Any new photographer will quickly realize that taking a good photo of something or someone is a little more difficult than it looks. But if you have a good full frame or crop camera, then getting the perfect shot can be a little easier.
If you’re looking for a camera that gives you a broader range of vision and a higher visual quality, a full frame camera is the better option. However, there are several pros and cons dealing with control and other aspects to consider.
But there are certain things about both cameras that make them better for different situations. Read on below for a list of the pros and cons for both cameras, along with the best crop and full frame cameras on the market.
Pros and Cons of Full Frame Cameras
The main difference between a full frame camera and a crop camera is the size of their sensor. A camera’s sensor is what captures the lighting of an image and zooms in on an image to get the highest definition visual.
A full frame camera has a larger sensor, which is usually the standard thirty five millimeters big. Because of the larger sensor, there are many advantages that come with it, but also a few disadvantages.
Pros of Full Frame Cameras
Improved Lowlight Visuals and High ISO Performance
The larger sensor size on full frame cameras allows the camera to capture more light. This makes it easier for the camera to focus on images that are in “lowlight” areas. These are areas that are darker or have shadowy light. The improved performance of the camera in lowlight makes the quality of the final image higher.
Full frame cameras also have more pixels. The more pixels that are on a camera, the more detailed the images will be. More pixels also create less digital noise, or distortion, in the image. This further refines the photo by cancelling out anything that isn’t part of the photo. It focuses on the thing you want to photograph and makes it clear and crisp.
Color Depth and Dynamic Range
Full frame cameras have the ability to capture a larger range of tone and color, whether it be in shadows or highlighted areas. This makes the colors and details of objects really stand out and be crystal clear.
Even though these cameras are designed to be able to hyper focus on a few objects, they can also give you a wider view of your environment. This can be for purposefully blurring out the backgrounds and foregrounds of photographs for an aesthetic purpose or style. It makes this camera ideal for:
- Travel destinations
- Artistic projects
Depth of Field Control
In photography, a depth of field is how far away the nearest object is from the furthest object in the photo. A full frame camera can provide you with a very shallow depth of field, improving the focus of the image.
A full frame camera won’t provide you with a larger depth of field because of the bigger sensor. Wide pictures on full frame cameras typically have backgrounds that appear blurry and distorted since they are designed to be hyper focused on a minimal number of objects.
If you want a camera that’s going to give you intense and detailed images, then a full frame camera is the best way to go.
Cons of Full Frame Cameras
They Can Be Pricey
Finding a camera that is good quality for a low price is nearly impossible, and it isn’t any different with full frame cameras. Full frame cameras can cost a small fortune, but the price is definitely worth the quality and utility of the cameras.
However, in addition to the camera, you usually have to buy multiple lenses to go with it. Camera lenses typically don’t cost a fortune, but no matter what they cost, that’s a number that can grow exponentially fast if multiple are bought.
Slow Frame Rate
The camera’s larger sensor means that its memory card will have to record more information. This can make saving images to the card a longer process, so you don’t have as many opportunities to shoot pictures. You have fewer frames per second which results in less photo opportunities.
If you’re a landscape photographer it can be viewed as a pro, since you have more time to capture long exposure shots. But for the most part, not being able to take as many photos as quickly leaves the photographer with fewer final options to choose from.
The Size of Them
Full frame cameras tend to be bulkier because of the larger sensors, so they can get heavy to carry around. The lenses you can attach to the camera only increase the weight and awkwardness of these cameras. This can make taking landscape shots and travel photos very hard.
You could purchase a carrying case for it, but that would also mean spending more money. It also doesn’t really change the fact that carrying a full frame camera can get tiring after a while, since a carrying case can add more weight.
Even though there are a few downsides to full frame cameras, the pros outweigh the cons and the benefits and versatility of a full frame cameras are undeniable.
Pros and Cons of Crop Cameras
A crop sensor is the term used for any camera sensor that’s smaller than the standard thirty-five-millimeter sensor. They are typically used by beginner photographers, so maybe trying one of these out before getting a full frame is a good idea.
Pros of Crop Cameras
Possibly the biggest advantage of crop cameras, a typical crop camera usually only costs a few hundred dollars. While the price may be cheaper, that doesn’t mean the image quality will look cheap. Crop cameras are only cheaper because their sensor doesn’t cost a lot to produce, whereas full frame camera sensors do.
Beginning photographers can’t deny that saving a little extra money while exploring their photographing style and interests is definitely a plus. Even if you end up not getting too far into photography, you will still most likely have a pretty good camera for a fair price.
Smaller Size and Lighter Weight
Crop cameras have a significantly smaller sensor than full frame cameras, meaning they also weigh significantly less. This makes a crop camera a lot easier to carry around and travel with. You could easily carry it on a lanyard or in a travel bag, preventing you from having to purchase a carrying case. This can save you some money and save you from some unnecessary exercise. The fact that crop cameras also don’t have extra weighty lenses makes them that much easier to carry around.
A telephoto is a camera with a large lens that extends outwards to capture a narrow field of vision and an image that’s magnified. A crop camera has a crop sensor multiplier that can allow you to achieve that effect without using a large and extended lens.
It can help with getting close up shots where you want the focus of the photo to be narrow, such as on one single object or subject. The ability of a crop camera to do this without a specific lens can help beginner photographers explore close up photography.
A crop camera is a great option if you’re a beginner, primarily because of how inexpensive they are. But they also offer the ability to take good pictures to propel you forward in photography.
Cons of Crop Cameras
Poor Performance in Low Light
A crop camera’s sensor has pixels that are packed so closely together that it’s hard for light to get through. Because of the decreased light absorption, a crop camera's performance in lowlight environments is poor. The exposure also decreases because the less light there is on something, the harder it is to see it clearly.
If you find yourself still using a crop camera, then you will need to find another source of lighting if you're taking photos in a place with low light. Some alternative lighting options include:
- Natural lighting
- Flash attachment
- Stage lights
- External lamps
Most of which can cost more money to purchase and more time to set up and lug around while going from location to location.
Cropped Sensor Downsides
Even though the smaller sensor inside of a crop camera has its advantages, it can also negatively affect your photos. The most negative thing about a crop camera is that it actually crops your picture. You might end up with a picture that was smaller than you wanted or the thing you wanted a picture of can get accidentally cropped out.
The reason this happens is because the sensor in a crop camera captures the main part of an image and leaves out the rest. This can result in a photo that is only focused on one thing and has a blurry background.
Crop cameras also have a narrow view of vision. This gives you an inability to control the background of pictures, so there’s really nothing you can do about the unwanted blurry backgrounds.
Focal Length Issues
A lens’s focal length is the distance between the camera’s lens and the image sensor when the subject or object is in focus. Focal length determines how much of the image is captured, in size and in detail.
Crop cameras usually aren’t able to get a wide view of vision or a very detailed image because of the narrowed field of vision. Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem. Finding a lens with a wider angle can help increase the field of vision on your camera.
Unfortunately, it’s harder to find a wider lens for a crop camera, so your options are limited and most likely expensive.
Best Full Frame Cameras
Even though full frame cameras are the pricier option, that doesn’t subtract from the quality of them. But some cameras are better than others, so here’s a list of a few of the best.
The Nikon D780
Nikon is known for producing some of the best cameras in the business, and the Nikon D780 is the best of the bunch. Similar to a D750, the Nikon D780 includes a plethora of small but worthwhile improvements. These improvements include:
- 4K Video Resolution
- A Touch Screen
- Fast phase-detection live view
The downside of more improvements is that it costs more money. So even though this camera isn’t the cheapest, you get your money’s worth because of how versatile and functional it is.
The Nikon D610
Possibly the cheapest full frame camera on this list, the Nikon D610 is an older Nikon model that still delivers. If you’d rather have a simpler camera without too much new technology, but still works like a charm, this is the camera for you.
Even without all of the latest updates, the Nikon D610 still has some worthwhile features. These features include:
- Two memory card slots
- 24.3MP full-frame sensor
- Fixed 3.2in LCD
- Full High Definition Video
The image quality is also still very good, and it has a fully functional autofocus center. This camera is a great one for beginners to start out with, whether it be in photography or transitioning to a full frame camera.
Canon EOS 6D Mark II
The Canon EOS 6D Mark II is the best camera when it comes to price and performance. With an abundance of improvements such as a higher megapixel count, a late generation processor, and a high quality exterior made from a magnesium alloy body with amazing weather sealing, the Canon EOS 6D Mark II is the best full frame camera on the market.
In addition to the megapixel and processor improvements, this camera also includes:
- Main AF module having 45 phase-detection points
- Two brand new autofocus systems
- All cross-type detection points
- 20.2 Megapixel sensor
- 65 autofocus points
- Dual-Pixel autofocus and card slots
- Built-in GPS
For video and live view, this camera has a much faster autofocus because of the dual pixel sensor. This camera also has a touch screen that makes it much easier to select the photos you want to see and to choose the AF points you want. These advancements and the great price deal make the Canon EOS 6D Mark II the best full frame camera on the market.
Best Crop Cameras
Crop cameras might not be the better option of the two, but that doesn’t mean that all crop cameras are bad quality. Here’s a list of a few of the best crop cameras that are on the market.
The Nikon D500 camera is one of the most highly reviewed crop cameras ever. It has a lot of features that can be used for multiple genres of photography, and is easy and fun to use for beginners and professionals.
Some of the high-tech advancements this camera has include:
- Continuous burst mode
- 20.9 Megapixel crop sensor
- 4K Video Visuals
- 153 point autofocus system
Those are just a few of the improvements this camera has. As you’d expect, the image quality is amazing, with clear and detailed images no matter what lens you use. But it does have a bit of a heavier price because of the number of technological features. But the quality of it is definitely worth the price tag.
The most expensive crop camera on this list, the FujiFilm X-T3 is extremely expensive for extremely good reasons. This camera has a 26.1-megapixel sensor and is capable of shooting at thirty frames per second. With these tools, the quality of your pictures can skyrocket.
The megapixel sensor and the extra fast frame shooting ability aren’t the only things that make this camera special. Some of the other features it has include:
- 3-inch tilting touchscreen
- Eye and face autofocus
- 425 autofocus points
- Dual card slots
- Blackout free frame shooting
- 4k video at 10 bit
This crop camera is definitely a fierce competitor with the full frame cameras that were previously reviewed. But it doesn’t change the fact that your photos will be smaller and crop out the background of photos.
With a rangefinder style and a price no one can deny, the Sony A6000 is the best crop camera out there. It’s one of the most affordable cameras on the market that also comes with many features. This makes it a great camera for beginners without requiring them to spend a small fortune.
Just a few of the features it has are:
- 179 autofocus
- 24.3 Megapixel sensor
- Can shoot 11 Frames per Second
- Electronic viewfinder
- HD Video
Despite all of these extra additions, the quality of the camera itself is also very high. It’s built to be durable and long lasting, but still light enough to carry around without feeling like you’re lifting a small weight. And since the camera already has a lot of features built into it, you won’t have to spend extra on a few parts.
This camera’s image quality and low light performance is also spectacular. It allows you to create custom functions to make your photos unique and help you find the style that you like. The price to performance ratio is undeniable, making it a favorite among photographers that use crop cameras.
No matter what the best full frame camera or crop camera is, there is something for every kind of photographer and photography style out there.
If there is a camera you like better than the ones featured here or a newer model of one of the cameras featured here are released, reach out and let me know!