A Quick Beginner's Guide to Crop Versus Full-Frame Cameras

When you're first starting out in photography, you might hear about "crop" and "full-frame" cameras and wonder what the differences and advantages and disadvantages of each are. This quick and helpful video will tell you what you need to know in just two minutes.

Coming to you from David Bergman of Adorama TV, this great video discusses the differences between crop-sensor and full-frame cameras. Simply put, crop sensors are those that are smaller than a standard 35mm sensor, which measures 36mm x 24mm. The different sizes of sensors have practical consequences on your shooting workflow and lens choices. They also affect technical issues like noise, though smaller sensors do provide some advantages, namely smaller bodies and more focal length reach. They also tend to be cheaper than their full-frame counterparts, and many professionals use a crop-sensor camera as their main body or as a supplemental camera for certain situations. In fact, Fuji's X series is a highly successful and respected line of crop-sensor cameras that many pros have embraced. Nonetheless, every photographer has different needs and desires. Give the video above a watch for the full rundown. 

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Justin Powers's picture

This video doesn't reveal anything that most photogs don't already know. What I was hoping for was some image comparisons using the same lenses on crop and full-frame bodies, at various focal lengths and apertures. As someone who really loves their crop sensor DSLR but knows the pressure that camera manufacturers and sellers create to convince photographers that full-frame is always superior to APS-C, I wish he would have gone beyond the obvious differences and looked at the more subjective side to try and answer: can APS-C cameras take equally good photos compared to equivalent FF cameras when using the same lenses, under the same conditions?
For example, I'd love to see the camera I own - an EOS 80D or perhaps a 7d II - compared to a 6D or 6D II, using a 16-35mm Art, a 35mm L, a 50mm L or Art, a 100mm L Macro, and a 70-200mm L. With the same glass and lighting conditions, how would the images of the 80d or 7d II compare to the FF 6d at different focal lengths? Leaving aside crop factor, how does the actual image quality compare? If you aren't really pushing the DR by underexposing or shooting with a high ISO, can the APS-C offer similar IQ compared to FF? This is what I really want to see and judge for myself.
I believe that FF is the way to go if you are a professional, but us serious hobbyists who spend lots of money on kits but don't earn money from photography are constantly being told in ways both subtle and overt that an APS-C camera cannot compare to a FF camera. When one looks at most major camera and lens manufacturers, it is evident that little effort is put into creating high-quality dedicated crop-sensor lenses. Almost all high-quality lenses are built for FF cameras, though they work just fine on crop sensor cameras. Of the few dedicated APS-C lenses out there, only a couple can truly be considered excellent.
I have a feeling that FF cameras do not produce images that are so much better than APS-C, but I'd like to see a proper comparison done. Does a 20MP 6D have better IQ than a 24MP 80D? Under what conditions? Am I the only one who sees a lot of amateurs and hobbyists buying FF because they became convinced that they weren't serious photogs if they shot with an APS-C camera?

Jurre Jan de Wit's picture

This would definitly be an interesting test. I also own an 80d and for now I don't think going FF will help me get to another level. Not that I wouldn't want one, because there are some practical things that a 5Dmk4 has for instance like weathersealing, better low light performance. But they probably won't make me a better photographer. So I'll just keep upgrading my lenses first and then when the time comes, I might upgrade.

I always love seeing photo's from really good creators that are just as good as what the pro's produce and then find out they just use a simple crop sensor camera. It just proves the point that a super good camera maybe makes the job a bit easier, but will not necessarily produce better results as a whole.