d3-2The term full frame  has recently become hot again due to the emergence of more affordable FF DSLRs such as Canon 5D and Nikon D700! So what is Full Frame? Are not all DSLRs the same format? In fact, you should have seen the terms Full Frame and APS-C. Now let ’s take a look at the relationship between these two formats!

Photosensitive Element Size

The biggest difference between APS-C (that is, the format commonly used by DSLR) and Full Frame is the size of the photosensitive element. The area ratio of the photosensitive element between Full Frame and APS-C is about 2: 1. The size of the APS-C photosensitive element No more than 24 x 16mm, and the full frame size is 36 x 24mm, just like the traditional 35mm film. Because of the small size of the photosensitive element, APS-C can only obtain the center part of the lens imaging circle, and the angle of view will become smaller, making the image have a “Zoom Far” effect. Canon and Nikon have magnifications of approximately 1.6x and 1.5x, so a lens with a focal length of 18-55mm will become the actual focal length of 27-82mm on a Nikon APS-C camera.

Advantages of Full Frame

  • High resolution
    theory, the pixels are the same and the photosensitive element is large. The light receiving area of ​​each pixel will also increase, so the resolution will increase.
  • Noise control is strong
    because the pixel area is large, under the same amount of light, it can absorb more information than APS-C, and the signal amplifier has a low amplification rate. Therefore, the full frame can more effectively control the noise, at high ISO Can also appear to be relatively smooth.
  • View Finder bigger and clearer
    Because of the large light sensor, the camera can also use a larger, better quality pentaprism, making the viewfinder image larger and clearer.
  • Highlight overflow A slight
    highlight overflow is when the camera shoots a very bright object (such as the sun), the sensor information is saturated, and a white stripe is formed from the top to the bottom of the entire screen. It is common in photos that include the sun, because Full Frame pixels The area is large and the information is difficult to saturate, so the highlight overflow situation is also slight.
  • The highlight of the dark part
    is the same as the previous one, because the Full Frame has a large pixel area and is more sensitive to low light, so that the dark part can also be displayed. If explained together with the previous point, Full Frame has a wider dynamic range (Dynamic Range).
  • No special lens is needed
    for shooting ultra wide angle. Because there is no problem of focal length zoom, a 10mm lens can use ultra wide angle in Full Frame.

Cons of Full Frame

  • The Price 
    Undeniable, because all the components have been increased, the cost of the body and the lens has increased, resulting in high prices. Now the cheapest Full Frame DSLR is also close to the price of HK $ 20,000!
  • Large volume and high weight
    Of course, it goes without saying that the most unfortunate thing is that even the lens also increases (because the lens diameter needs to be matched), which makes it inconvenient to carry and requires high physical strength.
  • Telephoto is not zoomed in
    Because there is no focal length zoom, a 300mm lens is only 300mm in Full Frame, but it is 1.5-1.6 times under APS-C!


Do beginners need to own Full Frame?

If you are a beginner, considering the price, number of lenses supporting FF, weight and volume, etc., of course, there is no need to use Full Frame. But if you prefer to have high-quality, low-noise photos, good physical strength and ample budget, there is nothing wrong with getting a Full Frame!

Image source: Nikon.com/Flickr.com (by Richegg )

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Author: Alex Tam