Full Frame Cameras: How They’re Impacting Film Now and in the Future

Before you purchase a full frame camera, you’ll want to know exactly what its capabilities are.

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You can meet or even exceed your expectations when you purchase the right camera for your purpose. This bulky, robust camera doesn’t have a crop factor but boasts a broad view. Full frame cameras are the compelling choice of most professionals, but why?

Full Frame Cameras Vs. Other Types

Full frame cameras use the same size sensor as a 35mm camera. The sensor measures 36mm x 24mm. The 35mm camera is significant because it has been the standard in film since 1909. There is a considerable price jump when you want a larger sensor, such as what a medium format camera has.

A full frame camera has 2.5 times more surface area than an APS-C Sensor. The image produced by a full-frame sensor is of high quality with a high ISO sensitivity. The ISO indicates the sensor’s sensitivity to light. Larger sensors typically offer more dynamic range. Full frame cameras have a more extensive dynamic range due to the large pixels. The dynamic range covers a spectrum of light intensity ranging from bright highlights to dark shadows and mid tones.

Differences Between the APS-C and Full Frame

A full frame camera is more costly than the APS-C. It is also larger and heavier. The full frame camera serves a purpose both in photography and shooting video. The main difference between a full frame camera and a crop frame is what you can physically see in the frame.

An APS-C sensor doesn’t cover the full image captured by the lens—this is known as the crop factor. Even if you’re using the same lens on both camera types, a full frame camera allows you to take in more of the scene in front of you than an APS-C DSLR camera will. However, if your goal is to capture a crisp image of a faraway subject, the APS-C has an advantage.

A full frame camera makes it easy to shoot landscapes, indoors, and small spaces. It’s important to know that full frame cameras are not compatible with all lenses. Super wide lenses can’t be used with a full frame camera because it will result in dark corners.

Full frame cameras have larger photosites, otherwise known as pixels, which gather light. Let's say that you have 20 million pixels to place on a sensor. You put 20 million pixels on an APS-C sensor and 20 million on a full frame sensor. On the full frame sensor, the pixels have more room to spread out. On an APS-C sensor, the pixels would have to be shrunk to fit them all on the surface area of the smaller sensor. If each pixel is a bucket that can hold water (light), then by making the bucket larger on the full frame sensor, it can keep more water.

Full frame cameras vary upon how many megapixels they have, which are less about quality and more about quantity. The number of megapixels in a camera doesn't tell you much about the quality of the camera. The pixels directly collect photons or light. Camera quality depends on a complex mix of engineering, firmware, and the design of the image sensor.

Full Frame Cameras Impact Producers, Studios, and the Industry

Moviegoers and film lovers alike know precisely what a top-notch film should look like, even if they’re unable to describe it. Because of this, more producers are picking up full frame cameras and are likely to continue due to its ability to produce cinematic effects.

A full frame camera is a cost-effective option to produce a film without the budget of a medium format or large format camera. An increased number of production studios will be able to form as a result of picking up this camera. Due to the variety of abilities a full frame camera has, it allows a studio to complete a variety of work.

Canon has just released its first full frame camera designed to produce cinema. This move made by a major technology manufacturer will increase the likelihood that other camera manufacturers will follow suit, encouraging filmmakers to continue full-frame digital cinema in the future.

The Impact on Non-full Frame Equipment in the Next Ten Years

Manufacturers and filmmakers are focusing more heavily on larger sensor size, increasing the importance of the full frame camera. Sony is another manufacturer promoting the idea that full frame technology will lead us into the future. Sony’s AU-EVA1 is an entirely new development with new technology that does not copy off of the success of previous Sony cameras.

There are entire blogs dedicated to the benefits of full frame glass, so it's likely that the film industry will continue to use and talk about it. Full frame cameras have interchangeable mount systems so they can be used on different cameras. One advantage is that it’s easy to get a shallow depth of field.

The downside is that with a full frame camera, it’s hard to keep the subject in focus. Skill is required to achieve this. Super 35mm cameras are very similar to APS-C. The Super 35mm has been used in thousands of films and is considered as the industry standard for commercial work. However, full frame cameras have an undeniably wider field of view. 

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Full Frame Cameras: How They’re Impacting Film Now and in the Future
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