Upgrade your kit! Switching from APS-C to a full frame camera: what to consider

Switching from an APS-C or Micro 4/3 camera – essentially any “cut-frame” sensor – to a full-frame model is often considered the standard upgrade path for enthusiasts. and professionals. The physically larger sensor area allows pixels to have greater light capacity, allowing both improved low-light performance and a wider dynamic range on an APS-C body, or significantly increased resolution. These enhancements may not be fully appreciated by casual photographers, but in the professional arena, these are qualities that come into play on a regular basis.

Event and landscape photographers for example, the latter also encompassing real estate photography and architecture, will undoubtedly encounter blown reflections and image grain during a shooting session. On an as-needed basis, these can be corrected in software, through a mixture of exposure or noise reduction respectively, and are flaws that can be forgiven when compared to the savings of APS-C costs.

However, when you capture thousands of similar images, the benefits of superior tonality and off-camera detail become exponentially more critical. This makes the larger sensor an attractive option, especially when the main advantages of a smaller sensor become less important, namely portability and greater range of the lens.

The best full-frame mirrorless camera in 2021

Beyond absolute image quality, there are other reasons to consider a switch to the larger sensor format from full frame cameras. Now more than ever, APS-C delivers true professional quality, with many pros sticking to the format, so dynamic range and noise control aren’t everything. For portrait photographers, the shallower depth of field offered by full frame allows for the picture style that many buyers might call the “pro look”. The difference in focus depth when using the same lens on cameras of both formats is startling at first, and is often seen as reason enough to switch on your own.

Naturally, full frame is not without its drawbacks, so choosing to adopt it as the benchmark for your entire camera system should depend on whether the aforementioned image characteristics are of benefit to you. your photograph or an obstacle.

Advantages and disadvantages of full frame

The Canon EOS R5 is a professional-level full-frame mirrorless camera, offering high resolution and high speed. (Image credit: Canon)

Full frame cameras usually offer professional features

Usually, due to the added cost of the larger sensor, full frame cameras are aimed at photographers on a pro budget. This means that these models tend to have more professional features and a more solid build quality.

Full-frame cameras provide maximum field of view

As lens technology improves, we can now access focal lengths of 14mm and less on full frame lenses, which means they offer the widest field of view of any lens in the world. camera available commercially. This is ideal for interior and event photographers.

Full frame gives better performance or resolution in low light

A larger sensor area means bigger pixels, which allows for superior noise performance in low light. Higher resolutions are also possible without significantly compromising the signal-to-noise ratio, creating a new generation of “versatile” cameras, combining speed, resolution and noise management.

You tend not to have both. A full frame sensor will provide better low light performance and dynamic range than an APS-C sensor of the same resolution, OR a full frame sensor can offer much higher resolution while still matching noise performance and dynamic range of a lower resolution APS-. sensor C.

Depending on your preferred genre, losing the mag factor with switching to Full Frame from APS-C can be an advantage or an expensive change. (Image credit: Peter Fenech)

Full frame cameras are bigger and heavier

Bigger bodies and taller goals equate to greater weight and external dimensions. When combined with an all-metal construction, you get very large and heavy camera setups. The EOS 1DX III and the Nikon D6 are anything but suitable for travel, for example.

Higher resolution cameras produce larger files

Larger data capture and higher pixel count results in increasingly large file output. With a professional full frame camera over 30 MP, the raw file size increases dramatically, creating storage and archiving issues.

Full frame cameras have less “range” for long distance subjects

While landscape photographers might win at the wide end, users of telephoto lenses will lose. The effective focal length of a lens will be reduced when switching from an APS-C body to a full frame model, so teleconverters will be needed to compensate.

Upgrade examples

While most new cameras are mirrorless, there are still some fantastic professional digital SLRs out there. The next upgrade is the one that was standard for avid photographers to professionals for many years. Similar steps are available in mirrorless systems. We have also provided similar cameras that users of similar models might want to check out.

Typically, your upgrade path is easier when you already know what you’re looking for, such as upgrading from an APS-C sports camera to a full-frame sports camera.

Identical: Canon EOS 7D Mark II …

(Image credit: Canon)

A representative semi-professional APS-C digital SLR, the EOS 7D Mark II was designed primarily for sports and wildlife enthusiasts, with an impressive frame rate of 10 fps at 20.2 MP. It is equipped with 65 cross-type AF points and a maximum ISO sensitivity of 16,000. It also has a rugged body and a built-in flash, for wireless flash control.

… to Canon EOS 1DX Mark III

(Image credit: Canon)

The monster camera that has arguably surpassed the DSLR tree. The EOS 1DX Mark III has a rather modest pixel count of 20.1 MP but has a maximum frame rate of 20 fps (16 fps mechanical shutter) and 191 AF points. It also has a native ISO setting of 102,400, with ridiculous extended settings. Also present is Raw 5.5K video shooting, an integrated vertical grip, full weatherproofing and integrated GPS. Essentially, it offers everything a professional photographer could want except huge resolution.

Similar upgrade cameras to consider: Nikon D6, Sony A9 II, Panasonic Lumix S1R

The Sony A7R IV boasts a whopping 61MP resolution. No APS-C camera can even come close to this. (Image credit: Sony)

Change of style: from APS-C to full frame high resolution

Sometimes you’re not just trying to get a camera that does the same as your APS-C model, but with a full frame sensor; Sometimes you want something that only a full frame camera can do. Usually it comes down to one thing: the resolution:

Here’s another example of an upgrade in that direction from a Sony APS-C mirrorless camera to a full frame model.

The Sony A6000 series cameras have 24MP sensors, but by upgrading to the Sony A7R IV you can take a huge leap to 61 megapixels. You can even use your old APS-C lenses on this camera directly in “crop” mode and still get the same resolution as the APS-C model.

Read more:

The best Canon cameras
The best Nikon cameras
The cheapest full frame cameras

About Debra D. Johnson

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