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APS-C vs 35mm: Real life DSLR Sensor Comparison

07 Oct Posted by Matt in Guides |
APS-C vs 35mm: Real life DSLR Sensor Comparison

If you own or are in the market for a DSLR, you may have seen talk about sensor size. We touched on the benefits of a large sensor (namely much better low-light performance and reduced noise) a little while back in Marks Megapixel Myths article, but as with many things, not all DSLRs are equal.

Comparison of Sensor Sizes

By Autopilot (Sensor_sizes_overlaid.svg), from Wikimedia Commons

There are two main sensor size standards in use by Nikon and Canon (who are by far the biggest two players in the DSLR world) – 35mm (or full frame), and APS-C. Full frame sensors are the larger of the two, and are reserved for high-end cameras such as the Canon EOS 5D MkII. APS-C is the standard found in most DSLR cameras.

A smaller physical sensor crops what the camera captures through the lens, so pictures taken on an APS-C camera look more “zoomed in”.

“What’s the real world difference?” I hear you cry. Well, this handy little video from the guys at Petapixel shows the same lenses being used on a full frame camera (Canon EOS 5D MkII) and a APS-C smaller sensor camera (Canon EOS 7D).

Of course, a longer focal length can be desirable, especially when you’re in the market for a long lens, but for wide-angle work a full frame camera will be easier to work with.

For many of us without serious cash to spend on a very high-end model, 35mm full frame cameras are out of the question. But it’s useful to be able to visualise the difference – if you’re looking at example shots taken with a lens you’re interested in make sure you know if they were taken with a camera equivalent to the one you’ll be using it with.

If you think you might progress from a APS-C sensor camera to a full frame one at some point, this video gives you a good indication of how this will affect what lenses you use when. If you are in this position, then you might consider something like the Canon EOS 7D. It’s pretty much the king of the APS-C sensor cameras, and could save you a fortune on buying some new lenses for a 35mm camera.

 

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