You may be wondering what’s the difference between a full frame vs crop sensor DSLR. Maybe you’ve thought, “My camera sucks, I need to upgrade.”
Very often people think if there photos aren’t where they want them that they need a new camera. Instead of purchasing a new camera, consider getting a higher quality lens.
What is full frame vs crop?
We’re going to start by going into the differences of crop vs. full frame sensors but for the purpose of this post I’m going to keep it simple. There are four main differences. First, full frames have higher ISO and can handle that ISO better in terms of grain. Second, full frames produce better color and picture quality. Third, a crop sensor has a crop of 1.6x (Canon) or 1.5x (Nikon). This means if you put a 50mm lens on a full frame, its focal length is 50mm. However, on a crop sensor the actual focal length for a 50mm is 80mm (Canon) or 75mm (Nikon). If you want to see what a 50mm lens would look like on a full frame but only have a crop sensor, check out the 35mm. Lastly is DOF, although this is actually a myth, I am going to touch on this a bit when we get to the pictures.
Now let’s get to the photos. The photos were all shot from a tripod that never moved and with a model that was sitting in the same spot the whole time. This way you can really see the crop factor on each lens. Lastly, all photos were imported zeroed out and edited the exact same way. The only difference in editing was a few WB tweaks.
First up is the 24-70mm lens. This is the only lens I felt a strong difference in color and image quality. I would not typically shoot with this lens for these types of shots but I wanted to give you a wide focal point to compare. Oh, and please excuse the foot chop. Whoops!
Moving onto the 50mm 1.4 . I can slightly tell the difference with color and image quality but honestly besides the crop they look extremely similar. You can see the DOF is exactly the same in both photos.
Last is the 85mm 1.8. Again there’s a slight difference in color and image quality but they both look fantastic to me. I love the DOF I acquired with both cameras and I would give both shots to my client.
Now back to the DOF myth. The only time DOF applies is when you’re shooting the same photo at the same crop. So pictures 3 & 4 were both shot with my 85mm but with different camera bodies. I had to move in closer with my 5D to get a crop that would be similar to my 50D. Do you see the difference in the DOF in these shots? Again this is the only time it applies. If you would like to read more, you can read this great article written about full frame vs crop sensor-depth of field.
I hope this helped some of you out there longing for a full frame camera realize that it’s not all about the camera body. Go get those lens you’ve been longing over first and I bet it’ll be the best investment you’ve ever made.
Read the whole series on camera lenses
Part 1: Understanding the writing on the lens
Part 2: What lens should I buy next?
Part 3: Our Favorite Lenses
Part 4: Lens on crop vs. full frame sensor
Part 5: Comparing different lenses
Part 6: 50mm 1.8 vs 1.4