Moving From a Crop Camera to a Full Frame Camera.

I purchased my first DSLR in 2007.  A Canon Rebel XT (350D) with 18-55mm & 70-300mm kit lenses.  I had ZERO idea how to use it or any of the theory behind proper photography.  I did have a strong desire to learn.

I would bring it with me everywhere and read as much as I could on forums about how to use the Rebel.

Finally I used a college elective to enroll in an entry level photography course which would teach me the basics of Apertures/Shutter Speeds and how they compliment each other.  They didn’t teach anything about ISO at the time because I think anything over iso 400 at the time was almost unusable.

One of the first portraits I took with my Canon Rebel XT, 50mm 1.8 and 430EX Flash.

I upgraded to a Canon 20D, 30D, 50D and the 60D that I use today.  All of the cameras I’ve ever owned use what is called a APS-C or “Crop Sensor”.  These sensors are a bit smaller than a traditional camera and part of those drawbacks are that they give you less color definition and less light.  One small advantage is that they give you 1.6x further focal length on your lenses.  Example a 200mm on a Crop Sensor would really be closer to a true 320mm using Canon’s 1.6x Crop Factor.

Notice the much larger mirror on the 6D.

This is great if longer focal lengths is what you want.  But for me I enjoy shooting a lot of landscape and live music photography which really needs better low light capabilities as well as a wider focal length.  The width is much easier to achieve with a Full Frame camera that true to spec of a  35mm film sensor.


Let me share an example.  Since I’m currently using a 60D which has an APS-C Crop Sensor, every lens I put on there is really 1.6x further focal length than it actually reads.  So right now I use a Tokina 11-16mm lens almost exclusively for my landscape shots.  This lens was designed specifically for cameras using an APS-C sized sensors.  So if you were to mount on a full frame camera you’d have more of a true 7mm focal length which would give you an almost unusable shot.

Photo Credit: Andrew Reid from

So to recap, I want to go Full Frame for the light and color advantages but the Tokina 11-16 Lens I’m currently using isn’t going to work on that camera.  Anyone want to take a guess on what focal length I’ll need to achieve similar results to my Tokina 11-16 lens?  Hmmmm about 17-25mm.  Fortunately Tokina makes a 16-24mm lens and Canon makes a fantastic 16-35mm lens.

So now that you have a small understanding of the difference between a Crop Sensor and a Full Frame Sensor you can see that it’s a pretty major transition.  My main camera body and favorite lens are going to need to be replaced as a pair.

As you may have read, I had the ability to test out a Full Frame Canon 5D MK3 and Canon 16-35mm 2.8L Lens for a weekend.  I became obsessed with the image quality I was getting and I’m very happy with how the photos came out.  Let me know what you think.

A week or so after I was obsessed with finding a Canon 6D (Canon’s prosumer level full frame camera) with a reasonably low shutter count (similar to mileage on a car) that was within my budget.

After about two weeks of searching high and low, I was able to pick up a Canon 6D and Canon 16-35mm L lens to replace my 60D and Tokina 11-16.

Now I haven’t had a ton of time to test it out but with the 500 shots I’ve taken with it so far I’m blown away.  The colors are more true to life, the high ISO shots are much less grainy than any crop sensor I’ve shot with, and the true 35mm focal lengths are fantastic as well.

I’ll do a full review on the Canon 6D after I’ve had a few weeks to play with it.  Sure I know it’s nothing new.  In fact The Canon 6D MK2 is rumored to come out in Q2 2017, but it’ll be a good article for those considering switching on a budget.

Here are some of the things I sacrified going from my 60D to a 6D.

  1. Rotating Display – This might not sound like much but it was great for protecting the screen when not being use as well as being able to get a preview of your image in those awkward angles you sometimes shoot in.  (Especially if doing long exposures)
  2. The Continuous Drive – The Canon 60D can shoot up to 5.3 full resolution raw images per second.  The Canon 6D just 4.5.  That might not seem like much but if you’re the type of person that shoots actions shots or sports this will make a huge difference.  For me I don’t do much of that, so I’m alright.

That’s really about it.  When I do my full review of the Canon 6D, I’ll make sure to talk about all the new amazing features I love about the 6D but for now I hope you got some good insight if you’re considering moving from a crop sensor camera to a full frame camera.

Published by Jared

Founder of Days Away Creative LLC, The Growing Photographer, and more!

2 thoughts on “Moving From a Crop Camera to a Full Frame Camera.

    1. It’s been fantastic so far. I love shooting and even though my camera bag is pretty huge I carry it with me everywhere!

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