What camera (or sensor) type do you need for property photography? Let’s dive into the difference between full-frame and crop sensors.
If you’re a more advanced photographer, you may have come across the terms “crop sensor” and “full frame”, and the various features of each.
Choosing the best camera for property photography is a tough task, so let’s take a closer look at crop sensor vs full frame cameras.
WARNING: This blog is a little more technical than our normal content, but if you’re looking to deepen your understanding around the two different sensor types available, then you’re in the right place.
What is a sensor?
It’s the bit inside the camera where the light hits. It converts an optical image into an electronic signal; the result – a digital image.
What is a full frame sensor?
Simply put, full frame cameras use a sensor with the same dimensions of traditional 35mm film. Full frame cameras are significantly more expensive than crop sensor cameras and in all honesty, are better suited to the pros.
What is a crop sensor?
As the name alludes to, a crop sensor is a ‘cropped’ version of the full frame sensor. The most common type of crop sensor on a modern DSLR are called APS-C sensors. You can’t talk about crop sensor cameras without touching on ‘crop factor’.
What is crop factor?
A term that comes into play with crop sensor cameras is ‘crop factor’. We’ll keep this brief.
“Crop factor” is the ratio of the sensor size to 35mm / full frame. Take the provided crop factor number, multiply it with the focal length of the lens and you’ll get the equivalent focal length relative to 35mm film / full-frame.
To make things slightly interesting (complicated!), different camera manufacturers have different crop factor numbers. Canon = 1.6x, Nikon = 1.5x.
Let’s look at an example and break this down…
Say your using a Canon EOS 4000D (crop sensor) camera, and you’ve snapped on the wonderful lens that is the 10-20mm Sigma wide-angle lens, and you’re fully zoomed out to the max to the 10mm focal length to fit as much as possible in the shot – this is our scenario.
10mm (focal length) x 1.6 (crop factor on Canon) = 16mm.
In other words, on a crop sensor camera the figure you see on the lens is not correct. You have to apply the crop factor for it to be correct.
Got it? No?
Another way of summarising this is that crop sensors crop out some of the image compared to a full frame camera! Simple.
I think we can park the technicalities here.
Crop sensor vs full frame cameras
Without diving even deeper into the technical aspects, here are the most practical pros and cons of both types of sensor when considering them in the context of property photography.
Pros of full frame sensors
- Performs better in high or low light
- Higher quality image
- Wider angle
Cons of full frame sensors
- Significantly more expensive
- Larger and more cumbersome
Pros of crop sensors
- Much cheaper
- More compact and portable
Cons of crop sensors
- Some of the image is cropped out
Which sensor is best for property photography?
I’ll make this simple. The crop sensor.
If you’re worried about cropping out too much of the shot, don’t be. Just zoom out more on the internals and/or stand back a little on the externals.
You really don’t need to go out and buy an expensive full frame camera. It’s perfectly possible and easy to achieve great property photos using a crop sensor camera.
Buy a high quality wide-angle lens
As we’ve learned above, a 10mm focal length will actually work out to be 16mm. Don’t worry about this. It’s not an issue, at all. Your shots will still look sensational and fit lots it. Check out these examples all shot with a crop sensor camera and the Sigma 10-20mm wide-angle lens.
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