What is the best full frame camera under $2,000? 5DIII vs 6DII vs A7II

Aug 28, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

What is the best full frame camera under $2,000? 5DIII vs 6DII vs A7II

Aug 28, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Join the Discussion

Share on:

Making the decision to go full frame is an easy one for some people. Full frame cameras offer a shallower depth of field for a given aperture & field of view combination. They also tend to be the cameras with the best high ISO performance. But most people don’t have an unlimited budget. So, what’s the best full frame DSLR under $2,000?

That’s what Jay P Morgan wanted to figure out when he put the venerable Canon 5D Mark III up against the Sony A7II and the shiny new Canon 6D Mark II. Rather than just bleat on about specs, this video is a look at how the cameras compare in the real world, and how each affects the final result. Note that the 5DIII is technically over $2K, but they can be found used for much less.

YouTube video

The primary focus is the final image quality. Jay and his team test the cameras in four different scenarios

  • ISO test
  • Film noir style high contrast
  • Window light
  • Open shade

ISO Test

The first test is the ISO performance. Not just how well they perform at higher ISOs, but also the general colour and detail on each. Once you start raising the ISO, though, the Jay believes he can see the shadows already starting to break apart on the Canon 6D Mark II by ISO800.

You don’t really notice the noise so much in a 1080p video, but the shots at ISO25600 all seem to be comparable. It also goes to show, though, that if you’re only ever shooting for the web, then don’t be afraid to ramp up that ISO.

Film Noir style high contrast

This test is to see how well the highlights graduate into the shadows. How smooth the transition is. It could simply be YouTube compression here, but for me the Sony is the clear winner.

Window light

The window light tests is a common scenario under which you might photograph somebody. Nice big soft flatting light from the side.

During the window light test, underexposed shots were also made to test recovery. All three do a hold up well to a bump in post. The original shots were underexposed by two stops.

Open Shade

The final test was shot in open shade. And there’s very little difference here between all three.

They found that overall, the Canon 6D Mark II ended up at the bottom of their list between these three. The ISO performance wasn’t quite as good, the contrast was a little crunchy, and didn’t hold the highlights quite as well. But there were a few things in its favour when it came to the features. The 5D Mark III and A7II were both pretty comparable, and it came down to a feature comparison, too.

Ultimately, which is going to be best will depend entirely on you, your needs, and what you’re comfortable with. What’s the best for you might not be the best for somebody else, and vice versa.

The omission of the Nikon D610 and Nikon D750 bodies is rather obvious. Given that they included the 5D Mark III based on the used price, it also seems neglectful to not mention the Nikon D800. Personally, I find that the Nikon D800 still does the job for 99% of my full frame needs. Those can be found used now for less than the cost of a new D610.

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

22 responses to “What is the best full frame camera under $2,000? 5DIII vs 6DII vs A7II”

  1. Maxou Avatar
    Maxou

    D750 by far…

  2. Patrick Feldhusen Avatar
    Patrick Feldhusen

    Nikon D750 / D6x0

  3. bamagrad03 Avatar
    bamagrad03

    A7 II is the winner here imo. Much better video shooter than either, but can use Sony glass or Canon glass.

    Until Nikon figures out their horrible video AF, they shouldn’t​ be considered in a shootout that looks at video features.

  4. Paul Richards Avatar
    Paul Richards

    Why isn’t Nikon on the list??? Bit biased

  5. Zak Neumann Avatar
    Zak Neumann

    D750 is under $2k, it’s a great camera when it’s not in the shop ?

  6. 1434 Avatar
    1434

    Pfft…
    No Pentax K-1?
    Come on, bro. Get it together.

  7. Jurek Siminski Avatar
    Jurek Siminski

    Used D810

  8. Jessop Avatar
    Jessop

    Any used Nikon FX is the right answer…

  9. Albin Avatar
    Albin

    Frankly, I don’t see why you couldn’t have gotten near simultaneous shots with remotes – most of these shots are different enough to call the comparisons into question. As it is, the only news is that the five year old 5DIII is still the closest comparator to the new 6DII, after it was the comparator to the original 6D and some good reviewers (e.g. Ken Rockwell) preferred the 6D for the dollar then. Especially the absence of 4k video is going to mean a pathetic fail for pros or advanced hobbyists with a commercial or expressive art interest in video. As for Sony or Nikon, nobody with a serious financial and learning curve investment in the Canon EOS ecosystem gives a flying F.

  10. Den Avatar
    Den

    Love the zedos vr6.old but still serious top end kit.
    .

  11. TO BLACKS Avatar
    TO BLACKS

    WHAT IS THE BEST CAMERA FOR PORN?

  12. pseudobreccia Avatar
    pseudobreccia

    How about the Pentax K-1 as an option!

  13. Farhad Moghadam Avatar
    Farhad Moghadam

    Nikon D750

  14. Dieter Greven Avatar
    Dieter Greven

    Talk about Cameras? Why do you mention Sony? It’s just like a hamster teaching Physics.

  15. Stacy Clairford Avatar
    Stacy Clairford

    Looks good. The quality is great.

  16. Leighton DaCosta Avatar
    Leighton DaCosta

    Pentax K1

  17. Bipin Gupta Avatar
    Bipin Gupta

    It is sad that a senior photographer like John should choose to miss out the best full frame camera on a budget – the Pentax K-1.
    I am told some DSLR manufacturers induce Photogs with “gifts” to ignore some other very popular brands. But I know Mr. Aldred is not one of them.
    I wish John came on record to explain why this wonderful piece of gear from Pentax was left out??

  18. Henry Block Avatar
    Henry Block

    The Pentax K-1 is easily the best sub-$2000 FF for landscape or portraiture. Astro photography? Slam dunk. Product photography? The pixel shift rocks. Landscape? Nothing can beat it. Sports? Probably not the best option since the continuous autofocus isn’t as good as it should be. Leaving out the K-1 tells me the author’s motives are suspect.

  19. JustChristoph Avatar
    JustChristoph

    Really? So the best choice full-frame camera is a Canon, a Canon, or what ought to be a great Sony camera ruined by the looks and ergonomics of a garden shed. Nothing biased about this article then.

  20. Deacon Blues Avatar
    Deacon Blues

    Talking about Full Frame on a budget and ignoring the Pentax K-1? Ludicrous.

  21. Roberto Avatar
    Roberto

    None of the above. Nikon D750.

  22. Mahinthan So Avatar
    Mahinthan So

    Problem with K1 is lenses.