched. Still, if you're a Canon user looking for the very best DSLR for a wide range of purposes, this is still very much it.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS 5D Mark IV review
7. Canon EOS RP
Canon's second full-frame mirrorless camera impresses
Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 26.2MP | Autofocus: 5,655-point AF | Screen type: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Enthusiast
Canon's first full-frame mirrorless camera, the EOS R, delighted in some ways and frustrated in others, but the EOS RP made a much more positive impression. While technically a more junior model and not as fully featured, its much smaller and lighter body, together with a far nicer price, means that it's far more accessible for those who were hoping to make the jump to mirrorless but didn't want to stretch all the way to the EOS R. Without only around 4MP difference between the two you're not really sacrificing much in terms of sensor resolution, while the responsive touchscreen, fast autofocus and deep buffer makes it a pleasure to use in all kinds of situations. Let's hope Canon fills out the lens range with some smaller and more affordable options, as most current options aren't quite the most suitable partners.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS RP 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
By the standard of today's DSLRs and mirrorless camera, the D750 is somewhat dated. It employs Nikon's older (but respected) 51-point AF system, for example, and it can't capture 4K video, only Full HD clips to 60p. It doesn't even have a touchscreen, but it's still well worth its place on this list thanks to its excellent build, great handling, solid 24.3MP sensor and affordable price. If you don't need the tricks of modern DSLRs but you just want something reliable that produces excellent images in good light and bad, the D750 is well worth considering – particularly at this price.
- Read our in-depth Nikon D750 review
9. Panasonic S1R
Fancy taking 187MP images? The S1R delivers that and plenty more
Sensor size: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 47.3MP | Autofocus: 225-point AF | Screen type: 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 2,100,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 9fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert
The S1R offers some very impressive tech in a supremely rugged body. The 5.7million-dot viewfinder is, without question, the most impressive on the market right now, while stellar video quality, great image stabilisation and a huge buffer all put a big smile on our face too. The 47.3MP sensor has the highest number of pixels on any full-frame mirrorless camera too, but its main party trick is the ability to output 187MP images. Quite how often you'll need to print your images to the size of a small country is another matter, but this clearly gives you massive scope for extreme cropping, enlargements to all sizes and homing in on the smaller details in the scene. We have some reservations with the autofocus system, and it's a little on the beefy side too, but for its combination of build, features and overall execution, the S1R scores many points.
- Read our in-depth Panasonic S1R review
10. Canon EOS 6D Mark II
This older model still packs a punch for budget-conscious users
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 certainly made some significant improvements over the now-reitred EOS 6D here, packing in 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, such as the lack of 4K video and the fact that the AF system only covers a small proportion of the frame. 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
Nothing from the above take your fancy? There are a couple of other options that you may want to look at.
Hands down the best mirrorless camera for sports and action
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: 24.2MP full-frame back-illuminated stacked CMOS | Lens mount: Sony FE | Screen: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1,440,000 dots | Autofocus: 693-point AF | Video: 4K | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth | Battery life: 480 shots | Weight: 673g
The A9 may now be two years old, but for sports and action shooters it's still pretty much the best option around. Part of that is down to the core specs, which include a superb 693-point AF system, a huge buffer, oversampled 4K video recording and 20fps burst shooting with no viewfinder blackout. But another reason is because of how Sony has continued to support it throughout its lifetime, recently blessing it with firmware that radically improves the stickiness of the autofocus system. The camera is capable of not just keeping an excellent lock on subjects as they move around, but also maintaining this as obstacles present themselves, and that huge buffer lets you keep shooting for extended periods of time. It's not cheap, but if you're shooting action, you won't find a better mirrorless body right now.
- Read our in-depth Sony A9 review
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
Now over three years old, but the D5 is still Nikon's flagship DSLR and a formidable performer when it comes to capturing action. The 20.8MP sensor 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.