Ever wonder how higher-end DSLRs capture so much more information as compared to budget or amateur DSLRs? The answer to this is hidden in the sensor size.
Mainly, DSLRs are divided into two main categories: Full-frame DSLRs and Crop Sensor DSLRs. The difference between the two is that the latter has a crop factor applied to the image sensor.
In this article, we bring you a clear distinction between the two and which one should you pick.
Full Frame DSLRs
Essentially, a full frame sensor DSLR is one in which the sensor size is the same as the 35mm film format.
The 35mm sensor size has been in the industry for basically forever since the start. It strikes the perfect balance between cost of production and image quality and has been adopted as the industry standard.
A full frame sensor is going to give you a significantly more field of view as the sensor size is physically more prominent than a crop sensor body. This means that not only you get more of what you see through the viewfinder in your frame, but also significantly better image quality.
Also, these cameras form the focal length standard of lenses. This means that in case you’re using a 50mm lens with a full-frame DSLR, the focal length that you get will be 50mm only, instead of a factor of focal length multiplied by the crop factor.
- Wider field of view
- Significantly better image quality
- True lens focal length
- Shallower depth of field
- Heavier and bulkier body
- Way more expensive as compared to crop sensor cameras
Crop Sensor DSLRs
As the name suggests, a Crop Sensor DSLR applies a particular crop factor over a standard 35mm frame size. This results in a tighter field of view and reduced image quality.
Any sensor size which is below the 35mm standard is called a crop sensor. These cameras come in an APS-C format sensor. Different manufacturers apply different crop factors on their cams. For example, Canon and Nikon use a crop factor of 1.6 and 1.5 times respectively.
This means that the effective focal length of the lens you’re using gets multiplied by the crop factor. For example, if you are using a 50mm lens with a Canon 200D, which has an APS-C 1.6 crop sensor, the effective focal length you’ll be shooting at will be 50×1.6 = 80mm.
This can be extremely effective for telephoto photography as you already get a crop advantage on your focal length. However, this doesn’t mean that you should use only crop sensor cameras for such types of photography.
- More portable, smaller, lighter bodies as compared to full frame cameras
- Significantly cheaper
- An advantage in telephoto photography (occasionally)
- Reduced image quality
- Untrue focal length
- Slightly poor low light performance
Which one should you buy?
If you can afford a full frame body, we recommend going for that. However, if you’re just a hobbyist looking to start your photographic journey, a good crop sensor body would suffice your needs.
The deciding factor here is the space in which you’ll be using a camera. Unless you’re a paid professional who has to get those perfect shots, you’ll be better off getting a good crop sensor body and spending the rest on lenses as eventually you grow and improve, you’ll replace your body, but your lenses will carry on.
Someone who writes/edits/shoots/hosts all things tech and when he’s not, streams himself racing virtual cars. You can reach out to Yadullah at [email protected], or follow him on Instagram or Twitter.