What is the Advantage of a Full Frame Sensor?
A full frame sensor is the envy of most photographers – and with good reason. There are several advantages to having a larger sensor.
A full frame sensor is the image sensor in your camera that is the equivalent of a 35mm film camera. The 35mm film frame, which is considered the industry standard, measured approximately 24mm x 36mm. The 35mm film frame has been an international industry standard since 1909 due to cost and image quality.
Having a bigger sensor in your DSLR means your camera is capable of capturing more light and greater detail than its cropped sensor counterpart. This is particularly evident in night photography where increasing your ISO and long exposure times can lead to unwanted noise. A full frame sensor helps alleviate that problem, and in general, will give better image quality. A bigger sensor means bigger pixels, and beefier pixels means that your camera will have better dynamic range and can capture a ton more details particularly in the shadows.
Where the full frame sensor really stands out is in its field of view. Because it has a bigger sensor, it can capture a wider image. A cropped sensor does just that – it lops off the sides of the frame and zooms in. Take a full sensor camera like the Nikon D4 and put it side by side to its APS-C (DX) counterpart like a Nikon D7100. Attach the same lens and set it for the identical focal length. The full frame camera will capture more of the vista in front of you than the APS-C camera just because of the size of the sensor. Imagine standing in front of a majestic sweeping vista like the Grand Canyon – wouldn’t you want to capture every inch possible? You will notice the difference once you attach a wide angle or ultra wide angle lens on a full frame camera.
Full frame cameras also shine in architectural photography where the wider angle of view is better with tilt shift lenses.
Full frame cameras also have a better viewfinder, similar to the old film cameras just in the size of the viewfinder and its clarity and brightness. The superior viewfinder makes focusing manually much easier. Portrait photographers also gravitate to a full frame sensor because it gives a smaller depth of field and better bokeh. A full frame sensor also works well in macro photography because you have to physically get closer to your subject to fill the frame thus decreasing the depth of field as well.
And do you want to blow up your photos to the size of a wall mural? Full frame cameras can produce higher quality photographs because of the larger sensor.