Full Frame digital cameras , are cameras which have an image sensor that is the same shape and size as 35mm film frame that has been the photography standard for decades . The image sensor behind the lens in the camera , actually captures the image when you open the shutter. However, image sensors that size are more difficult and expensive to build. Consequently, the majority of digital cameras—both amateur compact models and professional SLR models—use smaller image sensors. The most common image sensor size among professional digital SLR cameras is the APS-C standard, which is roughly 57% smaller that the size of 35mm film.
So, why should you care? There are three reasons. First, the quality of the picture is directly related to the size of the image sensor—the larger the image sensor, the better quality the picture. Larger sensors capture images with a higher pixel count, greater colour range, and less noise. Smaller image sensors have a lower pixel count, producing noisier, grainier photographs, even at high speeds.
The second drawback to “half-frame” cameras applies mostly to professional photographers, but is a serious problem. Professional photographers have several different types of speciality lenses (such as wide-angle, zoom, manual-focus, tilt/shift, etc.) that they can attach to their cameras. These lenses, however, are currently intended for use with 35mm film cameras, and designed for the 35mm-sized frame format. The problem is that the lens projects a light image the size of a 35mm frame—but the digital camera’s image sensor is smaller. Consequently, it doesn’t capture the entire image—just the centre. The result is a zoom-in type of effect on the centre of the image, with all four edges being cropped off. This is known as the “crop factor”. Professional Digital SLR cameras using the APS-C format sized image sensor will lose over half of the original image seen through the lens. Commercial digital cameras (“compact” cameras) use tiny image sensors—some only about 1/30th (or 3%) the size of a 35mm frame—and will lose most of the image. This effectively makes the expensive and highly useful speciality lenses worthless. In contrast, a full-frame digital camera will capture the exact image seen through the speciality lenses.
The third problem, once again applying mostly to professional photographers, is that the dimensions of the image coming through the lens doesn’t match the dimensions of commercial image sensors. The aspect ratio (the ratio of how wide to how high the frame is) of a 35mm film frame is 3:2, while the image sensor cheaper, commercial digital cameras have an aspect ratio of 4:3. The resulting picture will not only be cropped on all sides, but will also have even more space cut off on the left and right sides of the photograph.
Currently, Kodak, Canon, Nikon, and Sony all make full frame digital cameras. Clearly, full frame cameras interest mainly professional photographers and amateur enthusiasts, and thus tend to be expensive, high-end cameras. Such cameras, however, are often loaded with advanced features, and are well worth the price tag.
Canon and Nikon both produce two types of full frame digital cameras. A high-end, feature-rich professional type for several thousand dollars, and midrange type for amateur photographers that offer slightly fewer features at about half the price. For example, the Nikon D3 FX, the high-end camera, boasts 12.1 MP, a speed of 9 frames per second, and a 51-point auto-focus system. Nikon’s midrange camera, the D7000, offers almost the same features, but a slower speed of 5 frames per second—but that drops the price almost in half! Canon has a similar story, with camera speed being the main difference between their high-end EOS-1Ds Mark III (5 fps) and their midrange 5D Mark II (fps). The EOS-1Ds offers 5 frames per seconds. The 5D can only offers 3 fps, but is roughly half the cost!