Looking for the best full frame camera to take awesome and high-quality photos? Do full frame DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have better image quality than crop sensor cameras? For you to make it easy, I’ve gathered 12 best full frame cameras for any purpose and budget.
Full frame is a digital camera sensor the size of which is identical to classic film camera sensors of 35 mm (36x24mm, to be precise). The primary benefits of full-frame camera bodies are more powerful dynamic range and low light operation. Thanks to full-frame sensors, the separate pixels are enlarged, therefore, they are capable of gathering more light.
As a result, at high ISO settings, the camera takes pictures without any noise. Besides, a full frame DSLR or mirrorless camera features a wider dynamic range. It means that they will capture and render the richness and intensity of colors, including midtones, bright and dark areas to the full extent.
If you are a still life or portrait photographer, you will surely appreciate a more stable depth of field of full-frame models. So read my guide to 12 best full frame cameras available today.
Price: about $2200
If my goal is to take noiseless pictures within the range of ISO 50 and ISO 1600, I opt for the Sony A7 III. However, while photographing at ISO 3200 and ISO 6400, you might notice noise in RAW images. I may even increase ISO up to 12,800 or 25,600 and yet receive decent shots. In this case, later I will need to reduce noise in Lightroom. In the range of ISO from 50 to 12,800, the rendered colors look vibrant and lively.
As for ISO 25,600, the saturation almost doesn't decrease. Some call the A7 III the best full frame camera since these powerful features aren't expected from this kind of models at such affordable price. Nevertheless, I wasn't fully satisfied with the quality of its construction in comparison with DSLR analogs. Still, this camera is a great combination of secure AF which covers 93% of points and remarkable quality of videos/shots.
This lens generates splendid background bokeh which contributes to the overall depth of the picture and turns it into a piece of art. Moreover, the model boasts of steady resolution regardless of chosen focal distance or zoom setting.
Taken by Sony A7 III
Price: about $5500
According to many reviews, this model is referred as the best Canon full frame camera. While using Canon EOS-1DX Mark II, I was able to make some remarks. Firstly, JPEG images taken with the device are characterized by slight flatness and coolness.
Regulating auto white balance helped achieve more or less warm shades in the shot. Secondly, autofocus case mode requires optimization of separate parameters. It might take some time trying to understand the most suitable settings for a certain scene, but if you manage to do it, the final pictures won't disappoint you.
Even though the manufacturer equipped the model with the metering sensor of maximum resolution ever found in DSLRs, you can't be 100% sure that Intelligent Tracking and Recognition (iTR) isn't going to let you down.
This iTR improvement might come in handy in case some you need to capture motion. All in all, I would recommend this Canon full frame device to those, who photograph fashion, sports, events or aim at an effortless recording of top-quality videos.
Among the benefits of this universal model are precise and swift autofocus along with the weather-proof build. Its zoom range covers a variety of focal lengths ensuring you to shoot sharp portraiture and landscapes. This is an ideal lens for Canon full frame camera that may definitely compete with prime models.
Taken by Canon EOS-1DX Mark II
Price: about $3200
Sony a7R III is deservedly called the best full frame camera by many experts. It pleases users with incredible dynamic range, particularly at ISO 100. The model is capable of capturing a considerable extent of details in dark shadows almost noiselessly. In this way, you may preserve highlighted details in the scene with the highest contrast. At the photo editing stage, you just “turn on” shadows in the RAW picture.
The 42.4MP sensor ensures you will obtain maximum resolution at low sensitivities with very low noise even if the ISO is increased. Aside from terrific detailization at low sensitivity, the model produces impressive shots at unexpectedly high settings. At ISO 12.800 or 25.600, you will absolutely take high-quality photos without noise. The flexibility of RAW shots is another advantage.
This lens is really versatile. It combines both telephoto and wide-angle capabilities, so changing lenses isn't a must. Its full-frame 24mm to 240mm zoom range makes it possible to shoot everything you can imagine – from travels and landscapes to portraiture and wedding photos.
Taken by Sony a7R III
Price: about $3300
I decided to test the universal D850 thoroughly in order to give it a chance to show its capabilities to the fullest. I began with shooting landscapes and was pleasantly surprised with such a detailed sensor. I have already tried using other DSLRs from Nikon, but the D850 is by far the best Nikon full frame model. Among its significant features are swift focus speed and high resolution.
I would like to focus special attention on the tilting screen which enables users to take low-angled and very detailed shots. The rear display is responsive due to touch control and precise color rendering for examining final pictures. I constantly take advantage of the rear dial together with the double-tap mechanism to achieve 100% zoom fast and control focus while shooting.
Having this lens at your disposal, you won't need to buy other ones. The model is very versatile and sharp all over its zoom range. The lens for professional camera Nikon produces fascinating pictures and doesn't take much time to focus. Keep in mind that it generates visible distortion at the ends.
Taken by Nikon D850
Price: about $1300
Every professional photographer likes Canon EOS 6D Mark II combines for its high image quality and a relatively affordable price. The resolution has been increased to 26 megapixels. All over the ISO range, the JPEG pictures taken with this device turn out to be clear. Shooting at ISO 800, you might notice a slight noise. If you set ISO to 4000, the images will be satisfying as well.
The model produces luminance noise, but not a lot of chroma noise at this setting which is quite admirable. The buffer volume has also been increased to 21 RAW files. Personally, I disliked the camera's dynamic range and the coverage which is way too centralized.
Besides, the autofocus needs upgrade. Being the cheapest full frame camera on the list, it is still a decent device that impressed me with its vari-angle touchscreen. I could suggest purchasing Canon EOS 6D Mark II for amateur photographers, who have just started the photography path.
This lens is recommende for a Hybrid IS system. It generates 4 stabilization stops which compensate for shift and angular kinds of camera shake. As a result, efficient stabilization is ensured (even in macro). The model provides impressive detailization all over the zoom range. Soft and appealing backgrounds are achieved thanks to a circular diaphragm with 9 blades.
Taken by Canon EOS 6D Mark II
Price: about $4500
This Leica model is often praised for its impressive capability to work in a low light environment. Its full-frame sensor of 24.2MP ensures not only the stability of the lens but taking practically noiseless images in the dark without any tripods.
Leica Q (Typ 116) is the best full frame camera which makes it possible to take advantage of the lens' highest aperture to the fullest. After the shutter speed is raised more than 1/2000 sec, an electronic shutter kicks in.
When the speed is increased up to 1/16000, you may photograph at f/1.7 at sunlight and don't even need to attach the neutral density filter to the tip of the lens. Its prime quality catches the eye and the magnificent smooth bokeh appears with shallow depth-of-field effects. Nonetheless, but the lens won't assist you in taking very close shots.
Taken by Leica Q (Typ 116)
Price: about $2000
The Nikon Z6 operates perfectly across the whole ISO range. I compared and examined shots taken at ISO100 and ISO1600 and didn't notice any striking differences whatsoever. The model's focusing proved to be precise and swift.
The final pictures taken with the camera may boast of splendid dynamic range and incredible detailization. I can assure you that this is the best Nikon professional camera capable of photographing at pretty slow shutter speed in poor light environment.
I really enjoyed its integrated image stabilization which allowed me to achieve sharp pictures while shooting with hands. Even though the Z6 is lightweight and compact, it is dust- and waterproof. This is certainly the best full frame camera that deserves the attention of photography enthusiasts.
This 24-70mm lens for Nikon full frame cameras from Z line is actually a remake of a traditional zoom lens. With this model, you are free to shoot very close pictures and wide-angle scenes. Featuring a focal length range along with top quality, it might be a perfect match for videographers and fashion shooters.
Taken by Nikon Z6
Price: about $3500
Canon EOS 5DS can be easily called the best full frame camera as it produces noise-free JPEG images from ISO 50 up to ISO 1600. The noise first appears at ISO 3200. This is fantastic performance for a 50.6 megapixel, 35mm device.
The settings of 6400 and 12800 show more noise, however, it is quite acceptable. You may receive soft JPEG images. You will have to sharpen them in Camera Raw a little bit or change in-camera settings.
The camera allows taking quite nice photos at night with a max shutter speed of 30 seconds. Moreover, it features a Bulb mode that helps get enough light in any situation. Besides, Canon EOS 5DS has six various Picture Styles and the possibility to create your unique ones.
Highlight Tone Priority and Auto Lighting Optimizer custom settings are the other benefits. The HDR mode has 3 images which are taken at various exposures in order to create a single photo with better dynamic range.
It has a wide-angle range of 11-24mm. It makes this lens a perfect choice for shooters who specialize in interior and landscapes photography.
Taken by Canon EOS 5DS
Price: about $2800
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is another best full frame camera. It has 30.4 MP that makes the model a perfect choice for wedding shooters who have to process tons of photos. The image is quite large for cropping but still doesn’t slow down a working process. You can easily capture sharp shots with saturated colors.
Get ready to take noise-free images even at the highest ISO level. ISO 25,600 also produces just a little noise in case you take close-up shots. Shooters can use the camera screen for focusing on speed and precision if want to take still-life. The model can also boast of a good AF. It allows focusing and recomposing on any desired object that lies on the outer edges of the frame.
It is a good fit for a full frame DSLR camera. The lens has a Hybrid IS system with up to four stops of stabilization. It compensates shift and angular types of camera shake. As a result, shooters get excellent stabilization even in macro photography. In addition, the lens is dust and water resistant. It has fluorine coating and rear elements which minimize fingerprints and smears.
Taken by Canon 5D Mark IV
Price: about $1900
Pentax K-1 II continues the best full frame camera list. It takes excellent RAW files capture at low ISO. At high ISO, you get perfect noise performance as it captures 4 times more light than an autonomous file, lowering the comparative shot noise contribution. Prepare to get some blurred details at higher ISO. If compare Pentax K-1 Mark II with its predecessor, the camera has less grain.
Remember that this model is not suitable for video or sports shooting. Of course, you can try it but the potential is very limited due to the AF system and 4.4fps shooting speed. Pentax K-1 II also allows recording Full HD footage at up to 60/50fps in interlaced mode.
It allows getting very detailed shots with good contrast. The lens delivers high-resolution pictures because it uses only a central area of the image circle.
Taken by Pentax K-1 Mark II
Price: about $3200
Sony Alpha 99 II offers a fantastic image quality. However, sometimes you may get underexposed shots. So, it's better to shoot in RAW in order to pull back all necessary details. As for colors, shots are very bright but still realistic. Details are at a high level. This full frame camera features 2 settings for automatic white balance. The “white” setting is more realistic and correct.
The lens eliminates reflections and ensures high-quality images with reduced aberration. It also allows getting a high contrast for brilliant resolution all over the zoom range. It is fully compatible with the best full frame DSLR to shoot wildlife and outdoor sports. It is also great if you wish to take photos of flowers and portraits thanks to a 4 foot (1.2 meter) minimum focus.
Taken by Sony Alpha 99 II
Price: about $6000
Leica SL can easily compete for the title of the best professional camera in the world. It shows astonishing results at low ISO. You can notice a little noise gliding into a shadow area if you zoom photos. However, it is still possible to use the shots for printing or web publication.
Shooters should use 2 top ISO levels only when there is no other option to take a photo. JPEG may seem quite inconvenient. You can notice that colors are muted with a greenish cast that may lead to zombify portrait subjects. The noise reduction is on a 'low' mark by default. It leaves a lot of luminance noise at a higher ISO level and washes out Chroma noise.
This lens enables you to take amazing photos. The lens offers image stabilization as well as shots similar to Leica's primes. The lens is weather-proof and solid. The size is its weak point as it is big and bulky.
Taken by Leica SL
|Sony Alpha A7 IIIOUR CHOICE||VIEW PRICE|
|Canon EOS-1DX Mark IIBEST CANON||VIEW PRICE|
|Sony Alpha a7R III MirrorlessBEST SONY||VIEW PRICE|
|Nikon D850BEST NIKON||VIEW PRICE|
|Canon EOS 6D Mark IIFOR BEGINNERS||VIEW PRICE|
|Leica Q (Typ 116)BEST COMPACT||VIEW PRICE|
|Nikon Z6||VIEW PRICE|
|Canon EOS 5DS||VIEW PRICE|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark IV||VIEW PRICE|
|Pentax K-1 IIWEATHER SEALED||VIEW PRICE|
|Sony Alpha 99 II||VIEW PRICE|
|Leica SL||VIEW PRICE|
To choose a good full frame camera that will help you get amazing high-resolution photos, mind the following characteristics below.
Megapixels are the factor which determines whether the camera has a good photo quality or not. Shooters who are going to zoom in images should choose a camera with a high megapixel rate. Of course, some people may not notice the difference as all above-mentioned cameras allow taking nice shots.
But as for landscape shooters and those, who plan to print large photographs will surely see the difference. They should be very attentive while focusing and setting other technical parameters in order to get a high-resolution photo.
Size and weight were not the main factors while choosing the best professional camera for photographing models. Shooters put bulky devices into a bag along with a set-up. The situation changed when Sony specialists presented a7 Series of full-frame mirrorless cameras which had a body weight about 20 ounces. All in all, shooters should not expect that lightweight cameras with lenses attached will occupy little space. Of course, they are lighter but not as much as most people think.
For many years digital SLRs were at the top of the full-frame camera chart. However, Sony developers managed to change this situation, having presented their a7 series. As a result, shooters got a full-frame camera with smaller bodies than DSLRs. Of course, the developers needed some time to improve obvious bugs. Afterward, quick innovations took place and the world saw the a7 line. Nowadays, many photographers prefer mirrorless cameras to DSLRs.
Most shooters choose mirrorless cameras because of a compact size and available features. However, such models still have some weak points. Battery life is really short. Mirrorless professional photography cameras have not much space for batteries and a photographer has to take addition batteries if intend to shoot all day long.
Luckily, developers are trying to change this tendency in recent models. For example, Sony a7R III has more space for a battery than its predecessors. Of course, it is not the same as in DSLR cameras but still quite acceptable for most people.
A viewfinder is another important option if compare the following camera types. DSLR features an optical viewfinder (OVF) and the best full-frame mirrorless camera boasts of electronic viewfinder (EVF).
An optical viewfinder shows the image which the lens sees but not an electronic rendition. Lots of shooters like a real-world experience of an OVF type. Finally, the choice of a camera type depends on the personal preferences of a photographer.
Some shooters appreciate a compact design, great video capabilities and plenty of modern features which can be found in a mirrorless model. Others prefer fantastic battery life, a wide range of lens models, and optical viewfinder which is typical for a DSLR.
Some shooters do not need a fast shooting speed that is measured in frames per second (fps). However, it is a must for sports and action photography. Anyway, you’ll have to face some sacrifices opting for an ultra-fast camera. Resolution is the first of them. For example, Sony Alpha a9 (20 fps) is 24.2 megapixels’ device while the a7R III (10 fps) is 42.4 megapixels one.
Canon 1D X Mark II (14 fps) is 20.2 megapixels while Canon 5D Mark IV (7 fps) is 30.4 megapixels. The second issue is the cost of the best full frame mirrorless camera. As a rule, action models are more expensive than their counterparts.
It is not a problem for a professional action shooter who needs rapid shooting speed. But it is not so important for those, who specialize in other photography genres apart from reportage and sports shooting.
Shooters shouldn’t ignore the cost of the lens when choosing the best professional camera. A full-frame sensor will surely expose the weaknesses of poor-quality lenses. Mind, the lens offerings are more expensive than their crop-frame analogs.
Portrait photographers may spend less money on the 50mm and 85mm lenses which are very popular. Zoom options are better than ever before.
It offers a nice compromise between cost and image quality. It doesn’t matter what lens category you choose. It is better to do necessary calculations to find out the final cost of the camera with lens.
You’d better avoid buying cheap models and invest money in a better option. Remember, the right choice is a guarantee of long and reliable camera work.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.