The cheapest full frame camera doesn't necessarily mean you have to skimp on features. Some of the cameras in this list were the best you could buy when they were released but now they're a couple of years old, prices have been discounted. If you're looking to upgrade your kit but don't want to invest in one of the best mirrorless cameras, you'll be impressed by how much you can get for your money.
A full-frame camera contains the same size sensor as you would find in a traditional 35mm single-lens reflect camera. Dimensions of a full-frame camera (opens in new tab) sensor are roughly 36 x 24mm and are often the go-to choice for amateurs and professionals looking for excellent low-light performance. As the sensor is twice as big as APS-C sensors, it's able to detect more light over a larger surface area. The downside to full-frame cameras is they tend to be bigger and more expensive than cropped system cameras.
Full-frame DSLR cameras (opens in new tab) have traditionally been very expensive, popular with professionals, but out of reach for most amateurs and enthusiasts. However, the hyper-competitive market and consistent arrival of newer models has caused prices to fall to the point that puts full-frame DSLRs within the reach of enthusiasts. In fact, right now you're spoiled for choice if you're looking for the best cheap cameras (opens in new tab).
This applies right across the board, so that although most of the full frame bargains are for mirrorless cameras, you can still get a cheap full frame DSLR too. We think the best full frame Canon DSLR right now is the EOS 6D Mark II, and for Nikon full frame camera fans, the D750 and Nikon Z5 are great cost-conscious choices.
And what's more, some of the best full frame camera deals are on mirrorless cameras (opens in new tab). We've got Sony to thank for a lot of that, because of its strategy of keeping older models on the market for a long time. The best Sony cameras (opens in new tab) might be expensive, but older versions of the latest models can be had for exceptional value, and these are still fantastic cameras out there even if they don't have all the latest features.
We've ranked these cameras in approximate price order, with the least expensive first.
The cheapest full frame cameras in 2022(opens in new tab)
Despite its compact size, the Lumix S5 shares the impressive 24MP CMOS sensor housed in the Lumix S1, but with improved AF. It also has a tough weather-resistant body and delivers up to 6.5-stops of image stabilisation with compatible lenses. Its standout features include class-leading dynamic range and 4K video recording, as well as 96MP high resolution RAW+JPEG capture. It’s tough to beat in this category. The Lumix S5 is smaller than the Lumix S1 and S1R before it, and cheaper too. It matches the Lumix S1 for stills and beats it for video, coming close to the capabilities of the far more expensive Lumix S1H. What a camera!
Read more: Panasonic Lumix S5 review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Pentax seems to soldier along in its own little bubble, seemingly unaffected by outside events, so the Pentax K-1 Mark II is typically solid but unadventurous in its specifications. It does have a tough, weather-sealed construction, and a highly effective sensor-shift image stabilization system that works with any attached lens, unlike competing Canon and Nikon DSLRs, which do not have in-body stabilization. Better still, the 5-axis stabilizer can work in trick modes to deliver anti-aliasing correction, an increase in fine detail and texture based on Pixel Shift through multiple exposures, and even an Astrotracer mode to avoid stars appearing to streak through the sky. With a 36MP full-frame image sensor, the K-1 Mark II certainly gives you a lot of megapixels for the money, though the 33-point autofocus system does feel dated, and Live View autofocus is poor. For DSLR fans who want a big, solid, premium-quality and traditional camera, though, it still has strong appeal.(opens in new tab)
Even though the D750 has now been discontinued and replaced by the Nikon D780 (opens in new tab) it still deserves a place on the list. For many years, the Nikon D570 was the undisputed king of low-light photography. It takes its design and handling from Nikon's enthusiast-level DSLRs rather than the pro models and it sits comfortably in the hand thanks to its chunky grip. While a 51-point AF system might seem outdated now, at the time it was the best in the Nikon range. While the Nikon D750 can't capture 4K video, you can record pretty decent video in 1080p at up to 60fps. There is a huge range of lenses to choose from either brand new or in the second-hand market. It's one of the cheapest Nikon full-frame cameras you can get right now and there's a reason people still want to buy them – they're great cameras that offer fantastic image quality.(opens in new tab)
The Sony A7 II was the first camera in the Sony Alpha mirrorless camera range to include sensor-shift image stabilization. Now that it's a few years old, you can pick one up pretty cheap and it offers a pretty big upgrade on the original Sony A7. It's compatible with a range of Sony lenses (opens in new tab) as well as third-party companies such as Sigma or Tamron. An updated processor means it is a much faster camera, it has a 117-point phase-detect autofocus system and 25-point contrast-detect AF ensuring sharpness no matter where the subject is in the frame. It's hasn't got the highest-resolution sensor but 24-megapixels is more than enough to print images as big as A1. For anyone looking to upgrade to full-frame, this is one of the cheapest options.(opens in new tab)
The Canon EOS RP was the second camera in Canon's new RF full-frame mirrorless system, and designed to give you a low price of entry into this new family of cameras and its all-new lens mount. It was designed to be cheap and prices have fallen still further, so this is the cheapest of all Canon full frame cameras! To make things easier for those upgrading, the EOS RP body is sold with a converter that allows you to use your existing Canon EOS D-SLR EF-mount lenses. Given that the existing RF lenses are rather esoteric and expensive for those shopping on the budget, this converter is a godsend. In terms of features, it is worth thinking of this as a mirrorless Canon EOS 6D Mark II – but with the advantage of an electronic viewfinder and 4K video shooting. The body is very small, but not too badly overbalanced by larger lenses, and while it doesn't have the heavyweight presence of more pro-orientated cameras, it's light, nice to use and has up-to-date tech. It's not the most advanced full frame camera on the market by any means, but with its compact, easy to use body and vari-angle screen, it's a brilliant buy at current prices.(opens in new tab)
The Canon EOS 6D Mark II arrived five years after the original Canon EOS 6D, and brought some major updates that made it feel very current and fresh – and it still does. The original EOS 6D was a bit of an old plodder, but the EOS 6D Mark II is a very different proposition. As well as a step up in resolution – from 20.2MP to 26.2MP – it features Canon’s latest DIGIC 7 processing engine, a touch-sensitive, vari-angle display and 5-axis digital stabilisation for handheld video recording (which tops out at 1080p – no 4K option here, alas). The autofocus system gets a healthy boost in the shape of 45 cross-type points – although the AF point array is weighted towards the centre of the frame. The system is sensitive down to -3EV and benefits from Canon’s excellent Dual Pixel CMOS AF in Live View and movies too. It’s a great camera to shoot with, and the EOS 6D Mark II's combination of features, flexibility and value make it one of the best Canon cameras (opens in new tab) of all.(opens in new tab)
The Z5 is Nikon's cheapest full-frame mirrorless camera, making it perfect for this list, though whether you consider it a bargain or not will depend on which territory you're in. In the UK, for example, there is no body only option and it's sold only with a 24-50mm kit lens you will probably want to replace quite soon. In the US, you can buy it as a kit and body only, and in body only form it's significantly cheaper than the Nikon Z6. The 45fps burst shooting and cropped 4K video are a bit disappointing, but the Z5 handles really nicely, has a magnesium alloy body and weatherproofing, and we like the twin SD UHS-II card slots too. What's really caught our eye, though, is the price drops we're seeing right now. This is a chance to get a brand new camera design at 'old camera' prices.(opens in new tab)
The EOS R was launched back in 2018 and was Canon's first full-frame mirrorless camera. While both the EOS R5 (opens in new tab) and R6 have the edge, thanks to some welcome firmware improvements and a significant price drop since its launch, it's now a more compelling camera than it was when it initially arrived. The 30.3MP sensor is a match for the excellent EOS 5D Mark IV, while Canon's also managed to squeeze a staggering 5,655 focus positions onto the sensor, which cover 88% of the frame horizontally and 100% vertically. The 3.69 million-dot electronic viewfinder is very good, while the 3.15-inch articulating touchscreen is still one of the largest around. That's not forgetting Canon's polished touchscreen interface, though the less said about the M-Fn multi-function touch bar the better. There's no in-body image stabilisation either, but pair it with some IS lenses and you'll still be able to get up to 5 stops of image shake compensation. It's not without its limitations then, but the EOS R shouldn't be dismissed at this price.(opens in new tab)
It's easy to fall in love with the miniature size of the Sigma fp and its utilitarian, industrial design. Sigma has always dared to be different with its cameras, and given that there are now so many different full-frame mirrorless systems, this is great to see. This is a camera that is designed to be a start of a system, however, which is where opinions might divide. Stills photographers might find the Sigma fp a bit irritating to handle without its optional screw-on grip and ergonomically challenged even then. Videographers will see it differently. Here, the camera is simply a central component in a modular shooting 'rig', and the Sigma's small size and multiple attachment points are big advantages. In the end, it does feel as if the Sigma fp is no more than an interesting alternative in the stills market, but a much more serious and fascinating option for videographers. It's also rather good value.
How we test lenses
We test lenses using both real world sample images and lab tests. Our lab tests are carried out scientifically in controlled conditions using the Imatest testing suite, which consists of custom charts and analysis software that measures resolution in line widths/picture height, a measurement widely used in lens and camera testing. We find the combination of lab and real-word testing works best, as each reveals different qualities and characteristics.
- Best full-frame cameras (opens in new tab)
- The best full-frame DSLRs (opens in new tab)
- The best full-frame mirrorless camera (opens in new tab)
- The best full-frame compact cameras (opens in new tab)
- The best cheap cameras (opens in new tab)
- The best camera deals (opens in new tab)
- The best travel camera (opens in new tab)
- The best mirrorless cameras (opens in new tab)