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What is an APS-C camera? The sensor size explained

Whether you’re buying your first camera or upgrading from an older model, chances are you’ve come across the term APS-C. 

But what is an APS-C camera and how does it compare to other sensor sizes, such as full frame and Micro Four Thirds. 

What is an APS-C camera? 

An APS-C camera is any camera that features an APS-C (Advanced Photo System type-C) sensor. This size sensor can often be found in many DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. 

These sensors typically measure around 15.6 x 23.6mm in cameras by Nikon, Sony and Pentax, or 14.9 x 22.3mm in Canon models. For comparison’s sake, a full frame sensor measures around 24 x 36mm. 

APS-C sensors fall under the category of crop sensors – or sensors smaller than 35mm film. Other crop formats include Micro Four Thirds and 1-inch sensors. Sensors of this size will always experience some amount of crop, meaning the field of view is tighter than if you were to shoot with a larger full frame sensor. 

Is APS-C better than full frame? 

Full frame cameras are generally considered to be better than APS-C ones in the same way that APS-C ones are a step above Micro Four Thirds, though this isn’t always the case. 

The most significant benefit of opting for a full frame camera is that the larger sensor will enable it to capture higher-resolution images than a smaller APS-C sensor is capable of.

However, full frame cameras can be very expensive and they need to be paired with full frame lenses to get the full benefit of the large sensor without suffering any crop. 

So what if you decide to opt for an APS-C camera instead? The most obvious benefit to going with APS-C is the price. APS-C cameras are typically a lot cheaper than full frame ones. Beginners, hobbyists and even professionals on a budget can achieve fantastic results from an APS-C sensor for a lot less.

APS-C cameras are also usually smaller and more lightweight than full frame cameras. This makes them a more convenient option for travel or in situations in which you don’t want to be lugging around a big piece of kit, such as during street photography.

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

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