Side by side example // Full frame vs cropped sensor

So you know that last week, I got my Canon 5D. And it was my very first time even touching a full frame camera. I loaded up the battery, popped in a memory card and….GASP! What a beautiful vision I saw through the viewfinder. Suddenly, my 50mm lens {which I couldn’t use in my teeny living room} has been transformed into the perfect lens for a small space!

You see, on a cropped sensor camera (if it’s not full frame, it’s ‘cropped’), what you see through the viewfinder, and capture when you press the shutter, is an image that is sort of cropped before it’s even been taken. The sensor isn’t capable of taking in the entire image. Kind of like standing in a tunnel. So when you look through a 50mm lens, you’re not actually seeing the full view capability of that lens. So check it out:

  • How did you find the AF ( auto-focus) to be on the 7D ( and now on the Mark II)? ( I have read so many reviews etc….I would just like a straight answer from a straight shooter and a photog who has used both!) Like you!! LOL!
    I’m thinking of upgrading to the 7D soon. (and eventually the Mark II). I currently have the 30D but am quickly outgrowing it. I have read many forums, blogs, reviews and posts…saying that the Canons higher end products are having focusing problems and issues. I have also read in complete opposite directions that the Nikons ( ie – the D700, or D7000) have awesome AF , very smooth and precise. I’m not in too deep on lenses on my Canon…so I could potentially switch over….but I held one today and it just didn’t feel right in my hand. It felt a bit too short. But I did love the speed and smoothness with which it took a photo.
    Any ideas or feedback…..or anything you have heard or read on this?
    Thanks so much for your time! I check your blog every day for new posts! :) (Seriously NOT a stalker I promise!)

  • Great camera! I shoot Nikon… but if I was a Canon shooter I would use the 5D II. I don’t even touch my cropped camera anymore since I went fullframe.

  • I recently upgraded to a 5d from a 50, and as Algernon mentioned above, I haven’t touched the cropped sensor camera since. I will begin using it as a back-up for weddings…but there is something amazing about the full frame cameras.

    I haven’t had a single problem with focusing…I use an L series lens with my camera and my images are tack sharp. I can’t speak for everyone who claims to have focusing issues, but I do tend to wonder if they are trying to use lower quality glass with such a superior functioning camera. I’m of the camp that the model of the camera doesn’t matter as much as the lens you use (that’s just me).

  • Ohhhhh! Now I can’t wait until I get a full frame…

  • wow, great example of the difference between cropped and full-frame.

  • Wow, that’s amazing! I didn’t realize the sensor was cropped as much as it actually is. Now I want a full frame even more than before! I love my 50mm lens but my biggest frustration with it comes when I use it in small spaces, precisely for the reason your photos above demonstrate.

  • thanks for the article. I currently own a 7d and have been frustrated when it comes to capturing landscapes or architecture. I am really looking forward to getting my full frame sensor one day.

    I agree with you about a person working their way up to a full frame. I cut my teeth on a Canon Rebel and quickly outgrew it. My 7d is great but like I mentioned previously, I am looking coward to capturing what my eye is seeing.

    Keep up the great work.

  • Michaela

    After getting my full frame I never wanted to go back to my cropped!

  • Elizabeth, love your blog; keep up the great work! Congrats on the 5DMarkII; you will absolutely love it but I hope that people don’t get too hung up on their equipment; having good technical understanding and shooting from the heart, in my opinion, is much more important than the equipment. I’ve been blessed with great equipment but it’s just part of the approach. The full frame versus cropped sensor argument is really determined by what you shoot. I use my full frame for most things but when shooting sports I prefer the cropped sensor, which also has a much higher fps. Bottom line is that their are pros and cons to each but the secret is to be appreciative of what you have! A good photographer can good results out of anything; the secret is in knowing how to use it effectively.

  • Veronica Klingan

    Wow, that’s a big difference..! I use a 7D, and my boyfriend uses a 5DmkII… Now I have to borrow the 5D ;-)

  • Anonymous

    It looks like you got a “Canon 5Dmk2” not a “Canon 5D” (which came out in 2005). Just FYI. =)  Some of us still shoot with the original 5D feel compelled to correct the typos.

  • Godston

    Thanks so much for this!

  • Aly

    Oh, Elizabeth – what an encouragement this is to keep saving for my D4! thanks for sharing :)

  • Shavonda

    ohh how I can’t wait to get my first 5D!!!  Sooo happy for you!!!!

  • Cassidy LionHeart

    Wow, I just learned a lot in a couple of seconds. Going full frame with my next camera purchase.