First off, this is neither a full frame vs crop debate nor a review. There are hundreds of wonderful folk out there who put there heart and soul into making review videos and blog posts, you should totally check them out. If you’re still reading this, chances are you want to put your hard earned money on a full frame camera, but not entirely sure if you should. Well for that, I hope this article brings a little perspective.
I have been a Canon shooter ever since I stepped into the world of DSLRs and whatever I’m going to discuss here is with respect to Canon alone. My upgrade from Canon XS happened to be a T3i and all the images on this site were made using this brilliant little (well comparatively) camera. I recently upgraded to a 6D and without beating around the bush, here are my thoughts on factors to consider before emptying your wallet on a full frame. If you are a Canon shooter, there is a choice of two budget friendly full frame cameras, the 6D and the 5D mkII. Both sell pretty cheap on the used market.
According to me, here’s what you should consider before switching to full frame.
a) FEATURE SET:
The creamy layer of crop sensor cameras like the 70D and 7D come bundled with amazing feature set that is found lacking on budget full frames.
The best crop sensor cameras are significantly cheaper compared to budget friendly full frame cameras. So if you want more bang for the buck, the likes of 70D and 7D should be on top of your list.
c) IMAGE QUALITY:
A huge fuss is made about the image quality and let me assure you, there won’t be much difference when you shoot in good light. I’ve come across brilliant pictures taken with entry level
DSLRs coupled with good glass. Since crop sensor cameras uses the sweet spot of full frame lenses, vignetting and softness at corners etc is not even a thing of bother.
Full frame lenses are expensive, period. I should know as I’m still searching for a good walk around lens for a good price. Crop sensor lenses are cheap and the new range of EF-S lenses
have brilliant optics. Third party crop lenses are more affordable.
Due to the magnification factor, a lens coupled with a crop sensor camera gives you more reach compared to the same lens coupled with a full frame camera. For people who do wildlife,
this is most welcome.
Crop sensor cameras are significantly lighter and for people who travel a lot, lugging around a heavy camera with a heavy lens can get pretty tiring.
But then why would one switch to full frame?
a) HIGH ISO IMAGE IQ:
Due to lesser pixel density on a bigger sensor, noise performance on full frame is simply amazing. I’ve tried using faster lenses to avoid ISOs higher than 1600 on my 600D, and the results were really good. But on a full frame, I can just keep bumping up the ISO and the image quality holds up without any degradation or loss of detail.
b) DEPTH OF FIELD:
Due to the proximity of the camera being more closer to the subject for similar framing, full frame creates a more depth of field perception compared to crop bodies. This is mighty useful for
portraits though not useful everywhere.
c) FOCUS SPEED:
This is debatable as the 5D mkII has a Rebel like focus system, but I find the focusing of 6D to be much better than that of the 600D. So if you are switching from a Rebel, you will certainly appreciate the improvement. Needless to say, if you are switching from a 60D/70D/7D it’s a downgrade.
As far as I’m concerned, I have huge hands and the 600D started feeling a wee bit tiny. Also, being spoilt by good glass, I wanted to make full use of what it had to offer. I had zeroed in on the 70D but then realised that I don’t shoot video and won’t make justice to the amazing feature set it comes with. I needed a good camera for stills and the 70D and the 7D offered very little improvement in this area over the 600D. The only logical choices were used full frames as I was a little tight on budget and here I am with a barely 5 month old camera. I urge people not to go by the spec sheet but to choose cameras and lenses based on their usage pattern. It is easy to spend money on fancy gear but do realise that if it fails to improve your experience, it is as good as money wasted. Happy clicking.