6 Benefits of Using Cameras With Larger Sensors

6 Benefits of Using Cameras With Larger Sensors


With ever increasing megapixel counts in smartphone cameras, do you need a dedicated camera at all? Or perhaps could you just get a really tiny compact camera?

At this point in time at least, the answer is probably no. Or at least not if you really want consistently good image quality. The reason is, that these devices don’t have large enough digital sensors.

The digital image sensor is the part of the camera that actually captures the image, from the light that is reflected onto it by the lens. The sensors are of a good size in any DSLR or mirrorless camera you are likely to buy, but in an iPhone or compact camera they are tiny.

It may be obvious to you that a larger digital sensor might result in higher resolution in your pictures. But, there are other benefits of a larger sensor that you might not be aware of, which go well beyond resolution. Therefore, in this article, I want to explain why a digital sensor is so important to your photography. The fact is it may be the most important factor to consider when purchasing a new camera.

1. Larger sensors generally provide higher resolution

Sensor size comparison chart

Sensors in DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are generally either Micro Four Thirds, APS-C, or Full Frame. Any of these will usually work fine, and as you can see they are all of good size. The sensors for smartphones and compact cameras, on the other hand, are extremely small in comparison.

Let’s start with the obvious thing – resolution. Having a digital sensor with a larger surface area provides the opportunity to include more pixels. Assuming the pixels are the same size, having a digital sensor that is 40% larger, reads that there can be 40% more pixels. That means higher resolution for your images, which in turn means more detail and the ability to make them larger.

A larger sensor can also lead to larger pixels, which has significant benefits for your pictures. If you see a Full Frame camera with the same number of megapixels as an APS-C camera, that doesn’t mean they will have the same image quality. Rather, that means the pixels will have been spread out over a larger surface area in the Full Frame model, and as you will see in the remainder of this article, having larger pixels spread out over a wider surface area has a whole host of benefits for your photography.

2. Larger sensors result in improved low-light performance

The number one predictor of whether a camera will have good low-light performance is the size of the digital image sensor. The camera testing that has been done shows a direct correlation between larger image sensors, and improved low-light performance.

A company called DxO Mark tests all digital cameras and assigns them a low-light performance score, which it calls its “sports” score (presumably because using high ISO is important to sports shooters, who often face poor light and need to use fast shutter speeds). This score is actually an ISO value. Specifically, the score is the highest ISO at which the camera will create a picture, without noise becoming too large of an issue (there is actually a technical formula they use involving decibels and signal to noise ratio, but that is my layperson’s definition of their score). The higher the score, the higher the useable ISO for that camera. For example, if a camera scores 900, that means the highest usable ISO for that camera is ISO 900. A camera with a score of 1250 would mean that its low-light performance was better, and performed well up to ISO 1250. And so on.

When comparing the scores for the current models of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras being sold right now, and then separating the results by sensor size, the result is rather striking:

Low light performance by sensor sizeTo explain this chart a little further, the range on the bottom is DxO Mark’s “sports scores,” which as mentioned above are really ISO values. Each camera was assigned a score, and I sorted them by sensor type. The range of values for Micro Four Thirds cameras is between ISO 757 and 896 (with the average at 825). The range for cameras with APS-C sensors is ISO 915 – 1438 (with an average of 1161). The range for full frame cameras is ISO 2293 – 3702 (with an average of 2811).

Notice that even the lowest rated APS-C camera performs better than the highest rated Micro Four Thirds camera. Similarly, even the lowest rated full frame camera performs better than the highest rated APS-C camera. When it comes to low-light performance, sensor size appears to make all the difference.

3. Dynamic range will likely be increased with larger image sensors

A larger digital image sensor also appears to lead to an increase in dynamic range for your camera. This is the range of tones that your camera can capture between pure white and pure black. The wider the range, the better.

There is no simple measurement for dynamic range, so comparing cameras is difficult. Finding the low-end of the spectrum (black) has a lot to do with the low-light performance of the camera, because digital noise increases when capturing very dark tones. At some point, the noise overwhelms the picture, so the bottom end of the dynamic range scale is not really “pure black” but rather “usable black.” What that means for us is that low-light performance determines part of the dynamic range of the camera, and as we saw in the previous section, low-light performance is largely a function of sensor size. Therefore, it would appear that a larger sensor would mean a higher dynamic range.

The digital image sensor testing done by DxO Mark bears this out. They call this their “landscape” score, and their results show a correlation between sensor size and an increase in dynamic range. The average for Micro Four Thirds cameras I looked at was 12.5 stops of dynamic range. That increased a bit to 13.0 for cameras with APS-C sensors, and then to 13.4 for full frame cameras. Therefore, a camera with a larger digital image sensor is very likely to have a larger dynamic range.

Comparison of dynamic range in digital cameras

All these scores are pretty comparable, and my point is not so much to compare these sensors (which will all get the job done), but rather simply to show that sensor size matters. Based on this, we can see that a camera with a much smaller image sensor (like a phone or compact camera) would not perform as well when it comes to these measures of image quality.

4. A larger sensor lets you create more background blur

If you want an appreciable degree of background blur in your images, you will need to use a larger digital image sensor. It is not just a function of aperture size (although that is obviously a very big part of it). In fact, it is virtually impossible to achieve a strong amount of background blur with a camera that has a tiny image sensor.

The relationship between digital image sensor size and background blur has actually been tested by the folks at DP Review. Here is a link to their testing and results. Be warned that they use a lot of math and technical terms. Here is a chart with some of their results:




The results are that cameras with very small digital image sensors like smartphones and compact cameras are worthless if you aim to include background blur in your pictures. They go on to show that the larger the digital image sensor, the more blur you can include in your pictures. Therefore, sensor size is an important consideration if you want to achieve any amount of background blur in your photos.

5. A larger sensor can mean less diffraction

One other impact that the size of the digital image sensor has on your photos – and one of which you might not be aware – is on the amount of diffraction in your photos.

This may come as a surprise to you, if you are somewhat familiar with diffraction, because it is largely a function of using a very small aperture. Here’s how diffraction affects your pictures: When you use a small aperture, light reaching the edges of the image sensor can only get there after passing through the small aperture and then spreading out. That spreading of light causes the light rays to hit adjacent photo sites. Essentially, this spreading causes the light to sometimes hit the wrong photo site and leads to blur.

What does that have to do with the digital image sensor? Remember that diffraction is caused by a scattering of light across photo sites. Therefore, if you cram a lot of megapixels on a digital image sensor, the photo sites will be very small, and the scattering of light will cross over onto other photo sites more easily. That will mean an increase in diffraction. But in a camera where megapixels are more spread out, the same amount of scattering, will have less of an impact on your pictures.

As a result, larger image sensors where pixels are more spread out, tend to result in less image diffraction.

6. Larger sensors reduce the crop factor

Finally, let’s not forget about the crop factor that results from using a smaller digital image sensor. This chart shows the impact of crop factors. Notice in particular the yellow square in the center that shows the range of view for compact cameras:

Impact of crop factors

Of course, camera manufacturers have adapted to this by introducing extremely wide angle lenses which are designed for cameras with smaller sensors. Still it is generally much easier to obtain wide angle pictures using a larger image sensor.


It is not my intent to trash any particular camera, or system. The fact is that any camera is better than no camera, so use what you have. What I want to show here is that there are significant benefits to lugging around your DSLR, or mirrorless camera. That is true whether it is a Micro Four Thirds, APS-C, or a Full Frame camera. The benefits go well beyond resolution, and affect your overall image quality.

Larger sensors help you take better pictures in low-light, capture a greater dynamic range of tones, result in reduced diffraction, and let you achieve more background blur. So keep lugging around those cameras rather than trying to get it done with a phone or a compact model.

Do you have any additional data or questions you’d like to add? Please share in the comments below.

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Jim Hamel shows aspiring photographers simple, practical steps for improving their photos. Check out his free photography guides and photography tutorials at Outdoor Photo Academy. The free tips, explanations, and video tutorials he provides are sure to take your photography to the next level. In addition, check out his brand new Lightroom Course where Digital Photography School readers can use the Promo Code "DPS25" to get 25% off!

  • Gareth

    There’s absolutely no arguing with these facts and the laws of physics. They’re all true. I’d like to just flag up the idea of “how good, is good enough?” and “the law of diminishing returns”.

    If you are after absolute image quality for huge prints, there is no debate that FF and Medium format are the way to go. But.. most of us will never print bigger than a Wedding album or posting to Flickr or whatever. You can take incredible photos with smaller (cheaper!), modern sensors and manipulate them very effectively in LR or PS. So it’s horses for courses – are you a Pro? Do you really need all that extra resolution and DR? Or is it just perfectionist obsession? How much better are they really for double or triple the financial investment? The law of diminishing returns plays strongly here.

    For me – and I realise it’s a personal choice – life’s not a game of perfect. I’d rather have an APS-C camera with a great prime lens I can stick in my pocket. I can still get decent bokeh with a sensor that size and a fast prime. The dynamic range I can pull out in LR is still amazing, even from a little, puny $500 mirrorless. Life’s not a game of perfect – just get out there and shoot it.

  • Great comment, and thank you. I agree with every part of it. Hopefully this article is not read as an argument why you need a full frame or medium format sensor to do quality photography. That is definitely not the case. In fact, I generally urge people that are just starting out to get something like a MFT or APS-C sensor. Then just get shooting. I also agree that you can do more to improve your photos by a modest application of LR and PS than you can by spending thousands more on gear. But I do urge those that are using a phone or a compact to upgrade to a mirrorless camera or DSLR for the reasons stated in this article. You can do amazing things for very little money these days.

  • sly

    Hello, I think your first point is wrong or miss-leading. The pixel density for full frame sensor is usually lower than for APS-C, well you can always find pair of crop/ff where it is not true but in general, because it is cheaper to make a lot of small pixels than fewer big pixels, that the case.

    Take a picture of a landscape with a full frame, keep everything the same but the body with a smaller sensor, the portion in common will have a ‘higher resolution’ (I prefer higher sampling) with the crop.
    Take the same scene with a crop and full frame, by changing the focal, if the ff has more pixels (not always the case) you will have a better sampling of the scene with the ff.

    The ‘resolution’ of your camera (meaning the ability to reveal details), appart of the detector, depends of the lens and its aperture. A different aperture lead to a different diffraction pattern on the detector, if you have a higher pixel density you will be able to better sample the diffraction pattern (which becomes smaller and smaller in pixel size when the resolution increase). The small devices, like smart phone or compact have a very small aperture and thus a lower resolution, they may have enough pixels to sample the diffraction pattern well enough for small aperture, so increasing the pixel density will not bring any goods. Meaning, if you close the aperture to let say f/20 (don’t know the right number but that the idea), the resolution of the system is dominated by the optics, with a ff, a c-mos or smart-phone you will probably have the same resolution.

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  • All good and valid points, but I still would prefer a smaller camera. Simply because I bother to take it with me.

    After I got my first DSLR (the Nikon D80) i spent the first years wanting a full frame camera. I was convinced this would take my photography to the next level. But in time I went in the opposite direction. I sold my DLSR and bought my Olympus E-M5. Best choice I’ve ever made (in photography at least).

    My E-M5 outperforms the D80 in almost every way – the autofocus is better on most DSLRs, even the D80. Sure, a newer DSLR would probably outperform my E-M5 in almost every way too, but not by that much. For me the size became one of the most important factors. Price is another. I take my E-M5 with me when I walk the dog. Something I wouldn’t even consider with a bulky DSLR. 🙂

    There are times when I miss having a full frame camera, but they are seldom and long apart. Even if I buy a bulky full frame camera one day, I would probably still use a smaller CSC as my main camera.

    My thought process is something like this: every generation of cameras are a little better than the previous. But that doesn’t mean that the older cameras get worse. At some point digital photos became good enough to replace film (for most people). Yet, some of the best photographs ever taken was with old and now obsolete cameras. The camera in my mobile phone is better than cameras used for award winning photographs. Therefore, I’m quite happy with my less-than-optimal CSC. Because it is good enough for me.

    But as Gareth said in his excellent comment, this is simply my personal choice.

  • Stephen Walter

    I found this article very informative … thanks Jim. I bought a Cannon T6s a few months ago. Traded up from a T3i. Love the camera! That being said, I was kind of shocked to see the dynamic range of my new camera has a slight edge over a Cannon 5D MK III (12 for the T6s versus 11.7 for the 5D), and the sensor is 24.2 mp for the T6s versus 22.3 for the 5D. I think I will wait to get a 5D until Cannon comes out with a MK IV.

  • I agree with your sentiment. I think what you are saying boils down to the fact that as cameras continue to perform better, current cameras with smaller sensors perform at least as well as older cameras with larger sensors. I believe that to be true. So, that being the case, if you like smaller cameras it seems like that is the way to go for you.

  • Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. I suspect you are benefitting from me the fact that your camera is quite a bit newer than the 5Diii, and they keep making advancements in that area. I’m not sure there will be a Mk 4, since they are going with the 5DS now. But maybe there will, I have no insights on that.

  • Capixaba

    In practice, only the low-light situations make a difference … all the others might be solving otherwise. So, not worth the price you pay.
    The aps-c sensor has greatly improved, and crop factor is no problem.

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  • Yes, APS-C sensors will work just fine (as will MFT). And I agree that low-light situations is probably the greatest difference between sensors. While I think the manufacturers can work around crop factor, diffraction, and resolution, I don’t think they can do so with background blur and dynamic range though.

  • Livia V?duva

    Hi Jim!

    Can I ask your opinion on something, please? It’s about compacts. I currently own a Sony RX100 II, which has a 1″ sensor. I love taking photos in concerts, so this camera is a little magical one. Nevertheless, in very poor lighting conditions, it’s not enough. I know, the accredited photographers all use full frame DSLR cameras to get good pictures. Yet, it’s my hobby and I still want to take the best pictures I’m allowed to. So I was looking at a Canon Powershot G1X Mark II which has a 4/3 sensor. Basically, it would fix a bit the poor lighting issue. I searched for comparisons between the two cameras and it seems it wouldn’t be a great improvement if I bought the Canon. Is that possible or are people very biased towards Sony (which is brilliant anyway)? Is the difference between the 2 sensors so little in fact? I’m nowhere close to being an expert, so maybe I’m missing other aspects.

    Thank you in advance!!

  • The Master

    Hello, I see your post and hope I can help. I primarily shoot with Olympus and Panasonic 4/3 sensor cameras and I do have a camera with a 1″ sensor as well as compacts and APS-C sensors. Generally I find the difference in performance from 1″ to 4/3 to be greater than from 4/3 to APS-C. You will see at least 1 stop better performance for low light shooting, I see about a 1 1/2 stop difference with my gear. Which company you go for is mostly irrelevant. I use cameras from Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, and Fuji currently. I have used Canon, Nikon, Sigma and Sony previously. The specs I am looking for and my budget are more important than the brand.

  • Judit

    “how good, is good enough?”

    Exactly. For now I prefer high-end compacts over entry- or mid-level DSLRs, but I like to read about them and compare lenses etc. My impression is that with a DSLR, buying a very expensive camera is just the beginning. Lenses, accessories, etc. range from “OK” to “perfect”, and the prices range from affordable to stellar… There is always a sensor, a lens, an LCD that’s better than the one you own. One really has to draw the line and know their own real needs, otherwise this DSLR business can be a tremendous money drain. It’s worth asking yourself, do I really need FF? Do I really need the most expensive lens out there? How many great shots do I expect to take, say, next year, and how many of them will be printed?
    I like to experiment with comparing images taken with my S120 to other cameras (DSLRs, or whatever I can get my hands on), and assess the difference carefully. I think it’s worth doing the same at the higher level, too – is the difference between FF and MF big enough to justify the price/camera size difference?

  • Livia V?duva

    Hey! Many thanks for your reply. What you say is definitely making sense, that’s why I was surprised with the comparisons I found on the internet. I wouldn’t care about the brand either. I just want a camera within a certain budget which is better than what I have right now. 🙂

  • The sensor size in one sense has nothing to do with blurry backgrounds. A given f stop on a given focal length will give the exact same blurriness if put at the exact same distance from the subject. The actuall issue I that because the sensor is cropped you have to be much further from the subject to get the same composition with a cropped sensor

  • BlackRipleyDog

    To expand a little, I think the size of the individual photo-sites that make up the sensor is one key to the question of IQ.

    I own both a Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and a Nikon D800. The Note has a 16 mpx sensor that, for
    arguments sake, is similar to the IPhone and measures about 5mm x 4mm and the D800 has a 36 mpx sensor that measure 36mm x 24mm.

    In round numbers the total real estate for the Note’s sensor is 20 square mm’s and the D800’s is 864 square mm’s. Divide each by its pixel count and the photosite for the phone is .00000125 mm and the D800’s is .000024 mm. An order-of-magnitude+ larger for the Nikon. Better light gathering capabilities is the first take-away with less diffraction as pointed out by the article. Signal processing algorithims and glass also play a major role.

    Now, this does not explain it all. Someone will say then the D4 or DF with the 16 mpx FF sensor should, by that rationale; trump the D800. I think there is a sliding sweet spot where the IQ is determined by relative resolution in similarly-sized sensors. Maybe the 24mpx FF sensor in the D610 is where it starts to break in the direction of the D800.

    On the surface, my phone produces great jpeg’s and looks good on the phone. However, they are
    small files and rapidly pixelate-out on my computer. Also camera shake is evident as I scale them
    up. By contrast, shots taken at the same time with the Nikon are more usuable for things other than showing on my phone or Facebook. Printing is my forte’. When I am able to get my phone to shoot raw and better control the shake, maybe they will be on a par with my D200 or a D700, which are still a great cameras.

  • rpats

    Hi Jim, good article. I agree with what you say that diffraction will be more of a problem if the same number of pixels are squeezed onto a smaller sensor but…

    It isn’t light hitting multiple sites that causes diffraction, it is diffraction that causes light to hit multiple sites. Diffraction is caused by an electromagnetic wave passing an edge such as the iris in a lens, it happens with radio waves passing a building too. See wikipedia.



  • Travel_bug

    I understand that the comments being made are NOT trying to prove one sensor is better than another – it really does come down to what you can happily and comfortably carry in weight and size as far I am concerned.

    I have been on a long trip to Canada and Alaska (for the scenery obviously) and my first trip I took a canon 550d APS-C and the second was with a Canon 5DmkIII FF using the same lenses. Both trips were identical with the same scenery.

    I took the negative comments from all the people on both the trips about carrying such big cameras around with me and all I can say is shot for shot, same scene for scene, the 5DmkIII FF repayed me many many times over. For me, the high expense of travel and the once in a lifetime (well in this case twice in a lifetime) trips deserve the best sensor that you can reasonably carry. I have shots of Canada that even the people that operate the Rocky Mountaineer have commented on as being of such high quality that it even surprised them.

    I don’t agree with those that say the quality difference is only seen when you blow up your prints – my results at much lower sizes prove otherwise. Incidentally, I have been a photographer for more than 45 years with my first SLR being a roll film Canon EF (now that will test your memory for those old enough to remember it). The choice is down to what do you want to achieve and how much do you want to lug around.

  • drdroad

    Until I starting using the Sony A7R (and now the A7R II) I never got a double truck in the periodicals I contribute to. But in the last 6 months I’ve gotten two. So cool to see your photo published in that size. And, eh, there’s the extra $$.

  • Dilkaran Singh Dhillon

    Hii, friends
    I was thinking this article was not about how good is good enough or being
    perfect .How I read it was little guide for somebody who wants to buy new
    camera or upgrade it. Jim Hamel elaborated very well the 6 benefits of using
    cameras with larger sensors which everyone might not be aware of ( at least I
    was not aware of most of them).I read it and I got to know about them. But
    while reading I nowhere found that Mr.Hamel is saying “Hey, Dilkaran dump
    your this APS-C and phone camera get a FF because these are not a cameras
    anymore they are just a piece of plastic.Seriously nowhere. Instead I felt he
    is saying “Hii, Dilkaran next time your non photographer friend asks you
    ‘Dilkaran what is difference between your 1100D and mark3?, they both look same
    but price difference is huge.’ you just narrate these points and this physics they
    won’t ask you again.lol.(P.S. there are another reasons also for price

    For me – and I realize it’s a personal choice that “how you
    read and digest a piece of information “You read it to increase your
    knowledge or to find a point to argue. Most of people here are reacting like
    they are forced to buy some expensive piece. Why? I find that, this article is not
    even suggesting to buy high end camera. It just explains and adds knowledge to
    our brain for our future decisions and discussions.

    I agree it was about pros of FF (or larger farmes) because the
    heading was so if you want to know cons of FF ask Mr. Hamel, he might write
    another article, another week about cons, which will be more informative and
    valid than the arguments in the comments.

    reason for my comment here was If you know everything please don’t read it and
    if you read respect it. See, how someone is giving you valuable information
    after processing huge data himself. Please, don’t disrespect it by arguing.


    And Jim
    Hamel article was very informative and helpful to me as always. So, Thank you.

    everyone for being little offensive because I had to be.

  • pete guaron

    I looked into this for a friend of mine recently, and some of the issues we covered were possibly relevant here.
    One was jamming zillions of megapixels onto the sensor. This seems to have developed a cult following and there’s a strong case for discouraging it. Mathematically, it is possible to double the number of pixels on a sensor of a given size, without reducing the total surface area of the pixels – the circles are smaller, but there are more of them. But apparently this gives rise to a problem of leakage from one pixel to another, reducing contrast, color, clarity and so on. A bit like adding more diffraction I guess.
    (The best comment on that came from an American pro, who seem to have got cross about pixel chasers, and told them to get a field camera with an el cheapo lens, which would give them FAR sharper pictures than any DSLR could possible produce!)
    Another issues is soft focus in foreground or background, which is often important – eg for portraits. The ultra short focal length of an iPhone lens makes that a dead issue – you just can’t do it, on on iPhone, and that’s all there is to say about it. But with bigger sensors, you generally get a matching increase in focal length which, used wisely, can give you tremendous control over depth of field and soft focus (if required) in front of or behind the subject.
    The same goes for bokeh – I do a lot of available light photography, and shudder at what I’d end up with instead, if I switched to an iPhone.
    The bottom line is, there’s no “one size fits all”. We should all get the gear that suits our photography. If someone is totally happy shooting with an iPhone, clap them on the back and share their pleasure when they show you their photos.

    I have had all sorts of gear in the past, including a 5×4 Linhof, a two &a quarter square reflex – even a hundred year old roll film folding cam that took postcard size negatives. Now, I’ve consolidated for the time being on a half frame with a decent zoom, a full frame with prime lenses, and a zippy little compact pocket cam that I can slip into my pocket.

    They all serve different purposes – and I insist on the compact, because it means I can make sure I am never caught without a camera. I missed one shot too many on that score, and refuse to be caught again. But for me, an iPhone won’t do it – I NEED the settings that any half decent compact can bring with it.

  • Alice Jones

    If you still want something really compact I’ve heard very good things about the ricoh gr ii which is the smallest camera with an aps-c sensor. The jump to 4/3 will not make that much difference from 1 inch in low light.

  • Alice Jones

    I have the opposite problem with my aps-c x100t – too much blur! Portraits are smooth and dreamy but it’s a lot more challenging to get a flat wide night scene out of an f2 prime. So I don’t think bokeh or dynamic range is the problem it used to be.

  • Livia V?duva

    Thank you for your suggestion! I’ll check it out! 🙂

  • Michael

    Thank you Jim! Your article really gave us the knowledge about the advantage of full frame sensors. I am sorry but I can’t understand some people saying that why they should invest a lot of money in DSLRs that are bulky to carry around and they buy point and shoot cameras just because they are much smaller and cost 3 times less. As far as I understand we are here to get the best possible knowledge and expertize for taking high quality photographs. I own 2 Canons: 20D with APS-C sensor and my new addition 6D with full sensor. Let me tell you one thing – hands down there is a huge difference between the quality of photographs I was taken with 20D and 6D. It’s not just low light performance that is much much better with 6D comparing with 20D, it’s everything in the whole image quality starting with dynamic range and ending with detailed crystal clear imagery. So please, do not look for any excuses to downplay the reason of having better cameras. Yes, it cost more money and yes, it’s a little weight and size to carry with you but these are things to be expected if you want the high quality outcome of your passionate hobby. Why do all professional photographers own full frame sensor DSLRs? Naturally, because it does the job they want to be proud of and make their clients very happy at the same time increasing their income. I am not a professional photographer but my photos come out like professional products because I take digital photography very seriously and strive for the best quality I can possibly get implementing my knowledge and skills plus using the best equipment I can afford. No wonder there is saying – “You get what you paid for”. However, the priorities are different for different people.
    I don’t want to offend anybody with the above statements but the main subject of Jim’s article is advantage of full frame sensor but not whatever is more convenient and cheaper. Thank you!

  • Roland Karlsson

    Hi there. Nice idea with this photo school. I mainly agree with this article.

    One section is not correct though, and it is the one about diffraction. Diffraction is not affected by the pixel size, it is not scattering, neither in the sensor nor in the lens. It is purely a lens phenomena caused by interferrence, and you can read about it here.


    In short, larger format sensors are generally less affected by diffraction as the diffraction pattern/blur is less enlarged when printing the same size image from the larger sensor.

  • David Caballero

    Any camera is better than no camera. The best camera in the world is the one you have in your hands. Great principles. I’ve got a bunch of cameras of all types, and I only use my Nikon D810 for very high quality printing products and particular assignments that demand such resolution and dynamic range. Frequently I bring my smaller, more portable cameras to the mountains and so. Every camera has its pros and cons, it is a matter of common sense. Great article, indeed.

  • rob Lamont

    I have just gone all out and lashed out on a 645D, 645 and 67 film have been my preferred poison however after reading a number of reviews and leasing a body myself, well…. don’t tell the wife!

  • rob Lamont

    I have APS-C and medium format digital cameras. When i want really high quality shots i get out the film camera and legacy lenses. I have not yet seen a digital camera that will replicate film.

  • herjak

    I have been a full frame Nikon guy for as long as digital has been around and I have been impressed with the performance of all of the Nikons I have had but as I got older camera weight became an issue. The combination of glass and body has gotten to the point where I ask myself do I really need “the best” or is the real world I occupy made for “just good enough.” We have agonized over this for more than a year and just got the new Sony a6300 which we are beginning to test out. The first thing I notice is that the combination of body and lens weight is at least 1/2 what I have been lugging around. Next I realized that I am less noticed by people when I have the smaller combination so street photography becomes much easier and less intrusive. Thirdly, we travel extensively and have found myself uncomfortable in some environments when I had a large camera and lens combination which I think will be minimized with the new package.
    Quality is the major factor that I will be evaluating but I mostly make tabletop books or enlarge to maybe 12 x 20 so what does the full frame sensor give me that the new APS-c will not. Do I really need the 35 mp that I currently get from my D800 or will the 24 mp for the Sony do the job. If bigger and larger pixels is the real name of the game then I should be looking at the D5 or something similar. If I remember each of the major manufacturers offers many full frame cameras that each have some pluses and minuses. We seem to live in a world where manufacturers try to convince us that bigger is better and my question is “so what if I can’t see it”
    I am most impressed with the Apple phones and the outstanding pics that average people have taken with a tiny sensor and small number of MP. Is anyone other there who has not been impressed with these photos. Think of those that have made it into ads and on billboards in the subway. Have they not proven that smaller can be just a good?

  • The Master

    There is no such thing as a Micro 4/3 sensor. The sensor is the 4/3 sensor and it’s the same one that was used in the older 4/3 DSLRs. The mount is Micro 4/3. It makes me wonder how much trust should be given to someone who can’t get that right, what else did they get wrong. And no mention of 1″ sensors.

  • Kevin Starr

    No fuji mentioned …. They outperform many of the cameras listed in the little pyramid.. Not sure why you would exclude them !!

  • Yes, I would like to have included a few Fuji cameras. However, the data in that chart comes from DXO Mark and for some reason they report little or no data on Fuji cameras. So I just couldn’t.

  • Jzj

    Totally agree… I will never go back to dale simply because the difference in quality of images is not great enough to outweigh the fact that because of its size, my m43 camera is always with me and is also not off-putting to subjects when I pull it out and start shooting. I regularly print up to one metre in size with perfect results and I’m never going to need to print the size of a bus stop so why would I ever burden myself with the weight, size and expense of a full frame camera?

  • Jim Wolff

    So, after reading everyone’s comments, I just have to add my two cents (and ha ha…. yes, I know that’s about all its worth).

    For me, I’ve been all over the spectrum, but using the old Mamiya Sekor 2.25 x 2.25, to old 35mm film cameras, to the Coolpix 5000 (mirrorless), to typical point-and-shoot (16Mp), to Nikon 7100, and now to the Nikon D750.

    I absolutely love my D750 and in my opinion is the best camera I’ve ever shot with. I shoot from wildlife pictures, to action sports pictures, to glamour and portraiture, in all types of lighting conditions.

    So, here’s my thought: what is the purpose of what you are shooting? Is it to impress yourself (et al) with the best possible pictures you can take (then I use the D750), or is it to get a good quality “snapshot” of family outings (then a good quality mirrorless camera works perfect because it is light and easy to carry).

    I have also seen absolute amazing pictures taken with a simple Sony Dsc-w830 20.1 Mp. A lot of it depends on the ability to hold the camera still enough, and how well you can take good pictures with proper perspective and balance (rule of thirds, etc.).

  • Haitham

    How can improve my camera(by improve sensor)

  • This is great info. Thanks for sharing.

  • Mark Lagrange

    Here’s an inversion question: If a full frame sensor yields a relative shorter depth of field, then does a crop sensor extend depth of field? The article seems to say so. Given that, does it then mean that (all else equal) that a landscape shot that calls for an extended depth of field would benefit from a crop sensor? Further, would it allow a photographer to shoot at sharper apertures … 11 or 16, … rather than 22 or 32?

  • Jim Hamel

    That’s an interesting question. It seems like that would be the case. So, from a strict depth of field perspective, I think that might be a point for crop sensors. However, I understand that diffraction will set in sooner with the crop sensor cameras, which would negate the point. I’m hoping some of our more technical minded people will chime in as well.

  • john t

    Totally agree. Unless you’re blowing stuff up to billboard size no one will ever notice you the difference between the outputs of any of the top models on any of these formats, and let’s not forget that a twenty megapixel m4/3 sensor has far far more pixels in the sensor area than the equivalent area of a twenty megapixel full frame sensor.

  • john t

    You obviously have no idea about ‘good quality mirrorless’ if you think they turn out ‘snapshots’

  • Jim Wolff

    Actually, I do. That reply I posted was 2 years ago. I have since purchased a D850 (best camera ever) but not until after I reviewed and considered the Z7 and the ar7III. Today, the mirrorless cameras are good, but its still not worth the loss of having to rebuy all new lenses, etc. And while the adapter for F-mount lenses to the Z7 may help and work with Nikon lens, I also have Tamron lenses and overall, I considered the three cameras I mentioned above, and I am happy with the D850 most of all.

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