Full-frame Mirrorless Camera (What Are The Full-frame MILC)

Lets talk about full-frame mirrorless cameras. Did you know that the first full-frame mirrorless camera was introduced by Sony back in October 2013? Yes that’s right, with the launching of Sony’s two models the ILCE-7 (also known as Sony Alpha α7) and ILCE-7R (a.k.a Sony Alpha α7R).

To this date four major producers of mirrorless cameras have ventured into full-frame system led by Sony, Nikon, Canon and Panasonic (disclaimer: I will only be focusing my article to these 4 major manufacturers of mirrorless camera, although Leica has had collaboration with Panasonic)!

As I am prepping myself to owning a full-frame mirrorless camera in the near foreseeable future hence, I’ve decided to write this article.

Join me in discovering the whole story about full-frame mirrorless camera. Lets get rollin’!


Table of Contents show

Lets Go Back and Find Out The History

Lets find out when did Sony, Nikon, Canon and Panasonic started to produce full-frame mirrorless cameras. Where are they now in their development and we’ll try to excavate any news about full-frame system’s future.

Will be also touching on the latest about the full-frame lenses. Particularly the rumored native super telephoto lens for Nikon Z mount that intruiges my brother who has the Nikon Z50 mirrorless camera!

Note that I will only highlight the key features of the models that were first launched. Then identify their successors, how many of them and the date launched. A separate article detailing all the features and specifications of each models will be created later.


Sony Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera Chronicles

Sony announced the first ever full-frame mirrorless camera in October 2013. The ILCE-7 featuring 24.3MP and ILCE-7R 36.4MP CMOS image senor was the very first full-frame mirrorless camera to hit the market.

To this date the α7 full-frame series have four versions, they are α7, α7R, α7S, α7C and Sony unveiled new addition in 2017 the Sony α9.

Sony’s new flagship full-frame mirrorless camera the Sony Alpha α1 was announced in Jan. 2021 and released in Mar. 2021 that is targeted for professionals.

1. Sony Alpha α7 (Year announced: Oct. 2013)

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 24.3MP
  • Lens mount: E mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: Sony E mount lenses
  • Sensor: Full-frame Xmor CMOS sensor
  • Image processor: BIONZ X engine
  • ISO: 100-25600 (can be expanded to 50-51200)
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Monitor type: 3.0″ TFT LCD (tilting, not touchscreen)
  • Video: up to Full HD
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi / NFC
  • Battery life: 270 shots (viewfinder) / 340 shots (LCD rear screen)

2. Sony Alpha α7R (Year announced: Oct. 2013)

“R” stands for Resolution, emphasizes on higher resolution for better image quality.

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 36.4MP
  • Lens mount: E mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: Sony E mount lenses
  • Sensor: Full-frame Xmor CMOS sensor
  • Image processor: BIONZ X engine
  • ISO: 100-25600 (can be expanded to 50-51200)
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Monitor type: 3.0″ TFT LCD (tilting, not touchscreen)
  • Video: up to Full HD
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi / NFC
  • Battery life: 270 shots (viewfinder) / 340 shots (LCD rear screen)

3. Sony Alpha α7S (Year announced: Apr. 2014)

“S” stands for Sensitivity, emphasizes on the high ISO to perform better at low light condition.

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 12.2MP
  • Lens mount: E mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: Sony E mount lenses
  • Sensor: Full-frame Xmor CMOS sensor
  • Image processor: BIONZ X engine
  • ISO: 100-102400 (can be expanded to 50-409600)
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Monitor type: 3.0″ TFT LCD (tilting, not touchscreen)
  • Video output: up to 4K
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi / NFC
  • Battery life: 320 shots (viewfinder) / 380 shots (LCD rear screen)

4. Sony Alpha α7C (Year announced: Sep. 2020)

“C” stands for Compact, by far this is the smallest and lightest full-frame mirrorless camera of Sony.

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 24.2MP
  • Lens mount: E mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: Sony E mount lenses
  • Sensor: Full-frame Xmor R CMOS sensor
  • Image processor: BIONZ X engine
  • ISO: 100-51200 (can be expanded to 50-204800)
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Monitor type: 3.0″ TFT LCD (vari-angle, touchscreen)
  • Video output: up to 4K
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth ver.4.1
  • Battery life: 680 shots (viewfinder) / 740 shots (LCD rear screen)

5. Sony Alpha α9 (Year announced: Apr. 2017)

This was Sony’s full-frame flagship mirrorless camera in 2017 targeted for fast action setting like sports, wedding, etc. Sony α9 boasts continuous shooting mode up to 20fps. Also it comes with the full-frame stacked CMOS sensor design for the fast readout and better overall performance . Sony made available firmware ver.5 update in Jul. 2019 aimed to improve the auto-focus system.

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 24.2MP
  • Lens mount: E mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: Sony E mount lenses
  • Sensor: Full-frame Xmor RS CMOS sensor
  • Image processor: BIONZ X engine
  • ISO: 100-51200 (can be expanded to 50-204800)
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Monitor type: 3.0″ TFT LCD (tilting, touchscreen)
  • Video output: up to 4K
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi. NFC, Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 480 shots (viewfinder) / 650 shots (LCD rear screen)

6. Sony Alpha α1 (Year announced: Jan. 2021)

Announced in January and released in March 2021. Sony Alpha α1 is the new flagship model targeted for Professionals.

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 50MP
  • Lens mount: E mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: Sony E mount lenses
  • Sensor: Full-frame Exmor RS CMOS sensor (Stacked sensor)
  • Image processor: BIONZ XR engine
  • ISO: 100-32000 (can be expanded to 50-102400)
  • Viewfinder: OLED (Blackout Free)
  • Monitor type: 3.0″ TFT LCD (tilting, touchscreen)
  • Video output: up to 8K
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 430 shots (viewfinder) / 530 shots (LCD rear screen)

Latest Updates on α7 and α9 Family After The First Launching

1. Sony Alpha α7 successors

  • Sony Alpha α7 II announced in Nov. 2014
  • Sony Alpha α7 III announced in Feb. 2018

2. Sony Alpha α7R successors

  • Sony Alpha α7R II announced in Jun. 2015
  • Sony Alpha α7R III announced in Oct. 2017
  • Sony Alpha α7R IV announced in Jul. 2019

3. Sony Alpha α7S successors

  • Sony Alpha α7S II announced in Sept. 2015

4. Sony Alpha α7C successors

  • To this date there’s no upgraded version for α7C.

5. Sony Alpha α9 successors

  • Sony Alpha α9 II anounced Oct. 2019 and released in Nov. 2019

6. Sony Alpha α1 successors

  • To this date there’s no upgraded version for α1.

Latest Rumors

1. The lastest buzz on Sony’s rumored new mirrorless camera α7R V is that it will be delayed significantly due to IC shortage. According to rumor it could be around second-half of 2022!

2. According to Sony Alpha Rumors, α7C II could’ve been announced one year after α7R IV was released, which they’ve expected to be around Sept 2021. Why it was not released yet? Is it because α7C did not sell well? or could it be the IC shortage problem? Let’s wait and see how’s α7C II gonna end up.

3. Sony α9 III is new mirrorless camera that’s expected to compete with Canon R5. According to the latest rumor it could be available around second-half of 2022 due to IC shortage. The same reason why α7R V will be delayed.


Nikon Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera Chronicles

Nikon announced two mirrorless full-frame cameras under Z mount system Aug. 2018. The Nikon Z7 and Nikon Z6 hit the shelves together in Nov. 2018. It’s quite unsual to note that entry level version Nikon Z5 was announced more than a year later in Jul. 2020 after the more expensive Z7 and Z6 were released in Nov. 2018.

To this date Nikon Z full-frame series have four versions. They are Nikon Z6, Nikon Z7, Nikon Z5 and the rumored launching dates of Nikon Z9.

Note: Please don't get confused about Nikon Z50 and Nikon Z fc. They belong to Nikon Z APS-C system mirrorless camera!

1. Nikon Z6 (Year announced: Aug. 2018)

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 24.5MP
  • Lens mount: Nikon Z mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: NIKKOR Z lenses, F-mount NIKKOR lenses via Nikon lens adapter FTZ
  • Sensor: Full-frame Stacked CMOS sensor
  • Image processor: EXPEED 6 image-processing engine
  • ISO: 100-51200 steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV (can be expanded to 50)
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Monitor type: 3.2″ TFT LCD (tilting, touchscreen)
  • Video output: up to 4K
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, SnapBridge
  • Battery life: 310 shots (CIPA)

2. Nikon Z7 (Year announced: Aug. 2018)

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 45.7MP
  • Lens mount: Nikon Z mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: NIKKOR Z lenses, F-mount NIKKOR lenses via Nikon lens adapter FTZ
  • Sensor: Full-frame Stacked CMOS sensor
  • Image processor: EXPEED 6 image-processing engine
  • ISO: 64-25600 steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV (can be expanded to 32-102400)
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Monitor type: 3.2″ TFT LCD (tilting, touchscreen)
  • Video output: up to 4K
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, SnapBridge
  • Battery life: 330 shots (CIPA)

3. Nikon Z5 (Year announced: Jul. 2020)

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 24.3MP
  • Lens mount: Nikon Z mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: NIKKOR Z lenses, F-mount NIKKOR lenses via Nikon lens adapter FTZ
  • Sensor: Full-frame Stacked CMOS sensor
  • Image processor: EXPEED 6 image-processing engine
  • ISO: 100-51200 steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV (can be expanded to 50-102400)
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Monitor type: 3.2″ TFT LCD (tilting, touchscreen)
  • Video output: up to 4K
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, SnapBridge
  • Battery life: 390 shots (viewfinder) / 470 shots (rear LCD)

4. Nikon Z9 (Year announced: Oct. 2021)

This is Nikon’s new flagship model with PRO body stacked with high-end specs. Expected release date in Dec. 2021! Billed by Nikon as the UNSTOPPABLE with the BEST, FAST and FIRST in the world features.

  • Effective pixel: 45.7MP
  • Lens mount: Nikon Z mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: NIKKOR Z lenses, F-mount NIKKOR lenses via Nikon lens adapter FTZ
  • Sensor: Full-frame Stacked CMOS sensor
  • Image processor: EXPEED 7 image-processing engine
  • ISO: 64-25600 steps of 1/3 or 1 EV (can be expanded to 32-102400)
  • Viewfinder: OLED (Real-time Blackout Free)
  • Monitor type: 3.2″ TFT LCD (tilting, touchscreen)
  • Video output: up to 8K
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, SnapBridge
  • Battery life: 740 shots (CIPA)

Latest Updates on Nikon Z Full-frame After The First Launching

1. Nikon Z6 successor

  • Nikon Z6 II announced in Oct. 2020

2. Nikon Z7 successor

  • Nikon Z7 II announced in Oct. 2020 alongside Nikon Z 6 II

3. Nikon Z5 successor

  • To this date there’s no upgraded version for Nikon Z5.

4. Nikon Z9 successor

  • This is just a recently launched and a flagship model in 2021.

Latest Rumors

1. Nikon Z9 was announced on October 28 this year. According to Nikon Rumors the launching date in Japan is expected to push through on Dec. 24, 2021 while US released date is expected on Dec. 15, 2021!

2. Nikon announces development of NIKKOR Z 800mm f/6.3 VR S lens on Dec. 14, 2021 (during the launching of its new full-frame lens for Z mount NIKKOR Z 28-75mm f/2.8). No other specific data on specs and or price is available at the moment.

3. Newly announced super telephoto full-frame lens for Z mount NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S will hit the road onto the shelves on Dec. 16, 2021


Canon Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera Chronicles

Canon’s flagship and first full-frame mirrorless camera Canon EOS R was announced in Oct. 2018. To this day there are five versions in EOS R series, namely: EOS R, EOS RP, EOS R5, EOS R6, EOS R3

1. Canon EOS R (Year announced: Oct. 2018)

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 30.3MP
  • Lens mount: Canon RF mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: RF lenses (Compatible with EF & EF-S lenses when using optional Mount Adapter EF-EOS R)
  • Sensor: Full-frame CMOS sensor
  • Image processor: DIGIC8 image-processing engine
  • ISO: 100-40000 (can be expanded to 50-102400)
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Monitor type: 3.2″ TFT LCD (vari-angle, touchscreen)
  • Video output: up to 4K
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 370 (CIPA)

2. Canon EOS RP (Year announced: Feb. 2019)

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 26.2MP
  • Lens mount: Canon RF mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: RF lenses (Compatible with EF & EF-S lenses when using optional Mount Adapter EF-EOS R)
  • Sensor: Full-frame CMOS sensor
  • Image processor: DIGIC8 image-processing engine
  • ISO: 100-40000 (can be expanded to 50-102400)
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Monitor type: 3.0″ TFT LCD (vari-angle, touchscreen)
  • Video output: up to 4K
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 250 (CIPA)

3. Canon EOS R5 (Year announced: Jul. 2020)

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 45.0MP
  • Lens mount: Canon RF mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: RF lenses (Compatible with EF & EF-S lenses when using optional Mount Adapter EF-EOS R)
  • Sensor: Full-frame CMOS sensor
  • Image processor: DIGIC X image-processing engine
  • ISO: 100-51200 (can be expanded to 50-102400)
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Monitor type: 3.2″ TFT LCD (vari-angle, touchscreen)
  • Video output: up to 8K
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 320 (CIPA)

4. Canon EOS R6 (Year announced: Jul. 2020)

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 20.0MP
  • Lens mount: Canon RF mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: RF lenses (Compatible with EF & EF-S lenses when using optional Mount Adapter EF-EOS R)
  • Sensor: Full-frame CMOS sensor
  • Image processor: DIGIC X image-processing engine
  • ISO: 100-102400 (can be expanded to 50-204800)
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Monitor type: 3.0″ TFT LCD (vari-angle, touchscreen)
  • Video output: up to 4K
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 360 (CIPA)

5. Canon EOS R3 (Year announced: Sep. 2021)

This is Canon’s new flagship model for full-frame mirrorless camera with PRO body. Released in late Nov. 2021.

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 24.1MP
  • Lens mount: Canon RF mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: RF lenses (Compatible with EF & EF-S lenses when using optional Mount Adapter EF-EOS R)
  • Sensor: Full-frame Stacked CMOS sensor
  • Image processor: DIGIC X image-processing engine
  • ISO: 100-102400 (can be expanded to 50-204800)
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Monitor type: 3.2″ TFT LCD (vari-angle, touchscreen)
  • Video output: up to 6K
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 760 (CIPA)

Latest Updates on Canon EOS Full-frame After The First Launching

1. Canon EOS R successor

  • Canon Rumors reported on Sep. 3, 2021 that Canon EOS Ra has been suspended. While Canon EOS R will be disconitued production. So basically Canon EOS R will be no upgraded version.

2. Canon EOS RP successor

  • To this date there’s no upgraded version of Canon EOS RP.

3. Canon EOS R5 successor

  • To this date there’s no upgraded version of Canon EOS R5. See latest rumors below.

4. Canon EOS R6 successor

  • To this date there’s no upgraded version of Canon EOS R6.

5. Canon EOS R3 successor

  • This is just a recently launched and a flagship model in 2021.

Latest Rumors

According to Canon Rumors, the new or upcoming EOS R5C is rumored to be announced in the first quarter of 2022. Rumored to be having the same sensor size as EOS R5 but will be bigger and with featured cooling system!


Panasonic Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera Chronicles

Panasonic previewed its first full-frame mirrorless camera Lumix S1 in Feb. 2019 (although it has already been announced in Sep. 2018 prior to that sneak peek in February).

Outlined and built around L-mount designed by Leica. And is now also being supported by Sigma as well as Panasonic itself.

Up to this date, Panasonic S series full-frame mirrorless camera has these existing versions. They are models DC-S1, DC-S1R, DC-S1H and DC-S5.

1. Lumix DC-S1 (Year announced: Sep. 2018)

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 24.2MP
  • Lens mount: L-mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: L-mount lenses from Leica, Sigma and Panasonic
  • Sensor: Full-frame CMOS sensor
  • Image processor: Venus Engine
  • ISO: 100-51200 (can be expanded to 50-204800)
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Monitor type: 3.2″ TFT LCD (Tri-axial tilt, touchscreen)
  • Video output: up to 6K
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 380 (CIPA)

2. Lumix DC-S1R (Year announced: Mar. 2019)

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 47.3MP
  • Lens mount: L-mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: L-mount lenses from Leica, Sigma and Panasonic
  • Sensor: Full-frame CMOS sensor
  • Image processor: Venus Engine
  • ISO: 100-25600 (can be expanded to 50-51200)
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Monitor type: 3.2″ TFT LCD (Tri-axial tilt, touchscreen)
  • Video output: up to 5K
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 380 (CIPA)

3. Lumix DC-S1H (Year announced: Sep. 2019)

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 24.2MP
  • Lens mount: L-mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: L-mount lenses from Leica, Sigma and Panasonic
  • Sensor: Full-frame CMOS sensor (Dual Native ISO technology)
  • Image processor: Venus Engine
  • ISO: 100-51200 (can be expanded to 50-204800)
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Monitor type: 3.2″ TFT LCD (vari-angle, touchscreen)
  • Video output: Full 6K
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 400 (CIPA)

3. Lumix DC-S5 (Year announced: Sep. 2020)

Key Features:
  • Effective pixel: 24.2MP
  • Lens mount: L-mount interchangeable lens system
  • Lens compatiblity: L-mount lenses from Leica, Sigma and Panasonic
  • Sensor: Full-frame CMOS sensor (Dual Native ISO technology)
  • Image processor: Venus Engine
  • ISO: 100-51200 (can be expanded to 50-204800)
  • Viewfinder: OLED
  • Monitor type: 3.2″ TFT LCD (vari-angle, touchscreen)
  • Video output: Full 6K
  • Built-in flash: No
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 400 (CIPA)

Latest Updates on Lumix Full-frame After The First Launching

1. Lumix DC-S1 successor

  • To this date there’s no upgraded version of Lumix DC-S1.

2. Lumix DC-S1R successor

  • To this date there’s no upgraded version of Lumix DC-S1R.

3. Lumix DC-S1H successor

  • To this date there’s no upgraded version of Lumix DC-S1H.

4. Lumix DC-S5 successor

  • To this date there’s no upgraded version of Lumix DC-S5.

Latest Buzz

Panasonic had outlined the Present and Future of Lumix on its 20th Anniversary Special Column released in Oct 2021. The challenge to a full-frame mirrorless camera and the eventual formation of the “L-Mount Alliance” with Leica and Sigma. That is to collaborate on developing a full-frame design using the L-mount lens developed by Leica.

Panasonic is well-known for making excellent quality video cameras (and that includes M4/3 mirrorless cameras). The challenge to full-frame was realized because of these in-depth strength in video camera creation which they call their DNA. The inception of the Lumix S series and L-mount lenses is a clear proof. Lumix S series boasts excellent video capabilities, just check Lumix DC-S1H and you’ll see what I mean.

Onto the future, Panasonic promises to continue to develop the full-frame mirrorless cameras (but not forgetting the M4/3 system, a refreshed M4/3 is underway) and is focusing on developing new system in view of “cine lenses” that would enable creators expand their creativity.


Final Thoughts

I will be updating this post everytime there’s a new version of a full-frame mirrorless camera. I will consider adding other brands that are relevant for history purposes.

Moreover, I will also be updating this post whenever there are new rumors surrounding Full-frame Mirrorless Cameras.

Once again thank you for reading. If you find this article helpful or you have some additional information or questions please leave a comment. I will try to answer them to the best of my knowledge.


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