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Why do the differences between APS-C and full frame sensors matter?

I'm on my 3rd Nikon DX DSLR (D70, D80 and now D7000). I've enjoyed each camera and the advances brought by each model. However, I'm getting the itch to consider going to a more pro-level kit, and I'm wondering what the advantages are to a full-frame sensor? Obviously, the 1.5X crop factor would be gone, but I'd like to hear from others who've made the transition, and whether they believe it was worth it. I only have a few lenses (a kit, len, a prime and a 12-24 wide angle) so I'm not terribly vested in the DX format.

Thanks in advance!


1 Answer 1


just gains... not comparing to smaller sensors.

(1) Higher quality sensors, generally. Because the photosites are not packed as close together on a full frame for a given pixel count, full frame sensors are less noisy

(2) Typically the brands top end models are full frame. so you typically get an entire suite of pluses such as build quality, weatherproofing, Viewfinder coverage (typically 100%), egonomics, etc. While this doesn't necessarily need to follow (best camera of brand = full frame), it is at the moment (Canon 1Ds, Nikon D3x, Leica M9 are all full frame)

(3) 1:1 comparisons with 35mm film cameras... so a 50mm lens is 'normal' field of view.'

(4) if you like 'the wide look' (i.e. you use wide angle lenses) the larger sensor uses a shorter lens to produce the same field of view compared to crops. So a 21mm lens on FF is pretty wide. In other words, a full frame wide lens typically has less distortion at a given field of view.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Great points. I get really frustrated with my 50mm f/1.4 prime as it feels so crowded. I tend to shoot wider shots than zoomed, so that might be another important consideration. Thanks for your feedback! \$\endgroup\$
    – Kris
    Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 4:00

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