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Has anyone ever said to you, “That’s a nice photo; you must have an expensive camera”?
According to photography legend Ansel Adams, “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it!”
Your camera is simply a tool, one that you use to create your vision of the scene in front of you. A camera can only do what you tell it to, so it’s not going to capture that “nice photo” all by itself.
But what if a camera doesn’t perform up to your expectations? Then it may be time for an upgrade – from APS-C to full frame.
I recently made the jump from a crop sensor camera to a full-frame body (a Nikon D750, used in all the images below). For this article, I am not going to get into a technical discussion about the differences between a crop sensor camera and a full-frame camera.
Instead, I want to talk about if and when upgrading to a full-frame camera is desirable, especially if you’re on the fence about purchasing a full-frame body.
Now let’s discuss some important full-frame pros and cons:
If you’ve made it this far and you still like the sound of a full-frame camera, it’s time to ask yourself a few key questions:
As mentioned above, the cost of buying a full-frame camera is significantly more expensive than a crop sensor one, plus you’ll likely need to purchase new lenses. There isn’t much use in changing to full frame if you are not going to use high-quality lenses designed for full-frame cameras. So if you plan to make the jump to full frame, you may want to begin by upgrading your lenses to those compatible with full-frame cameras.
Full-frame sensors offer advantages and disadvantages for different types of photography.
If you are a portrait or landscape shooter, there are many reasons to switch to full frame. But if you’re a sports or wildlife shooter, you’ll need to consider more carefully.
Every camera has a limited number of shutter releases, so if your camera is nearing the end of its life cycle, it might be time to consider an upgrade. If your older crop sensor model is limiting your results in low light, and you are constantly frustrated by high levels of noise, you might benefit from an upgrade to full frame.
However, keep in mind that it’s convenient to blame a camera for taking poor images, but it may not be the camera that’s holding you back.
Many times, photographers don’t get the results they expect from high-end equipment simply because they struggle with more fundamental techniques. No matter what type of camera you shoot with, get to know it and how all of its features work before moving on to a different one.
A full-frame camera is probably not the best option for beginners.
So if you are a beginner, I’d recommend starting with an entry-level camera and working up to a full-frame model. In fact, if you are looking for a camera to take photos of family and friends, a crop-sensor model is a great choice.
Having a good handle on the exposure triangle (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) and how its key components work together is essential if you’re going to take advantage of a full-frame sensor. You must also be comfortable shooting in Manual mode.
A full-frame sensor has larger pixels, which will capture more light – and this results in high-quality large prints. If you never make any prints larger than 8×10″, then a full-frame model won’t help you much here.
You may have heard this quote, “Skill in photography is acquired by practice, not by purchase.”
Do you need a full-frame camera to capture great images? No, of course not! Most new crop sensor cameras on the market today are engineered to take beautiful images!
But if you’re an experienced photographer, you may benefit from switching to full frame.
If you are thinking of upgrading from a crop sensor camera, be sure to consider the price, lens compatibility, and type of photography you do before you make the change to full frame. Jumping to a larger sensor can be intense – but if you’re ready for that big step, the results are often rewarding.
Now tell me:
Are you ready to go full frame? Please leave your answer in the comments below!