Tempted to buy a full-frame camera, but put off by the price? Audley Jarvis identifies some of the best full-frame offerings in today's used market

At the turn of the millennium full-frame digital cameras were considered extremely niche with the choice of available models limited to a handful of Canon, Contax and Kodak DSLRs. On top of this, the exorbitant costs involved marked them out as the sole preserve of professionals and well-heeled enthusiasts. But, as with all technological progress, that quickly began to change. The release of the Canon EOS 5D in 2005 marked a decisive shift towards full-frame DSLRs becoming more affordable, with other manufacturers soon following Canon’s lead.

These days, full-frame digital cameras don’t just come in DSLR form, there are now plenty of mirrorless and even compact full-frame cameras to tempt you out of your hard-earned cash. That said you can still expect to spend upwards of £1,000 on a new full-frame camera body. Unless, of course, you’re prepared to consider going down the second-hand route.

Second-hand full-frame camera bargains

Buying second-hand is a sure re way to save yourself a pile of cash, especially if you’re prepared to compromise a little by buying an older model. Sure, your chosen camera might not come with all the latest features and technology, but as long as all the basic photography tools are present, and image quality isn’t compromised, then you can easily save yourself a fortune. By way of an example, the Canon EOS 6D cost £1,399 body-only when it was released in 2012 but used examples in good condition can now be picked up for just £439. Okay, so you won’t have the latest model, however the savings you make could go towards a tripod or a couple of lenses.

While buying second-hand does involve a fair bit of research and patience, we’ve taken a good hard look at the websites and current stock of the most reputable second-hand camera equipment specialists in the UK in order to see what kind of savings are on offer. We’ve identified some of the best DSLR and mirrorless second-hand full-frame bargains you might want to consider.


Second-hand full-frame DSLR Camera bargains

Nikon D750

Nikon D750

  • £764 excellent condition, 22k shutter count (MPB.com)
  • Sensor 24.3MP full-frame CMOS
  • Sensitivity ISO 100-12,800 (ISO 50-51,200 extended)
  • Continuous shooting 6.5fps
  • Video 1080p Full HD at 60fps
  • Rear display Tiltable 3.2in/1.2m-dot LCD
  • Viewfinder Pentaprism, 100% coverage at 0.7x

Released towards the end of 2014, the Nikon D750 is a solidly built and highly customisable full-frame DSLR aimed at the enthusiast and semi-pro market. At the time of its launch a new D750 body would’ve set you back £1,800, a figure that has since fallen to around £1,180. However, it’s also possible to pick up a second-hand D750 body for between £500 and £800, depending on its condition and shutter count. At the time of writing, second-hand camera specialist MPB.com offered a great selection of used D750 bodies on its website, ranging from £514 for a ‘well used’ example with a shutter count of 65-140k, to £764 for a model in ‘excellent’ condition with a shutter count below 23,000 actuations.

So what do you get for your money? Well, the D750 is built around a 24.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor and a Nikon Expeed 4 image processor. While this chip isn’t as powerful as the Expeed 6 used in the D750’s successor – the recently announced D780 – it’s nonetheless a highly capable processor that facilitates a maximum continuous shooting speed of 6.5fps alongside a native sensitivity range of ISO 100- 12,800 plus expanded settings up to the equivalent of ISO 51,200. Movie capture, meanwhile, extends to a maximum of 1080p Full HD at 60fps with external microphone and headphone inputs provided for enhanced audio capture and real-time monitoring.

Nikon D750 sample image

An example of a JPEG image straight out of camera. Nikon D750, Nikkor AF-S 16-35mm f/4 G ED VR, 1/800sec at f/4, ISO 100. Credit: Michael Topham

Autofocus through the D750’s optical viewfinder is taken care of via Nikon’s Multi-CAM 3500 II phase-detection module. This provides 51 individual AF points in the centre of the viewfinder. While coverage doesn’t extend to the boundaries of the frame, performance is nonetheless speedy and accurate with the 3D tracking mode exceptionally good at capturing moving subjects. Switching to live view, the D750 employs on-sensor contrast-detect AF with coverage across the entire frame. Performance is again relatively speedy, although not quite as fast as many mirrorless cameras – or indeed those Canon DSLRs equipped with Dual Pixel AF technology. Elsewhere, the D750 also comes equipped with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity for use with Nikon’s free WMU app for iOS and Android, twin SDXC (UHS-1) card slots, a 3in/1.2m-dot tilting rear LCD display and a large and bright pentaprism viewfinder that provides 100% coverage.

While it might be five years old, image quality from the D750 remains nothing short of excellent. Indeed, while more modern Nikon DSLRs might provide greater speed and performance benefits, you’ll be hard pressed to see any great difference in critical image quality. In addition to 12-bit and 14-bit uncompressed raw capture, the D750 provides a generous array of JPEG image processing tools and picture control modes that can be employed to get the look you want straight from camera.

Build quality

In terms of build quality the D750 is fully weather-sealed and also benefits from magnesium alloy construction. This provides excellent protection from everyday knocks, while giving the camera a very professional feel in the hand. Buttons are well spaced and clearly labelled, and for anyone coming from another Nikon DSLR the layout should feel instantly familiar.

While the Nikon D750 might be starting to show its age a bit – especially when compared directly to the D780 – it nonetheless remains an excellent DSLR for both enthusiasts looking to go full-frame on a budget, as well as seasoned pros looking for a solid backup body. The recent release of the D780 also means that a glut of used D750s is likely to hit the second-hand market over the coming months as those with deep enough pockets look to upgrade. If you’re in the market for a second-hand full-frame DSLR that’s capable of delivering fantastic image quality, alongside extensive customisation options and tanklike build quality, the Nikon D750 comes highly recommended and is certainly worth a much closer look.


Also consider under £500

Canon EOS 5D

Canon EOS 5D

  • £254 good condition, shutter count unavailable (MPB.com)
  • Sensor 12.8MP CMOS full-frame
  • Sensitivity ISO 100-1600 (ISO 50-3200 extended)
  • Continuous shooting 3fps (17 frame raw buffer depth)
  • Video Not available
  • Rear display 2.5in, 230k-dot fixed LCD screen
  • Viewfinder Pentaprism, 96% coverage at 0.71x

Released in 2005, Canon’s original 5D is credited with being the first affordable full-frame DSLR to hit the market. While a brand new 5D body cost around £2,500 at the time of its launch, these days it’s possible to source a second-hand example in good condition for around £250. Given its age it should come as no great surprise to find that many of the 5D’s core specs – such as its nine-point AF module and 2.5in/233k- dot LCD display – look fairly out-of-date by modern DSLR standards. That said, the 5D’s 12.8MP sensor is still capable of great image quality in the right hands.


Nikon D700

Nikon D700

  • £385 excellent condition, 86k shutter count (graysofwestminster.com)
  • Sensor 12.1MP full-frame CMOS
  • Sensitivity ISO 200-6400 (ISO 100-25,600 extended)
  • Continuous shooting 5fps (8fps with MB-D10 battery pack)
  • Video Not available
  • Rear display 3in/921k-dot LCD
  • Viewfinder Pentaprism, 95% coverage at 0.72x

Released in 2008, the D700 was essentially Nikon’s answer to the phenomenally popular Canon 5D. Built around the same 12.1MP full-frame CMOS sensor used in the then-flagship Nikon D3, the D700 further benefits from a 51-point AF system, a pop-up flash that can be used as a commander off-camera Creative Lighting System, and weather-sealed magnesium alloy construction. Two things to note are that the D700 doesn’t provide any video recording functionality, and only comes with a single CF-type card slot, which means it cannot take regular SDXC cards. Other than that, the D700 remains an exceptionally capable camera.


Also consider under £1000

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

  • £799 good condition, 38k shutter count (MPB.com)
  • Sensor 22.3MP full-frame CMOS
  • Sensitivity 100-25,600 (ISO 50-102,800 extended)
  • Continuous shooting 6fps
  • Video 1080p Full HD at 60fps
  • Rear display 3.2in/1.040m-dots
  • Viewfinder Pentaprism, 100% coverage at 0.71x

At the time of its release in 2012 a brand new 5D Mark III body would’ve set you back around £2,250. However, it’s now possible to find second-hand bodies in good condition with under 70k shutter actuations for around £799. Built around a 22.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor and Canon’s DIGIC 5+ image processor, the 5D Mark III is a highly versatile DSLR that provides an advanced feature set and plenty of customisation options. While Canon’s groundbreaking Dual Pixel AF technology wasn’t introduced to the 5D range until the 5D Mark IV, the 5D Mark III nonetheless inherits a range of high-end specs from the EOS 1D X, including a 61-point AF system alongside customisable tracking options.


Pentax K-1

Pentax K-1

  • £799 good condition, 91k shutter count (parkcameras.com)
  • Sensor 36.4MP full-frame CMOS
  • Sensitivity ISO 100-204,800
  • Continuous shooting 4.4fps
  • Video 1080p Full HD at 30fps
  • Rear display Tiltable 3.2in/1.037m-dots
  • Viewfinder Pentaprism, 100% coverage at 0.7x

Released in 2016, the K-1 is a professional- grade full-frame DSLR that’s built around a 36.4MP CMOS sensor. While the K-1’s low-pass filter has been removed for additional sharpness, the camera is equipped with an anti-aliasing filter simulator to guard against the unsightly effects of moiré. Elsewhere the K-1 also benefits from Pentax’s Pixel Shift technology that’s designed to improve the resolving power of the sensor, along with built-in Shake Reduction image stabilisation technology. Launched with a body-only price of £1,999 in 2016 it’s now possible to pick up a second-hand K-1 body for between £800 and £1,300 depending on its general condition and shutter count. It’s also worth looking on eBay.


Second-hand full-frame Mirrorless Camera bargains

Sony Alpha 7R

Sony Alpha 7R

  • £639 good condition, shutter count unavailable (MPB.com)
  • Sensor 36.4MP full-frame CMOS
  • Sensitivity ISO 50-25,600
  • Continuous shooting 4fps
  • Video 1080p Full HD at 60fps
  • Rear display Tiltable 3in, 921k-dot LCD
  • Viewfinder 2.35m-dot EVF

In much the same way that the original Canon 5D brought full-frame DSLR technology into the realm of relative affordability, the Sony A7 and A7R performed much the same feat for full-frame mirrorless cameras. Indeed, at the time of their release in 2013 the only similarly small full-frame option on the market was the Leica M9, which at £4,850 was almost triple the price of the A7R’s £1,700 body-only launch price.

Fast-forward seven years and the A7 series is now in its fourth generation, with the latest A7R IV model sporting a 61MP back-illuminated full-frame sensor, albeit at a cost of £3,500 body-only. For those looking to reap the benefits of Sony’s A7 series without breaking the bank, the original A7R can now be picked up very cheaply second-hand. Just be aware that you might need to show a bit of patience in order to secure a good example as the first-generation A7R doesn’t tend to crop up on the second-hand market quite as much as more recent A7R models do.

At the time of writing MPB.com had four A7Rs in stock ranging from £639 for one in ‘good’ condition to £739 for one in ‘like new’ condition, while wexphotovideo.com had one with just 9,000 shutter actuations for £625. As we’ve said, expect to do a bit of shopping around and be ready to pounce when you find the right one.

Sony A7R sample image

The A7R has proven popular with landscape photographers wanting a high resolution output. Credit: James Abbott

While the 24.3MP A7 was positioned as an enthusiast-grade all-rounder, the A7R comes equipped with a 36.4MP sensor, marking it out as an ideal choice for those prioritising resolution. In keeping with this, the A7R does without a low-pass filter in order to enhance the resolution of fine detail. The A7R’s 36.4MP full-frame CMOS sensor is paired with a Sony BIONZ X image processor that facilitates a sensitivity range of ISO 100-25,600 (expandable to ISO 50) and a maximum continuous shooting speed of 4fps.

Unlike the standard A7 with its hybrid (phase and contrast detect) AF module, the A7R’s 25-point AF system employs only contrast detect technology to ascertain focus. As a result it’s a little slower than its A7 sibling. That said, the A7R isn’t really designed to be an action or sports camera and all but the most demanding users should find its AF performance perfectly speedy in all but the dimmest of conditions, where most other cameras that rely solely on contrast-detect tend to struggle too. While the ability to record 4K movies wasn’t introduced until the A7R Mark II, the A7R does provide 1080p Full HD video capture at up to 60fps and also sports microphone and headphone jacks on the side. In terms of connectivity the camera supports Wi-Fi and NFC for wireless image transfer duties to a compatible smartphone or tablet.

Build quality

Constructed from magnesium alloy, the A7R feels solidly built in the hand and is designed to be resistant to dust and moisture. That said, its plastic port covers at the side are a bit flimsy and have since been improved on the A7R IV. Image quality from the A7R remains very good even by today’s standards, especially when the camera is used at lower sensitivity settings. While some noise does begin to creep into images at ISO 800, the camera generally does a very good job of keeping the unwanted side-effects of noise at bay. Dynamic range, while not quite on a par with the A7, is also impressive given the camera’s high-resolution sensor, while automatic white balance can be relied upon to deliver consistently true-to-life colour. For those looking to make large prints rich in fine detail the A7R’s overall image quality is unlikely to disappoint. It offers extremely good image quality for the price.


Also consider under £500

Sony Alpha 7

Sony Alpha 7

  • £444 excellent condition, shutter count unavailable (MPB.com)
  • Sensor 24.3MP full-frame CMOS
  • Sensitivity ISO 100-25,600 (ISO 50 expanded)
  • Continuous shooting 5fps
  • Video 1080p Full HD at 60fps
  • Rear display 3in/1.22m-dot LCD
  • Viewfinder 2.4m-dot EVF

Sony has long offered three distinct models within its Alpha 7 range, each of which caters to a slightly different target audience. Whereas A7R models are designed for maximum resolution and A7S models prioritise video and low-light shooting performance, the regular A7 has always been about providing an all-round package. Released in 2013 alongside the A7R that we’ve also covered within this round-up, the A7 was notable for being the first affordable full-frame mirrorless camera to hit the market. That said, with a body-only launch price of £1,299 the A7 wasn’t exactly cheap. The good news is that used Sony A7’s can easily be picked up for under £500 these days. Indeed, at the time of writing, MPB had over 30 examples in stock, ranging from £314 for one in ‘well used’ condition to £464 for one in ‘like new’ condition.

While subsequent models in the A7 range have undoubtedly added useful new features and come equipped with more up-to-date hardware, the A7 remains an extremely capable camera. Built around a 24.3MP full-frame sensor and Sony’s BIONZ X processor, the A7 further benefits from hybrid AF technology that combines 117 on-sensor phase- detection pixels with a further 25 contrast-detect points for frame-wide coverage.


Also consider under £1,000

Canon EOS RP

Canon EOS RP

  • £944 like new condition, shutter count unavailable (MPB.com)
  • Sensor 26.2MP CMOS
  • Sensitivity ISO 100-40,000 (ISO 50-102,400 extended)
  • Continuous shooting 5fps
  • Video 4K at 25fps
  • Rear display Vari-angle 3in/1.04m-dot LCD touchscreen
  • Viewfinder 2.36m-dot EVF

The Canon RP is an entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera designed to appeal to those looking to go full-frame on a budget. Released only last year with a body-only price of £1,400, used RP bodies can now be picked up for well under £1,000, mostly in ‘like new’ condition. For the money, you’re getting a super compact full-frame camera that’s actually lighter than Canon’s 800D APS-C DSLR. While controls and features have been stripped back in order to increase the RP’s appeal to novice users, the camera does come with Canon’s Dual Pixel AF technology and 4K video recording abilities – albeit at a rather limiting 25fps. Designed to be used with RF mirrorless lenses, the RP is sold with an EF lens mount adapter in the box.


Sony RX1

Sony RX1

  • £939 excellent condition, shutter count unavailable (parkcameras.com)
  • Sensor 24.3MP full-frame CMOS
  • Sensitivity ISO 100-25,600 (ISO 50-102,400 extended)
  • Continuous shooting 5fps
  • Video 1080p Full HD at 60fps
  • Rear display Fixed 3in/1.23m- dot LCD
  • Viewfinder None

As the world’s first compact digital camera to come with a full-frame sensor the RX1 caused quite a stir when it arrived in 2012. While the RX1 initially came with an eye-watering price tag of £2,599 it’s now possible to pick up a second-hand example for under £950. That said, you might need to shop around a bit as used RX1s can be rarer than hen’s teeth. Equipped with a fixed 35mm f/2 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* lens, the RX1 delivers impressively sharp results and is particularly well suited to street photography. It also features a dedicated aperture ring, near-silent leaf shutter and extremely robust build quality.