Back in the days, only professional photographers and highly motivated enthusiasts have had the guts to purchase SLRs. Why? For one, SLRs are expensive by itself. Secondly, before the DSLRs, a film is required to record your photos which adds up to the cost of photography. Thirdly, you need some alchemy skills to develop your photos! Well, okay, the alchemy part may not really be necessary, but there’s chemistry involved in developing photos, and it’s a lot more complicated than hitting the print button!
The 1980s marked the beginning of the digitalization of cameras. Well, during that era, digital cameras are expensive. A few decades later, the technology became largely available, and many companies entered the competition. As expected, the price started to go down while consumers started to have access to better cameras. As the competition got tighter, camera prices went down. This prompted big companies to bring in the big guns to the masses.
What and Why Full Frame?
I know you are eager to get the latest and most high-tech camera today. Surely, whatever high-end camera you have in mind, it is equipped with top-end features that would capture moments with the best quality.
However, before you swipe your credit card and get the latest full-frame camera, let’s take a look at its features and why it is superior to the others. There might be technical terms involved, but I’ll try to explain it in the most relevant way that is easy to understand. Let’s go!
35mm Film Format
Long before the digital sensor was invented, the 35mm film was the most commonly used film format by photographers. Until now, many old-fashioned photographers swear that analog is better than digital! It has a better dynamic range and captures blacks and whites in great detail.
Films don’t use pixels. Put it this way. A pixel is a single square unit that displays color. Millions of it, when placed side by side with different colors, makes up an image. When you have a few of it, edges tend to become more noticeably pixelized. That’s the magic of film cameras. The images are not recorded as pixels; therefore, the curves are absolutely curves, and everything it captures is seamless.
And because 35mm is the standard format that gives the best quality output, it’s only natural that inventors would want to achieve what the analog format produces. This gave birth to the full frame DSLR. Full frame DSLRs follow the size of the 35mm film format.
APS Sensor VS Full Frame
You would often hear about people blabbering about APS sensor and how it is inferior compared with full frame DSLRs. Firstly, the sensor size has a dramatic difference in size. So, the talk about full frame being better than APS is totally valid.
Seasoned photographers who are adept about analog cameras very much know what APS means. APS stands for Advanced Photo System. APS is a film format that was introduced in 1996 but is now discontinued.
To better understand the sizes of camera sensors, you may find this video helpful.
• Light Reception
APS is commonly known as the cropped sensor because it’s a smaller version of a full frame. These types of sensors are okay and can capture decent photos. However, when it comes to low light situations, a larger sensor means more light is captured by the sensor.
With the larger format, capturing on high ISO will give you lesser photo noise compared with the smaller ones.
So, in essence, APS cameras produce good quality photos, but when it comes to dimly lit setups and night photography, full frame DSLRs have the greatest advantage.
How important is a pixel? Well, pixels are the building blocks of images, and every pixel represents a color that would ultimately compose the photo. Practically speaking, a larger sensor can have more pixels in it. In this case, a full frame sensor is two and a half times bigger than the APS sensor. This huge difference means that full frame sensors can capture the full spectrum of colors better than APS sensor.
True Wide Angle
There are many explanations over the internet about the stills you get shooting with a full frame versus a crop sensor camera. Some of them are a bit hard to understand. So, let me try to explain it in the simplest term I can come out with.
The large sensor of the full frame captures a larger portion of your view. Inversely, the smaller area of the crop sensor captures less area. With the smaller sensor that the lens focus light on, a smaller area is projected and saved. The resulting picture of, let’s say a 50mm lens on a crop sensor, it would seem that the photo is zoomed in. Effectively, a 50mm lens on a crop sensor would give you the perspective of an 80mm lens.
The bottom line, a full frame camera gives you the actual focal point of what a 35mm full frame film would capture. This gives you a wide-angle true to the specification of your lens. In many comparisons online, you would see that to get a 50mm shot on a crop sensor, and you would need a 35mm lens fixed.
Full Frame for The Win!
Today, Canon has the DSLR with the highest megapixel rating on the planet. If you take a look at the canon full frame cameras list, Canon EOS 5DS has 50.6mp in total! Imagine the images you can capture with them!
If you think you that your photos are too wide, you can easily crop it with a photo editing software. You have the freedom to remove some parts of the photo while still maintaining high-quality pictures. This is something you cannot do with a crop sensor. When your image is processed, on a crop sensor, there’s no way you can add more to it!
Although acquiring photography gears today are remarkably more affordable than a few decades ago, you would still need to train yourself and gain experience to become good at it. Navigating through the advanced features of full frame cameras would require time to master. So, when you get your hands on a full frame camera, spend time with it and practice a lot!