How to decide if you should move to full frame or stay with a crop sensor…..

“How do I know when it’s time to upgrade to a full frame sensor?”

I hesitated to write about this topic just because of the fact that it can be a really hard question to answer.  There are so many photographers out there with an enormous case of GAS.  GAS is Gear Acquisition Syndrome.  GAS is such an unnecessarily expensive affliction.  It’s the need to have the latest and greatest gear available to you, regardless of the fact that you wont use most of it.  GAS causes you to buy expensive pieces of equipment on credit (which I STRENUOUSLY advise against).  Unfortunately, having the latest and greatest gear doesn’t improve your photography skills one bit.  Let me answer a much easier question first:

Why SHOULDN’T I upgrade to a full frame sensor?  Here’s why:

  1. Because that full frame camera looks so much cooler than the one I have now
  2. Because a full frame camera will make me look like a pro
  3. Because a full frame camera is that missing link to making my photography great
  4. Because all of my other photography friends have one

If a lot of people that unnecessarily went to a full frame camera would have realized these reasons NOT to make the move, they would not own a full frame camera today, and they wouldn’t be upset that they went to full frame but their photography still sucks.  To accurately answer the question of why you should to go full frame, we need to make some assumptions first.  I’m going to assume that you know the difference between full frame and crop sensor.  If you don’t, check out this article on digital-photography-school.com then come back and read the rest of this post.  I’m also going to assume that you know what terms like “crop factor” mean.  I believe that there really is only one major reason to switch from a crop sensor to a full frame sensor:  If your particular style or genre of photography requires the switch to full frame, and your current camera is getting in the way.  If you only shoot in natural light situations, then you will be able to take advantage of the ISO performance that a full frame camera will offer.  If you shoot landscapes where the extra viewing angle of a full frame sensor is required, then by all means, go for it.  If you shoot weddings where you commonly have to shoot the ceremony in flash-prohibited, dimly lit situations, then you’ll also benefit from high ISO performance.  If you commonly shoot fast lenses wide open, you’ll benefit from the improved depth of field a full frame camera will offer.  Do you see a trend here?  You really only need to upgrade if you know the benefits of the full frame camera and your current situation requires you to take advantage of those benefits.  If you only shoot airshows and such, you might actually want to consider staying with a crop sensor since that 300mm lens will frame like a 450mm lens on a crop sensor camera.  You might benefit more by investing in a teleconverter.

These days, price isn’t as much of an issue since some of the more recent offering are bridging the gap in cost between crop sensor and full frame.  The fact is, if you can’t take advantage of the benefits, why upgrade?  If you walk around all day with a 18-55mm kit lens on your camera and you’re not noticing any drawbacks or limitations from that setup, then you probably don’t need to spend the money on upgrading to full frame.  If you know that your photography can benefit more by spending your money on lighting or a lens, go that route.  Spend your money wisely.  If you let it, photography can crush you financially.   There are photographers out there taking stunning images with iphones so don’t think for one minute that buying that D750 or 5DMKIII will suddenly make you a phenom.  I hope this information helps you decide whether or not you truly need to make the jump or not.  As always, thanks for stopping by and spending a few minutes with me this week.  It is always appreciated.  I’ll see ya next week!

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