As its name suggests, a full-frame DSLR is a digital single-lens reflex camera armed with an image sensor which is as large as the film frame. This is exactly opposite to digital cameras with APS-C sensor, wherein the image sensor is much smaller than the full 35-mm frame.
If you use a full frame camera lens on a DSLR with a relatively smaller image sensor, only the center portion of the image sensor will be captured. For this, the edges will be cropped and the center portion of the imaging area will be zoomed on. Most of the camera manufacturers in the market today use smaller sensors, as it is relatively inexpensive to manufacture them.
Some of the most popular full-frame DSLRs in the market today are ...
- Nikon D3S
- Nikon D3X
- Canon EOS 5D Mark II
- Canon EOS 5D
- Sony α DSLR-A850
- Sony α DSLR-A900
When it comes to comparison between the full-frame and crop sensor DSLRs, the former has quite a few advantages over its counterpart. For starters, it boasts of amazing picture quality at any given resolution. In fact, the characteristic wide-angle lenses in them ensure that the wide-angle view of the image is retained when the picture is captured. This is of utmost importance in specific types of photography, such as architectural photography and landscape photography.
At the same time, full-frame DSLRs also have an edge in terms of pixel size, owing to which they produce better quality images in high contrast or low light situations.
Everything is not satisfactory with these DSLRs though, as they have some shortcomings of their own, which need to be taken into consideration when you opt to buy one. The biggest disadvantage is perhaps the fact that they are very costly, which, in turn, can be attributed to the fact that the production cost for manufacturing full-frame sensors is quite high.
On an average, a full-frame sensor is 20 times costlier compared to APS-C sensor in terms of production cost. In fact, the Canon 5D Mark II, which is one of the cheapest full-frames in the market today, will also cost you anywhere between USD 2500 - 3000.
At the same time, some reviews state that the large sensor area of the camera makes it more vulnerable to contaminants.
There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that full-frame DSLR cameras give amazing images, but you need to be well-versed with the basics of photography to handle such cameras. At the end of the day, all those who take to photography as a hobby start with a simple SLR before graduating to a professional DSLR with advanced features.