Sunday, 19 August 2012

Crop Vs. Full Frame

Here we're going to discuss cropped camera sensors versus full frame sensors. We're not going to discuss smaller than 1.6 crop sensors because it's simply pointless.
Let's move on to some facts and then analyze. First of all we need to know the pros and cons:
Crop Full Frame
Sensor
Smaller
will give you more zoom
The equivalent to 35mm film frame
Noise
More
in low light conditions
Less
Size
Compact
Big
Accessories
Full range
Full range
Lenses
Full range
Only Full Frame lenses
Output files
jpeg & RAW/ARW/NEF etc.
jpeg & RAW/ARW/NEF etc.
Image quality
Great
Great
with lots of detail
Price
Reasonable
High

Let's dig in a little deeper and find out more. Smaller (APS-C) sensors will supposedly give more noise but here's where I want to make a good point about this. My new dSLR with a 1.5 crop sensor gives less noise than a 5-year-old full frame dSLR camera. Sensor technology is catching up pretty fast and one can only remain amazed by the improvements in terms of image quality. Of course, if we were to compare the latest full frame sensors to their crop brothers we would discover that full frame sensors surely give wider ISO ranges and smaller amounts of noise in a photo.
I have to make a note about the accessory range. Not all crop sensor cameras get all the video equipment accessories, so if you're buying a smaller sensor camera and want to use it primarily for shooting video, make sure it has all the small things like microphone jack for example.
I've dealt with raw images from both types we are discussing and I have to admit that I get easily annoyed and angry with the huge files I have to store. I know that higher quality means more space on your hard drive but come on! One vacation shouldn't really take up half of your hard drive! I like working with smaller files because most of the photos I take are pretty casual and, to be honest, I've won contests with 12 MPix crop sensor files without a problem. Smaller files are easier to share and sync. Even if you are shooting with a full frame sensor camera make sure you have the settings down to picture quality more suitable for casual photos so you won't encumber your memory card and hard drive.
The thing about using a full frame lens on an APS-C (crop) body is having to deal with less aberrations. The sensor is physically smaller covering the central area of the lens which means that the high aberration outer edges of the lens will be left out giving you a less curvy image with wider lenses.
I really like the way more compact dSLR/SLT cameras fit in my hand. The weight and size are perfect for me. I know that the bokeh is not the same and I might get a bit more grainy images in low light conditions but it's not the camera that makes the photographer.

My words of advice.
Get a decent crop sensor camera if you already don't own one for practicing, casual photography and learning all the controls. In time, maybe you'll find out you don't really need a big expensive full frame camera. I'd bet more on buying good lenses because in front of every great photo there's a good lens (more about lenses click here). Remember, owning a big camera is more demanding and if you've never owned one you will find yourself asking questions and taking time to learn lots of new stuff, let alone carrying it around and looking after your equipment.

Think before you spend!

All the best,

Kamen Kunchev