There is something quite special about buying your first Full Frame camera. It almost feels like a right of passage for many photographers, and the day you graduate from APS-C cameras is one you remember. While we know you don’t have to use a Full Frame camera to be a pro or get the best quality images, making the jump is something many still do. Just know that you don’t have to spend crazy money to buy excellent Full Frame cameras.
Entry level Full Frame cameras are solid performers in the areas that matter most. They are built well, have more than enough features, and produce great images when in the right hands.
The notion that entry level Full Frame cameras cannot be used at a high level of photography is honestly an archaic, elitist view as any camera made in the last five years is more than capable of meeting the needs for most photographers and clients. Here’s a look at the best bang for your buck Full Frame cameras that are under $2,000.
Canon EOS 6D Mk II
The Canon 6D Mk II is a camera that hasn’t received much love, and that’s really not fair because the 6D Mk II is a very capable camera. This Canon body is a great option for those who have invested in Canon glass, and who want to move on from the Rebel and pro-sumer bodies such as the 80D. It may not have the bells and whistles of some Mirrorless and DSLR Cameras, but it is a camera that will serve a photographer well.
In our review we said:
“What’s pretty excellent about the Canon 6D Mk II is the fact that it’s incredibly simple to use. Everything from the touch screen interface, navigating the menus, using the exposure settings, etc.”
The Canon EOS 6D Mk II is a weather sealed workhorse of a camera. The 26.2 Megapixel sensor and the Digic seven image processor are capable of producing nice images, especially when paired with good glass. 45 autofocus points (all cross point), a 6.5 frame per second burst mode, a 3-inch swivel touch screen, Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth and GPS connectivity, a native ISO range of 100-40,000, full HD video recording capabilities, and solid overall build quality make this a great performer. Use this camera with a lens like the 24-105 f4L IS USM II and you’ll have great success with this camera.
Most of the gripes about the 6D2 came from the fact that there is no 4K video, and only one SD card slot. People got so fixated on this that they ignored what the camera actually is. A solid, entry level Full Frame camera. I personally used one for close to a year and it did everything I asked of it from portraits, to landscapes, and events to sports. It never missed a beat. Low light performance is mind blowing, with images at ISO 6,400 showing little noise at all (see the concert image below), and focus tracking that works like a charm thanks to the Dual Pixel autofocus system.
If you are looking for a cheap way to break into the Canon Full Frame market, you need to take a look at the 6D Mk II. It is one of the best entry level Full Frame cameras around.
Buy now ($1,599): Amazon
Canon EOS 6D Mk II Image Samples
Pro Tip: Just like anything else, cameras, sensors, and lenses become dirty. You always want to keep you gear in tip top condition so make sure you carry a camera cleaning kit in your camera bag. These kits contain everything you need to clean your camera, sensor, and glass. They’re affordable and are easy to use.
Sony A7 III
The Sony A7 III really stirred the pot when it was released. This Sony Mirrorless Full Frame camera is absolutely packed to the rafters with features and it even beats out some more expensive Full Frame cameras out there. When you see that this camera and everything it has to offer is under $2,000, you can understand why so many people have jumped on the Sony train.
In our review we said:
“During my testing with the Sony A7 III, I found the autofocus to be positively fantastic. The Sony A7 III, along with the Sony 55mm f1.8, were able to focus in near darkness.”
Sony calls the A7 III a basic Full Frame camera, but one look at the spec sheet will have you questioning this. For years we have been told that entry level means bare bones, but this camera really changed that. The A7 III features a 24.2 Megapixel back side illuminated sensor, a 10 frame per second burst mode, 693 autofocus points with excellent tracking capabilities, Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth connectivity, weather sealing, 4K video, a three inch tilting touch screen, dual SD card slots, and five axis in body image stabilization.
You can see from the above list that for under $2,000 you get a lot for your money. The overall performance of this camera is excellent. The autofocus system is one of the fastest around, image quality is great, low light performance is on par with some of it’s more expensive Full Frame brothers and sisters, and the eye and face autofocus system that Sony cameras use is the best on the market. Overall battery life is very good too for a Mirrorless body, with 700 shots being the norm on a single battery,
This Full Frame camera is a jack of all trades that does everything well. While the Sony lens collection isn’t as robust as those from Canon and Nikon, there are still some great options, and if you are jumping over from another platform you can adapt lenses from Nikon and Canon to work on this camera too. The Sony A7 III is one of the best Full Frame cameras on the market, and represents outstanding value for money.
Buy now ($1,998): Amazon
Sony A7 III Image Samples
Pro Tip: With many cameras having dual card slots these days you can never have too many SD cards. Make sure you keep plenty in you camera bag as they do fail sometimes, not only that, we are also prone to leaving home without a card in the camera. Cards are cheap right now so it’s a good time to stock up.
The Nikon D750 is a entry level Full Frame camera that just refuses to back away from the spot light, and there is good reason. While the D750 might be a good few years old now, it’s still one of the best Full Frame cameras on the market. It was ahead of it’s time in 2014, and four years later it’s still holding it’s own.
In our review we said:
“The Nikon D750 focused quickly and accurately no matter which lens we mounted on it. There were only a handful of times when the D750 wasn’t able to lock on and this was only due to trying to use the camera in complete darkness. In my testing it seems the D750 has better low light autofocus performance compared to the Nikon D810.”
The Nikon D750 is another workhorse camera for enthusiasts and professionals alike. Thanks to it’s rugged build quality, weather sealing, and outstanding overall performance the D750 still sells like hotcakes. The D750 features a 24.3 Megapixel sensor, Wi-Fi connectivity, a 6.5 frames per second burst mode, Dual SD card slots, a 51 point autofocus system, a 3.2-inch vari-angle screen, and HD video capabilities.
Image quality from the D750 is fantastic. This Full Frame camera (like the 6D Mk II) is capable of producing images that are virtually noise free at ISO 6,400, and it’s dynamic range still beats some newer cameras on the market. This camera is perfect for portrait artists, landscape photographers, and for those that like to shoot sports for fun. The weather sealing is excellent so you’ll have no worries using it in inclement weather. Overall there really is nothing to dislike about this camera. When you pair it with a lens like the NIKKOR 85mm f1.8 G, you will have a portrait powerhouse in your hands.
Credit has to be given to Nikon here as they produced a entry level camera that is still hitting home runs to this day. In terms of Full Frame cameras that are under $2,000, the D750 is very hard to beat.
Buy now ($1,396.95): Amazon
Nikon D750 Image Samples
Pro Tip: Make sure you are comfortable for long periods of time by using a padded camera sling instead of a normal neck strap. Camera sling redistribute the weight of your gear across your entire upper body which means you can shoot for longer periods of time without becoming uncomfortable.
Pentax cameras do not receive as much attention as their rivals and that is a shame because they really do produce some great Full Frame cameras. The Pentax K-1 is a camera that you really don’t hear much about. Yes the Mk II is out now as well, but there really isn’t too much of a difference between the two bodies. The K-1 is a camera that was built to be used out in the elements, and in many ways this camera is a landscape photographers dream.
In our review we said:
“In our tests, we took the camera out into the rain to go shoot. It and the two lenses we tested it with survived the elements very well and quite easily overall. So as far as ruggedness goes, that’s totally fine. The Pentax K-1 also feels like a solid that is meant to do some serious work.”
The Pentax K-1 features a 36.4 Megapixel sensor, 33 autofocus points, a 4.4 frame per second burst mode, a 3.2-inch cross-tilt screen, pixel shift technology, GPS and AstroTracer technology for Astrophotography, weather sealing for days, 5 axis in body image stabilization, Wi-Fi connectivity, and dual SD card slots.
As you can see from the list above, the Pentax K-1 is a feature packed Full Frame camera whose many innovations make it great for landscape photography. The AstroTracer tech makes using a star tracker for astrophotography a thing of the past, the Pixel Shift technology can produce massive files filled with rich detail, and the weather sealing means you can use this camera in inclement weather and not worry about a thing if your lens is also weather sealed. This camera can of course be used for other genres of photography, and is also a great portrait camera in, or outside of a studio.
The lens selection is not as large as other manufacturers, but the lenses that are available are outstanding. The Pentax 15-30mm f2.8 is a truly gorgeous lens, and when paired with the Pentax K-1 magical things happen. You’ll not be disappointed with image quality. If you are after a camera that can resolve a ton of detail for landscape and portrait work, is under $2,000, and is Full Frame then you should definitely take a look at the Pentax K-1.
Buy now ($1,499.95): Amazon
Pentax K-1 Image Samples