Best full-frame camera 2018: 10 advanced DSLRs and mirrorless cameras

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If you're thinking of upgrading to a full-frame camera, you've come to the right place, as we'll rundown the best full-frame cameras you can buy right now. 

What makes a full-frame 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 (22.2 x 14.8mm on Canon cameras). 

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.

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. This is led to both Canon and Nikon recently launching rival full-frame mirrorless cameras (supplementing but not replacing each company's DSLR range), while Panasonic's just announced its joining the party with its new S1R and S1 full-frame mirrorless cameras

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:

Best full-frame cameras 2018

1. 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

Breathtaking results
Excellent performance
Live View AF could be faster
SnapBridge still needs work

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. 

2. Sony Alpha A7 III

The best full-frame camera 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

693-point AF system
10fps burst shooting
Limited touchscreen control
Battery life could still be better

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. For the price, there's nothing that can touch it.

3. 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

Very responsive
Excellent image quality
XQD cards still pricey
Modest official battery life

Nikon's first full-frame mirrorless camera along with the Z6 (which we're yet to fully test), 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.

4. 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

10fps at 42.2MP
Fast AF performance
Limited touchscreen control
Battery life could be better

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.

5. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

One of the most complete 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

Stunning performance
Advanced AF system
Expensive compared to rivals
4K video options limited

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.

6. 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

Great handling
Excellent AF performance
No AF joystick
4K video limitations

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. 

7. 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

New 24MP sensor
High performance AF system
Disappointing special effects
Tiltable screen doesn't fully articulate

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.

Canon EOS 6D

8. 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

Excellent Live View focusing
Refined touchscreen control
Poor dynamic range
Limited AF coverage

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.

Nikon d5

9. 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

Incredible AF performance
Massive ISO range
4K recording limited to 3mins
Heavy

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.

EOS-1D X Mark II

9. Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

Canon's latest top-flight DSLR is a speed machine

Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 20.2MP | Autofocus: 61-point AF, 41 cross-type | Screen type: 3.2-inch, 1,620,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 14fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert

Excellent control layout
14fps burst shooting
Menu could be clearer
Touchscreen functionality limited

Choosing between the EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 will most likely depend on which manufacturer you're already tied to with your lens system, but the two cameras are otherwise pretty closely matched. With the EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon has created a very powerful and versatile camera that's a great choice for professional sport and news photographers thanks to a blistering 14fps burst shooting. It doesn't have the outrageous sensitivity range of the Nikon D5, but it's very capable in low light, delivering excellent images within its standard sensitivity range.

Not sure whether to buy a DSLR or mirrorless camera? Check out our guide video below.