Travel Photography – The difference between Full Frame Sensor and Crop Frame Sensor Camera

Hello lovely Photo Pandas!

So today, we are going to talk about the difference between a FULL frame camera and a CROP frame camera. What does this mean and why is it so important to understand this?

Understanding what size your sensor is, will help you chose the correct lens when you decide to add more to your travel bag. Most people hear “you got a full frame bro?”, “is that a full frame brah?”, “hey is that a full frame?” and you are like WTH does that mean? HAHA

Ok let’s start with something simple! A picture showing you exactly what it looks like and how it impacts your image.

main-qimg-52c82bc7379408e5646377cf463bdb48-c

So let’s start with FULL FRAME. What does it mean when people FULL FRAME? Back in the good ol days of film cameras, the size of the film was called 35mm. So FULL FRAME simply means that the size of the sensor is the equivalent size of a 35mm film. Pretty straight forward.

What does that mean to you as a camera buyer? It usually means that it’s more expensive (first thing most people notice) but more importantly, full frame sensors come in cameras that are typically of higher caliber and quality. It means you will get better image quality and you will also get more of the scenery based on the same lens as seen here.

Full frame sensors are ideally suited for beauty/fashion/landscape/macro/cars/food and even sports photography to some degree. Full frame cameras are absolutely superb in travel photography and when you get home, those images will be a solid reminder of the amazing time you had away from home.

To simplify it here are the Pros & Cons:

Pros

  1. More scenery without having to physically back up
  2. More detail in the image
  3. Much better image quality
  4. Typically full frame sensors come with higher end cameras meaning you’ll have more features on the camera itself

Cons

  1. Much more expensive than crop frame cameras
  2. Full frame cameras are typically larger physically in size (Canon 5D MarkIV, Canon 5DSR Nikon D810) than a crop one. BUT that’s not always the case. Example. Sony A7rII
  3. Typically the lenses for a full frame are much bigger/heavier and much more expensive
sony a7rII vs canon 5dsr

Sony A7rII vs canon 5Dsr

What is a CROP FRAME? A crop frame as you can see is simply a smaller sensor. Just because it is a smaller sensor, DO NOT discount it as being worst/weaker or even not as good. A crop sensor can be incredibly valuable for wildlife and sports photographers. A crop sensor camera in essence kinda “zooms” in the scenery for you hence why so many wildlife and sports photographers love them so much. Any lens that you attach to a crop sensor, typically you have to multiply that lens’s MM by 1.6x.

Let’s give you a few examples:

Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS II L

This Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II L USM lens is by far one of my favourite lenses out there, it’s super gorgeous versatile and did I mention gorgeous?? LOL ok ok enough drooling. Anyways, so you notice the “70-200mm” portion of the lens? Those measurements are in millimetres (mm) and those measurements are based on 35mm film aka full frame sensor measurements. However when you use this stunning lens with a crop sensor camera such as the equally beautiful Canon 7D MarkII, you now have an effective 112-320mm f/2.8 L IS II USM lens. In plain simple English, it means you can now take super duper images of super fast moving subjects at a much longer distance than when this lens is attached to a full frame camera like the Canon 5D MarkIV. Actually this setup is a very common setup for many wildlife and sports photographers out there.

However, wildlife and sports aside, a crop sensor will force you to physically MOVE backwards from a scene if you are taking a landscape shot for example.

Sony 16-35mm f/4

If you were to use my personal lens which is this Sony 16-35mm f/4 ZEISS on a crop sensor then it effectively becomes a 26-56mm lens. At 26mm, that’s not considered a “wide angle” which means you would have to physically move back to get the same effect at this lens on a full frame camera (Sony A7rII).

Crop frame cameras are ideally suited for wildlife and sports photographers. They can capture anything from birds, whales breaching, dolphins, African safari animals and any type of sports including Formula 1 racing.

Here are the Pros & Cons

Pros

  1. Crop sensor cameras usually are smaller physically which means they are amazing for travel
  2. Cheaper than their big brother the Full Frame cameras
  3. Gives you that extra 1.6x multiplication on any lens that will fit the camera which is superb for wildlife and sports photographers during vacations.

Cons

  1. They don’t give you nearly as many megapixels as the full frame cameras. IE. Canon 7D MarkII is only 20.2MP vs Canon 5D MarkIV that is 30.4MP or even the Sony A7rII which has a staggering 42MP
  2. Not ideal for landscape photographers or sometimes even studio/fashion photography
  3. Not nearly as much detail
  4. More “noisy” meaning more digital noise aka graininess in the image
  5. Not as big of a dynamic range as a full frame

Pictured below is the best crop frame camera in my opinion. It’s the Canon 7D MarkII, simply a beast but it’s not exactly compact or light.

z-7d2-front

However below, is the brand new Sony A6500 that just got released not to long ago. This guy right here is the ultimate in compact, light and packed full of features.

sony-alpha-a6500-2016-10-06-01

 

Alright Photo Pandas, here are the differences between the two types of sensors. Obviously there are more types of sensors out there which I will cover in another blog post. I hope you guys enjoyed this read and we will see you soon!

Cheers,

The Travel Photo Panda

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