If you want to shoot high-end, pro-level images or video, consider purchasing a full-frame mirrorless camera. These are loaded with large, full-frame sensors, which provides a field of view equivalent to that of a standard 35-millimeter film camera—in other words, they don’t crop the frame. This means you’re working with, among other advantages, higher resolution, better performance in low-light or high-contrast settings, and a greater depth of field. While you can buy a full-frame DSLR, we like the mirrorless ones; they tend to be more compact, and they also rely on electronic viewfinders, which allow you to preview your eventual image in real time as you alter your settings. Explore the best mirrorless full-frame cameras below.
1. Canon EOS R5
The Canon EOS R5 is an all-around outstanding camera that will suit most photographers no matter their style, subject matter, or level of experience. Fitted with an impressive, high-density 45-megapixel sensor, it’s capable of delivering super-crisp images with rich color depth in a variety of environments, even low-light spaces. You can also crop the results in postproduction without encountering grain as you zoom in. Packed with competitive features, the R5 outshines most other cameras for its exceptional autofocus. The system is equipped with smart tracking that continuously trains itself to follow the bodies and faces of both people and animals; this technology excels because the R5 has close to 6,000 autofocus points that cover 100 percent of the frame. Pair this with an in-body image stabilization system that offers up to eight stops of correction (most cameras offer four or five) and high-speed shooting of up to 20 frames per second, and catching even the liveliest of action shots is a breeze. (No wonder birders in particular like the R5.) The camera also offers 8K video recording so you can capture the clearest motion imagery.
Canon EOS R5
2. Sony a9 II
Another fast-shutter camera, this pick from Sony is a close second to the R5. Like the R5, it offers high-speed continuous shooting of up to 20 frames per second and features an AI-based autofocus that can follow humans and animals. However, this system features just under 700 autofocus points that cover 93 percent of the frame—still an extremely large number of points that will successfully capture sports or wildlife scenes. Its 24.2-megapixel sensor is also smaller, but more than enough for the photographer who doesn’t need to print gigantic photos. It’s a great camera for videographers too, capable of shooting 4K video. Where it really beats the R5 is in battery life: You can take more than twice the number of shots per battery charge than you can with the Canon.
Sony a9 II
3. Panasonic Lumix S1H
While not our top pick for still photography, the Lumix S1H is likely the best mirrorless video camera you can get. In fact, it is Netflix-approved: The streaming service has used it as a primary device to shoot original productions. The full-frame mirrorless beast can record 6K/24p footage and features a 24.2-megapixel camera to deliver beautifully colored frames with little noise in low-light settings. It’s equipped with excellent in-body image stabilization for handheld shoots, and the weather-sealed body means you can take it outdoors and not worry about rain or other moisture. On the downside, the continuous autofocus is quite poor. Videographers probably won’t find this a problem, however, if they prefer to manually focus in order to have greater creative control over the final product.
Panasonic Lumix S1H
4. Leica SL2
Minimal and aesthetically alluring, the very pricey Leica SL2 delivers on every front you’d expect from the legendary German manufacturer. It boasts a 47-megapixel sensor, is equipped with 5K video, and features unparalleled in-body stabilization. Of course, you have to use it with Leica glass, which will help you achieve unbelievably crisp and exquisitely saturated images. The interface is also attractive: There are few buttons and knobs on the super-robust and plastic-free body, and those that exist are customizable. The only detail some photographers might find awkward is the lack of a pivot or swivel touch screen, which prevents you from seeing what you’re shooting if you hold the body in an unconventional position.
5. Nikon Z 7II
Less expensive than the other cameras on our list, the Z 7II is a workhorse that has dual processes to maximize its processing power and speed. Its sensor offers 45.7 megapixels to deliver exceedingly clear and sharp images. The camera can also focus very well in low-light settings and shoot up to 10 frames per second. Like others in its class, it features an intelligent autofocus that can identify human and animal faces, although it has just under 500 autofocus points—less than the Canon and Sony, but again, still a high number. This second-generation model now includes dual memory-card slots, so you can have a backup while you’re shooting, and it has better video capabilities. Artists might want to consider this camera if they need incredibly detailed images for large-format printing but can forgo fast frame rates and top-end video capabilities.
Nikon Z 7II