SO WHAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE? Which is better? Which do I recommend? I recommend that the well equipped photographer have both formats. Why not? Having two formats of camera body greatly augments the utility of the lens collection and offers the best of both worlds. I shoot in both formats myself. I carry an APS-C when I’m trying to travel small and light and when I want to leave my more expensive equipment at home (e.g. in questionable weather). I pull out the full frame when weight doesn’t matter, but high light sensitivity, versatility, and/or shallow depth of field do matter. As a professional, I need at least two cameras anyway, so that if one fails, I have the other to use as a backup. My FF and APS-C cameras are as different in their capabilities as I could make them, so that they give me the greatest possible versatility.
What if you can only afford one camera? Well, choose wisely according to your needs. An APS-C gives you cheaper entry but might actually cost you more in the long run if you want to have lots of fast lenses to go with it. If fast lenses don’t matter to you, you can save a lot of money and produce images of similar quality if you collect EFS lenses with an APS-C camera.
If you can stomach the high cost of a full frame camera, you’ll make the most of your EF lens collection and may actually save money in optics in the long run (provided you won’t be compelled to upgrade to each new full frame model that hits the market). You’ll have shallower depth of field capabilities, more working room in lens aperture, more sensitivity, less sensor noise, and wider fields of view.
It’s a good thing if your head hurts a bit right now. It means you’ve at least thought about the subject and haven’t simply swallowed the dogma that others are handing you. Please don’t feel humbled by any of this material. It’s all quite complicated when you dig through it all and especially when you delve into the mathematics behind it. It’s frankly something the gurus argue between each other, so I don’t think many people fully understand the issues. I’m pretty sure I have a good understanding, and my technical background helps me with that. However I freely admit that I, too, have to pause to scratch my head about some of of the issues I raise. Anyway, it is my hope that you have learned something and will weigh the right factors when selecting the best format for you.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: At various times other technically oriented photographers have offered commentary on and input into this article. I won't mention them by name, because there is enough controversy in the multitudes of issues I raise that they might not agree 100% with everything I assert. However, I want them all to know I have valued their input and appreciate their taking the time to offer it. Thanks!
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