If you are looking to purchase a full frame camera, you are in luck, because I have done the price comparison work for you! New full frame cameras cost substantially more than the older ones, but as technology moves quickly, they also have better image quality and better features.
I have 16 examples of new cameras below that range in price from $1048.00 to $6496.95. A new, full frame camera with up to date technology and features costs around $3000.
Camera prices drop as they are replaced with newer models, and with the pace of technology, you can get a really nice camera for less than $3000 if you want to purchase an older model, and you can get the price down even further by purchasing a used camera.
Average Full Frame Camera Cost Examples
Here are 16 examples of full frame cameras from the past few years, with their prices. These prices are as of January 2018.
- $1048.00- Canon EOS 6D (20.02 Megapixels, ISO 100-25600)
- $1796.95- Nikon D750 (24.3 Megapixels, ISO 100-12800)
- $1898.00- Sony a7R (36.8 Megapixels, ISO 100-25600, Mirrorless)
- $1899.00- Canon EOS 6D Mark II (26.2 Megapixels, ISO 100-40000)
- $1998.00- Sony A7s (12 Megapixels, ISO 100-102400, Mirrorless)
- $2298.00- Canon EOS 5D Mark III (22.1 Megapixels, ISO 100-25600)
- $2445.00- Nikon D800 (36.3 Megapixels, ISO 100-6400)
- $2796.96- Nikon D810 (37.09 Megapixels, ISO 64-12800)
- $2898.00- Sony a7R II (43.6 Megapixels, ISO 100-25600, Mirrorless)
- $2898.00- Sony a7S II (12.4 Megapixels, ISO 100-102400, Mirrorless)
- $3198.00- Sony a7R III (43.6 Megapixels, ISO 100-32000, Mirrorless)
- $3296.95- Nikon D850 (45.4 Megapixels, ISO 64-25600)
- $3299.00- Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (30.4 Megapixels, ISO 100-32000)
- $4498.00- Sony A9 (24.2 Megapixels, ISO 100-51200)
- $5499.00- Canon EOS 1D X Mark II (21.5 Megapixels, ISO 100-25600)
- $6496.95- Nikon D5 (21.33 Megapixels, ISO 100-102400)
These are the prices of these cameras new from places like Amazon and B&H. Keep in mind that you may be able to get some great deals on used gear, especially if you don't mind a camera that is a few years old. For example, you can buy a used Nikon D800 for less than $1000 dollars. Even by today's standards, the D800 is an amazing camera!
Don't Forget! You'll have additional expenses!
When budgeting for a full frame camera, you'll need to remember that the camera is not the only purchase you will be making. Here are some other items that you may need:
- Lenses: This can easily be more expensive than the camera you buy. The so-called “trinity” of 3 zoom lenses that will get you from wide angle to telephoto at an f/2.8 aperture will cost between $6000-$7000 if you buy the newest models from your camera manufacturer. If you've been shooting a camera with a different format, such as APS-C (commonly called a crop sensor), your lenses may not work at all, or they may work, but not allow you to use all of your full frame sensor. If you are shooting a crop sensor body, my recommendation is to purchase full frame lenses before you purchase a full frame camera. The full frame lenses will work on your crop sensor camera, and when you are ready to pull the trigger on a full frame body, you won't need to worry about lenses. You should also consider third party lenses, such as the ones from Sigma and Tamron. They are often reviewed to be as good or better in image quality, and they come at about half the price. They build quality may be a bit lower depending on the lens, but not always. You could also consider acquiring your lenses used, though be careful. There is a lot that can be wrong with a lens, and you want the ability to inspect it thoroughly before you buy, or at least know that you'll be able to return the product for a refund. Finally, be careful buying lenses that are a few generations old. Many of them will do great for you, but keep in mind that as resolution on cameras improves, those lenses may not be precise enough to produce tack sharp images on higher resolution sensors. You will need to consider how “future proof” you want to be, depending on your context and budget. Click here to check out Improve Photography's Lens Finder, a tool that can help you make decisions about which lens to purchase.
- Batteries: You will need at least a few batteries. Running out of battery power in the field means no more shooting, so you need a few backups. If you are purchasing a mirrorless camera, you may need quite a few more. Early reports say that the Sony a7R III has solved the issue of mirrorless camera battery consumption, but with that possible exception, you will need to have quite a few batteries on hand if you shoot mirrorless. The reason for this is a simple one; mirrorless batteries are constantly powering the video viewfinder, which requires a constant flow of electricity from the batteries. Keep in mind that you will also need a charger or multiple chargers to charge these batteries.
- Camera Bag(s): I honestly think that my biggest sticker shock in photography came when looking at camera bags. I knew that a camera and lenses would be pricey, but surely a bag couldn't be that much! A good bag may cost a few hundred dollars. Part of the challenge that you will need to consider is getting a bag that will fit all your gear, especially if you intend to carry 3 lenses, 1 or 2 camera bodies, a tripod, and maybe a laptop, or other accessories. Click here to check out Improve Photography's recommended camera bags.
- Memory Card(s): As individual units, these aren't very expensive, but you may need quite a few of them, depending on how much you shoot and how often you are able to offload your images to a computer. If your camera uses SD, be sure to purchase class 10 because they are the fastest, which will help prevent your image buffer from filling and will save you time when transferring the photos to a computer. You could also use UHS-1, but it will only help if your camera supports UHS-1. Click here to check out Improve Photography's recommended memory card.
- Insurance: We're now talking about thousands of dollars of gear, something that would be difficult for a lot of us to replace should it be lost or stolen. Many photographers with this kind of gear will purchase insurance to help mitigate that risk. This could mean a lot of different things depending on what you do with your gear. It may be as simple as making sure your gear is covered by your home owners or renters insurance, or you may need something like an inland marine policy. For advice on insurance, you should consult an insurance broker or another professional that is an expert in the area of insurance.
- Tripod: If you do landscape photography, or any type of photography where it is important that the camera not move between shots or that your hand are free, you will need a tripod. If you've already been shooting with a crop sensor camera you may already have a tripod, and it may be good enough, but these cameras and lenses are much heavier than most crop bodies. If you have a tripod already, you'll wan't to check and see the weight that it supports. It is possible that you'll need to upgrade to hold your full frame gear. Click here to check out Improve Photography's recommended tripods.
- Computer and Software: This may be another item that you already have if you've been shooting on other camera systems, but much like the tripod, what was good enough for your last camera may not be good enough for your new camera. Especially if you go with one of the higher resolution cameras in the 40 megapixel range, they can strain an older or less capable system. Click here for help in determining what computer you should buy.
What Makes the Prices of Full Frame Cameras So Different?
The first factor in determining price is the level of the technology in the camera. The camera manufacturers all make different levels of cameras for different people and different uses. A Canon 6D or a Nikon D750 is aimed at someone who is coming into the full frame market and wants to start small. Generally, a camera like this will have a resolution and ISO on the lower side, will have fewer bells and whistles, and the build quaility may be lower. On the other end, the flagship bodies are made for pros who do a lot of shooting that need very reliable autofocus, low noise, and fast frame rates. The cameras in the middle, like the D850, 5D mark III, and the a7R III are the ones that reach the peak in terms of resolution and features.
The second factor in determining price is age. Technology moves fast, and when newer versions of the same camera come out, those older versions drop in price. This is good news for us because it means that last year's camera, that camera everyone was raving about last year, could now cost us a third less. People in general don't seem to want last year's model, they want this year's model, but you can do well buying the last generation. If you are someone who buys and sells your camera bodies, keeping your bodies a model out of date will help eliminate some of the drop in value from the time you buy to the time you sell.
Here are some specific technologies in the camera that can affect the price:
- Sensor technology and resolution: how many pixels are in the sensor?
- Auto focus: this can be the system itself, and how many focus points, how many are cross-type, does it do phase detection on the sensor?
- Low light performance: ISO range can help show this, but not all cameras produce equally clean files at the same ISO. Seeing files helps with this.
- Connectivity such as WIFI: does the camera have it, and does it work well?
- The Screen: what is the resolution on the screen on the back of the camera, is it a touchscreen, does it flip up, does it articulate?
- Video capability: does the camera shoot video, does it shoot 4k, what framerates does it allow, what type of files can it save?
- In camera stabilization: the Sony bodies have image stabilization built into the camera body itself, where as the Nikon and Canon bodies only do it in some lenses.
- Build quality: plastic is cheaper than metal.
- Other bells and whistles: camera manufacturers put in other miscellaneous, small features that they will use to distinguish one body from another and to create a higher price point.
What Is Full Frame, and Do You Need It?
A full frame camera is a camera that has an image sensor which is the same size as a 35mm film negative. In the world of digital photography, it has been the standard sensor size for the professional photographer for some time, although this is becoming less true.
The advantages of full frame are better performance in low light, less noise, and due to the optics of the larger sensor, a shallower depth of field than can be produced at the same aperture on a smaller image sensor. The disadvantages are size, weight, cost, and the inability to produce as deep of a depth of field as a smaller sensor when shooting landscapes.
If you shoot a lot in low light, or your photography is one that calls for high resolution or very shallow depth of field, full frame is definitely for you. Beyond that, it is a matter of weighing the total feature sets of these cameras against ones in other formats that you may like. Today, you can find crop sensor cameras that can compete in areas like autofocus and frames per second. In the end, you'll want to make the best choice given your primary type of photography and your budget.