There are two types of digital SLR camera, first it is full frame, second it is crop frame. Back in the film era, Back in the film days, the frame that capture image on a standard film SLR was one size: 24mm x 36mm. Now, we call it full frame.
In the digital era, manufacturers produces image sensor with varying size. So to know how big is the sensor relative to full frame sensor, we use the term “crop factor”
Nikon, one of the camera manufacturer, labels full frame camera as FX and crop frame camera as DX.
Nikon (DX) crop frame camera has 1.5 crop factor. Canon has 3 kinds of crop factor, full frame or 1, 1.3 and 1.6 crop factor. Olympus camera has 1 kind, 2 crop factor. Sony has full frame and 1.5 crop factor, and Pentax has 1.5 crop factor.
The immediate effect of the crop factor is on the lens focal length. 50mm lens in 1.5 crop factor camera is 75mm, and 200mm lens in 2 crop factor camera is 400mm. (found by multiplying the lens focal length and the crop factor).
There are other differences as well:
Full frame or FX camera characteristics:
- Record higher details with high-quality digital or film lens.
- Great noise handling in high ISO. Approx. 2 times cleaner.
- Bigger viewfinder
- Image captured has shallower depth of field
- Not compatible with DX optimized lens.
- Camera is heavier and bigger in size
- Higher price
Crop frame or DX camera characteristics:
- Longer reach, 100mm lens in camera that have crop factor of 2 is 200mm
- Compatible with many lenses, FX or DX
- Record fewer details
- Lighter to carry
- Cheaper price
A lot of working professionals especially from the film era prefers FX camera because of the image quality and sophisticated features that usually come with FX camera. But you don’t have to get FX camera to capture image quality. Lens quality also a big factor here. If you have FX camera but have a low quality lens, then image quality could be worse.
Cost aside, when you are shooting far away object, like wildlife, sports, you might be happier to use crop frame camera because you get more reach and it is lighter to carry than FX cameras.
On the other hand, if you are shooting constantly in low light situation where flash, or external lighting strobes are not allowed, you might want to invest on full frame camera due to its prowerness in low light.
Below is the image illustrating how the image are captured in different image sensorRelated Post: