Which full-frame camera for travel?
4 compact but powerful cameras, Sony A7C, Canon R8, Nikon Z5 and Panasonic S5 II.
A full-frame camera does not seem ideal for the tourist, as APS-C or Micro 4/3 are more compact and lighter, therefore more practical on the move. However, new full-frame models have recently appeared which are just as compact and light while offering optimal image quality in all shooting conditions, especially in low light. Recent cameras are also equipped with a very powerful autofocus.
Thanks to the mega zooms that are available for most brands, you can go on an excursion or a trip with a single lens that will cover all the usual focal lengths. However for landscape or indoor shots you may need a wider angle of view, so a wide angle zoom will be better in this case.
A model of camera may be better suited to one type of shot than others. To save you from spending a significant amount of money on a camera + lens set that might not be ideal for your own use, here is a comparison that will give you the specifics of the four most popular cameras and tell you what they are best for.
From left to right (image generated by Camerasize.com):
- Sony A7C with Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 Di III RXD.
- Canon EOS R8 with Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS USM.
- Nikon Z5 with Nikon Nikkor Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR.
- Panasonic S5 II with Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 (no mega zoom exist in L mount).
These cameras can also use APS-C lenses for greater telephoto, and a wider choice of lenses, but this reduces the resolution to 10 megapixels. This also reduces the dynamic range.
|Sony A7C||Canon R8||Nikon Z5||Panasonic S5 II|
|Pixels (million)||24 MP||24 MP||24 MP||24 MP|
|Resolution in 3:2||6000x4000||6000x4000||6016x4016||6000x4000|
|Light sensitivity (ISO)||100-51200||100-102400||100-51200||100-51200|
|Number of focus points||693||1053||273||779|
|Autofocus||PDAF Human eye||PDAF Human eye||PDAF Human eye||PDAF Human/animal eye|
|Mechanical speed||1/4000 30s||1/4000 30s||1/8000 30s||1/8000 60s|
|Electronical speed||1/8000 30s||1/16000 30s||1/8000 30s||1/8000 60s|
|Burst mec./elec.||10 fps||6fps / 40 fps||4.5 fps||9 fps / 30 fps|
|Hi-Res (Pixel shift)||-||-||-||96 MP, 12000x8000|
|Still format||RAW, JPEG||RAW, C-RAW, JPEG, HEIF||RAW, JPEG||RAW, JPEG|
|IBIS||5 axis||-||5 axis||5 axis|
|Video||4K 30p, FHD 120p||4K 60p, FHD 180p||4K 30p, FHD 60p||6K 30p, 4K 30p, FHD 120p|
|Video time limit||13 hours||2 hours||30 mn||Unlimited|
|Microphone socket||3.5 stereo||3.5 stereo||3.5 stereo||3.5 stereo|
|Autonomy||715 images||370 images||470 images||370 images|
|Work in charge *||-||-||-||Yes|
|Connectors||USB-C, HDMI||USB-C, HDMI||USB-C, HDMI||USB-C, HDMI A|
|Viewfinder||2360 K, 0.6x||2360 K 0.7x||3690 K 0.8x||3680 K 0.78x|
|Screen, definition||921 K||1620 K||1040 K||1840 K|
|Stockage SD||UHS II||UHS II||2 x UHS II||2 x UHS II|
|Dimensions||124 x 71 x 53.5 mm||132.5 x 86 x 70||134 x 100.5 x 69.5||134 x 102 x 90|
|Weight with battery||509g||461g||675g||744g|
|Price body only||1500 €||1800 €||1200 €||2000 €|
|Kit lense||28-60mm f4-5.6||24-50mm f4.5-6.3 IS||24-50 f4-6.3||20-60 mm f3.5-5.6|
|Kit weight||680 g||670 g||870 g||1090 g|
|Kit cost||1800 €||2000 €||1500 €||2500 €|
|Mega-zoom / Zoom||Tamron 28-200 f2.8-5.6||Canon 24-240 f4-6.3 IS||Nikon 24-200 f4-6.3 VR||Lumix 24-105 f4 OIS|
|Zoom weight||575 g||750 g||570 g||680 g|
|Zoom cost||800 €||900 €||1000 €||950 €|
|Wide angle||Sony 20-70 f4||Canon RF 15-30 f4.5-6.3 IS||Nikon Z 14-30 f4||Lumix L 20-60 f3.5-5.6|
|Wide angle cost||1200 €||700 €||1300 €||400 €|
* Work in charge: You can film while the camera is charging via the USB cable.
Which one to choose?
Sony A7C, a modern look
This model abandons the look of old film cameras and will not make you seem anachronistic among other spectators using their smartphone to photograph or film an event. It's the most compact, not the lightest on its own, but it is with the mega zoom lens.
- The more compact.
- Great autonomy.
- Many lenses available from Sony, Tamron, Sigma, etc.
- Excellent kit lens or wide angle zoom. Tamron's mega zoom is also very popular.
- The viewfinder is tiny with a poor definition.
- Complicated menu.
- To activate autofocus tracking in video, you have to go through the menu. (For photos you can assign AF-C to a button.)
- The options are not separated between photo and video.
Canon R8, for action
Canon has reused the sensor and processor from its most popular professional model, the R6 II, in a compact and lightweight body, the lightest of the four, so a real benefit for travellers. With its excellent autofocus and burst speed, it offers what it takes to never miss a shot, in an affordable package. You would almost think that Canon wants to get you into the RF system so that they can sell you their expensive lenses afterwards ;)
- The autofocus recognizes people, animals, vehicles.
- Autofocus breath compensation. Prevents variations in the field of view when the autofocus motor adjusts the lenses.
- Burst speed and pre-shot so you don't miss the action.
- HDR without ghosting when the subject moves.
- Features a panorama mode.
- Also available as a kit with the 24-105mm f4-7.1 lens for a similar price.
- No stabilization in the body. However, the kits lenses are stabilized (unlike the kit lenses of the other cameras in this comparison).
- Low autonomy.
- The Canon 24-240mm lens is optically worse than Tamron's 28-200mm and Nikon's 24-200mm. But better than Sony's 24-240mm.
Nikon Z5, good ergonomy
The Z5 is designed with a concern for economy and uses components already used on reflex models, it shines only by its comfort of use. It is economical if you are satisfied with the kit lens, but the price of other lenses cancels this advantage. Is more photo oriented than video.
The images in RAW format are worth those of competitors but in JPEG are almost ridiculous.
- Particularly wide and precise viewfinder.
- Good ergonomics but Lumix S5 or S5 II are the best.
- Tilting screen more practical in photography, the articulated screen being better suited to video.
- The joystick allows you to move the focus without touching the screen.
- The 24-200mm is a great lens.
- 4K video cropped at 1.7x.
- Heavy rolling shutter in 4K.
- Slow burst. But with a buffer of 100 images.
- No digital zoom.
- Less good in low light because of its old sensor.
- Autofocus tracking is worse than competitors.
Panasonic Lumix S5 II, for video or dedicated photographer
The S5 II is the biggest and heaviest of the bunch, and heavier than the S5 model before it, so Panasonic isn't looking to reduce travellers' baggage. Nor to save their wallet unless one is satisfied with the wide-angle zoom, which is supplied as a kit.
It's not the best for travel unless you mainly want to shoot videos in which case it offers superior capabilities to the others.
My personal experience with the high-resolution mode: At 20mm images have the same definition as in 40mm, but with a wider angle. You need a tripod and the self-timer.
- Great video capabilities.
- Supports anamorphic lenses.
- Can work while charging by USB.
- Joystick to move focus point.
- Lot of buttons on the body. Perfect if you want to fully configure a shot.
- The kit lens has a wider focal range than competitors.
- Bulky and heavy compared to the three others.
- No super zoom. We will have to settle for the 24-105mm.