Camera terminology can be intimidating! Many photographers and enthusiasts feel like they need to carry a photography dictionary around with them when they’re just starting out. Familiarity with the terms comes with experience, but one thing every photographer should quickly learn is what a full frame camera is, and the differences between a full frame sensor and a crop sensor.

Understanding the benefits of a full frame camera: Let’s review the differences, as well as full frame camera benefits, and some options for affordable full frame cameras.

What’s the meaning of the phrase “full frame camera”?

A full frame camera is one whose sensor captures images in the same dimensions of the 35mm film format; a full frame sensor captures more of an image or scene than a crop sensor, also called an APS-C sensor, which is the sensor typically found on many entry-level digital SLR cameras.

Full frame camera vs. crop sensor: The differences

The main difference when measuring full frame cameras vs. APS-C crop sensor camera is the larger field of view.

A crop sensor’s field of view is “cropped” from the full frame; in other words, it’s smaller! With a crop sensor, you’ll see less of a scene than when shooting with a full frame camera, which lets you capture more of the picture.

Why full frame? Understanding the benefits

There are several benefits to shooting with a full frame camera, including the following:

  • Wider field of view: As noted above, with a full frame camera, you’ll be able to capture more of a scene, from greater distances, than you would with a crop sensor camera.
  • Increased focal length: Since the crop sensor is removing the outer edges of the full frame, you’re essentially working with an increased focal length, allowing you to capture more from farther away.
  • Shallower depth of field: A full frame camera allows for a shallower depth of field, meaning your photo background will be more out of focus (an increased blur or bokeh effect), and your in-focus subject will stand out even more.
  • Sharper low-light images: Looking at full frame camera outputs vs. APS-C cameras in low light, you’ll see that the full frame photos are typically cleaner, with less noise, as the larger sensor allows more light to come in.
  • Broader dynamic range: The larger sensor isn’t just an advantage in low light situations; more light means more color and higher quality images in full light situations as well.

Who are full frame cameras for?

Crop sensor cameras are ideal for entry level or intermediate photographers, but as you “level up” your photography skills, you’ll likely want to begin experimenting with a full frame camera. This is particularly true if you put yourself into one of the following categories:

  • Portrait photographers: The shallower depth of field of a full frame camera is ideal for portraits, as it puts the subject front and centre and beautifully frames them with a blur or bokeh effect.
  • Landscape photographers: The wider field of view a full frame camera provides is perfect for landscapes, helping you capture the vastness of the world around you.
  • Night shooters: The better low light performance of a full frame camera speaks for itself! You’ll be able to capture nightlife, brilliant city skylines or the night sky in more detail than ever.

Where to start with a full frame camera

While full frame cameras remain more expensive compared to ASP-C crop sensor cameras, Canon now offers an excellent, cost-effective entry point to full frame shooting with its RP series.

The mirrorless Canon EOS RP is a light, compact full-frame camera with a host of features including fast autofocus, 4K video, and full compatibility with Canon’s RF lenses. The RP also offers helpful guidance with its Feature Assistant and Creative Assist functions, helping you make the most of your full-frame camera without feeling intimidated.

Taking a step up from a crop sensor to a full frame camera opens up a wider world of possibilities. And with the EOS RP from Canon, entry into this wider world has never been easier.

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