Full-frame Or Crop Sensor? Here’s The Answer!

If you are new to the photography industry then you must have come across terms like DX, FX, APS-C, APS-H, etc. Do you know what these terms mean?

Terms like these confuse the heck out of amateurs and people who are interested in photography. Mostly one hears these words when he or she decides to buy a new camera or upgrade from a point and shoot to a DSLR.

Today, I am going to clear the air and give you all a complete basic idea of these technical mumbo jumbos.

These terms are nothing but names for various sensor sizes available in DSLRs. A Sensor is nothing but a digitalized film that captures and stores the image as data.

Back in the days when DSLRs did not exist and SLRs were the weapons of the Pros, photographs were captured in negative films. Each film was later processed and washed to obtain the desired output.

These films, in those days, came in one size and one size only; i.e. the 35mm film(24mm x 36mm). Thus, there was no rocket science involved, neither any confusion.

But in today’s digital world cameras come in various sizes. Each brand’s sensor size varies from that of others and also amongst its different models. People usually refer to the sensor size by its crop factor.

Crop Factor is the number that is used to find the 35mm(original negative film size) equivalent of a given lens. It’s like cropping the middle of an image and removing the outside edges. If a sensor size is 24mm x 36mm, then there’s no crop factor, as it covers the same area as 35mm film.

Nikon has two different sensor sizes: full frame (FX) and 1.5x(DX).

Canon has three sensor sizes: full frame, 1.3x and 1.6x. Other brands are in the same range, with Olympus being the distinct exception, at 2x.

Full Frame Sensors

Some people do not like the term Full-frame since it’s not specific. Full in comparison to what? To be specific, when I say full-frame I refer to a sensor that’s roughly 24mm x 36mm.

But why are sensor sizes so important and are a deciding factor?

Sensor size is important when you’re trying to pick a camera because full frame sensors have certain advantages and disadvantages in certain situations.

In general, full frame sensors produce better image quality, but they really stand apart when it comes to high ISO performance.

Full frame sensors also give photographers more options when it comes to wide-angle work. I can use my 24mm f/2.8 instead of the Nikkor 12-24 f/4, and the 24mm prime is faster and much cheaper(almost one-third of the price of the latter lens).

The downside is that full frame sensors and lenses are bigger in size than their cropped counterparts and also heavier and more expensive.

There are also some situations where the crop factor helps you. Many people have gotten used to having a little bit of extra reach with their long lenses and may not want to give that up.

Full Frame Sensor vs Crop Sensor: Which is Right For You?

After you explore the differences between a crop sensor and a full frame sensor, you’ll need to decide which one suits your needs.

For the average consumer, a smaller 1.5x or 1.6x sensor will be perfect. If you’re the kind of person who has the 18-55 kit lens and maybe one other lens, it makes no sense to spend the extra money on full-frame.

If you have lots of lenses from the film days, it’s worth looking for a full frame body. Modern Nikon bodies are compatible with almost every lens Nikon has ever made, and Canon bodies all work with EF lenses.

Photographers who love clicking landscapes and architecture will definitely want a full frame body (if they don’t already have one). Full frame photo quality and wide-angle options are much better than their cropped counterparts.

If you prefer to shoot in natural and available light often, you’ll definitely want a full frame body as well. The high ISO performance on my D750 is simply unmatched by any camera body with a smaller sensor. I can click an image at ISO6400 without worrying about excessive image grains. And I have more options as well as flexibility when it comes to using (or not using) strobes, flashes, and other artificial light sources.

For nature, wildlife and sports enthusiasts, it would be sensible to have a camera body with a smaller sensor. A smaller sensor would help you take advantage of the crop factor to get the maximum detail possible at long distances.

I have a Nikon D750 which has a full-frame sensor size and I love it. It helps me in low light situations a lot. And I love clicking landscapes with it.

Thus, it is your needs that dictate the camera body you should have.

[Cc: CaptainKimo]

Have more doubts? Please comment below and I will Answer it.

Also, BIRTH UNDISTURBED; a Photo Series by Natalie Lennard

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sayam Suraj
Photographer and Blogger at GlamFlame | + posts

Sayam is a lifestyle and fashion photographer based in Bangalore, India.

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