articles for photographers

Should I go full frame?

The transition to full frame is a responsible business. First of all, of course, because of the high cost of such cameras. Therefore, photographers often have a question: buy a new lens or save up for a full frame? Also, people ask themselves: whether to take a full frame at once or to do without crop when buying your first camera? In this article, I will answer these and other questions in as much detail as possible.

About marketing

The efforts of marketers today are aimed at getting people to buy the coolest camera and the most expensive lens for themselves. And it works. If not for prices, everyone would have walked with full-frame cameras and L lenses. But there is actually no point in it.


Nice photo, according to my estimates, consists of:

  • 10% of the coolness of your camera
  • 30% of the quality of your optics
  • 30% straightness of your hands when shooting
  • 30% post-processing literacy

how to get good photos

Marketers of photographic equipment companies play up to the aspirations of many budding photographersconvincing them to buy a better camera. The more megapixels, the higher the working ISOs, the faster the autofocus speed, etc., the supposedly better photos will be.

The specific ratios of these factors depend on the genre of photography. For example, for subject shooting I would rate the ratio somewhere like this:

  • 10% camera and lens
  • 40% ability to expose light
  • 50% post-processing accuracy

So I am definitely did not recommend would beginners buy right away full frame... This makes no sense at all. The person will not even notice the difference. By the way, this shoot I mixed it in crop mode and full frame (there it was shot on Canon R - on full frame and on a crop lens). I also advise you to look This Video, where I propose to guess what these or those photos were taken with.

New lens or camera?

When choosing between a lens or camera upgrade, it is also better to buy first good lens... Moreover, you can afford an order of magnitude more variety for a crop. A relatively inexpensive kit that I would recommend for complete photographic happiness for a start:

  • Any modern crop camera Canon
  • Canon EF-S 10-18mm f4.5-5.6 IS STM
  • Canon EF-S 24mm f2.8 STM
  • Canon EF-S 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM

All of this together costs approximately the same as one full-frame camera without a lens. But you get the widest range of focal lengths with very compact, inexpensive and high quality optics. A similar range on a full frame will cost 3 times more.

I wrote in detail about lenses on crop in this stuff.

Let's get down to specifics.

What advantages does a full frame have over a crop?

1) Wider dynamic range
2) Higher operating values ​​ISO
3) Better sharpness across the entire frame
4) Higher resolution
5) Convenience of focal lengths
6) More comfortable body

And now about each item in more detail.

1) Dynamic range.

What it is? It is the width of the spectrum of light that is captured in the photograph, the number of shades between completely light and completely dark. It has always been believed that digital cameras are inferior in this parameter to film. But full-frame digital DSLRs this statement can be challenged. Crop cameras are much more likely to produce white spots in the light areas of photographs and dark holes in the shadows.

Why do it? This is the most important question. It all depends on the type of filming. In particular, the wide dynamic range has almost no effect on pulsed light studio shooting. This is important when shooting outdoors, for portraits and landscapes.

Another question arises here, and how many people even notice it? In my experience - no... It is especially funny when people shoot with expensive high-aperture optics in full frame, and then apply Instagram-like effects to the photo, completely killing paid with hard earned money dynamic range.

2) High ISO

Due to the larger sensor size and the increase in the physical pixel size, full-frame cameras capture more light. As a result, you can shoot at higher ISOs without noise. It is really very convenient. But it should also be borne in mind that modern crop cameras already have very good parameters. For example, the old full-frame Canon 5D at ISO 400 already produced bearable but noticeable noises. The new crop shoots decently at ISO 1600.

3) Sharpness

In fact, sharpness primarily depends on the lens. But the same good lens will be sharper at full frame than at crop.

4) Resolution

There are some nuances here. First, the megapixel race is actually pointless. Anyway, in practice, 90% of the photos are then compressed for the Internet. Besides, the resolution of crop cameras is quite enough for printing photos. Secondly, the new crop shoots at 20MP, which is similar to the less recent full-frame cameras. A resolution of 36MP or more is needed only for large-format printing.

5) Convenient focal lengths

The eternal inconvenience of a crop is that the focal lengths of the lenses have to be recalculated. For example, Canon 24-70mm 2.8L lens on the crop it is not at all wide-angle at 24mm. Since in full frame equivalent, you get about 38-105mm. And 38mm is not wide angle. On the other hand, this problem is solved the right choice of optics... Moreover, the choice of crop lenses is now very large. However, if you are fond of shooting wildlife or espionage, the crop factor will only play into your hands - after all, telephoto lenses will give an approximation of 1,5 times.

6) Camera body

I added this point on my own behalf, as it is subjective. Crop cameras are too small to hold in your hands. The full frame is much nicer in the palm of your hand. In this regard, the 6D is just like a crop - small and unconvincing. Although, crops weigh one and a half times less, which is more convenient for travel.

Parameters by which some crop cameras are no longer inferior to full-frame ones:

  • shooting speed
  • autofocus system

The Canon 7D Mark II is only inferior to the 1D series in these parameters. Although, the cost of this crop camera is similar to that of a full-frame 6D.

Moreover, some modern crop cameras even have advantages over full-frame cameras! I am now referring to the Canon 70D and a number of other new cameras with a wonderful video autofocus system. Face detection autofocus is cool, as is point-to-point focusing on the touchscreen.

About your experience.

I've been cropping for about 8 years. I had at my disposal ancient Canon 300D... In 2012 I switched to full frame and it was a conscious decision. Of course, I felt the difference between the 300D and the Canon 5D Mark II. I must say the difference between 800D and 5D mark III is also there, but not so obvious. The new crop is much better.

I would recommend people not to spend money on expensive models right away. You need to start with a crop, and then understand why you need a full frame.

Professional application

There is an opinion that full-frame cameras are professional ones. Yes and no. I advise you to read this article about who is a professional photographer... In short, within the framework of this profession, the advantages that a full frame gives are far from being in demand. When deciding on such an acquisition, try to soberly assess how and when it will pay off to you. For this I advise this article. about the prospects of making money in photography.

Totalcrop vs full frame

A camera with a full frame is, by the way, also a reason for subsequent spending on expensive optics. Does that make sense? My opinion is that such an acquisition makes sense for experienced photographers who know why and what for they need it. Do I need to go from crop to full frame? It's up to everyone to decide. The main thing is that the decision is conscious.

Finally, my videos about the features of the full frame and crop:

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