Full-Frame Versus Crop Sensor and What’s Right for You

There are many different cameras options out on the market with many different features. There’s a big range in camera prices which can funnel some to a certain group of options. A popular question besides which camera should you get is "should I get a full-frame or crop sensor camera?"

Photographer and filmmaker Sheldon Evans was using the Canon 6D but switched to the Canon 80D when he went from full-frame down to a crop sensor camera. Many of you might think this is a downgrade. It all comes does to what genre of photography is your focus, whether you want to shoot video or only photos, and your budget. Well, there might be a few more things to think about. Evans discusses the reasoning for his decision to move to the Canon 80D and the advantages and disadvantages of both full-frame and crop sensor cameras. Evans also mentioned he did try out a mirrorless camera option for some time but decided to return to using a full-frame camera by purchasing a Canon 6D Mark II. Evans touches on something I completely agree with in determining which camera you should pick. Even though I use a Canon camera, I don’t necessarily tell everyone else that is what they should buy when I am asked. It all comes down to preference, what works in your budget, and what has the features you need. Most of your clients care about the end result, not what tool you used to get it. Some tools might work best for you while they might not be the best choice for others. If you are just starting out and not sure what camera you should get and if it should be crop sensor or a full-frame, this video should help you make a decision.

What was the determining factor in your decision of which camera you are using now?

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26 Comments

colin davis's picture

I moved up to full frame to get a better choice of lenses. Things have improved for cropped frame lenses but I'm not switching back having invested in Nikon from Pentax. I know Pentax have a full frame now but I'm already committed to Nikon now.

colin davis's picture

I've still got my Pentax K10D and a few kit and classic lenses. It's still used as my travel camera and I can get a good reach for wildlife with a 400mm macro

Sheldon Evans's picture

Another situation similar to what I used to be in. I have zero brand loyalty haha, having multiple different camera systems in my house at all times makes for a good amount of experimenting and playing around. Also - I bet that 400mm macro is suuuupper buttery!

Matt Owen's picture

The initial determination that put me in a crop sensor was price. What's kept me there is flexibility, since I'm on Nikon and can use just about any lens for the F mount. The only disadvantage (and it's a small one to me) is I can't use the funky lenses that go wild on the edges (Lensbaby, Petzval) as most of the effect doesn't hit my sensor.

Sheldon Evans's picture

I think that's one of the advantages that crop has for sure. Being able to use most of the lenses as well as cheaper lenses in a lot of cases. How great would it be if we could use crop lenses on full frame without a problem? Oh the world would be wonderful haha

Don't you read the other articles on Fstoppers? A newer iPhone is all you'll ever need for EVERYTHING! ;-)

Of course, you're right about it depending on what you do and what you like. There is no right or wrong answer. I shoot FF for a lot of reasons but if nothing else applied, I would continue for the viewfinder. Being older, a bigger, brighter viewfinder is really important to me.

Anonymous's picture

"you're right about it depending on what you do and what you like. There is no right or wrong answer."

Have YOU read the forum comments on Fstoppers?! There is obviously a right answer: whatever I use is the best! :)

Sheldon Evans's picture

Haha Sam that made me chuckle. "Magazine covers are even shot on iPhones these days..." Funny story, that thumbnail of the video was actually taken on an iPhone :D

I don't socialize nearly as much as you so I really have no idea what most consumers need. I'm serious! I'm not sure what the "isn't limited" part refers to.

I don't really care enough to research it. Honestly, I think very few people make many decisions based on "need" so statistics aren't very useful.

Antti Mutka's picture

Full frame Sony. I like shooting with a EVF and the A7 was a cheap FF option a few years back so I went with that.

Sheldon Evans's picture

I personally don't like using EVF but Sony produces some stunning image quality and is a great option for anyone within that budget range.

Antti Mutka's picture

Only thing lacking with Sony is the color science. Canon and Fuji produce much better colors out of camera compared to my Sony.

Same here. The new EVF on the a7riii is insane.

Antti Mutka's picture

I really wish I could upgrade to the R3 from my current R2, not because of the better EVF but for the much better buffer. Also that joystick is something I would love to have. But after adding in a few new batteries, memory cards and a grip, I can't justify the cost. Not yet anyway.

Anonymous's picture

For portraits, full frame (if not larger) for increased FOV with longer lenses offering pleasing compression.

Sheldon Evans's picture

I agree with this so much! Absolutely love using MF to shoot portraits. It gives an almost mystical feel to the image with a super shallow DOF.

Benjamin Nations's picture

I have a 5d Mark III and a 7d Mark II. The 5d far surpasses the 7d in image quality by far.

Hmmm at 4:40 ish he said you'll get more range with a crop sensor? I thought range was constant with any sensor size for the same lens and it's the field of view or angle of view which is cropped.

Sheldon Evans's picture

It is indeed the field of view which is cropped but let's look at it this way... If you have a 20MP fullframe like the 6D and a 24MP crop sensor like the 80D.

The field of view is narrower on the 80D but you have a lot more resolution within a smaller part of the image therefore increasing the "range" you have without losing quality.

Hope this makes sense :)

Yes it does. Thanks for the reply.

Sheldon Evans's picture

Hey thanks so much for the share Alex! Hope the info in the video helps some people make a decision on which camera to buy.

Tracy Webb's picture

I still shoot with a Canon 70D AND REALLY NICE GLASS RATHER THEN the kit lenses ...Gentlemen lets not forget the Glass .....Peace

Anonymous's picture

I currently shoot on a crop sensor and I'm planning to get a full frame soon. Note that I didn't say "upgrade" because it's not an upgrade. If you're a skilled photographer, you can create amazing results with just about any camera. I have decided to get a full frame because of the new shooting options, not because of the supposed advantages which don't even apply to many photographers in a practical sense.

I shoot with my trusty Nikon D500. I fought for a while on whether or not to make the leap to FF and coming from the D7000 I was used to the crop. As stated above, most clients don't care what i'm shooting with as long as they are pleased with the final result. But the versatility, speed, accuracy and price of the D500 far outweighed the IMHO 'marginal' advantages of a FF sensor.