The Step to Full Frame: Reflex or EVIL?

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Some time ago we  compared SLR cameras with EVIL cameras or without a mirror . However, we focus on mid-range cameras, since full frames are “another world”. Today we are going to talk about that other world.

Full-frame or full-format cameras are high-end cameras, with significantly larger sensors than an APS-C or a micro 4/3 and usually with superior functionalities. Not so many years ago there was no doubt; jumping to full frame meant buying a high-end SLR. However, with the incursion of cameras without a mirror in the photographic market, we are currently faced with a serious question: Reflex or EVIL?

In this article we will try to compare them in general terms to discover what benefits we gain with each other, and finally we will see a few recommended cameras, from both sides. Do not miss it!

What Advantages does it give us to pass to Full Frame?

Take the jump to full frame is not a step that should be taken lightly. The full frame equipment is usually significantly more expensive than the APS-C or micro 4/3, but it is usually a superior equipment. That is why we are going to find many advantages such as:

  1. Higher resolution
  2. Greater sensitivity
  3. Better dynamic range
  4. Higher image quality
  5. Less depth of field  minimum
  6. Higher viewing angle
  7. Higher quality
  8. Better features and functionalities

However, full frames also have some disadvantages, which is always advisable to weigh before deciding to take the big step:

  1. Most expensive equipment
  2. Greater weight
  3. Greater angle of vision (can be a disadvantage in situations in which you look for a very long focal length)

What are the differences between an EVIL Camera and a Full Frame SLR?

The first thing that needs to be clarified at this point is that today there are already cameras without a full frame mirror able to match and even surpass many of the high-end SLR cameras . Although sometimes underestimated, the truth is that technology advances by leaps and bounds, and EVIL full frame cameras are undoubtedly a great option, both for amateur use and for professional use.

Although obviously each brand and each model has different functionalities, we will try to compare to general features the SLR cameras and the EVIL full frames in several of the most important and decisive aspects that we need to know at the time of opting for some or by others.

The Step to Full Frame: Reflex or EVIL?

0. Before Starting …

Before starting the comparison it is necessary to make some preliminary clarifications. It is not about seeing the comparison as a competition but as an analysis of the features offered by high-end full frame cameras.

  1. All the cameras that we are going to compare are great cameras, the differences between them are always going to be subtle. Therefore,  that a camera “loses” in one aspect does not mean that it is bad .
  2. EVIL full frame cameras are usually all of a higher range, so we can notice that reflex cameras have many more differences between models. SLR cameras, within the full frame, have a medium range and a higher range .
  3. Both the Sony A7R III and the Nikon D850 are high-end models that have just hit the market. This means that they have the most current technology and that is why it is normal to show superior performance to other models. It does not imply that these brands are better than the other brands , it has simply coincided that they have recently released a new model and that makes them look better in comparisons with other models that are already a couple of years old or more.

1. Resolution

The habit can lead us to think that an SLR camera will always give us a higher resolution and a higher image quality. And it may be that a few years ago this statement was real. However, the technology of EVIL cameras is evolving at breakneck speed, to the point that nowadays a quality EVIL camera can perfectly fulfill the same role as a SLR camera, and even be superior in some aspects.

If we talk about cameras with full frame sensor, both in SLR and EVIL we can find real gems that exceed 40 megapixels . At this point it should be noted the impressive 50.6 MP of the Canon EOS 5DS R.

So, SLR and EVIL offer us, in their higher ranges, cameras with sensors of an impressive quality and with huge resolutions. But if a large resolution is really important to you, the SLRs of the highest range stand out above the EVILs in this regard.

The Step to Full Frame: Reflex or EVIL?

2. Sensitivity

A larger sensor  usually implies greater sensitivity. Therefore, both SLR and EVIL cameras, by the mere fact of having a full format sensor, will normally have a higher sensitivity than other cameras with smaller sensors such as APS-C or micro 4/3 .

The Sony mirrorless are reputed to be very superior in terms of noise treatment at high ISOs. And the truth is that in average ranges are usually superior to most SLRs, only matched with some models of Nikon. However, at the top of the range, both Nikon and Sony are on par with noise treatment.

So we could say that in this aspect perhaps the EVIL are (very) slightly above , but not as much as sometimes you can think.

The Step to Full Frame: Reflex or EVIL?

3. Dynamic Range / Color Fidelity

In addition to the amount of noise that appears in our photography, the extra sensitivity provided by the full format sensor also gives us a great dynamic range and good color fidelity. This implies that with a full frame camera we will be able to gain more information in the highlights and in the shadows, as well as more information in all the tones of the image.

Although in low ISOs some SLRs equal and even exceed the dynamic range of the EVIL, in high ISOs the current EVILs are the winners .

The Step to Full Frame: Reflex or EVIL?

Source: DxOMark

4. Focus

The speed and precision of the approach is also essential when choosing which camera we buy. At this point we will focus only on the approach to photography, since after we will see a point referred exclusively to the video mode.

As you can see from the chart, Sony’s mirrorless win the assault in number of focus points . However, in practice  its accuracy is not as accurate as one might expect , despite having such a number of focus points Thus, it seems that Nikon SLRs are the ones that take the cat to the water in precision and speed of focus .

The Step to Full Frame: Reflex or EVIL?

5. Speed ​​of Shot / Burst

Another important aspect is the shooting speed offered by the cameras, that is, how many photographs per second are capable of reaching. It may be that not all types of photographs require great speed, but there are certainly types of photography that require a burst as fast as possible, such as sports photography or wildlife photography.

In intermediate ranges the reflexes are imposed in shooting speed, but undoubtedly in the high ranges the EVIL win by a landslide . Here we must highlight the impressive 20 fps offered by the Sony Alpha a9 , since it is its strongest point.

The Step to Full Frame: Reflex or EVIL?

6. Video Mode

Video mode is becoming increasingly important in the world of cameras.

In this field it seems that the EVIL have put the batteries , and many of them offer the most interesting features:

  • 4K recording without clipping at 30 fps
  • Slowmotion at 120 fps in 1080p
  • Stabilization system of 3, 4 and up to 5 axes
  • Fast and accurate tracking autofocus

Although there are also SLRs with 4K video recording and great image quality, the truth is that most do not usually include as many useful features for video as EVIL . Even some without mirror APS-C and micro 4/3 have video features superior to some full frame SLRs.

In addition, the vast majority of SLRs do not match the focus tracking or stabilization offered by many cameras without a mirror for video. It should be mentioned as an exception, however, that the focus tracking of the Nikon D850 is even superior to that of the Sony A7R III .

So we could say that, in general, this assault is won by the EVIL.

The Step to Full Frame: Reflex or EVIL?

7. Viewer

The viewfinders of a SLR camera and an EVIL camera are quite different. While the reflex viewfinder is optical, that of the EVIL is electronic.

Although today electronic viewfinders offer a very good quality, it can be difficult to get used to them, especially if we have been using optical viewfinders for many years. Even so, it is not a drama either, you just have to adjust your eye to it.

The advantage of electronic viewfinders is that, being a small screen, they can show us much more information than that shown by an optical viewfinder. Of course, because it is a screen constantly on, we will also spend more battery. But we will talk about this in the next point.

Thus, at this point there are no “winners” or “losers”, since the electronic and optical viewers are simply different .

8. Autonomy

As I was saying, the EVIL cameras always have a screen on. When it is not the LCD screen is the electronic viewfinder screen. For this reason, its autonomy is usually lower than that of a reflex camera.

So, as can be seen in the table,  in terms of autonomy the SLR are by far the winners . Of course, as long as we do not use the live view in excess, of course.

It should be noted, however, that this problem is easily solved by buying a pair of extra batteries to change them or to use them with a grip.

The Step to Full Frame: Reflex or EVIL?

9. Ergonomics / Portability

This point is quite obvious but even so it is necessary to comment on it. One of the big differences between SLR and mirrorless is the size and weight of the equipment. And in full frame cameras it is still more patent, since the full frame reflexes are usually even bigger and heavier than the APS-C.

Although full frame EVILs are somewhat larger than APS-C or micro 4/3, they are still much smaller and lighter than a SLR of the same range, and even lower ranges. This will be ideal to be able to carry them always without worrying about the weight, or to be able to travel with them without occupying too much space.

However, its small size is detrimental to its ergonomics. A SLR camera, precisely because it is bigger, will be more comfortable to hold, it will have a more secure grip, and the buttons and dials will be better distributed. Especially if you have large hands, it may seem uncomfortable to drive an EVIL, at least at first, until you get used to its size.

So, as was obvious, in portability the EVILs win but in ergonomics the SLRs win . It should be noted that with a grip we can always get a more comfortable grip, but obviously we will also add weight to the team.

10. Objectives

The quality of the objectives will also determine, and much, the final quality of our photographs. The high-end full frame lenses are, in general, much better than those of APS-C and micro 4/3.

Both the full frame lens for SLR and the objectives for EVIL have a very high quality, both in their construction and in the lenses they use. Therefore, at this point what we are going to analyze rather is the variety of objectives.

While it is true that over the years EVIL cameras have been acquiring a wide range of lenses, reflex cameras, probably due to the fact that they have been on the market for many more years, have a wider range . Specifically, SLR cameras have 3 notable advantages in this regard:

  • Greater variety of goals of your own brand
  • Availability of secondary brand objectives (such as Tokina, Tamron, Sigma or Yongnuo, for example)
  • Increased offer of second-hand lenses

It should be noted, however, that there are adapter rings to be able to fit some SLR lenses in the cameras without a mirror.

The Step to Full Frame: Reflex or EVIL?

 Sources of the comparatives: Dpreview ,  DxOMark ,  Techradar 


As you can see, both SLR and EVIL full frame cameras have impressive features and functionality. The differences between them are minimal, and in the end the decision to choose one or the other depends basically on what you are going to dedicate. You will have to ask yourself which features are the ones that most interest you according to the type of photography that you usually do , in order to choose which type of camera fits you best with it.

The EVIL cameras seem to excel in the higher ranges, but in general, in the intermediate ranges both types of camera and all brands, respond in a similar way. Remember that the differences we are seeing are very subtle , and that all the cameras we have been seeing are incredible machines, all of them. Do not worry about whether one is better than another, because with any of them you will get impressive results. Remember that, after all, the most important thing will not be the camera but who is behind it .

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