Crop or Crap: A Rational Dissection of the Full Frame vs. APS-C Argument

Zack Arias is back again with another nail-meets-head analysis of our world or photography today. This time around, he’s addressing the incessant argument of APS-C vs. full frame cameras.

Zack is a huge proponent of Fuji’s new X-Series cameras and lenses. Lately, he’s been all about the X-T1, which has received nothing but rave reviews since it was released.

Fuji, in general, has been knocking it out of the park with its entire APS-C line of X-Series cameras. And, it seems like each one is getting better. Expect to see more from Fuji at Photokina in September.

Likewise, there are plenty of solid APS-C and Micro Four Thirds cameras from Sony, Panasonic, Olympus and so on. If APS-C floats your boat, then by all means climb aboard. I think Zack’s overall points are well made. It really boils down to what tool works for you and your needs.

I am frequently asked about recommendations for cameras by a variety of users. Just in the past month in one-on-one conversations, I’ve recommended Sony APS-C and full frame, Canon’s 6D and 70D, Panasonic GH4, GoPro and Sony RX100 models to different people based on their skill levels and intended uses.

What’s your take on the APS-C vs. Full Frame argument?



  1. Mark Olwick says

    What a load of crap. Film has absolutely nothing to do with digital. A specious argument.

    Please keep in mind that Zack is PAID by Fuji, given free gear, etc.

    APS-C is appropriate for certain things, full frame for others, but there is absolutely no argument that full frame, in general is higher quality than APS-C. Simple physics.

  2. Joe Ogiba says

    During the film days I shot with 4×5 , 6×7 and 35mm cameras but now I shoot with a 24mp and 36mp full frame (Sony VG900, A7r & Zeiss FE primes ) along with my Panasonic GH4 MFT system for 4K video. I still have my 6×7 Pentax system and 4×5 darkroom with Beseler 16CP tabletop processor for 16×20 prints but have not used it in years. The bottom line, whatever floats your boat and don’t take one persons opinion as what is the correct size for you.

  3. Wally in Austin says

    Use the camera you have put your money into good glass and real estate. Make interesting images. It’s the 12 inches behind the camera that is important!

    I am leaning towards a 1 inch sensor camera like the sony RX 100 series, my wife has one, and for casual,shooting that is fine for me.

    Regarding the question full frame vs APSC- My APS C d7000 is gathering dust these days.

    The abundance of gear provides lots of choices these days. Serious landscape work Sigma Merrill DP series for extreem IQ at affordable prices. Need sports full frame like a D4 or 1D. Better options for carry around get a OMD

    Canon and Nikon are an aging duopoly where preservation of existing markets stifle innovation.

  4. T.F.Lemieux says

    For me it comes down to what type of shooting I am doing. If I am going to be taking pictures where I need extra low light sensitivity such as night photography without a flash I would want a full frame camera for that situation. However if I am shooting macro I would rather have APSC since the added depth of field comes in handy there. (Not to mention the crop factor effect on most lenses) To me choosing the right camera for the job is as important as choosing the right lens and the same rules apply to both. While I do have my preferred lenses. My 30mm prime/macro gets far more use than I would have ever guessed when I bought it. But there are plenty of times when my say an f1.4 primes or a 70 – 200mm f2.8 is the lens of choice. And yes even the kit lens 18-135mm has it’s place in my life. So just like with lenses I choose the appreciate camera for the job. It all comes down to what you need the camera tonne or do.

  5. says

    With over 60 years of photography and 23 years semi professional experience behind me, I should like to add some thoughts to this discussion.

    1). It does not matter what type or make of camera you use if the results please you and if working professionally, the people you are working for.

    2) I have used most types and makes of camera equipment and the expertise is in understanding the particular tool and getting the best out of it. This only comes with practice and knowledge.

    3). I have taken superb photos with a small digital compact which have won competitions. this is down to knowing the equipment and having the ability to see a picture and then capture it. You can have the most expensive camera and lens available, but if you cannot compose the picture properly and look clearly right into the viewfinder to see what is really there, the equipment is useless.

    Keep taking photos with whatever camera you have, then assess the results and learn from your mistakes. Practice makes perfect, if you have the patience and understanding of what you are doing and what you are seeking.

    Happy shooting. I am 81 and my greatest enjoyment is still seeking to create the very best photos in the world!

    Vincent G. Tracey.

    Stockport, Cheshire, UK

  6. JIm says

    I have to disagree with anyone that claims the camera body is what counts OR the lens is what counts. Although they may not be of equal importance, both are very important and ultimately it comes down to what you need them for, I do plenty of photography that warrants an APSC camera, most notably sports action and most nature subjects that move (animals, insects, birds, etc). I also do plenty of photography that requires full frame such as modeling portfolios, parties and general family photography. My cameras of choice in both function and reasonable pricing are the 6D full frame and 7D APSC (1.6x). Also, the 6D is far superior in low-light situations but both are fantastic cameras and serve their own purposes very well. As for lenses, it is not so much which brand you choose as it is the quality of the glass. For example, in the family of 24-70mm 2.8 (and similar range) all purpose lenses, the Canon has always been rated highest (for Canon bodies) but it is not 2 times better a lens than the Tamron alternative and yet, it costs just about twice as much. Sorry but the Canon simply isn’t worth $1000 more. My experience with this Tamron lens and their lenses in general is excellent. I can honestly say that for the most part when you buy Canon, you pay extra for the name and not as much for a huge quality difference. It really comes down to what level you’re at and ultimate purpose(s) for the lenses. As a photographer who uses that particular general purpose lens for the most part at parties and for model shoots, I am 100% happy with Tamron and can get much more bang for the extra $1000 buying other needed equipment. As impressive as most Canon equipment is I feel they rip their customers off in pricing of most products which is a real shame but as is the case with any product these days, as long as demand is there, so will the overblown prices be. Give me 8-12 months with a serious drop in Canon lens sales nationwide and I’ll give you better prices on the market. In the meantime, Tamron is a four star alternative (virtually nothing gets 5 stars these days)..