Question about full frame vs. APS-C

Started Oct 23, 2012 | Discussions thread
Deleted1929 Forum Pro • Posts: 13,050
Re: Question about full frame vs. APS-C

Exposure settings produce the same exposure on any camera.  That's basically how the numbers are defined.  It's a simple system allowing photographers to work with any camera without having to compensate for the equipment.

What does a full frame sensor actually do differently ?

First it's simply a larger sensor, which means that the angle of view captured at a given focal length will be wider than the same focal length on an APS-C sensor.

For reasons a little too complex to explain here the sensor size combined with the focal length also means that depth of field is narrower at the same focal length than it would be on an APS-C sensor.  The effects of diffraction are also different.

Bare in mind that to compare an APS-C system with a full frame system requires using different lenses that produce the same field of view ( we have to allow for crop factor ).  That means we really need to allow for the complete system when considering this, as different lenses have different characteristics.  Also keep in mind that the larger sensor is prone to suffer more from vignetting and corner distortion effects.  This is an important factor and people tend to neglect it when considering full frame and APS-C.

Depending on the size on each pixel ( area per pixel ) a full frame sensor may produce less noise than an APS-C sensor.  However this isn't automatically the case.  It is likely to be the case given the much larger total area of the sensor to be divided between pixels.  That said modern APS-C sensors are already very good in the noise department, so whether an individual photographer will really benefit from this now is debatable.

The major downside is cost.  Manufacturing a full frame sensors costs considerably more than the increased area would suggest - this relates to the manufacturing processes.  APS-C sensors will always be cheaper.

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