I've been reading about this a bit, and I get the sense that full sensor-cameras are best suited for shooting landscapes, whilst crop sensor-cameras are preferable for portraits and close-ups. Please correct me if I'm wrong. What I would also like to know is which type of sensor is best suited to these other styles:

  • Bokeh
  • Action (fast shutter speed)
  • Black & White
  • Macro
  • Low light
  • Time-lapse
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    \$\begingroup\$ We have some great answers already that cover pieces of this such as: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/3986/… photo.stackexchange.com/questions/17028/… photo.stackexchange.com/questions/12672/… I think the first link actually covers this pretty well already. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Feb 10, 2012 at 17:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you, @dpollitt. All three questions you linked above are useful (I had read two of them already). However, I think it could be possible for an experienced user to tell briefly whether they believe full or crop sensor is the one suitable for, say, action photography. A long, detailed answer isn't really what I'm looking for; I'd rather have someone give me just some directions on the matter. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 10, 2012 at 17:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your assumption up front is incorrect. I believe the other answer already covers this though. For your second part of the question - full frame should technically be better for all of those from an image quality standpoint. From a performance standpoint full frame wins with the exception of high FPS shots, as crop sensor cameras have a smaller mirror and can typically shoot faster. Please see this answer for more on high FPS comparison between the two: photo.stackexchange.com/a/3992/4892 \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Feb 10, 2012 at 17:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow, @dpollitt! You've just given me the answer I was looking for. That was not on the other questions, you see. And it wasn't that long either, it fit in a comment. So thank you for your experienced opinion; what you are saying then is that full sensor is most suitable for all 6 styles but action photography, right? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 10, 2012 at 17:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ See How Do I "Refresh" a Question? for what to do when an existing question covers the same ground as what you want to know, but doesn't have answers which help you. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Feb 21, 2012 at 16:39

2 Answers 2


I would not say that crop sensor cameras are preferable for portraits or close up. I would say they are preferable for the budget minded individual, especially those who want longer focal lengths for less of an investment, and those who want a higher FPS camera due to the smaller mirror. Full frame almost always has an advantage in quality and technical photographic matters. Some areas where it falls short of crop sensors are in high FPS shooting, size of the body, price, and one may consider the smaller portion of the lens being used to be an advantage as well.

Specifically on your question of which styles of photography are better suited for which sensor - The previous thread already covered the "action" piece here:

You have more mirror to move on a full frame camera. The larger heavier mirror usually means shooting speed is limited. The mirror on my 5D moves so slowly I can actually see the world slide sideways/up for an instant!

for some uses (sports etc.) the smaller sensor size is helpful for the extra reach and speed it allows.(sic)

It also covers in great detail the bokeh piece. For the remaining styles b&w, macro, low light, and time-lapse - the advantages of the full frame sensor in sharper optics, bigger pixels, a better viewfinder, etc are usually all advantages in these styles. Macro is one area that may warrant a separate discussion - as this might get into some more technical discussion. If macro is your main pursuit, I would open up a new question and ask about full frame vs crop for macro use. Generally though I would still prefer full frame for this style.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, dpollitt. I've accepted your answer not because it's the only one, but because it's a good one for sure. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 10, 2012 at 18:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Smaller sensors generally have an advantage when it comes to minimum focus distance, so I would say crop sensors are better for macro work. The point about FF mirrors being heavier to move doesn't really apply when you have models like the D4/1DX out there, I'm going to amend my previous answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Feb 10, 2012 at 19:20

In general, I'd say style and subject don't matter when choosing full frame vs crop. However it's worth noting that a smaller sensor will record greater depth-of-field than a larger sensor at a given aperture. (This is why little digicams have such large DOF.) So, dependent upon subject, style, and intent, a crop camera could be a big advantage when shooting macro.


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