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A Complete Guide To Crop Sensor Vs. Full Frame Cameras

A Complete Guide To Crop Sensor Vs. Full Frame Cameras

If your goal is to take amazing pictures, you want to purchase the best equipment that makes this possible. When considering the different features for a new camera, it's important to know the difference between a crop sensor vs a full frame camera.

Today's digital cameras offer both of these options and there are pros and cons for each side. Here are some things to know about this hotly debated feature and which option matches your photography style.

What Is a Crop Sensor Camera?

On a digital camera, one of the most essential features is its sensor. The sensor is the digital imaging device that is located on the camera and allows the photographer to see what is being photographed. Over the years, digital camera sensors have gotten more technologically advanced and larger on the higher end cameras. Cameras with larger, more advanced sensors cost more money. This is where the crop sensor camera factors in.

A camera with a crop sensor has a smaller, more compact sensor that ends up cropping the image. Crop sensor cameras are smaller and not as expensive as other styles of cameras. When capturing images, a crop sensor camera may have a lower resolution and higher noise levels.

Digital camera manufacturers have created standard crop sensor aspect ratios on their products. To get the best image possible, it's important to know your camera's aspect ratio and what kind of lens you need to achieve a quality photograph.

Our most popular Crop Sensor Camera: Pentax KP DSLR Camera

What Is a Full Frame Camera?

Digital cameras are also produced today as full frame cameras. Before the world went digital, photography used 35 mm cameras with real film. Full frame cameras are based on the standard full frame aspect ratio of a piece of 35mm film, or 36 mm x 24 mm. Digital sensors that fit these measurements are considered full frame. Full frame cameras are priced higher than cameras with a crop sensor feature, but they produce higher quality images and clearer photographs in some cases

The full frame aspect ratio debuted at the dawn of the photography age in 1892 and is still used by cinematographers in movie making. For photographers who still like to dabble in traditional film photography, they can use the same lens for their old-fashioned 35 mm camera and digital full frame camera. Full frame camera lenses are designed to work best with cameras with the 35 mm aspect ratio.

Our most popular Full Frame Camera: Sigma FP Digital Camera

Crop Sensors vs. Full Frame Cameras

Key Differences

Choosing between a crop sensor camera vs. a full frame camera means you'll have to look at each product's differences. First, one big difference is the price. Those on a budget should go with the cheaper crop sensor option.

The next big difference is image quality. Amateur photographers who are just taking pictures to upload to their social media or web site would do fine with the crop sensor camera. Professional photographers who cover events like weddings or make a living off of detailed, gorgeous shots may want to go with the full frame camera for its higher resolution.

There is also a difference in size and the learning curve for each camera. Crop sensor cameras are smaller and easier to operate for people new to the photography hobby. Full frame cameras are often much larger and have a variety of different accessories. People without a lot of camera knowledge may also struggle with operating a more complex full frame device.

Low Light

Another big difference between these two camera styles is their performance in low light conditions. The crop sensor vs full frame low light results make a difference if you plan on using your camera in low light situations. Low light conditions are any situations where little amounts of light make taking pictures more challenging.

Any type of outdoor night photography happens during low light conditions. Additionally, many pictures indoors are taken in low light conditions if there is not enough ambient light to illuminate the subject.

There are different ways to add more light to a subject if you're inside and trying to take a picture, such as using a flash or bringing in more lamps to increase the lighting conditions. Additionally, most cameras feature settings that allow the photographer to slow down the shutter speed, increase the ISO and adjust the aperture to help brighten the image.

With a crop sensor camera, low light photography is a challenge. Photographers will always have to compensate for the camera's shortcomings by playing around with the settings or using a flash, which can have mixed results. The ideal choice for low light is to use the full frame camera, which has more capabilities to capture an image in the dark.

Image Quality

The crop sensor vs full frame image quality debate is also something to think about before purchasing your next digital camera. While the full frame camera tends to have better image quality, the crop sensor does have some bright points in quality.

One place where the crop sensor pulls ahead for image quality is when using a telephoto lens. Photographers with a crop sensor camera and a quality telephoto lens can get clear, high quality images of subjects that are extremely far away. The crop sensor camera also provides a larger depth of field, which offers excellent image quality for macro shots, pictures of smaller landscapes and architecture photography.

The smaller depth of field on a full frame camera may be preferred for some types of photographers. If you're aiming for artistic portraits with different areas of focus, the full frame camera offers this possibility. Pictures with a wider range of colours and shadowing are also richer and more gorgeous when taken with a full frame camera. Additionally, a full frame camera gives the user a vast angle of view, which is useful when taking pictures of large, wide landscapes.

C.R. Kennedy is one of Australia’s leading distributors of cameras and photographic equipment. We offer a wide range of DSLR, mirrorless, full frame and action cameras.

Once you have decided what type of camera you want, check out our selection of different camera types. Take advantage of our 80 years of experience importing and distributing photographic equipment by calling today at +61 3 9823 1555.

If you need more information on different camera models and options, check out more articles on the C.R. Kennedy blog