There is no doubt why Canon full-frame cameras are one of the biggest in the industry: they offer what their competitors fail to give. With this, it is true that whatever you are looking for, Canon full-frame cameras will deliver.
First on the list is the unbeatable autofocus system of Canon that, without any question, brings the best kind of focusing possible. And as if that is not enough, Canon launched the generation of its AF system through Dual Pixel CMOS AF II. Backed with Canon’s iTR AFX technology that employs a Deep Learning algorithm, it can aggressively track heads of subjects once it has captured them. Sticky, reliable, and fast. You can enjoy it in EOS-1D X Mark III and of course, in R5 and R6 which have inherited this gift.
Apparently, these new technologies from Canon entail additional bucks on your purchase. However, if you are looking for an affordable full-frame camera, we will suggest EOS 6D Mark II which hits all the basic needs of a full-frame model.
1. Canon EOS R5
20fps electronic, 12fps mechanical
We have featured EOS R5 before and we know it deserves more than that. If you are asking for one specific reason for its entitlement, we will give you two or more.
First is the astounding 36 x 24 mm 45 MP full-frame CMOS sensor and it is the first EOS camera to have the 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization, making it a true darling among Canon cameras. With the said attributes, you get the best details in stills that can compete with other high-end mirrorless and DSLR works.
According to SolidSmack Photography Editor Evangeline Summers, you can also get 35 MP Frame Grabs out of its 8K footage which is extremely delightful. Even better, when Canon says ‘35 MP’ quality, it really means 35 MP. The grabs come with magnificent details and you get almost the same elements you’ll experience in actual stills.
On the other hand, Summers said that EOS R5’s burst mode and buffer will amaze you.
“EOS R5 can deliver burst shots up to 12fps with the mechanical shutter and 20fps with the electronic shutter. This is more than enough and the good thing about R5 is how deep its buffer is. It has two card slots and depending on what you use, you either get a max buffer of 180 RAW images with the CFexpress card slot or 87 RAW images with the UHS-II SD card slot.”
And since we’re in the talk about videos, R5 can also deliver 8K videos at 30p. However, there is a caveat here which is the infamous overheating among such cams when you shoot anything above standard 4K 30p video. Yet, for very short clips, we still consider the 8K feature as a good add-on.
On the other hand, R5 boasts the Dual Pixel CMOS AF II which is one of Canon’s current pride in terms of its AF system. It covers stills with 5,940 AF points and videos with 4,500 points. According to Summers, you can enjoy this tech at any frame rate and resolution, which is truly amazing compared to other cam models with very limited AF features and capabilities. Even better, it has inherited 1D X’s Deep Learning AF system.
“The performance is unbeatable that finding your subjects, regardless of the movements, will bring you to tears. The way the AF locks and stays with the subject is really overwhelming; be it face, head, or eye-tracking. Once the camera has recognized the human subject, the focus stays where it should be even if the bride is wearing a veil or momentarily gets her face blocked with a bouquet or hands and whatsoever,” Summers said.
But, of course, that’s something that would just attract street photographers. So, what can R5 bring to the table for wildlife photographers? This brilliant system also supports Animal AF which is something 1D X doesn’t even offer. Not just that… it really works even on animal subjects on the move! Canon did a great job at creating the best algorithm that can recognize the eyes of animals as soon as you point your camera. With just the right simple settings, the camera can track even the wildest and shyest deer within the frame. That said, getting detail-filled stills is possible at all times.
2. Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
20fps mechanical/electronic (Live View), 16fps mechanical (OVF)
4K RAW, 4K DCI, 4K UHD, and 4K DCI Cropped
Though EOS-1D X Mark III is a full-frame model, it isn’t your high-resolution camera for stills due to its 20.1 MP resolution. Plus, it is a pretty huge model which can turn down some individuals, not to mention that it also has a fixed touchscreen LCD. Yet, in other sections, it can be monstrous.
It starts with its video capabilities which allow you to shoot not just full-frame 4K/60p videos but so as 5.5K RAW videos! As for the speed, it is a true champion. It doesn’t just come with Dual Pixel CMOS AF but it also boasts of Canon’s new AF method in the form of EOS iTR AFX. Thanks to its additional Digic X processor, this so-called ‘Deep Learning AF’ can track the head of the subject once it has been captured by the system.
“To give a better view of this system, imagine a subject riding a motorcycle at full speed. The brilliant thing about the iTR AFX is that its algorithm is set to focus on the head of the subjects whether they are wearing helmets or not. This predicts the action of the subject which makes it possible for the AF system to follow the subject regardless of speed. You will enjoy its full benefits through the Live View option where the Digic X processor works its magic using the 3,869 Dual Pixel CMOS AF points and eye detect AF,” said Summers.
Even its OVF AF can be powerful. With 191 phase-detection AF points (with 155 of them being cross-type), tracking subjects can almost be effortless. There’s even face detect AF to aid you while the Live View promises full eye detect AF.
On the other hand, while it is true that its 20 MP resolution for stills can be a bit underwhelming, its speed is unbeatable when it comes to shooting them. Thanks to its 20fps max burst, it can leave no moment uncaptured. What will make you fall in love with this bad boy even more is its buffer capacity that breaks the record by using dual CFexpress cards which can cater to up to 1,000 RAW and JPEG files! You can keep the shutter pressed for more than a minute and it will still keep on shooting!
3. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV doesn’t have the coveted buffer of EOS-1D X Mark III. It only offers a 7fps burst rate and 21 RAW buffer capacity. Nonetheless, it can reach a pleasing level of detail in its works which makes it different from others.
“The 5D Mark IV compensates in terms of the components that contribute to the details of its shots. First of them is the full-frame 30.4 MP sensor which delivers unrivaled details, exposure, saturation, and overall color quality. Even in low-light conditions and high ISO settings, the amount of noise present comes almost unnoticed,” Summers said.
Besides its immaculate color rendition, its dynamic range will give you the best kind of liberty in reviving details. With all this, converting the shots into large prints won’t be a concern in EOS 5D Mark IV. It can also provide decent performance in the precision of shooting stills.
“Even if it just offers a 7fps burst rate, the 5D Mark IV won’t fail to capture subjects with great precision. With its 61-point AF and Dual Pixel AF, it is almost unbelievable how it can get a shot of a fast-moving subject without much blurriness. Even when excessive cropping is applied, you can still get a decent amount of detail which proves how powerful its full-frame sensor is,” Summers added.
It employs 61 AF points with 5 dual cross-type included in its already impressive 41 cross-type points under f/2.8 aperture. This makes the AF truly effective even at the worst low-light scenarios. With this, focusing remains honest and consistent.
4. Canon EOS R6
20fps electronic, 12fps mechanical
The release of EOS R5 and R6 was announced at the same time (July 2020). The latter promises a better set of features that will benefit the general population of photographers but that doesn’t make R6 anything less preferable. It is a beauty in its own way.
“R6 comes with a 20.1 MP full-frame CMOS sensor which shows how huge its difference is with R5,” Summers said. “This means lower resolution for your stills but this allows it to have the same burst capability as R5 with 12fps for mechanical shutter and 20fps for the electronic shutter.”
On the other hand, R6 also has a lot of other good points to offer including a higher ISO that hits up to ISO 102,400, more focus points (6,072 Dual Pixel CMOS AF II), and better battery life (can shoot 40 more shots than R5), just to name a few.
Due to the same AF promoting Canon’s Deep Learning AF and with a higher number of AF points, its autofocus system can be just as effective as what you have in R5. It also comes with the Animal AF, allowing it to be an excellent wildlife camera unit as well.
And while it can’t shoot 8K videos, its video features still meets the standards by delivering 8 and 10-bit 4K UHD footage at up to 60fps. You also have the option for 1080p up to 120fps which R5 can’t offer. The good thing bout it is that its AF tracking features can be enjoyed in any of its video resolution and frame rates, making it a pretty powerful video camera, too.
Thankfully, despite the obvious differences between R5 and R6, it still comes with Canon’s 5-axis in-body image stabilization system we were all waiting for in its cameras. Depending on the lean being used, the stability can go up to 8 stops just like in R5.
5. Canon EOS 6D Mark II
The release of the original EOS 6D took years and now that we have the 6D Mark II, we have to admit that we are a bit dismayed at its limitation. For instance, it can’t shoot in 4K. Yet, we still hailed it as one of the best Canon DSLRs. Of course, there are other models that can beat it but it is a full-frame camera that comes at a very affordable price. And that, we think, is enough to justify its place on this list. After all, it gets a lot of improvements that set it apart from 6D.
“If you would compare the two, there would be a lot of reasons to choose Mark II over its predecessor,” said Summers. “Some of them are the availability of the fully articulating touchscreen, Timelapse recording, digital video stabilization, NFC and Bluetooth connection, webcam function, UHS card support, and anti-flicker ability.”
Best Canon Full-frame Cameras - Buyer's Guide
While the resolution of the stills can simply be determined by the size of the sensor and the total number of megapixels, there are lots of things to check in the video. Ideally, you would want to have a camera that at least shoots in 4K since it is starting to be the standard now. Yet, if you want to go higher than that, there’s EOS R5 that can shoot in 8K. However, besides resolution, it is also important to check the frame rate choices you have. This is important if you want to ensure smooth movements in your footage and if you plan to use the camera for slow-mo effects.
Canon’s autofocus system is one of a kind. With this, you can’t go wrong in this section. Yet, to ensure you will have the best experience in using the camera’s AF, check for the system sensitivity in low-light conditions. The processor can also play a huge role in determining the performance of the AF. If you want to get the best autofocus system Canon is offering now, we suggest opting for its models offering the new Dual Pixel CMOS AF II and Deep Learning technology. With these features, you can have fast, and reliable AF that will ensure sharp subject details at all times.
If you are looking for a Canon full-frame camera perfect for shooting fast-moving subjects, you need more than just a reliable AF. You also need something that offers high burst rates and deep buffer capacity. In this case, we suggest EOS-1D X Mark III. Not only it comes with 20fps max burst, but it also boasts a buffer capacity of 1,000 RAW and JPEG files!
Check for other important features of the DSLR such as the size of the viewfinder, availability of image stabilization, movement of the LCD screen, number of SD card slots, number of AF points, button layout, and more. Remember to tick the boxes you are looking for in a Canon full-frame camera to assure you’ll get the best for your needs.
Best Canon Full-frame Cameras - FAQs
There are 3 types of lenses Canon is offering for their consumer interchangeable lens cameras. These are the EF-S, EF, and EF-M lenses.
The red circle on the lens mount means the camera compliments EF lenses. If there is a red circle and a white square, it means the camera can also use EF-S lenses. Lastly, the white circle means the camera is for EF-M lenses only.
EOS in Canon simply means Electro-Optical System which is the autofocus single-lens reflex and mirrorless camera series of the brand.
There are pros and cons to both the DSLR and mirrorless cameras of Canon. While mirrorless cameras are commonly more compact, lighter, and more equipped for video purposes, DSLR excels in terms of battery, viewfinders, and flexible lens choices.