Up until recently, full-frame cameras fell into one of two camps: professionally designed workhorses costing thousands of pounds, and the Canon EOS 5D, a much cheaper alternative but a little long in the tooth, with few of the technologies found in more recent DSLRs.
Last year, though, saw the arrival of three new full-frame models, at the £2000 price point or below. The long-promised Sony Alpha900 finally arrived, delivering a 24.6MP sensor, high-resolution LCD and a refined viewfinder to the professional market. The Nikon D700 came as something of a surprise – not least to those who had parted with £3,000 for the original D3 – curiously holding a few advantages over that particular model from which it derived. Finally, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II bounded on the market, replacing its venerable predecessor and thus completing a trinity of professionally specified, affordable full-frame DSLRs.
Of course, what is deemed as affordable is a personal issue, and for the working professional all three cameras should quickly pay for themselves. But now that prices have come down a little, the enthusiast is more likely to consider such a model as a viable upgrade option, particularly as issues such as crop factor have been addressed.
The purpose of this feature therefore, is to look at how each camera performs in comparison with the others, ascertain their strengths and weaknesses, and to examine how these impact on their suitability in different working environments.