Buying second-hand or used is a great way to save on cameras. Here’s our guide to second-hand, full-frame camera bargains.
If you’ve always wanted to use a full-frame camera but have been put off by the price, then you’re in luck! In this guide, we reveal the best best used and second-hand full-frame camera bargains on the market. Whether you want a DSLR or a mirrorless camera, these are the models that will give you incredible value for money, and a pro-like experience for a fraction of the price.
New versions of cameras come out pretty much every year or two, and the dirty little secret that a lot of manufacturers don’t like to acknowledge is that cameras have been very, very good for quite some time now. Unless you’re a professional looking to shoot the next Olympic Games, you really don’t need the latest cutting-edge autofocus and resolution technology from the likes of the Nikon Z8 or Canon EOS R3.
But that also doesn’t mean you have to settle for a smaller-sensor cameras – simply choose a second-hand model, and use the same cameras professionals were buying four or five years ago. You may or may not have noticed, but they were still capturing fantastic images then, too!
Why use full-frame at all?
The larger sensor size carries a number of advantages, and has been popular with professionals and high-end enthusiasts ever since the arrival of the Canon EOS 5D in 2005. A large full-frame sensor can give you greater dynamic range as the individual photosites that make up the pixels are generally larger than those found in smaller sensors. This means cleaner images with less noise, even at high ISOs, which means better low-light performance.
Full-frame sensors are also better for creating shallow depth of field in images, which is perfect for portraits. For a complete run-down of the advantages (and disadvantages) of full-frame see our full guide to full-frame vs APS-C.
How to find the best second-hand full-frame camera bargains
Buying second-hand is a great way to save yourself some cash, but it pays to do it right. Reputable second-hand dealers such as Park Cameras, Wex, Ffordes, LCE, CameraWorld, and MPB (or Adorama, B&H Photo Video, and MPB in the USA) will offer decent warranties on used gear, meaning that you’ve got some cover for any faults that develop in the camera.
We’ve included both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras on this list – some people prefer the rugged build and optical viewfinders of DSLRs, while others like the lightweight agility and super-fast focusing of mirrorless.
If you go for a DSLR, make sure you check the shutter actuation count, which should be listed on the dealer’s website. We would recommend you think carefully before getting a pro body with more than 50,000 shutter actuations, or a non-pro body with more than 20,000. For that, the price had better be really good.
We’ve taken a hard look at the best DSLR and mirrorless second-hand full-frame bargains you can find right now. These are all cameras we reviewed on first release, and many of them we have also returned to since, so everything on this list is something we can fully recommend.
Second-hand full-frame DSLR camera bargains
At a glance:
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 dramatically, with it now possible to pick-up a used camera body for roughly three times cheaper, depending on its condition and shutter count.
So what do you get for your money? 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 more recent Nikon D780 – it’s nonetheless a highly capable processor that facilitates a maximum continuous shooting speed of 6.5fps, 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.
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, twin SDXC (UHS-I) card slots, a 3-inch/1.2m-dot tilting rear LCD display and a large and bright pentaprism viewfinder that provides 100% coverage.
While it might be several years old now, 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 at the same resolution. 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.
You’ll also benefit from a wide-range of Nikon F-mount lenses.
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 release of the D780 also means that there should be good availability of Nikon D750s on the second-hand and used market as people 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 tank-like build quality, the Nikon D750 comes highly recommended and is certainly worth a very close look.
For more Nikon options, have a look at the best Nikon DSLRs.
Read our Nikon D750 Review
Cheapest full-frame DSLR: Canon EOS 5D
At a glance:
Released in 2005, Canon’s original EOS 5D is credited with being the first affordable full-frame DSLR to hit the market. While a brand new 5D body cost around $3,299 / £2,500 at the time of its launch, these days it’s possible to source a second-hand example in good condition for around 10x less or more!
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 2.5-inch/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.
To get the most out of the camera, you’ll most likely need to shoot at lower ISO speeds, or be prepared to process the raw files yourself. But if you’ve got the time to do this, it’s likely you’ll benefit from the latest raw processing technology found in new photo editing software.
Another nice thing about the Canon EOS 5D is that you can pair it with a 50mm prime lens, which can be found for bargain prices!
Read our second-hand classic: Canon EOS 5D feature
Cheapest full-frame Nikon DSLR: Nikon D700
At a glance:
Released in 2008, the Nikon D700 was essentially Nikon’s answer to the phenomenally popular Canon EOS 5D. Built around the same 12.1MP full-frame CMOS sensor used in the then-flagship Nikon D3 DSLR, 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 SD cards. Other than that, the D700 remains an exceptionally capable camera.
The Nikon D700 is rated as having a shutter-life of 150,000 actuations (or shots), so the smaller the shutter count on the camera you’re buying, the more potential it has for lasting longer. The camera has excellent build quality, and 1000 shot battery life making it a camera you can rely on. As with other old digital cameras, you’ll benefit from processing the raw files to get the best out of this camera, particularly if shooting at higher ISO speeds.
Read our second-hand classic: Nikon D700 feature
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
At a glance:
At the time of its release in 2012 a brand new 5D Mark III body would’ve set you back around $3,499 / £2,250 (body only). However, it’s now possible to find second-hand bodies in excellent condition with under 40K shutter actuations for around $750.
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. The camera gives impressive noise performance, with a vastly improved ISO range compared to the first 5D.
There are a wide range of Canon EF-mount lenses available, with budget options, all the way up to premium tilt-shift lenses. Canon’s L-series lenses are amongst some of the best Canon EF-mount lenses.
While Canon’s ground-breaking 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.
For more options have a look at the best Canon DSLRs.
Read our Canon EOS 5D Mark III Review
At a glance:
Released back in 2016, the Pentax 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 $1,799 / £1,999 in 2016 it’s now possible to pick up a second-hand K-1 body for roughly half that price depending on its general condition and shutter count. It’s also worth looking on eBay.
Have a look at lens options in our guide to the best Pentax K-mount lenses.
Read our Pentax K-1 Review
Best high-resolution full-frame DSLR: Canon EOS 5DS R
At a glance:
The Canon EOS 5DS R is among the most expensive of our full-frame bargains picks, but when you consider that it launched with an RRP of $3,899 / £3,200, that second-hand price of almost 3x less starts to look quite tasty.
Launched as a pair with the Canon EOS 5DS in 2015, the EOS 5DS R represented a new frontier of DSLR resolution, boasting a sensor with a whopping 50.6MP at its disposal. That’s still at the upper-end of full-frame resolutions today, and makes the EOS 5DS R a seriously tempting prospect for landscape photography.
Constructed to meet the needs of professional photographers, the Canon EOS 5DS R is built like a tank. It’s designed in every way to make the most of all that detail, with a spring-less mirror assembly that minimises vibrations (which really do matter at 50MP), a reinforced tripod mount, and a USB 3.0 connection for fast image transfer. For high-resolution photography, this is one of the savviest second-hand buys you can make.
As mentioned, the EOS 5DS R was launched in a pair with the EOS 5DS. The main difference between the two is that the EOS 5DS R cancels out the effect of its low-pass cancellation filter, enabling higher resolution at the cost of a slightly increased risk of moiré patterning occurring in images. If you see the EOS 5DS for a good price, it’s also well worth snapping up.
Read our Canon EOS 5DS R review
Second-hand full-frame mirrorless camera bargains
Sony Alpha A7R
At a glance:
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 nearly $5000/£5000, was almost triple the price of the A7R body-only launch price.
Fast-forward ten years and the A7 series is now in its fifth generation, with the latest A7R V model sporting a 61MP back-illuminated full-frame sensor, albeit at a cost of nearly $4000 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 some of the more recent models.
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.
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. It offers extremely good image quality for the price, and there is a wide-range of Sony E-mount lenses available.
Read our Sony Alpha 7R Review
Cheapest full-frame mirrorless camera: Sony Alpha A7
At a glance:
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 already covered within this round-up, the A7 was notable for being the first affordable full-frame mirrorless camera to hit the market.
The good news is that used Sony A7 cameras can easily be picked up for under $500 / £500 these days, although you may need to shop around as stock levels have dropped. 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, and the cheapest full-frame Sony.
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.
Worth noting is that the Sony A7 II and Sony A7R II introduced 5-axis in-body image stabilisation (IBIS), as well as improved handling, so this is something to be aware of, particularly if you have the budget to spend a bit more.
Read our Sony Alpha 7 Review
Canon EOS RP
At a glance:
The Canon RP is an entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera that’s designed to appeal to those looking to go full-frame on a budget. Released in 2019 with a body-only price of $1300 / £1,400, used RP bodies can now be picked up for almost half this in ‘excellent’ 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-mount mirrorless lenses, the RP was sold with an EF lens mount adapter in the box.
Read our Canon EOS RP Review
Best second-hand full-frame camera with IBIS: Sony Alpha A7 II
At a glance:
Seven years old but still a strong contender, this was the first full-frame mirrorless camera to feature 5-axis in-body image stabilisation – something that quickly became a must-have feature in mirrorless cameras. It also inherits the excellent OLED electronic viewfinder from the Alpha 7 and a redesigned handgrip and control layout enhances operation and handling.
The biggest drawbacks are the relatively loud shutter and the fiddly rear control wheel – so it’s maybe not the best choice if you photograph shy wildlife or go in for candid street photography. Otherwise, the the A7 II is a very solid performer, and benefits from the wide-range of Sony E-mount lenses.
Read our Sony Alpha 7 II Review
Want more choice? Check out our general guide to the best second-hand cameras, which includes APS-C models as well as full-frame, and we have a guide to how to build a complete second-hand system for under $1,000/£1,000. We also have some tips on how to get the best prices for used cameras and lenses.
Disclaimer: the prices and retailers of all the cameras mentioned in this article were chosen based on those who had stocks of the specific cameras at the exact time of writing this article. The availability of stocks and exactly who has certain cameras available will vary over time, so please don’t forget to check all the latest stockists and prices before making any camera purchase.
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