This is a very quick & concise guide on full frame vs crop sensor cameras.
The terms “crop” and “full frame” refer to the size of the image sensor. Full frame cameras, such as the Sony a7 lineup, have 35mm sensors, mimicking the original standard frame size of film cameras.
Crop sensor cameras have image sensors that are smaller than the standard 35mm size. There are a few different types of crop sensors, and the graphic below details the differences pretty well.
The Sony a6000 is a popular example of a camera that is considered a crop sensor.
Full Frame vs Crop Sensor Lenses
Another thing to consider with full frame vs crop sensor is that it affects the lenses you use. The focal length measurement in lenses is given in full-frame sensor format.
Thus, a 50mm will be 50mm on a full frame camera. On a crop sensor camera, however, it’s affected by the size. The Sony a6000, for example, has a 1.5x crop which means that a 50mm lens will actually be equivalent to 75mm on a full frame camera. While this may sound confusing, it’s actually not a huge thing to consider if you only shoot with crop sensor cameras anyway.
Additionally, crop sensor cameras tend to be both smaller and less expensive than full frame lenses.
Advantages of a Full Frame Sensor
Generally, full frame cameras tend to have marginally better image quality just due to the fact that the sensor is bigger. They allow for slightly better depth of field, dynamic range, and low light (high ISO) performance.
For those who like to shoot wide angle, a full-frame sensor doesn’t suffer from the magnification that a crop sensor does, allowing you to shoot with wider focal lengths. Finally, there are simply many more lenses built for full frame cameras than for crop sensors.
Advantages of a Crop Sensor
There are two major advantages to using a crop sensor camera: cost and size. Crop sensor cameras tend to be more lightweight, compact, and just overall cheaper.
Additionally, for those who are interested in nature, wildlife, sports, or other kinds of long range photography, the 1.5x magnifier of crop sensors can allow lenses to get a lot of extra range for those super long distance shots.
So, should you choose a full frame or a crop sensor camera?
For a beginning photographer looking to purchase their first camera, I’d say it depends. If you’re on a budget, then a crop sensor (like the Sony a6000) is probably what you’d want to pick up. The lenses are generally cheaper and the camera is a bit more beginner friendly.
For those who aren’t as concerned about budget, pick up a full frame camera (such as the Sony a7). Both image and build quality will be a bit better, and you’ll have a wealth of lenses to choose from down the line.
Hopefully this short and concise guide helped you out. If you like this content, check out some of our other guides. Thanks for reading. 🙂
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