To those who are just beginning their journey as a photographer and are on the hunt for that first camera, full frame vs. crop is an issue subject to much deliberation. The same goes for the photographer who purchased a crop sensor camera for their first camera and is unsure if it’s worth it to upgrade to full frame. One photographer, Sheldon Evans, shared his back-and-forth camera purchasing saga on his YouTube channel, and if you’re stuck trying to decide, his stories could help.

As technology advances, qualitative differences between full frame and crop sensor cameras are diminishing. Not too long ago, going full frame unequivocally meant a significant bump in image quality, particularly in low light. Now, full frame still typically has a slight edge, but it’s not enough to base the decision around.

Sheldon’s particular story is Canon-centric. He details his decision-making process when switching from a full frame original 6D to a crop sensor 80D and finally back to a full frame 6D Mark II, with a brief Sony interlude to give mirrorless a try with the a6500. For Sheldon, and probably for you, it comes down to preference and features.

For instance, though one of Sheldon’s original reasons cited for purchasing the smaller 80D was to save weight on long wedding days. Logically, if that was his concern, mirrorless should have been even better, but after trying the a6500 he discovered that he simply prefers Canon.

[Rewind:] How Different Cameras Perform With The Same Lens | Crop Vs. Full Frame

Sony’s user interface is an oft-cited reason for passing the brand by, so would Sheldon have stayed with mirrorless if he’d bought a different brand? Who knows, but that experience speaks to the fact that having a camera in your hand is a much better way to discern if it’s the one for you than by reading spec sheets alone. 

Pretty much all modern cameras can produce stunning images in the hands of someone who has an inkling of what to do with them, so play around and see what you like. There are a few things to keep in mind, for instance, due to crop factor, you’ll get a bit more reach with your lenses on a crop sensor while a full frame is going to give you wider angles at the wide end, but again, it’s a matter of preference.

The photos below were taken using a crop sensor, a full frame, and a medium format camera. 

Can you tell which is which? Click through to Sheldon’s video to see the answers in his video description, and listen to him tell his story below.