Digital technology made cameras cheap and easy enough that anyone could make great images, and digital single lens reflex cameras (with internal mirrors) are the crème de la crème of amateur photography. Entry-level DSLRs have crop sensor imaging, and while they take stunning images, DSLRs with full-frame sensors take even those to the next level. The price point for a full frame DSLR is considerably higher, but you’ll be in league with photojournalists and filmmakers who rely on this technology for professional quality imaging. Here are our top five choices for full frame DSLR cameras on the market today.
This Nikon is one of the lower-end full frame models when it comes to price point. If you’re just making the foray into full frame photography, this is a great transitional camera.
• 24.3 megapixel CMOS sensor
• Autofocus is fast, especially in outdoor settings
• Full 1080p HD video capability (broadcast quality)
• Shoots at 6 frames per second
• Dual memory card slots (so can use back-up card simultaneously with regular card)
• Autofocus doesn’t perform well in low light
• Some dust spots on images
Sony Alpha A99
Sony is known for creative and technologically advanced features that keep their otherwise comparable products a step above the competition. The Alpha A99 is the lightest-weight DSLR available on the market today, but you don’t sacrifice image quality for lack of girth.
• 24-megapixel resolution
• Uncompressed Full HD 1080p video capability
• Performs well in low-light situations
• Customizable button option
• Two memory card slots
• Flash level exposure level control
• No built-in flash
• No 3D recording (like the Sony A77 earlier model)
• Digital viewfinder can cause shutter delay if shooting fast-moving images
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Canon’s 5D Mark III changed broadcast by becoming one of the main go-to cameras for both journalists and documentary filmmakers on the go. With the clearest, most advanced LCD screen, what you see on the camera is pretty close to what you’ll get on the big screen.
• Shoots incredibly well in low-light situations
• Colors are crisp and true—no lens fringes
• Depth-of-field play button accessible while shooting
• Dual memory card slots
• Silent mode
• 22.3 megapixel resolution with CMOS sensor
• Full 1080p HD video capability
• Can only record 30 minutes of video before auto-stopping
• Can’t shoot 1080 HD at 60 frames per second
• No touch screen option
Possibly the highest megapixel count of any camera on the market, the Nikon D800 retains its place on the top five list despite that it’s over two years old.
• 36.3 megapixel resolution with CMOS sensor
• Performs well in low light situations
• Sturdy weatherproof and dustproof body
• Menus and button systems are intuitive
• Fast autofocus function for good performance when shooting action
• Often are oil / dust spots on sensor
• Autofocus doesn’t always hit the mark
Canon EOS 1D X
The undisputed leader of professional full frame SLR cameras, the Canon 1D X has a price tag you wouldn’t dabble in unless you were very serious about taking your photography to the highest level. If you are, though, the 1D is photo-magic.
• 18-megapixel resolution with CMOS sensor
• Great autofocus tracking capabilities (can autofocus on moving images); 61-point autofocus uses DIGIC 4 Image processor
• Shoots crystal-clear images until ISO 6400
• Accurate auto white balance option
• Weatherproof and dustproof
• Autofocus doesn’t always immediately find mark in low light settings
• No wireless option