What the Crop?

Crop Factor - Comparison of APS-C and Full Frame

Today, our friendly wizard who helped us open a discussion about camera body differences steps to the side. He makes way for a discussion about crop factor. Posts I have read in the past have a tendency to make this complicated. In my experience, though, what most people really want to know is whether crop factor matters for how they shoot.

What is Crop Factor

How much water, light, and personal interaction does your sweet kernel corn crop require? Oh, sorry. We were talking about photography!

Most people think of crop factor as the “field of view” the camera provides. 90% of the debates on the internet boil down to this topic. There is more to it than that. Many times, the explanation is confusing and some even get it wrong. Tossing all the history, math, and ratios aside, let’s cut to the chase. It is all in the photo that accompanies this post.

The R5 is a “full frame” camera, producing the same field of view of traditional 35mm film cameras. The larger, primary photo is from the R5. The Canon 70D is an APS-C sensor, one of many “crop sensors”. It’s image has been laid on top of the R5 photo and is outlined in blue. As you can see, the 70D sensor captures a fraction of what the R5 sensor provides. In short, a full frame camera provides a larger field of view.

Beyond Field of View

Boiling things down only to field of view is a harsh oversimplification, but it works. Using the image above, taken with a focal length of 50mm, only the full frame image is truly 50mm. The 70D image, from a 1.6 crop factor lenses, provides the field of view of an 80mm lens (50 x 1.6 = 80).

No, you haven’t “zoomed in”. No, you didn’t capture more detail. Your field of view is simply narrower. A full-frame sensor of the same quality will give you the exact same image if cropped.

Why Is Full Frame Right For Me?

My humble, home studio is an enormous 270 square feet. This is a good size for living space. For photography, it gets cramped. Full frame gives me breathing room I cannot get from a crop sensor.

There are other benefits to shooting full frame. Bigger, better pixels on the sensor. Better image resolution. Enhanced depth of field. Of course, none of it matters if the person behind the lens doesn’t know how to take advantage of it. Therein lies the fun: Learning.

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