Full Frame Vs Crop Camera – Differences & Which is Best?
Many of you will be still confused with whether to buy a full frame camera or a crop camera in 2023. There are lots of differences between a crop and full-frame camera. In this article, I will share all the differences between Full frame Vs Crop camera bodies. It will help you to pick the right camera body.
We will do an in-depth comparison based on various factors. A Crop camera is also called as an APS-C camera.
1. Camera Sensor
The camera sensor type plays an important role in photography.
If you select a DSLR or a Mirrorless camera, you will have two options. You can either buy one which comes with a Full frame or a crop sensor one.
2. Noise Performance
Noise degrades image quality. Full frame cameras come with a bigger camera sensor. If you compare the pixel size of a full frame camera with a crop camera, then it is bigger.
Due to this larger pixel size, full frame cameras tend to have better noise performance at higher ISO values when compared to the crop camera bodies.
Thus, full-frame cameras are less sensitive to noise when compared to crop cameras. It gives you the ability to photograph in low lighting conditions with less noise.
If you are looking for a camera with good low light performance, I strongly recommend to go for a full frame camera.
A full frame camera wins the battle in the noise performance parameter.
You can have a look at this, ISO Comparison of Canon 1DX Mark II Vs Canon 7D Mark II to get a better idea about the noise performance between a crop camera and a full frame camera. Canon 7D Mark II is an APS-C camera and Canon 1DX Mark II is a full frame camera.
3. Dynamic Range
Full frame cameras will have more dynamic range than the APS-C cameras. They can capture more range of details in bright areas, dark areas and mid tones.
The dynamic range is one main factor which makes people go for the full frame cameras. It helps you to capture the details in both shadows and highlights at the same time.
The dynamic range of Sony a1 mirrorless full frame camera is up to 15 stops. The dynamic range of Sony a6500 APS-C mirrorless camera is up to 13.7 stops.
With the advancement in camera technology, we are seeing improvements in the dynamic range of crop cameras. So, we can expect some APS-C cameras with a similar dynamic range in the coming years.
Thus, a full frame camera is a clear winner in this factor in the battle of full frame Vs Crop camera.
4. Effective Focal Length
Camera sensor of an APS-C camera comes with crop factor. The crop factor will have an effect on your effective camera focal length.
If you use a 100mm lens on a crop camera body, the effective focal length would be crop factor x 100mm.
For example, if you use a Canon Crop camera body with a 100mm lens, the effective focal length would be 160mm (1.6 x 100mm). If you use a Nikon crop body with a 100mm lens, the effective focal length would be 140mm (1.4 x 100mm)
Wildlife photographers and sports photographers prefer to have cameras which have more reach. It will help them to photograph distant subject with more details.
Thus, the crop factor advantage of a half frame camera is beneficial for such type of photographers, as the effective focal length is more. But, it comes at the cost of image quality.
6. Angle Of View
When you mount the same lens on both the type of camera bodies then you will get a narrow-angle of view on a crop body when compared to a full frame body.
It is due to the crop factor of the camera sensor. It increases the effective focal length thereby reducing the angle of view.
It is actually good for wildlife photographers. On the other hand, landscape photographers, who are looking for a wider angle of view would not love this. So, they will prefer a full frame camera, when they have to choose between a full frame Vs crop camera.
7. Depth Of Field
If you are a portrait photographer, you can get a nice blurry background with beautiful Bokeh, if you use full frame cameras.
Now, you will be thinking that how a camera body can create good blurry backgrounds. The background blur is mainly dependent on the camera lens. Yes, it is true that the background blur is dependent on the camera lens, but not on lens alone.
The distance between the subject and the camera is also a factor. A full frame camera allows you to get closer to the subject because of the wider angle of view thereby producing a shallow depth of field.
8. Camera Cost
Cost is one of the important factors. As a photographer, you need to invest in camera lens and other accessories also, not the camera body alone.
Full frame cameras are costlier than their half frame counterparts. So, if you have a low budget, it is better to invest in an APS-C camera body.
Thus, a crop body wins when it comes to cost factor in the battle of Full frame Vs Crop camera.
9. Lens Compatibility
Even though there are plenty of lens options for cameras from Sony, Nikon and Canon. All camera lenses won’t be compatible with both the type of camera bodies.
If you take the case of Canon DSLR cameras, the crop camera bodies come with Canon EF-S mount, indicated by the white dot on the camera body. The full frame Canon camera bodies come with Canon EF mount, indicated by the red dot.
Canon EF-S mount lenses are only compatible with the Canon APS-C cameras, whereas the EF mount lenses are compatible with both the camera bodies.
Thus, you will have more choice of lenses when it comes to crop bodies, especially budget camera lenses.
10. Camera Size and Weight
Even though there are many beneficial factors for a full frame camera, one main disadvantage is its weight. It is bigger and heavier than the APS-C camera bodies.
They have a big sensor, metal body and better electronics inside. It occupies more area. Thus, a bigger and sturdy enclosure is required.
11. Camera Body
Most full frame camera bodies come with Magnesium alloy or metal bodies. These are durable and weatherproof.
APS-C frame camera bodies usually come with plastic bodies or partly metal bodies. Most of the half frame cameras are not weatherproof.
So, when it comes to the weight factor, crop camera wins in the battle of Full frame Vs Crop camera.
If you are looking to buy a used camera body, consider reading this article, Used Camera Buying Checklist
In the battle of full frame vs crop camera, it is quite clear that both these camera bodies have its own pros and cons. It doesn’t mean that it is difficult to choose amongst them.
The type of DSLR/ mirrorless camera you should go for actually depends on the type of photography you are doing, your budget and your interest. Full frame DSLRs are more suited for professional photographers since it is costly. Half frame cameras are meant for hobby photographers.
Using an expensive full frame camera alone will not help you capture better photographs. You should learn all the photography basic stuffs like exposure, image composition, lighting and operate your camera accordingly.