Camera body sensors: Full frame vs Cropped
DSLR cameras sensors are either ‘full frame’ or ‘cropped’. The term ‘full frame’ harks back to the days of 35mm film and relates to a sensor whose area is roughly 24mm x 36mm, the film dimensions of old. As the name suggests, with cropped sensor cameras the sensor area is cropped, producing the illusion of magnification. Regardless of format, almost all modern cameras produce images whose quality is astounding under the right circumstances, and any differences are subtle. To complicate matters, cameras are available in a spectrum of sensor MP sizes, reflected in the pricing, so you are seldom comparing like with like. However, if you take two cameras with identical output file sizes then the full frame sensor’s pixels will be larger than their cropped sensor counterparts, and resulting images less ‘noisy’ (grainier in appearance), especially at ISO settings above 800. Crop-sensor cameras are generally smaller, lighter and cheaper than their full frame counterparts and are an option if the size of the subject in the frame is your main concern. But this magnification is illusory and the same effect can be produced by cropping an equivalent full frame image in post production. If your budget allows, then a full frame camera body is probably the best option, one whose sensor lies in the 25-40 megapixels range.