Friday, July 11, 2008

Photography tips: Don't wait for full frame

Digital SLRs come in two types, full frames and crop cameras. The distinction between the two is that the full frame has a sensor the same size as 35mm film, whereas crop cameras have a smaller (cropped) sensor, also labeled APS-C. Since picture quality (at least the part that the camera can influence) is positively related to sensor size, full frame sensors deliver better pics. Moreover, manufacturers tend to put full frame sensors in better cameras, hence full frame cameras are likely to produce better results. No wonder full frame cameras are major wannahaves

Some lenses out on the market are designed specifically for APS-C cameras. They won’t fit on full frames and if they fit, they’ll cause heavy vignetting. Someone who owns a full frame camera will not buy such a lens. That makes sense. People who plan to buy a full frame camera in the future don’t buy these lenses either, which makes a whole lot less sense.

Let’s face it, most people who plan on going full frame one day, in fact only dream of going full frame one day. Even if they do buy one, ‘one day’ might be months or even years from now. All this time, they’re missing out on the good lens. Some people even buy the wrong focal length, since they are going to switch ‘one day’. Why not just have all the fun you can have with the right lens on your APS-C and resell it once you switch to full frame? The second hand market for lenses is pretty good.

And then there is technical progress. Every new generation camera is better than the previous one. If the APS-C camera is a couple of generations newer than a full frame one (as is the case with Canon’s 40D versus 5D), it might be as good and in some respects even better. Of course, you can wait for the next generation full frame. And put up with the wrong lens even longer.

More resources
Advantages of ful frame

A comparison between full frame and APS-C

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