The best full frame DSLRs don’t have to cost a fortune. Here are the top choices for amateurs, enthusiasts and pros.
It’s a fact: the best full-frame DSLRs remain some of the best cameras ever made. Yes, mirrorless gets a lot of attention, with cameras boasting cutting-edge technology, ever-higher video resolutions, and shiny new features. But for a reliable, mechanically sound camera that just works, and keeps working, a DSLR is tough to beat.
There’s a lot more to the differences between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, of course. If you find it all a little confusing, we have a DSLR vs mirrorless camera article that spells out the key differences between the two types and is useful if you’re still figuring out which one is right for you.
DSLRs may be older, but they are very much still alive and kicking. Manufacturers are still bringing out new DSLRs, albeit now at a slower pace than their mirrorless offerings. Right now, some of the finest DSLRs include the Nikon D780, and the genuinely ground-breaking Canon EOS-1D X Mark III. Both of these models are full-frame, and you can find out more about them further down this list. Without a doubt, the full-frame DSLR is still very much a viable prospect for photographers and videographers.
In this particular guide, we’re focusing entirely on DSLRs that house full frame sensors. These are the most sophisticated DSLRs available and also the most expensive, so if you are looking for a more mid-range model that’s more affordable, we have a separate guide to the best DSLR, which provides a broader perspective and includes models across the spectrum. If, however, you’re set on getting full frame but aren’t necessarily sold on the idea of getting a DSLR versus a mirrorless camera, then we’d recommend checking out our guide to the cheapest full-frame cameras.
When putting together this list, we haven’t just put the newest and most advanced cameras at the top. We’ve weighed up all the different factors that users are likely to consider when choosing a camera, including price. We’ll never recommend a camera we don’t think is worth the price that’s being asked for it, so you can be confident you’re getting the best deal for your money.
Read on as we count off the best full frame DSLRs you can buy right now…
Why use full frame?
- Full frame sensors have a larger area, which means that for any given resolution, the individual photosites (light receptors) are larger. This means images with less noise and higher dynamic range.
- Alternatively, the larger sensor in a full frame camera can have more photosites (megapixels) but keep them the same size as in a smaller sensor. This means more resolution without any extra noise.
- Full frame cameras use longer focal length lenses to get the same angle of view, which means the depth of field is more shallow – this is great for background defocus effects.
- Camera makers tend to put most of their lens design efforts into full frame cameras, so you get the best choice of lenses and often the best lens quality.
The best full frame DSLRs in 2021
Canon EOS 6D Mark II
For top performance without spending over the odds, this is the best buy
Type: DSLR | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 26.2MP | Lens mount: Canon EF | Screen: 3.2in touch, pivot 1,040,000 dots | Viewfinder: Optical | Max burst speed: 6.5fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Enthusiast
A great value full frame DSLR packing up-to-date tech
Type: DSLR | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 24.4MP | Screen: 3.2in tilting screen, 2,359,800 dots | Viewfinder: Optical | Max burst speed: 12fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast/professional
Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
The best of DSLRs and mirrorless? It can be done, and now it has!
Type: DSLR | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 20.1MP | Screen: 3.2in fixed touchscreen, 2.1million dots | Viewfinder: Optical | Max burst speed: 16fps (mechanical shutter) / 20fps (Live View + mechanical or electronic shutter) | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Professional
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Jack of all trades and master of most of them
Type: DSLR | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 30.4MP | Screen: 3.0in fixed touchscreen, 1,620,000 dots | Viewfinder: Optical | Max burst speed: 7fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Professional
Get the Right Camera
It’s easy to buy a full-frame camera—you just need a credit card. It’s getting the right one that can be tricky. Once you’ve settled in on the right system, make sure the model you choose meets your needs. Photographers interested in action should look for one with great autofocus and a fast burst rate, while fine art and landscape specialists will seek out high resolution and extreme dynamic range.
You can take a look at our latest reviews to see what’s just come to market. We also have some tips for enthusiasts who want to get more out of their camera, and guides with instructions on getting great shots of fireworks and lightning.