Best Full Frame DSLRs 2012: the best full-frame DSLRs of the year....
- Thu, 27 Sep 2012
Best Full-Frame DSLR cameras 2012
The term ‘full-frame' refers to the type of sensor found almost exclusively in professional-grade DSLRs. Expressed in the simplest terms a full-frame sensor is the same size as an individual frame of traditional 35mm film. The advantages of full-frame sensors over smaller digital camera sensors, such as APS-C or Micro Four Thirds are numerous.
For starters the larger surface area of a full-frame sensor means that the individual light-capturing photodiodes (pixels) can be larger, which in turn improves performance in low light. Creatively speaking, another advantage of full-frame sensors is that it's possible to attain a shallower depth of field compared to their smaller-sensor comrades. That's why full-frame DSLRs tend to be considered the professional's choice.
However the extra size does mean more bulk and that, in turn, can mean more weight. Also, zoom lenses won't have the same reach as on smaller-sensor DSLRs (as there is no crop factor - a 50mm lens is exactly that!). And of course, full-frame sensors are much more expensive to manufacture than smaller ones, which in turn pushes up the prices of the DSLRs that employ them.
Still, if you're after the utmost quality then a professional full-frame DSLR is a must have. We round up 2012's best full-frame DSLRs...
£1956 (body only)
Then newest member of the full-frame club, the D600 is pitched at serious enthusiasts rather than outright pros and while it shares a lot of technology with the D800 further up the line, resolution is pegged at 24.3MP (rather than the D800's 36.3MP). Elsewhere though, the D600 looks to be a serious bit of kit that set to tempt many potential D800 purchasers. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled on WhatDigitalCamera.com for a full review coming soon.
£2150 (body only)
While the D800 might sound like a direct replacement to the three-year-old D700 it is, in fact, a completely new model. The big talking point, of course, is its 36.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor, which takes the D800 close to medium format territory in terms of resolution. In addition, the D800 has plenty else to tempt pros with, including an ISO range of 100-25,600, a 51-point AF system, enhanced Full HD movie recording capabilities and the same Advanced Scene Recognition system of the flagship D4 model.
In addition to the D800, Nikon has also launched the D800E, which is much the same model, but with the anti-aliasing filter removed for even sharper images.
£2660 (body only)
The 5D Mk II was already a class act, and with the 5D Mark III Canon has really pushed the boat out. While the new model only gets a marginal increase in resolution - from 20MP to 21.1MP - the sensor has been completely redesigned with gapless microlenses for improved low-light performance. Add to this improved AF, increased sensitivity range, faster burst shooting, and improved HD video recording and the 5D Mark III adds up to a full-frame heavyweight.
£4700 (body only)
Released earlier this year the Nikon D4 takes over from the D3 as the company's flagship professional-grade DSLR. Built around an all-new 16.2MP full-frame FX sensor and Nikon's latest EXPEED 3 image processor the D4 offers a maximum continuous shooting speed of 11fps. As with the D3 before it low-light performance is also hugely impressive, with the D4 offering a standard sensitivity range of ISO 100-12,800, which can be further expanded up to ISO 204,800. Autofocus, meanwhile, is taken care of via a revamped 51-point system that includes 14 cross-type sensors and the ability to focus in light as low as -2EV, which is the equivalent of moonlight. Those looking for the ultimate in performance and image quality need look no further.
£5300 (body only)
Broadly speaking, the basic aim of the 1D X was to take the studio-friendly resolution offered by the 1Ds Mark III and combine it with the speedy-shooting capabilities of the (APS-H equipped) 1D Mark IV. To this end the 18MP 1D X is a big success; equipped with twin DIGIC 5+ image processors the 1D X boasts a top burst speed of 12fps - or 14fps if capturing JPEGs only. Add to this a standard sensitivity range of ISO 100-51,200 (50-204,800 in expanded mode), a 61-point AF system of which 41 are cross-type sensors, and enhanced Full HD movie recording abilities and there's no doubting the 1D X's credibility as a serious tool for professionals.