After sharing our insights on the differences between DSLR cameras and mirrorless cameras, we know there’s one other factor that comes up when deciding what kind of camera to buy. Both DSLR and mirrorless cameras have two sensor sizes. 

This is the size of the camera’s digital sensor that creates the image within the camera body. A full-frame sensor mimics the original 35mm film cameras. A cropped sensor is technically the size of the super 35mm motion film format cameras. The most important things to note are this: The bigger the sensor the better quality your image will be. It also means a larger camera body and a larger price tag. You can purchase a crop sensor in a DSLR or mirrorless camera. You can also purchase a full-frame sensor DSLR or mirrorless camera. The difference between a crop-sensor and a full-frame is exactly what it sounds like.

Are they really that different?

A full-frame camera has a full-size sensor on it. That is, it’s a 35 mm sensor. That means there are more space and information being recorded than a crop-sensor. Full-frame sensors capture noticeably higher quality images but that higher quality comes with a price.

A crop sensor camera has a smaller sensor because it is cropped on the top and bottom. The ratio ends up being a longer (or taller) rectangle. On average crop-sensors are about a third smaller than full-frame sensors. For beginners, I think crop sensor cameras work just as great and are often the better choice because they still give you great features for far less money. The file sizes of crop sensor cameras are still incredibly high quality too. Most are 20mb or more. 

When choosing between a crop sensor and full-frame sensor cameras, you also have to consider that not only is the camera body going to be more expensive but so are the lenses. My collection of Nikon DSLRs includes both crop-sensor and full-frame cameras as well as crop-sensor and full-frame lenses. But I have twice as many crop sensor lenses because they are much less expensive overall. Plus, I enjoy the unique variety of the crop sensor lenses offered on the market today. 

The main thing to keep in mind when choosing which camera to buy is that DSLR crop sensor cameras are going to be the least expensive. Mirrorless full-frame cameras tend to be the most expensive. Though because the DSLR technology is still the number one form of digital photography, there are far more DSLR camera options on the market today and that includes cameras more pricey than some mirrorless. All decent DSLR and Mirrorless cameras will range between $300 and over $3,000 or more. Don’t forget the real decision-making process comes into play when you start thinking about the best camera lens that’s right for you. This is where your ultimate storytelling tool comes into play.