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What are full frame cameras?

If you’re looking to snap the sharpest pictures possible, you might have found yourself considering a full frame camera. 

But what is a full frame camera and how do they compare to the often cheaper APS-C and Micro Four Thirds models on the market?

What are full frame cameras? 

The term ‘full frame camera’ refers to any DSLR or mirrorless camera that has a full frame sensor. A full frame sensor is a sensor that measures 24mm x 36mm – the same size found in a traditional 35mm film camera. 

The sensor is the component that reads the image from the camera’s lens. The size of the sensor determines how much light and detail that sensor is able to capture. This means that a larger sensor can, generally speaking, produce higher quality and more detailed images than a smaller one. 

Is full frame better than APS-C? 

When you shop for a camera, you’ll likely be faced with the decision to choose between a full frame camera and a camera with a crop sensor. Both APS-C and Micro Four Thirds cameras fit into the latter category. 

A crop sensor introduces a crop factor to your photography, meaning your images will be cropped in with a tighter field of view when compared with those captured with a full frame sensor. 

Full frame sensors are larger than APS-C and Micro Four Thirds sensors, meaning they’re able to capture higher-resolution images with more detail. They also make it possible to achieve clearer results in low-light environments and benefit from a higher dynamic range. 

All of this means that full frame cameras are generally considered better than APS-C cameras. 

However, there are some benefits to APS-C cameras that could sway you. 

First and most importantly, cameras carrying crop sensors can be significantly cheaper to buy. This means they can be the smarter choice for beginners, hobbyists and photographers on a budget. 

They’re also often smaller than full frame cameras, making them more convenient for travel and street photography. 

One important thing to remember if you do opt for a full frame camera is that you’ll also need to buy a full-frame lens.

You can read more about how full frame cameras compare to APS-C cameras in our versus guide.

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