Chris Marquardt on Photography

Episode 954

Chris joins us to talk about sensor size in digital cameras. Is bigger better? Chris says that "full frame" sensors are the size of a frame of 35mm film. Digital sensors that size are expensive. Smaller sensors are far more cost effective for budget filmmakers. You pay a price with smaller pixels in that you get more noise in low light as camera makers stuff more pixels on smaller sensors, but smaller sensors have the advantage of making telephoto length appear larger. A 200mm lens on a full frame is just 200mm. On an APS-C, it could be a 300mm focal length.

What camera sensor is better, full frame or APS-C?

Pentax K-5 16.3 MP Digital SLR

Episode 954

David from Northridge, CA

David has a Pentax K5 camera, which has an APS-C sensor. Should he get a full frame sensor instead?

APS-C sensors are usually used on less expensive DSLRs because of their smaller footprint. Even though the APS-C may have the same number of pixels as a comparable full frame sensor, that's the difference. A full frame sensor will have better low light sensitivity. If he doesn't notice the difference, then it really isn't an issue for David.