First things first, I'm talking ONLY about framing here. No light sensitivity, no bokeh quality, no pixel quantity, etc.

A 50mm in a FF camera will give a certain composition and framing. How can I achieve the same composition and framing with a APS-C camera without changing the lens?

Will moving away from the subject will give me the same image? I know that zooming isn't the same thing as moving closer or farther from the subject, but will I be able to achieve at least a similar shot?

This video triggered this question. Check it out, it's very illustrating.

EDIT: I know that a 35mm would give me the same shot in a APS-C. I want to know if this is possible without changing the lens.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Without changing the lens? Leave the 50mm on the FF, the 35mm on the APS-C. No lens change required ;) \$\endgroup\$ May 13, 2011 at 13:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Simon lol, clever! \$\endgroup\$
    – Andres
    May 13, 2011 at 13:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sometimes, I think we just need to get out and shoot. ;) \$\endgroup\$ May 14, 2011 at 13:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ While not an exact answer to your question, I'd point out that it's not problem to go the other way -- a shot framed with a 50mm lens on the APS-C can be taken with the same lens on the FF, then cropped to match. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nate S.
    Oct 1, 2019 at 16:59

3 Answers 3


In terms of field of view, or framing, APS-C is defined as a ratio to full frame. For Canon it's 1.6, for Nikon/Pentax/Sony it's 1.5. So, when looking at this:

X x 1.5 = Y

X is the focal length on the APS-C and Y is the focal length on the FF. So, we sub in and rearrange for:

X = 50 / 1.5
X = 33.3333

So, you'll get around the same field of view if the lens on APS-C is between 30 and 35mm. Now, if you're using the same lens, you'll have to use your feet. For APS-C, that means moving back and the distance will depend on the subject, but the perspective will change.

Edit For Updated Question

So, if the lens is the same...

As mentioned in both answers, the perspective will change as a result of changing position, so the essential answer is no, you can't when you're using the same lens. That leaves you with the last option I can think of: panorama. Several shots, 4 minimum I would think (2 top, and 2 bottom) would allow you to construct an image with the same perspective (or so very close that the difference is very difficult to detect) and same field of view. The drawbacks are obvious and include multiple images, must be a stationary subject, and more. Technically, however, it could be done given a suitable subject.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Using feet changes the perspective. \$\endgroup\$ May 13, 2011 at 0:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jukka - Point taken. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    May 13, 2011 at 0:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Itai - your intuition is wrong this time. Perspective is a function of one, and only one parameter - the positioning of the camera in the scene (that is, setting your viewpoint - your perspective on the world). \$\endgroup\$
    – ysap
    May 13, 2011 at 0:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Itai - I am not sure I understand "it seems most likely" - most likely like what? Then again, perspective is not a function of the focal length. The FoV is, but not the perspective. Perspective means the relative size and position of objects in the scene, as projected to the image. This can be controlled only by the positioning of the camera in the scene (world). Any movement of the camera will essentially change the relative positioning or sizes of objects in the image. \$\endgroup\$
    – ysap
    May 13, 2011 at 1:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Itai - note that in the video, the position of the camera and the subject were constant. You can see how the only difference in all the images is the amount of cropping, even though the focal lengths and the sensor sizes were replaced several times. \$\endgroup\$
    – ysap
    May 13, 2011 at 1:43

Yes you can acheive the same field of view and perspective using an APS-c camera, by shooting mutlitple images.

If your lens is something like the Nikon PC-E 45mm or Canon TS-E 45mm, i.e. they allow shift movements then you can get away with shooting three images in the opposite orientation like so:

To understand how this works imagine you are keeping the lens stationary and moving the camera with respect to the lens. You are effectively moving the sensor across the image plane, like how a flatbed scanner works.

Not only will you get the same perspective and field of view as the equivalent larger sensor, you will get the same depth of field too!

If you don't have a tilt/shift lens, you can get the same effect with 4 shots if you pivot the camera about the lens optical centre. Pivoting this way gaurantees the perspective doesnt change, despite the larger field of view as the camera does not undergo translation. Four images are now required to match the field of view exactly due to the bow-tie shaped image that results from shooting [rectilinear] panoramas:

  • \$\begingroup\$ On Flickr, this is referred to as a "bokeh panorama" - mostly because if you use a lens with a longish focal length, you can emulate a wide-angle with very small depth of field. A Flickr group dedicated to this. \$\endgroup\$
    – gerikson
    May 13, 2011 at 12:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I've never liked the term - a "bokeh panorama" is just a multi row panorama there's nothing special about it, photographers have known about the depth of field considerations when shooting panoramas for ages. Most of the images I've seen could have been done with less effort by shooting one wide and one tele shot and blur the wide shot to match... \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    May 13, 2011 at 13:47

Shoot with a 35mm lens. On an APS-C it gives an equivalent Field of View to a 50mm at FF.

Moving away from your subject means that you change your perspective. Your image will not look the same, although it will definitely allow you to fit (or frame) the subject in the smaller sensor.

@Matt Grum has a very nice example here.

EDIT After the question was updated: The short answer is no, it is not possible to get the same image using the same lens on different sensor sizes. As you could tell by now from the previous discussion, keeping everything else the same (that is, the focal length and the camera position) and changing to a smaller sensor is exactly equivalent to cropping your large sensor image in post-processing. In this case, moving away from the subject will give you the same composition of the subject in the image frame, but you will have a different composition of it with respect to the background.


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