Lock in Your Premium Membership Discount!

Your content will be up shortly. Please allow up to 5 seconds
News & Insight

Full Frame VS Crop Sensor | Does It Really Matter?

By Holly Roa on March 27th 2018

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.

About

Seattle based photographer with a side of videography, specializing in work involving animals, but basically a Jill of all trades.
Instagram: @HJRphotos

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Robert Arnold

    I think another very important factor with full frame is the ability to achieve much shallower DOF.  There are times when greater DOF is desirable but for me it’s shallow DOF that wins out more often.

    | |
  2. Peter Brock

    I used to shoot with a Canon 1DX.  Now I use a Fuji XT2 and love it.  I mostly shoot on the street and the weight is a major factor.  Also, I live in Asia and this culture is somewhat afraid of large cameras and lenses and so one has to be sensitive to shooting on the street and peoples’ concerns.  I shoot regularly and get photos printed at up to 24 inches and have no problem.  I also understand the Sony is a great camera.  I would recommend the Fuji as that is what I use, but I also use mostly Zeiss lenses as I grew up shooting leica and just appreciate the glass quality.  But, I cannot complain about the Fuji lenses as they are brilliant as well.  One thing I would not recommend about Fuji is their flash system.  They are far behind.  I use the Nissin system in my studio and for street.  anyone who wants more information  can contact me at [email protected].  All the best to everyone.

    | |
  3. Josh Leavitt

    The most significant draw to full-frame for me was a point that Sheldon touched on – wide angle versus zoom. I really like ultra-wide angle lenses, and the widest rectilinear angle crop lenses I’ve seen come in at about 16mm (using 35mm equivalent); meanwhile full-frame glass can get down to 11mm. I also haven’t been impressed with the levels of distortion found on crop sensors with wide-angle lenses, even the lens profile corrections in post processing don’t seem to fix it entirely. So full-frame continues to be my mainstay format.

    | |
  4. Matthew Saville

    It really does come down to how far you’re pushing the envelope with your photography. Many APS-C cameras these days are capable of extremely professional results, especially if you’re shooting mostly in daylight conditions at ISO 100, and not making gigantic prints or caring much at all about pixel-peeping.

    Some folks just love cameras, though, like any other hobby. All we need to get to work is a Toyota Camry etc, but some folks buy Porsches and Land Rovers and such. Cars are their thing, and that’s fine! The same thing goes for cameras, but unfortunately the lines are a lot more blurred between “need” and “want”. So that’s why you should always take others’ recommendations with a grain of salt, whether they say they couldn’t live without full-frame, or they dumped it for APS-C / M43 and are never looking back. That’s nice, but the important thing is what do they shoot, and what style do they shoot it with? Your own subject matter, and your own shooting style, will dictate your standards and requirements in a camera….

    | |
    • Kristopher Galuska

      Exactly. I left m43 for a Nikon Full frame specificaly because I was getting in to astro photography, which definitely pushes the limits of camera tech. However, now I have a toddler and never get to disappear all night for astro. I’m definitely missing the size and weight of those m43 lenses.

      | |
  5. Yen test

    interesting

    | |