Most of the time when we’re talking about sensor sizes we’re using the terms “full frame” and “crop sensor”. Full frame refers to a sensor size that has the same dimensions as the 35mm film format. Because 35mm has been a standard for so long we consider this as full frame also in digital cameras. So which sensor size iz better for you?
Difference Between Full Frame And Crop Sensor
A crop sensor is any sensor smaller than a full frame sensor. The common types of crop sensor include APS-C and micro 4/3 systems. Aside from the difference in physical size of the sensor, there are several other differences between a crop sensor and a full frame sensor.
The most visible difference between the two of them is their field of view which is what the term crop implies. The smaller sensor’s field of view is a crop of the full frame. This means that if a full frame DSLR and a crop-sensor DSLR take the same photo from the same distance, with the same focal length the crop sensor will capture a tighter field of view than full frame one.
Focal lengths on lenses are based on the 35mm standard so when using a crop frame camera, the sensor is cropping out the edges of the frame, which is effectively increasing the focal length. The difference between the field of view is so called multiplier. Nikon dslr cameras usually have 1.5 multiplier while Canon DSLR cameras 1.6. So, a 50mm lens on full frame will become a 75mm lens on Nikon and 80mm lens on Canon.
Advantages and Disadvantages Of Full Frame And Crop Sensors
There are several advantages and disadvantages to each sensor size. A full frame sensor usually provide a better low light or high ISO performance thus improving a quality of the image over the crop sensor. Full frame sensors are also preferred to use in architectural photography because of wider angle. Another advantage of full frame sensor is a shallower depth of field which can be a beneficial aesthetic. When shooting at the same EFFECTIVE focal length, using the same aperture settings and shooting from the exact same angle/distance to the subject, the full frame camera will have a shallower depth of field than the crop sensor camera.
A crop sensor DSLR doesn’t provide the same image quality as a full frame but it’s biggest advantage is the price. DSLR’s with crop sensor are usually much cheaper than full frame ones. Because of the multiplier they can be very effective for telephoto photography for the extra reach gained from the crop sensor multiplier.
Each type of sensors have its own advantages and disadvantages. While a full frame DSLR provides a bit better overall quality, both have their uses. The important factor is the type of photography that you shoot and the budget that you have for your photography. For beginners the crop sensor DSLRs are the logical choice but when gaining the knowledge your needs will probably change and you can start thinking about full frame camera.