My Learning Curve - Part 2

3. Cropped Sensor or Full Sensor For Long Lens Work?

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I had always assumed if you were using a good quality digital SLR it was of benefit to use a high cropped sensor camera (e.g. Cannon 40D - 1.6 crop) for long lens work on subjects that do not fill the frame as much as you may desire. The cropped sensor placing more pixels into the image area and so 'getting your closer' and giving you better subsequent cropping options on the PC at home compared to a full frame sensor camera body e.g. Canon 5D or partially cropped camera sensor e.g. Canon 1D Mk III (1.3 crop)

However the links below demonstrate there is more to this than the simple pixel density on your required cropped area, particularly when it comes to end image quality.

It concludes that though full frame sensor cameras, or low crop factor sensors, may put a reduced density of pixels onto your given far away image (that you subsequently need to crop more on the PC in order to 'gain magnification' compared to a 1.6 crop sensor image) the end result image from these cameras can be better, and certainly no worse, than one's taken using a higher crop factor camera sensor e.g. Canon 40D. This is believed to be a function of the superior image qualities of these cameras sensors, more than compensating for the reduction in image quality due to reduced pixel density.

I believe I have observed this when using a 5D and Canon 40D. Though the 5D images in this situation required more cropping to fill the final image frame than the Canon 40D image, there was no perceivable degrade in image when viewed at 100% as compared to the same image produced using the Canon 40D that required only a little PC cropping.

For my own conclusion on this I am still unsure how to proceed. I believe I will still turn to using the higher cropped sensors for those long range shots for the moment but will definitely not be so wary about taking shots with my 5D in the fear of image degrade by the increased need to crop them on the PC when I get home.

Further details can be found via the following links:

Link To - Site detailing traditional sensor wisdom

Link To - Orphys Photography site challenging traditional wisdom - Part 1

Link To - Orphys Photography site challenging traditional wisdom - Part 2

Link To - Site that explains why the less cropped camera sensors produce superior images