Understanding Full-Frame vs Crop-Sensor Impacts on Depth-Of-Field And Perspective

Oct 10, 2014

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

Oct 10, 2014

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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DSC_3196-3198-edit_sizes

There has been a lot of discussion going on about what are the impacts of using a crop sensor vs full frame when using a particular lens. How are crop factor sensors impacting depth of field and what are they doing to composition. In fact if you went to any photography forum on the web, you are likely to get as many answers as forum members.

Of course, the answer to that question really depend what you are comparing and how you are doing your tests. Photographer Neil van Niekerk did a thorough test accompanied with clear explanations on what actually makes a difference when using a crop sensor vs a full frame and  the answer is not that simple.

When the differences between full-frame and crop-sensor cameras are discussed, there is an inevitable question about whether the crop sensor multiplies the focal length. Whether a 50mm lens on a crop-sensor acts like a 75mm lens (on a 1.5x crop sensor) or 80mm lens (on a 1.6x crop sensor)…

… And we’ll analyze whether there is actually an equivalency between certain focal lengths, when using a crop-sensor camera. In other words, whether your 50mm lens becomes “equivalent to” a 75mm or 80mm lens when used on a crop-sensor camera.

If you are at the edge of your sit, here is the final conclusion, it has to do with actually moving your legs as well as the sensor used:

  • Yes, a 50mm lens does indeed behave like an equivalent focal length of a 75mm lens (on a 1.5x crop sensor), or an 80mm lens (on a 1.6x crop sensor) … however, the depth-of-field increases by about a stop.
  • Yes, a 100mm lens on a crop-sensor camera will give you the same perspective as a 150mm / 160mm lens (on a full-frame camera), if you don’t change position … however, the DoF increases. (i.e., less shallow DoF)

Neil took this comparison to an interesting place.

Here are the results from comparison #1 (FF on left, crop on right):

DSC_3196-3198-edit_1700px

For the full report head over to Neil’s Tangets, along with high res photos for you pixel peepers.

[full-frame vs crop-sensor comparison : depth-of-field & perspective | tangents]

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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24 responses to “Understanding Full-Frame vs Crop-Sensor Impacts on Depth-Of-Field And Perspective”

  1. Aphaits Avatar
    Aphaits

    Some typo on the beginning of the third paragraph.

    “If you are at the edge of you sit…” is supposed to be “If you are at the edge of your seat…”

    1. udi tirosh Avatar
      udi tirosh

      I have no idea what you are talking about ;)

      1. Aphaits Avatar
        Aphaits

        It still says “you seat” instead of “your seat” :)

        1. udi tirosh Avatar
          udi tirosh

          thanks, fixed it!

  2. Marc Stokes Avatar
    Marc Stokes

    I dont see how cropped sensors affect the composition, unless you insist on standing in the same position, which is silly, The DOF information is correct but crop? composition? silly argument imo.

    1. Matthias Bober Avatar
      Matthias Bober

      I agree. DoF is different but otherwise they behave the same when using a crop factor adjusted focal length.

  3. Daniel Scott Avatar
    Daniel Scott

    The comparison between crop and FF is pointless. Why are we still arguing over it?

    1. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
      Kay O. Sweaver

      Because people need to justify spending more/less money on bodies to assuage their buyers remorse and deflect from the fact that they aren’t taking good photos with what they have.

  4. Amede Phonon Avatar
    Amede Phonon

    Colors are not the same, and that may affect the perspective as well.

  5. Marcus Wolschon Avatar
    Marcus Wolschon

    Of cause most FullFrame enthusiasts fails to mention that a 50mm f1.4 is a heavy lens but a 25mmf0.95 is smaller and the same weight. Giving the equivalent focal length AND equivalent depth of field.

  6. Thiago Pereira Avatar
    Thiago Pereira

    My people my friends… Please check this viedo where Zack Arias discuss this issue…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHYidejT3KY
    Paraphasing the goatee bearded guru:
    THIS IS NEGLIDIBLE.
    Wanna go full frame? Go to 5×4, 6×6, 8×10…
    The medium format spanks you all, and good night.

    The diference is so small it does not interfere in the final result!
    You can do a great work even with an smartphone if you do it with care, atention and study!
    I guess we should not discuss this…. unless you are using a medium format… haha

    1. brz Avatar
      brz

      Zack is comparing resolution and sensor/negative size. This is not the same as what is being discussed here – depth of field and perspective.

      1. Thiago Pereira Avatar
        Thiago Pereira

        He comments about it too. Also about it, he say its negligible. The difference in all aspects between FF and APCS is too small….

    2. Guest Avatar
      Guest

      He comments about it too. Also about it, he say its negligible. The difference in all aspects between FF and APCS is too small.

  7. Jim Johnson Avatar
    Jim Johnson

    Get to know whatever camera and lens you are using, then use it.

    No one actually says “that lens will make my depth of field one stop less.” Instead they shoot with it, then look at it and decide if it works for what they are trying to do or need to make a change.

  8. Ira Crummey Avatar
    Ira Crummey

    The simplest but also clearest explanation I have seen in this, highly misunderstood, issue.

  9. Robert Rodriguez Avatar
    Robert Rodriguez

    great topic…some of the content may be inaccurate

  10. Z Avatar
    Z

    If it does what you need it to – then it is good. Next topic please!

  11. Scotty Avatar
    Scotty

    In the example, I personally like the crop sensor photo more than the other.

    1. Carl P. Mudgen Avatar
      Carl P. Mudgen

      thats subjective but even if we all agreed, the crop sensor photo could be reproduced by the FF by simply closing the aperture down to say, f2.0 or so, not possible the other way around since the lens is already wide open

  12. Eric Jaakkola Avatar
    Eric Jaakkola

    There’s actually no difference, it’s just cropped. That is all.

  13. Lojej Avatar
    Lojej

    oh no another loser talks in a video about something he don´t get…..

  14. Mortar Avatar
    Mortar

    read wikipedia.. it´s all explained there… since 1888 or so….

  15. Lucky Lindy Avatar
    Lucky Lindy

    You group of people give new meaning to the term “circle of confusion!”
    You’re standing in the middle of the Sequoia National Forest and see only leaves and branches. Move ANY lens closer to your subject and you lose DOF. Period.