Every photographer eventually gravitates towards a full frame camera, and these are the ten best full frame cameras you can buy today, whether you are a pro or an ambitious amateur, a sports photographer, commercial/fine art photographer or a filmmaker.
These cameras tend to be expensive because of what they can do and who they are aimed at, but you don't have to pay a fortune to get a full frame camera. We have a separate guide to the cheapest full frame cameras on the market which has some really good cameras in it, at really good prices.
This guide contains a mix of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, but if you've already decided which type you want, we've got that covered too, with separate guides to the best full frame DSLRs and the best full frame mirrorless cameras to get right now.
Most people looking for the best full frame camera will already have a brand in mind, or will be upgrading a system they've already invested in, which is another reason to stick to a specific brand. With this in mind, we've split our guide up into four sections, one each for the best full frame cameras from Canon, Nikon, Panasonic and Sony.
There are some cameras we haven't included which are interesting nonetheless. We'll mention some as we go through, but there are two in particular that deserve a special mention:
• The Pentax K-1 Mark II is an old-school DSLR with limited video capabilities and continuous shooting performance, but cast iron construction (it's not, but it feels like it) an excellent 36-megapixel sensor, a remarkable scissor-action rear screen and some very powerful stills photography features.
• The Sigma fp is an intriguing pint-sized full frame camera (smaller even than the new Sony A7C) that would sit beautifully at the center of a video rig but also takes rather good 24MP stills. It shares the L-mount developed jointly by Leica, Panasonic and Sigma, so it can already use a wide variety of lenses
Canon full frame cameras
Canon makes full frame DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Recently, it's been switching most of its attention to its mirrorless EOS R range, but that doesn't mean the DSLR design is done just yet, as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III is an absolute powerhouse for sports photography. Canon DSLR owners can gradually switch to mirrorless via the inexpensive EF-EOS R adaptors, which are often bundled with new mirrorless cameras by retailers.
• Canon EOS 5D Mark IV review: it's not on our list here, but the EOS 5D IV is a tried and trusted Canon DSLR classic, especially amongst pros.
• Best Canon cameras: not just the top full frame Canons, but enthusiast models too.
The EOS R5 is Canon's latest flagship mirrorless camera, and seems to be trying to corner every segment of the market at once. Its brand-new 45MP sensor produces images of incredible detail, and it has the class-leading autofocus system of the EOS-1D X Mark III (below), with a whopping 5,940 AF points for photography and 4,500 for video. As if that wasn't enough, it also offers 12fps continuous shooting. The EOS R5's video specs are nothing short of next-generation, includiing uncropped 8K Raw video internally at up to 29.97fps in 4:2:2 12-bit Canon Log or HDR PQ (both H.265) in both UHD and DCI – this is cinema-quality stuff – though the R5 is affected by heat buildup and recording limits.
Read more: Canon EOS R5 review
If you are a wedding photographer, the 45MP images of the EOS R5, and its recording limits, are probably going to be a hindrance rather than a help, and the new EOS R6 could prove the better choice. It has more sensible 20MP resolution with bags of detail from the full frame sensor but much more manageable file sizes and storage demands. It has atop shooting speed of 20fps, and autofocus that borrows the deep-learning tech from the EOS-1D X Mark III, meaning it gets better as you use it. The resolution is just 20.1MP, which might be too low for some tastes, but this does mean that the pixels are able to be larger, which has big implications for low-light performance. Indeed, the R6 even edges out the R5 in this department, with a standard ISO range of 100-102,400 that's expandable to 50-204,800. When you combine this with the introduction of Canon's 5-axis in-body image stabilisation system that provides up to eight stops of effective compensation, this is a seriously capable low-light camera.
Read more: Canon EOS R6 review
The amazing Canon EOS-1D X Mark III turned out to be much, much more than we were expecting. Not only is it an update to the 1D X workhorse series beloved by professionals worldwide, it's also an important step forward for DSLRs generally, boasting deep-learning AF, uncropped 4K (something that had been missing from Canon cameras for quite some time), a revamped control system and much more besides. If you need a camera that just shoots and shoots, with whip-smart AF and an indomitable burst rate... well, you probably don't need us to tell you twice. But we'll do it anyway: the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III is an astonishing camera, and thanks to its on-sensor Dual Pixel CMOS AF, it's also a match for any mirrorless camera.
Read more: Canon EOS-1D X Mark III review
Nikon full frame cameras
Like Canon, Nikon has introduced a mirrorless camera system alongside its DSLRs. And, like Canon, it supplies an affordable FTZ adaptor that lets Nikon fans use their DSLR lenses on the new Nikon Z bodies. The Nikon Z6 and Z7 were the first to be launched and are still among the best Nikon full frame cameras. But it's a little too early to rule out Nikon's formidable DSLRs, as they still have what it takes to compete with mirrorless cameras, especially if you like the handling, balance and 'heft' of the DSLR design.
• Nikon Z6 review: it doesn't have the resolution of the Z7, but it's built just as beautifully and is better for video
• Nikon Z5 review: not quite high-end enough to make this list, nor cheap enough to get in our list of the cheapest full frame cameras, but a great new camera for enthusiasts nonetheless.
• See also: Best Nikon cameras
The Z7 was Nikon's first full-frame mirrorless camera, and an instant classic. It combines an ultra-high-resolution 45.7-megapixel sensor with a 493-point hybrid autofocus system and the ability to capture images at up to 9 frames per second (without needing a battery grip). It even surpasses Nikon's top pro DSLR, the D850 (below), though the Nikon Z7's use of just a single memory card slot has proved controversial and being a mirrorless camera it has a much shorter battery life. If you value video above outright resolution, get the cheaper Z6 (the Z7 shoots 4K, but cropped); otherwise, the Z7 is just a beautifully made camera capable of extremely high quality captures, and at a very competitive price.
Read more: Nikon Z7 review
Mirrorless camera fans will often complain about the size and weight of DSLRs, and they have a point. The Nikon D850 is a big bruiser of a camera compared to the new Nikon Z models. But this size works in your favour if you're shooting with big, heavy lenses, and most pro lenses are big and heavy! This is a handling factor that many mirrorless users don't take into account. Being a DSLR, the D850 has a bright, clear optical viewfinder that many photographers still prefer over a digital display, no matter how good. The D850's 45.7-megapixel sensor produces quite superb image quality, yet it can still maintain a shooting speed of 7 frames per second, or 9 frames per second with the optional battery grip. Even without the grip, the D850 has an amazing battery life of 1840 shots – far more than any mirrorless rivals – and it comes with two memory card slots; one for the new XQD card format and one for regular SD/SDHC/SDXC.
Read more: Nikon D850 review
Canon made some big technological leaps with the EOS-1D X Mark III, but the Nikon D6 is more conventional. Nikon will no doubt have wanted to make sure that owners of the D5 will be able to make a seamless switch to the new camera, which has a band new 105-point AF system, 14fps continuous shooting and a 10.5fps silent mode. Nikon has also concentrated on professional workflow and connectivity options, not just headline-grabbing technologies. If you're buying your first pro sports DSLR, the Canon has the edge, but if you're a long-time Nikon user with a bag full of Nikkor DSLR lenses, the D6 is the obvious candidate for your next upgrade... though we suspect the writing is on the wall for Nikon's top sports DSLR.
Read more: Nikon D6 review
Panasonic full frame cameras
Panasonic took a bold step into full frame mirrorless cameras back in 2018, and has hardly looked back. It continues to make its smaller Micro Four Thirds format Lumix G cameras, feeling that they continue to cater for a very different kind of user – the only snag is that there is no upgrade path between the two. There is no adapter to use Lumix G lenses on Lumix S cameras, or vice versa.
• The brand new Lumix S5 is priced like an amateur camera but practically matches the specs of the mighty S1H.
• See also: Best Panasonic cameras
The new Lumix S range is a very interesting proposition for professional photographers, especially now that the range of L-mount lenses available is now quite good, and growing fast. The Lumix S1R is perhaps the most enticing proposition for pros, combining 4K video capture with a high-speed 6K photo mode and huge 47.3MP resolution. The 5.76-million dot electronic viewfinder is amazing, and the S1R handles very well too. The 24MP Lumix S1 is cheaper and a little better at video, but that's a cost decision – and if you're really serious about video, the pricier Lumix S1H (below) is the one to go for.
Read more: Panasonic Lumix S1R review
With the Lumix S1H, Panasonic has used its considerable video experience to bring many of its high-end VariCam features to the Lumix S range. The controls, the interface and certainly the hardware have been build for video and cinematography, and the fact it’s also a very serviceable 24MP stills camera is a bonus. It’s a truly compelling ‘bridge’ between conventional system cameras and higher end cine gear, especially for existing Panasonic videographers – and a recent upgrade to offer ProRes RAW output via HDMI to Atomos Ninja V devices adds to the credentials of the S1H as a cinema camera offering at a regular camera price point. If you shoot video first and stills second, this is a very compelling option.
Read more: Panasonic Lumix S1H review
Sony full frame cameras
Where do you start with Sony? It's A7 series practically invented the whole full frame mirrorless camera market, and while rivals have caught up with Sony in many respects (and even overtaken it for video), Sony's AF technology still leads the way, and it has both the highest resolution full frame camera on the market (the A7R IV) and the best 4K camera (the A7S III). Sony's APS-C cameras use the same E-mount and the lenses are interchangeable, but while Sony is still developing the smaller format, we'd have to say that the full frame camera's are where it's at.
• Sony A7S Mark III review: the A7S does not have the 6K capability of the Lumix S1H or the 8K of the Canon EOS R5, but for 4K video it is just superb.
• See also: Best Sony cameras
The A7R IV is Sony’s highest-resolution full frame mirrorless camera, with a record-breaking 61 million pixels and yet still capable of shooting continuously at 10fps. It also has Sony's usual very good 4K video capabilities, though still capped at 30p. The latest iteration of Sony's eye AF, however, is stunningly effective at tracking portrait subjects, even in continuous AF. While the Sony A9 II (below) is designed for out-and-out speed and responsiveness, the A7R Mark IV is much more suitable for all-round photography at the highest quality levels. Its limited buffer capacity means it's not as good as the A9 II for action, and its video capabilities don't match those of the Sony A7S III, but even if the highest possible still image quality is this camera's priority, it can still handle those other jobs pretty well too.
Read more: Sony A7R IV review
To quote from our own review, the Sony A9 II is the fastest, most ferocious full-frame sports camera we've ever used – though this was before we tested the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III. Nevertheless, the Sony A9 Mark II's blistering speed and autofocus performance are impressive, and matched only by its phenomenal connectivity, which promises to be a game changer for pro shooters. We would love to have seen Sony implement something akin to Olympus' Pro Capture feature, so that you never miss the critical moment. If anyone ever doubted that mirrorless cameras could match DSLRs for sports photography, the Sony A9 II is the camera that proves them wrong.
Read more: Sony A9 Mark II review