“Which cam­era to choose?”, “Crop or full frame?”, “Is it pos­si­ble to shoot a children’s par­ty / land­scapes / por­traits / ants / in the stu­dio on a crop?” — you most like­ly either asked these ques­tions or saw them in near-pho­to­graph­ic com­mu­ni­ties. Espe­cial­ly if you chose a cam­era. And they prob­a­bly came across the opin­ion that “only full frame, crop — fu-fu-fu.”

The full frame has a num­ber of unde­ni­able advan­tages over crop. But cropped matri­ces also have a cou­ple of trump cards up their sleeves. Does every­one need a crop and when play­ing with it is not worth the can­dle, we’ll fig­ure it out in this arti­cle.

Fuji­film X‑T3 is a bright rep­re­sen­ta­tive of cropped mir­ror­less / Pho­to: unsplash.com

The opin­ion “a full frame is by def­i­n­i­tion bet­ter than a crop” claims to be the ulti­mate truth. Some­thing like “it’s bet­ter to be healthy and rich than poor and sick.” In fact, if we draw analo­gies, it will sound more like “a large iron shov­el is bet­ter than a small plas­tic scoop.” It sounds log­i­cal, but if you need to trans­plant flow­ers or play in the sand­box with your child, take a scoop instead. Although, if you real­ly want to, of course, both of them can dig in the ground or sand.

The full frame has three obvi­ous advan­tages:

  • high oper­at­ing ISO val­ues ​​(eas­i­er to work in the dark);
  • great image detail;
  • small­er (com­pared to crop) depth of field, which means a beau­ti­ful­ly blurred back­ground.

Let’s see what cam­eras with a small­er matrix can offer, when and in what way they win over a full frame.

Less weight and size
To save mon­ey on buy­ing a cam­era
To save on lens pur­chas­es and have more choice
Depth of field
When it is impor­tant that the cam­era has an “inno­cent” look
When you know what you are film­ing and why you need this cam­era

One of the big prob­lems with full-frame cam­eras is that they are heavy. This is espe­cial­ly true for not the newest DSLRs.

For the past five years, I have been shoot­ing exclu­sive­ly with Fuji­film XT cam­eras. There were sev­er­al dif­fer­ent ones, but they were all sprin­kled. Recent­ly, at some event, a friend asked me to shoot it on her cam­era — Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. I extend­ed my hand and sighed. As Google help­ful­ly sug­gests, this mon­ster weighs almost a kilo­gram with­out a lens.

Sub­jec­tive­ly, it feels like I can shoot with my cam­era from absolute­ly any posi­tion: with my arms raised above my head, with one out­stretched arm. It is dif­fi­cult even to hold a large SLR on an out­stretched hand.

It’s scary to imag­ine how tired your arms, shoul­ders and back will be after a full day of work with a heavy cam­era. Of course, you can pick up a good pho­to back­pack and com­fort­able straps, but this still does not reduce the weight of the cam­era.

For com­par­i­son:

- Full-frame Canon EOS 5D Mark IV weighs 890 grams;

– cropped Canon 800D weighs 530 grams;

– Fuji­film X‑T30 weighs 383 grams.

Sony Alpha 7S / Pho­to: unsplash.com

There are, of course, a num­ber of new gen­er­a­tion full-frame mir­ror­less cam­eras that weigh less, but they have anoth­er prob­lem. They stand like a Boe­ing wing.

  • Sony Alpha 7C weighs 500 grams, but costs from 218 thou­sand rubles;
  • Sony Alpha 7 III weighs 650, but costs from 209 thou­sand rubles.

At the same time, the cost of the cam­eras list­ed above ranges from 70 to 180 thou­sand rubles. Which smooth­ly brings us to the next crop plus. They are usu­al­ly much cheap­er.

This item could be first on this list. Full-frame cam­eras are more expen­sive than their non-full-frame coun­ter­parts. Most often, you have a cer­tain bud­get for buy­ing a cam­era (let’s say it’s 300 thou­sand rubles). With this mon­ey, you can either buy a used full-frame DSLR with one kit lens, or a more or less fresh decent kit with a cropped cam­era.

This amount will include:

- Nikon D780 Kit 24–120mm (full-frame DSLR, with a mod­er­ate­ly good, but not top-end stan­dard lens);

– Olym­pus OM‑D E‑M5 III Kit 12–40mm (mir­ror­less cam­era with micro 4/3 matrix, top stan­dard zoom). For change, you can take a cou­ple more good fix­es with aper­ture ratio of 1.8–2.8.

The same math awaits us when buy­ing indi­vid­ual lens­es. Let’s com­pare two reg­u­lar fast zooms at 2.8:

- Olym­pus 12–40mm F2.8 PRO will cost 75 thou­sand rubles;

- Nikon 24–70mm f / 2.8 — 220 thou­sand rubles.

In addi­tion to the fact that the own­ers of crop cam­eras save on lens­es, they also have more choice of glass­es. Para­dox­i­cal­ly, cam­eras with a small matrix have a larg­er selec­tion of lens­es. There is a trick here: you can hang a full-frame lens on a cropped cam­era. And in four cas­es out of five, this bun­dle will work and give a good result. But in the oppo­site direc­tion, the focus will not work.

Some lens­es can cost more than the cam­era itself. This is worth remem­ber­ing when choos­ing a cam­era / Pho­to: unsplash.com

The small­er the sen­sor size, the greater the depth of field will be when using the same set­tings and the same lens­es. Depth of field deter­mines how much space is sharp and how much is blurred.

On the left is a small depth of field, only a frag­ment of the pot is in sharp­ness, the back­ground is blurred, on the right is a large depth of field, the entire pot is in sharp­ness, the back­ground is sharp­er / Pho­to: Alisa Smirno­va, Fotosklad.Expert

In some cas­es, this is use­ful: when shoot­ing land­scapes, when shoot­ing small objects, includ­ing macro pho­tog­ra­phy. For exam­ple, insects are often filmed on cam­eras with a micro 4/3 sen­sor (dou­ble crop). Because the max­i­mum zoom when using most macro lens­es is 1:1 (which means that the image of an ant on the sen­sor will be the same size as the ant itself in life). There­fore, on a small matrix, the ant fills the frame much more dense­ly than on a full frame.

For exam­ple, if you plan to take your cam­era on vaca­tion and go to two music fes­ti­vals and vis­it 8 muse­ums with it, it’s in your best inter­est that it does­n’t look like a “big black cam­era”.

Larg­er ones may be banned from mak­ing, some­where you will need to pay extra for pro­fes­sion­al shoot­ing. A com­pact mir­ror­less cam­era will most like­ly not raise ques­tions from the secu­ri­ty guard, because it looks friv­o­lous. If it’s some cute Fuji­film X‑T30 with a 35mm prime lens, some­one might just be ask­ing if you’re shoot­ing on film.

The styl­ized design of Fuji­film mir­ror­less cam­eras usu­al­ly arous­es every­one’s curios­i­ty / Pho­to: unsplash.com

And it works in the oppo­site direc­tion: if you shoot large events as a pho­tog­ra­ph­er, with a small cam­era you can be mis­tak­en for an ama­teur and inter­fere with work.

Per­haps the most impor­tant item on the entire list. You can safe­ly take a cropped cam­era, work great on it and not know grief. But in a good way, in order for such a hap­py end­ing to over­take you, you need to clear­ly under­stand why you need this par­tic­u­lar cam­era.

If, for exam­ple, you take a small Olym­pus with a max­i­mum oper­at­ing val­ue of ISO 3200 and try to shoot night ski races on it, this, of course, is a chal­lenge to your­self. But, return­ing to where we start­ed, it is more con­ve­nient to dig pota­toes with a large iron shov­el, and leave the scoop for flow­ers.

Why do I need this cam­era? / Pho­to: unsplash.com

If you’re plan­ning on shoot­ing night ski­ing, it’s worth look­ing at full frame at a high­er ISO set­ting. For the same Canon EOS 5D Mark IV weigh­ing a kilo­gram, it is 12500.

It is impor­tant to dis­tin­guish between the ISO lim­it and the work­ing one. The lim­it is the max­i­mum at which the cam­era is gen­er­al­ly capa­ble of shoot­ing. As a rule, when shoot­ing at the lim­it val­ue, the pic­tures are very noisy. The max­i­mum oper­at­ing ISO val­ue is the one at which noise does not inter­fere with the per­cep­tion of images. To deter­mine it on a par­tic­u­lar cam­era, you need to take test pho­tos at dif­fer­ent ISO val­ues ​​\u200b\u200band see where the noise looks accept­able.

And with calm fam­i­ly shoot­ing in sun­ny weath­er, both cam­eras will cope plus or minus the same way. Of course, there will be a dif­fer­ence in detail, but not as bla­tant as in the night ski­er exam­ple.

If you shoot mod­er­ate­ly large por­traits and know that they will go to social net­works, and not to huge ban­ners, then the great detail that a full frame gives is your ene­my, not a friend. More will have to retouch minor skin imper­fec­tions.


От Yara

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