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Full-Frame Photography for Everyone

Just as mirrorless is now the dominant camera type, full frame is now the dominant sensor size. It wasn’t too long ago when full-frame cameras were seen strictly as tools for professional and high-end photo applications due to their expense and the associated feature sets that were part of the complete full-frame camera system. Over the last few years, however, full-frame options have begun to trickle down to the middle tier of interchangeable-lens camera development, with some instances placing entry-level full-frame cameras right alongside APS-C or Micro Four Thirds in terms of price and feature sets.

Full-Frame Sensor
Full-Frame Sensor

Why Full Frame?

But what, really, is “full frame” and what does it do for you? Why is it a big deal to “have a full-frame sensor in an entry-level body?” The short answer is a full-frame sensor is larger than the other two most common sensor formats available: APS-C and Micro Four Thirds. Full-frame sensors measure roughly the same size as a 35mm film image, which is ~24 x 36mm. Compared to the ~15.6 x 23.6mm sensor size of APS-C or the 13 x 17.3mm sensor size of Micro Four Thirds, the greater area of full frame leads to improved image quality, low-light performance, and, perhaps most overlooked, more versatile lens selection. Each of these points is somewhat contentious and it’s true that APS-C and Micro Four Thirds are still formats with a lot of life left in them, but relatively speaking, full frame is the format that is receiving the most attention right now, which subsequently means it’s also the format that’s likely receiving the most research and development from manufacturers. The major camera brands are pushing each other to make cameras smaller, faster, and more attainable, and lens manufacturers are trying to keep up with the pace to design smaller and better lenses for new full-frame and mirrorless systems.

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