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.
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
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.
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.
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.