Let’s cut the crop: Zack Arias on the full-frame vs crop sensor debate

by Felix Esser

posted Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 9:44 AM EDT

Among photographers, both hobbyist and professional, there is (and has been for a long time) an ongoing debate relating to the size of a digital camera's sensor. While some argue that only 'full-frame' (that is, 35mm format) sensors can provide the image quality required for professional photography, others say that APS-C or even Micro Four Thirds sensors are good enough for most purposes.

Then, there's the debate about crop factor, about how adapting lenses to cameras with smaller sensors changes the look of an image, about 'bokeh' and depth-of-field and angle-of-view and all that. In this debate, there's not only a lot of physics and math involved, but also a lot of misconceptions. In order to provide a little down-to-earth insight into the topic of sensor sizes and everything that ensues from it, Zack Arias has written a neat article on his blog explaining some of the basic concepts.

Sensor sizes in digital cameras. Image by MarcusGR on Wikimedia Commons

For those unfamiliar with the name, Zack Arias is a professional photographer based in Atlanta, GA who loves to share his knowledge with others and who has become famous for his educational videos in the past few years. Sharing his knowledge and insights is also what his website and blog DEDPXL is all about, where you can find his latest article on the sensor format wars.

Basically, what we can take away from his article and accompanying video, is that in general, sensor size doesn't matter all that much. The reason why is that with today's technology, even smaller sensors are capable of taking great pictures. Which is why for his professional work, Zack is using digital medium format gear side-by-side with Fujifilm X-series cameras such as the X-T1.

Below you can find Zack's video, in which he talks about why 35mm full-frame isn't the holy grail, and how there have alway been different film formats for different purposes. In his accompanying article, he talks about bokeh, depth-of-field, and all the other technicalities that relate to sensor size. It's a great read and should help those stuck in the full-frame vs. APS-C debate get back down to earth.

And here's something else to take away: in the end, you'll have to make a decision whether you want to do math, or capture moments. We couldn't agree more.

(via PetaPixel)