We’ve noticed that it has been a great year for full frame DSLR buyers with the number of new models being launched. The much anticipated Canon 5D hit the market, along with new flagship models from various manufacturers.
With all of the new products on the market it can be really hard to choose which one will be right for you. In my experience not all equipment is created equally so here is a list of what I consider to be the best full frame DSLRs that were available in 2016.
In order to recommend the best cameras I kept the user in mind and included models aimed at enthusiasts, and those better suited to professionals who have more specialist needs. There are obviously other full frame DSLRs on the market but the chances are I’ve omitted them because they are getting outdated, by new camera standards, and will likely be replaced soon.
- Our Top Picks for the Best Full Frame DSLR of 2017
- The Best Nikon Full Frame DSLR of 2017 the D750
- Pentax New Full Frame DSLR the Pentax K-1
- Sony’s Latest Traditional Full Frame DSLR the Sony A99 II
- Canon’s Best Full Fame DSLR the New Canon 5D Mark IV
- Nikon’s Newly Updated Nikon D810 Full Frame DSLR
- Canon 5Ds Full Frame DSLR
- The Newly Released Nikon D5 Professional Full Frame DSLR
- Canon 1D X Mark II
Our Top Picks for the Best Full Frame DSLR of 2017
- Nikon D750
- Pentax K-1
- Sony A99 II
- 5D Mark IV
- Nikon D810
- Canon 5Ds
- Nikon D5
- Canon 1D X Mark II
For all intents and purposes, I’ve included the wider ranges in each case so that they can be better compared. Moving forward, it is worth noting that unless I’ve stated otherwise I am providing information based on camera weight as body-only, so that’s without a battery, memory card, or lens. Also, because manufacturers can refer to ISO settings differently-some give “native” and “extended numbers, while others just bundle them together.
The Best Nikon Full Frame DSLR of 2017 the D750
- Wi-Fi Connectivity
- Adjustable LCD monitor
- full HD 1080P video recording at 60 fps
This is an awesome camera for both professional users as well as enthusiasts and runs at the lower end of high quality gear. The 24-megapixel Nikon D750 was released a couple of years ago, however, it still remains one of the best in my eyes. This camera was an impressive when it hit the market and it is still remarkable today. I should also take a moment to mention that it is also $500.00 less today than it was when it hit the market! In addition to the full frame sensor, it has a built in Wi-Fi Connectivity for sharing on social media or to printers.
It also has an LCD monitor which really comes in handy when trying to take photos at different angles as the screen is adjustable into any angle imaginable. I don’t know about you but this comes in handy for me! These features stood out back in 2014 and they still do by today’s standards.
Moreover, there is a built in 51-autofocus system which is incredibly fast and accurate. If you are like me you love to manually adjust the focus because autofocus can be a hassle, for instance, if it focuses on the wrong object. With this camera I didn’t have the autofocus being on in the back of my mind constantly which took some training.
With the full HD 1080P video recording at 60 fps, you can capture high-quality footage, even if it doesn’t have that 4k goodness. Another amazing feature of this model is the battery life. You can literally shoot over 1200 pictures which outlasts rival cameras by a landslide!
The last aspect of this camera I would like to talk about it the Nikon f-mount. This means that there are a huge array of lenses to pick from which is great if you are an avid photographer. Currently, the going rate for this camera is around $1,800 for the body only but that is a good bargain for an amazing piece of equipment.
Pentax New Full Frame DSLR the Pentax K-1
- 36-megapixel CMOS sensor
- 5-axis image stabilization
- Weather resistant
Next on my list of 2016 favorites would be the Pentax K-1. The patience of Pentax fans paid off with this full frame DSLR to use their lenses on. The K-1 boasts a build quality, weather resistance, and a large 36-megapixel CMOS sensor not normally seen on cameras at this price range. Its durability even extends to the rear monitor which is adjustable, and can even be used to swing the camera around (not suggested!).
While this model doesn’t have the strongest autofocus system, it does offer a few other nifty tricks which is why it’s on this list. I found the 5-axis image stabilization so impressive because it produces blur-free images when other cameras struggle, such as when shooting at a slow shutter speeds when objects are in motion or long telephoto focal lengths you get with panoramas.
Also, this camera is surprisingly compact for a full frame DSLR, the K-1 also has the wireless connectivity. The downside is that the battery life is only long enough to shoot about 760 shots. The price is also a bargain for a professional at only $2000.
Sony’s Latest Traditional Full Frame DSLR the Sony A99 II
- 42- megapixel
- 79 hybrid cross AF points
- 12 fps continuous
- Touchscreen monitor
- Low battery life
Sony gave us a rather nice surprise at Photokina when the A99 II was announced to consumers. The wait was well worth it as Sony has once again proved it cares about the interchangeable A-mount lenses. I don’t know about you but one of my favorite aspects of photography I find through the use of interchangeable lenses which will offer greater focal ranges.
While its translucent mirror means it’s technically not a true DSLR, it’s still decidedly more DSLR-like than a mirrorless camera. It provides a 42- megapixel full frame sensor along with a 79 hybrid cross AF points which make autofocus very snappy. A 12 fps continuous shooting is also a great asset on this model.
When digital options first became a thing I was in horror with the lack of true adjustments that could be made even on the most expensive models. I was always into the old school all manual cameras for the sole purpose of catching objects or people in motion which seemed impossible to do with automatic cameras.
The flagship-rivalling specs don’t end there, as this model also features a 5-axis image stabilization and can shoot video footage in 4k resolution. There’s also built-in wireless connectivity and a tilting and rotating rear monitor, score!
I only have one real beef with the A99 II which is that the rear monitor is not a touchscreen and the battery life is kind of low capping the photographer at 390-490 shots before needing a recharge. The body-only cost of this model is staying steady at $3200. If you can live without a touchscreen I would go for it!
Canon’s Best Full Fame DSLR the New Canon 5D Mark IV
- ISO range 100-32000
- ISO expansion up to 102,400
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF focusing
- Built in Wi-Fi
I’ve probably sold this camera to people who hate photography but it’s so amazing that I can’t stop talking about it. I talk about it so much, in fact, that I should probably apply for a sales position with Canon specifically selling the 5D Mark IV. For many people, a 5D camera will have been their introduction to full frame DSLRs. This model has 30-megapixel full frame sensor and is paired with a native ISO range of 100-32000 which can be expanded to 102400 with a shooting speed of up to 7 fps.
If you know cameras then you know that is an amazing function to have access to. While testing this model I was most excited about the dynamic range and intrigued by the dual pixel RAW feature which allows the user to make micro adjustments to areas of sharpness. I literally spent an entire day seeing exactly how small of an object I could capture and at this point I’m assuming it’s a molecule that’s how focused this thing is!
If you are a videographer or vlogger then you will love this model as it contains the 4k shooting ability of the 5d Mark IV. The Dual Pixel CMOS AF focusing is also a big bonus. As Koichi Fukuda who is a development leader with canon explains the process; “as AF pixels are distributed over the entire sensor surface, a broad area of the Live View screen, final focusing with phase-difference detection AF over approximately 80% (vert.) x 80% (horizon.) Is possible.” What this translates into for the user is that “not only is AF speed improved, but focus precision of points of light in night scenes which was a problem of contrast AF before is now improved”.
On this model the rear camera is in a fixed position, however, it is a touchscreen which is a bonus for me. Further, connection with other smart devices is simplified with the integration of Wi-Fi and NFC. The great news is that with all of these specs the user should get around 900 shots before needing to recharge and the price of the Canon 5D Mark IV is $3500 for the body only.
Nikon’s Newly Updated Nikon D810 Full Frame DSLR
- 36 megapixels
- No touchscreen
- 4K video
- Full HD 1080p
- 60 fps
As you can see this model is around the midrange of functionality but when it hit the market it was referred to the “megapixel-monster”. This along with the lack of a touchscreen, 4k video or built in Wi-Fi means that we will probably be seeing the Nikon D810 being replaced soon.
However, I’ve added it to this like because the Nikon D810 is still more than enough camera for many photographers. It has a 51 Point autofocus system which was flagship level before the release of the D5, and shoots Full HD video. It is also available for a significantly lower price than others on the market.
Canon 5Ds Full Frame DSLR
- 50 Megapixel sensor
- 61-point autofocus system
- No Wi-Fi
- 1080p video
- 30 fps
- 700 shot battery life
The Canon 5Ds comes equipped with a 50-megapixel sensor, and reigns in as the current full frame DSLR champion when it comes to resolution. To make the most of the detail it can capture this model even comes designed to reduce mirror vibration for the best images. However, after spending some time with the camera, I found that it’s really much more than being all about the megapixels. It has a very dynamic range and the performance is a 61-point autofocus system.
Now that I’ve made that statement I’d like to also say that the Canon 5Ds isn’t perfect, no camera is. I’ve seen faster continuous shooting speeds with other models. If motion shots are your thing then you might be disappointed with this model. Now that the A99 II can do 42-megapixels at 12 fps, the fps offered with the 5DS feels slower than it did to me even just a few months ago. The camera also lacks built in Wi-Fi which is a real bummer. Battery life is around 700 shots and the cost weighs in at $3500 for the body-only.
The Newly Released Nikon D5 Professional Full Frame DSLR
- 12 fps
- ISO range up to 3,280,000
- 153 focus point
- Touchscreen monitor
While the cameras I’ve looked at so far have been suited to both enthusiasts and professionals, from here on in all but the most avid hobbyists might find themselves out priced. That’s because the Nikon D5 is designed and priced as a tool for professionals. The 20-megapixel Nikon D5 is a bulky camera which is made for speed and performance. When using an EXPEED 5 image processor it can rattle off up to 12 fps, and has a native ISO range which reaches 102,400 and can be expanded to a crazy 3,280,000!
Unsurprisingly, given that the livelihood of professionals relies on their ability to capture a pivotal shot, the autofocus on the D5 is one of the best I’ve ever used with a whopping 153 focus points nailing focus and tracking subjects reliably. This camera also shoots 4k video and has a touchscreen rear monitor, bonus! Disappointingly, it lacks the built-in wireless capabilities of other models and relies on expensive optional transmitters which can be a real drain on your wallet. The Nikon D5 costs $6,500 for the body-only.
Canon 1D X Mark II
- 20- Megapixels sensor
- 14 fps
- 4k video at 60 fps
- 1,210 shot battery life
After looking at these cameras, I think it’s safe to say that full frame DSLRs still have a lot to offer enthusiasts and professional photographers. The latest versions prove that there is improvement to be made and being made as I write this. While any of these cameras are perfectly capable of taking great images and video, it’s worth noting that the Nikon D750 and D810 are getting a bit dated and replacements for both are right around the corner.
Of the bunch, there are a couple that still stand out. The price to specification ratio of the Pentax K-1 make it feel like a relative bargain, while the resolution of the Canon 5Ds means it is going to be great for photographers who need that extra detail.
Meanwhile, the D5 and 1D X II are a stunning pair of DSLRs, which will keep up with the most demanding professional photographers. The camera that I am the most excited about on this list is the Sony A99 II which is due to its speed and resolution.