If you think full-frame cameras are only for professional photographers or serious hobbyists with lots of money, you’re wrong! There are many entry-level full-frame camera options on the market today. They cost a little more than comparable cameras with smaller sensors, but the image quality is worth it.
In this article, we’re going to share with you all of the best entry-level full-frame cameras that we personally recommend. These aren’t just beginner-oriented cameras only meant for beginners, inevitably to be upgraded once you get more serious! These are highly capable cameras that even working professionals could use for professional work.
Nikon Full-Frame Entry-Level Camera
Nikon is an excellent choice when it comes to entry-level and intermediate-range cameras. This is because they do the best job of bringing advanced professional features to more affordable options. If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly full-frame camera that you can grow into and even do professional work with someday, then one of the best cameras available is the Nikon Z5.
At just $1,296, the Nikon Z5 is one of the most affordable full-frame digital cameras ever made, yet it is also one of the most feature-packed compared to other entry-level full-frame cameras. It offers professional specs such as dual card slots and in-body stabilization, plus pro durability and ergonomics.
Of course, Nikon’s full-frame mirrorless cameras are all relatively new; Nikon has been making excellent cameras for decades! My personal all-time favorite camera is the Nikon D750, often found for under $1000 used.
Canon Entry-Level Full-Frame Camera
If you ever owned a Canon Rebel DSLR, then you’re familiar with Canon’s system. You may even still have some Canon lenses! Thankfully, with Canon’s full-frame mirrorless RF mount there are even more full-frame mirrorless cameras to choose from.
Canon’s most affordable full-frame mirrorless camera, the Canon EOS RP, comes in at just $999, but it lacks a few of the features mentioned in the Nikon Z5, for just $300 more. Honestly, it’s the only camera on this list that we would rather not use for paid professional work.
Having said that, it’s still a great camera with one of the most affordable full-frame sensors on the market. So, if you’d like to gain access to Canon’s amazing RF lens lineup or put your collection of older EF lenses to good use on an EF-RF adapter, the EOS RP is a compact, lightweight, beginner-friendly camera.
If you’re on a budget, though, we should mention the Canon 6D and 6D II, the best entry-level Canon full-frame DSLRs. Being as old as they are, you can find them on the used or refurbished market for well under $100. Being full-frame sensors, though, you can expect very good image quality for your investment.
Sony Entry-Level Full-Frame Camera
Sony hasn’t been making full-frame cameras for as long as Canon or Nikon, however, they’ve been very busy in recent years! Their most popular camera model, the Sony A7, is on its fourth generation, and Sony has been at the forefront of full-frame mirrorless camera technology.
Which is the best Sony entry-level full-frame camera, though? Most of the Sony E-mount full-frame cameras cost about $2K or $3K, and some cost much more! There is actually just one entry-level full-frame Sony camera that we recommend, and that is the Sony A7C. It is beginner-oriented and costs $1,798.
However, if you are able to stretch your budget to $1998, and if you’re more into still photography and less into video/vlogging, then I would instead recommend the Sony A7 III, which is slightly older but has far more professional features.
Other Entry-Level Full-Frame Camera Options
The digital camera market has become highly competitive over the past decade, and unfortunately, a few brands have even gone out of business. This is why it’s so surprising to think that there are still a half-dozen brands making full-frame cameras!
For example, Panasonic now makes a line of full-frame mirrorless cameras, for Leica’s full-frame mirrorless) L-mount. However, the Panasonic full-frame mirrorless cameras are all rather high-end, even the most entry-level option, the Panasonic S5, is $1,999. It is a truly incredible camera, though!
For that same full-frame mirrorless Leica L mount, Sigma makes two cameras as well. The Sigma FP is their more affordable model, however, once again it is anything but entry-level! It is a high-end video camera, with 4K RAW capability. Surprisingly, it costs just $1,499 which is far below what almost all other raw video cameras cost.
Of course, we absolutely must mention Pentax, (Ricoh) which has one of the longest-standing full-frame camera systems still in existence today, along with the Canon and Nikon DSLR mounts. If you are looking for a modern take on that classic optical viewfinder experience, but aren’t interested in breaking the bank, the Pentax K-1 Mark II is the only full-frame DSLR with in-body stabilization, IT is priced at just $1,796.
Best Beginner Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera
We’re going to repeat ourselves in this section and the next, but it’s important to know the difference between full-frame mirrorless and full-frame DSLR options. Why? Because they are a completely different experience overall, and there is no “right answer” for everyone.
The truth is, good quality entry-level full-frame camera options in mirrorless form are a relatively recent thing! Oppositely, DSLRs have been around for literally decades, and there are numerous excellent options for both camera bodies and lenses.
Here’s what you need to know if you want the best entry-level full-frame camera mirrorless option: get the newest generation! The older full-frame mirrorless cameras such as the Sony A7 and A7 II are absolutely not recommended. Stick with our recommendations given for Sony, Nikon, Canon, and others.
Entry-Level Full-Frame DSLR
Why would you want to buy a DSLR today, with so many excellent mirrorless options? The answer is simple: because you actually appreciate the optical viewfinder!
There is something about raising a camera to your eye and seeing an optical “window” to the real world. Honestly, it causes me serious eye fatigue to focus my eye on a tiny little digital LCD display! Yes, DSLRs can be more affordable than entry-level mirrorless options, especially if you are shopping used. However, we truly believe that your budget should not be the only deciding factor; you have to actually want that SLR experience.
Thankfully, good entry-level full-frame camera options (in DLSR form) have been around for over a decade now. You’ll have a wide variety of beginner full-frame DLSR bodies to choose from, and even more lenses!
Since DSLRs have been around for years, I recommend checking out the used markets. My top recommendations are the Nikon D750 and the Pentax K-1 Mark II. Both cameras can be found for well under $2,000! Canon’s 6D and 6D II are classics, but neither is as professionally capable as the Nikon or the Pentax.
Conclusion | Best Entry-Level Full-Frame Camera
If you told me a few years ago there would be this many excellent options in the category of “beginner full-frame camera”, I wouldn’t have believed it. Today, we have a wide variety of entry-level full-frame camera options, from beginner-friendly to affordable pro-grade photo and video cameras!
Hopefully, this article helped you decide which camera is right for your particular needs. If you have any questions about a camera or your own personal style of photography and which camera to choose for it, leave a comment below!