Who Needs a Full Frame Camera #54

Who Needs a Full Frame Camera #54

Photo Tips Podcast: Who Needs a Full Frame Camera #54

Photo Tips Podcast: Who Needs a  Full Frame Camera #54
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Photo Tips Podcast: Who Needs a Full Frame Camera #54

One of the questions I get asked most often is “Should I upgrade to a full frame camera?” My usual answer is no, despite the fact that I myself shoot full frame. But before you stop listening, I want to explain why I personally shoot full frame and see if these reasons resonate with you. The number one reason why I shoot full frame is because the aspect ratio of the sensor is the same as that of 35mm film. When I compose a photo in my head, I do it to that aspect ratio because I have been shooting 35mm since I was 12. As a result I have a very difficult time composing in the aspect ratio of a cropped sensor which is more squatty and square than full frame, in other words it’s not as long. So if you are new to photography, you wouldn’t have this same problem because it’s all you know. Another reason why I shoot full frame is for the resolution. The full frame sensor is larger than that of a cropped sensor and is capable of producing a higher resolution image. But let’s face it, the vast majority of shooters won’t take advantage of this resolution because they are not presenting their images in a medium that would require or is even capable of taking advantage of this much resolution; so unless you need this resolution you don’t need a full frame camera. Full frame sensors also tend to have a greater dynamic range which makes it more forgiving if you screw up your exposure or if you have really “contrasty” conditions. I guess this would be a good argument for beginners to shoot full frame because beginners are more likely to mess up their exposure or fail to recognize that they have less than less than ideal conditions. And this extra dynamic range means that they would have a greater possibility of rescuing an image.

The extra resolution also allows you to shoot in increasingly low light with less noise. The larger sensor also gives you a shallower depth of field, which may or may not be desirable depending on the types of things you like to shoot. But for those who like to shoot portraits and want that nice shallow depth of field and think that full frame will resolve your problems, all I can say is I can achieve a beautiful shallow depth of field on a cropped sensor at f/8. So this isn’t a good reason to shoot full frame. I’ll cover that in the next podcast.

It should be noted that aside from cost, all of the full frame bodies are bigger and heavier than their cropped sensor counter parts. The lenses are also bigger and heavier. This fact alone should slow you down from going full frame. As it is, most people don’t like carrying a cropped sensor DSLR due to the weight, so going to a full frame camera? Good luck with that one. So when would an amateur photographer need full frame? One instance I can think of is bird photography. Often times you are dealing with very harsh lighting conditions and that extra dynamic range can be very helpful. A lot of bird photographers also tell me that they are doing a lot of cropping because they cannot get close enough even with a lot of lens. As a result, the higher resolution of the full frame sensor would be helpful. Full frame cameras are also generally built for pros who demand a faster autofocus system, so if you find yourself often shooting sports or moving wild life like birds and your autofocus system is a little bit too sluggish for your needs, then full frame also makes sense.

Everyone knows that it’s not the camera but the person behind the camera that makes the photograph, you know the photographer! So if you think that a full frame will help you be a better photographer, well give me a call, cause I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. In all seriousness, unless you need the things that I mentioned, you don’t need to go full frame camera. It really won’t make your photography any better.

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