We have all heard about full-frame and crop camera systems. But did you ever wonder what the difference between these two camera systems is? What makes crop cameras what they’re, and why are full-frame cameras so popular among professionals? Let’s find out more about their differences.


Let’s start with full-frame camera systems first. A full-frame camera system has a sensor size that mimics the dimensions of the 35mm film.

A sensor is the electronic equivalent of a film negative that gets sensitized by the light coming through the lens, and an image is formed. Unlike a film negative, a sensor’s sensitivity is controlled using a parameter known as ISO. The light gathered by the sensor is enhanced to produce an image that’s brighter or darker depending on the ISO setting. More about that later.

A full-frame camera has a sensor that’s roughly equivalent to the size of a 35mm film. We know that, but what’s the advantage of that? The advantage being a full-frame sensor is larger than a crop sensor. How large exactly? Let’s take an example.

A typical full-frame camera has 36mm by 24mm sensor dimensions. On the other hand, a typical crop camera sensor is 23.5mm by 15.7mm. Therefore, a full-frame camera is about 1.5 times larger than a crop camera.

The difference is pretty apparent when you place the two sensors side by side and compare them.

There are many different types of crop camera sensors. These sensors include the popular Nikon size 23.5mm x 15.7mm and the Canon size 22.3mm x 14.9mm. Pentax makes a crop camera size that’s 23.5mm x 15.6mm. On the other hand, Sony cameras have an APS-C (crop camera systems use this acronym that suggests that the sensor size mimics roughly the size of the Advanced Photo System film negative) sensor size that’s 23.5 x 15.6mm and designed for their mirrorless cameras.

When it comes to the fundamental difference between crop cameras and full-frame camera systems size of the sensor is a significant difference. The other discrepancies all spiral out of this main difference. What are those?

Pixel size

Sensor size and resolution determine which sensor size has the larger pixel size. Let’s say that a crop sensor and a full-frame sensor have the exact resolution. However, as you’re aware, the sensor size of the full-frame camera is larger than that of the crop camera. It invariably means that the pixel size of the full-frame camera is larger than that of the crop camera. Because the real estate is larger, the engineers can fit in larger-sized pixels to collect a lot of light.

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