Full frame is important for life and depth - Film and Digital Times (2023)

Full frame is important for life and depth - Film and Digital Times (1)

Sony a9 Full Frame Digital Camera

Hundreds of millions of users of Leica, Canon, Nikon and other cameras have been playing in the Full Frame fields for nearly a century, ever since Oskar Barnack ditched standard 35mm film and introduced the 24x36mm format.

Full Frame 24x36mm (FF) form for Cine is running towards us. Sony recently introduced a new a9 camera that takes pretty decent video. At Cine Gear, Sony announced an upcoming full-frame cinema camera. RED VV 8K, ARRI Alexa 65 and Panavision DXL already dazzle directors and DPs with the appeal of exciting, larger formats.

Many full frame and large format cinema lenses are already here: from Leica, Cooke, ZEISS, Sigma, Angenieux, IB/E Optics, Panavision, ARRI, Schneider, Canon, Sony and more.

These and many other FF lenses can be used directly or with mount adapters on new full-frame mirrorless cameras—Sony a9, Leica M10 or Leica SL. The interesting thing about this small edge full frame digital world is the camera's ability to accept existing S35 and APS-C lenses and crop/stack them seamlessly.

To help with the simple math of determining the differences in focal length and depth of field between Super35 and Full Frame 24x36mm formats, we consulted the usual suspects – the ASC manual, Kelly calculators, David Eubank's pCam, Toland, charts, books and apps. Two phone calls solved the problem. Thanks to Howard Preston and Iain Neil for their help.

In the highly "scientific" labs of Film and Digital Times, we lined up a ruler, a toy turkey and two Japan Airlines stick cases to measure depth of field and field of view. The examples below were shot with a Sony a9 (E-mount, 18mm edge depth) with ZEISS Batis 18mm Full Frame E-mount lenses and ZEISS Touit 12mm APS-C/S35 E-mount lenses. Your "mileage" will vary with different sensor sizes (Alexa 65, RED VV 8K, Panavision DXL, etc.)

Quick math

To select an FF lens with the same angle of view as your familiar S35, multiply the S35 lens by 1.5. Or divide lens FF by 1.5.

The difference in depth of field between the FF and S35 lenses at the same angle of view is equal to 2 degrees.

Quick questions and answers

Q: What happens when you mount an S35 lens on a FF camera?

A: See these photos below:

Full frame is important for life and depth - Film and Digital Times (2)

ZEISS Touit 12mm APS-C format at T2.8 with APS-C OFF crop so you can see the lens image circle full frame. Red frames=Full frame. Blue frame=APS-C.

Full frame is important for life and depth - Film and Digital Times (3)

ZEISS Touit 12mm APS-C in T2.8 format with APS-C crop ON. The camera crops the APS-C image area and then "fills the window" in the viewfinder and in the captured file.

And what about the FF lens on the S35 camera?

Q: What happens when you attach an FF lens to the S35 camera?

A: It looks the same as an S35 lens. So an 18mm FF lens on an S35 camera looks just like an S35 lens on an S35 camera.

Q: You have a Super35 (18×24mm) 12mm lens. What is the full frame equivalent (24×36mm) to get the same field of view (angle)?

A: 18mm Multiply the Super35 focal length by 1.5. So for the same angle of view, 12mm in Super35 is similar to 18mm in full frame.

Q: Is the depth of field the same?

A: No. The depth of field is not the same. At the same aperture, you get the equivalent of 2 stops less (shallow) depth of field with an FF lens compared to a Super35. Caution: Use the same confusion circle (eg 0.03 mm / 0.001 inch) or lens chart when calculating. Don't be tempted to consult the separate FF and S35 graphs—as they usually show different CoC values.

Full frame is important for life and depth - Film and Digital Times (4)

ZEISS Batis 18mm Full Frame at T5.6. No haircut

Full frame is important for life and depth - Film and Digital Times (5)

APS-C crop ON. ZEISS Batis 18mm Full Frame at T5.6. It still has a focal length of 18mm, but feels narrow due to the crop factor

So in the examples here, an S35 12mm lens at T2.8 gives you the same depth of field as an FF 18mm lens at T5.6. In other words, an 18mm Full Frame lens at T2.8 has the same depth of field as a 12mm Super35 lens at T1.4. It's all familiar territory.

And what about fast Full Frame lenses like the Leica M 0.8 Summilux f/1.4 or Sigma's new FF High Speed ​​Prime Cine T1.5? Remember the 2-stop difference—wide open these lenses allow the S35 lens's shallowness to hover around an amazing T-equivalent of 0.67.

DPs like new creative possibilities. The focus gods (the camera's stellar assistants) are embracing the new format, confident in their own talents with the help of beautiful new focus support tools.


Is full frame better for film? ›

“You can't achieve the same low-light performance with a crop sensor that you can with full frame; full frame is so much sharper, clearer, and gives you less noise and more detail,” says photographer Felipe Silva.

What are the benefits of a full-frame camera? ›

Full frame cameras provide better low light performance, increased sharpness, and greater dynamic range. Full frame cameras also allow you to work with professional-level lenses, without the 1.5x crop factor.

What does full frame mean in film? ›

In cinematography, full frame refers to the use of the full film gate at maximum width and height for 35 mm film cameras. It is sometimes also referred to as a silent aperture, full gate, or a number of other similar word combinations.

What are the benefits of full frame vs APS-C? ›

Benefits of full-frame compared to APS-C

As a general rule, especially at wider apertures (lower f-numbers), full-frame cameras can produce a narrower depth of field than APS-C cameras, meaning that a smaller part of the image is in sharp focus and more of the background is blurred.

Do professionals use full frame? ›

Though they are typically favoured by professional photographers and come with many advantages, full-frame cameras aren't necessarily the best choice for everyone. Let's look at the pros and cons of a full-frame camera.

How important is framing in film? ›

- In cinematography, framing refers to the way elements are arranged in the frame. Essentially what the camera sees. The way actors are blocked, and move through the scene, and set design, all these things play a role in framing.

Do you need a full-frame camera to be a professional? ›

Do You Need a Full Frame Camera to Be a Professional Photographer? Although full-frame cameras offer plenty of benefits for the most experienced photographers, you don't need to spend that much money to become a respected professional. Instead, focus on investing in good lenses and lighting equipment.

Is full-frame needed? ›

Because there's no crop factor on full-frame sensors, “you're able to get a wider field of view with your lens,” says Whitehouse. “If you shoot landscape photography or anything that needs a wide frame, such as real estate photography or architecture, you'll probably want a full frame.”

How much difference does a full-frame camera make? ›

Thanks to its larger size, a full frame camera usually produces sharper, clearer, and more detailed images in low light photography. Since the sensor can capture more light, you also won't need to crank up the ISO so your images will have less grainy noise.

Is medium format better than full frame? ›

Medium format cameras are a bit more expensive, but they offer even better image quality than full frame cameras. If you're looking for the best possible image quality, then a medium format camera is the way to go.

Why is it called full frame? ›

A full-frame sensor is most simply defined by its sheer size—36 mm by 24 mm—and the distinctive look it makes possible. Compared to a Super 35 mm sensor, a full-frame sensor has over twice the surface area while providing a wider angle of view and shallower depth of field.

What is the difference between full frame and APS? ›

A full-frame sensor has 36mm by 24mm in size based on the traditional 35mm film format. An APS-C sensor is 1.5 times smaller, 25.1mm by 16.7mm, and named after the Advanced Photo System type-C film format, hence its abbreviation.

Is full frame better than APS-C at night? ›

For night photography, full frame sensors win hands down over APS-C sensors. Full frame systems also produce more finer details because the pixels are larger, creating a better dynamic range than an APS-C sensor would with the same number of pixels.

What is full frame vs APS-C sample? ›

APS-C vs Full-Frame: What's the difference? Full-frame sensors measure the same as 35mm film, which is 36 x 24mm. Meanwhile, smaller APS-C sized sensors measure in at either 23.6 x 15.7mm (Nikon, Pentax, Sony, Fujifilm) or 22.2 x 14.8mm (Canon).

What are the disadvantages of a full-frame camera? ›

However, full-frame cameras also come with some drawbacks, such as higher cost, weight, and size due to the larger and more expensive sensors, bodies, and lenses. They also have less reach than crop-sensor cameras which can be a disadvantage for wildlife, sports, and macro photography.

Is full-frame better in low light? ›

Full-Frames Have Better Low Light Performance

The larger pixels absorb more light, giving the sensor more information to work will. It gives you more detail from darker environments. And it allows the camera to have higher maximum ISO settings. Full frame cameras are better suited to night photography.

Why are full-frame cameras better in low light? ›

Full Frame Sensors

Better in low light situations – A bigger sensor has bigger pixels which means each pixel can capture more light and this creates less noise at higher ISOs.

What are 2 benefits of framing in photography? ›

Some of the benefits of framing include:
  • Drawing the viewer's eye towards your main focal point.
  • Adding a sense of depth to your image by using foreground and/or background framing to add an additional dimension.
  • Adding context or story to your photo using framing elements that add the story you wish to tell.
May 15, 2019

Why is framing important in visual media? ›

Framing can make an image more aesthetically pleasing and keep the viewer's focus on the framed object(s). It can also be used as a repoussoir, to direct attention back into the scene. It can add depth to an image, and can add interest to the picture when the frame is thematically related to the object being framed.

What is framing and why is it important? ›

Framing is used to represent the communication aspect which leads to the people's preference by consenting one meaning to another. Framing stimulates the decision making process by highlighting particular aspects by eliminating the others. For e.g. the newspaper frames the news within a particular viewpoint.

Is it worth upgrading to a full-frame camera? ›

Better Image Quality and Performance in Low Light

A full frame sensor generally produces higher-resolution images than crop sensors. That's because they let in more light and detail. And for the same reason, they're also better in low-light conditions. They provide sharper, clearer images without setting higher ISOs.

Should I upgrade to full-frame or mirrorless? ›

Neither is fundamentally better than the other. Instead, mirrorless cameras offer several key advantages, such as live exposure simulation, a smaller size, and silent shooting – while DSLRs counter with a few advantages of their own, including outstanding battery life and optical viewfinders.

Are mirrorless cameras considered professional? ›

Do professionals use mirrorless cameras? Yes, but they also use DSLRs, too, depending on the genre of photography. In fact, many people switch between DLSR vs mirrorless cameras. Some are advocates that mirrorless lenses and autofocus are still not there yet, and prefer to use DSLRs.

Why is full frame so expensive? ›

Large sensors are more expensive and harder to manufacture, making full frame cameras more expensive. As mentioned, they only work with full frame lenses, which are more expensive than cropped ones.

Is full frame same as mirrorless? ›

A full-frame camera is an SLR or mirrorless camera with a full-frame sensor. This allows you to take sharp photos in low-light situations. Another advantage of a full-frame sensor is that the image doesn't get cropped.

How long does a full-frame camera last? ›

Ans: Generally, A camera can last 3 to 5 years with normal use. In special cases, it can last 5 to 10 years. Do cameras wear out from normal use? Ans: Every camera has a limited shutter speed, so overusing a camera can cause wear and tear, but as a hobbyist user of a camera, it will take time to become worn out.

When should I move my camera to full-frame? ›

Moving to a full-frame camera has many well-documented benefits. The larger image sensor generally allows for better performance in low-light conditions, which will be an advantage if you shoot interiors, weddings, indoor portraits or events, for example.

Which aspect ratio is better for movies? ›

2.39:1. This is known as the anamorphic widescreen format and is the widest aspect ratio used in modern cinema. Premium dramatic features best showcase its wide field of view and ability to capture broad, scenic landscapes.

Is 35mm film equivalent to full frame? ›

Full frame simply means the digital sensor offers the same surface area as a frame of 35mm film, and it has become somewhat synonymous with "professional" in photography jargon.

What are the best frames for film? ›

24fps: Cinematic Standard

For cinematic film and television (and some online video) 24fps is the standard. That's because this frame rate feels the most cinematic, and looks the most natural to the human eye. It's the standard for any feature film. It's the standard for most TV.

What are the disadvantages of full frame camera? ›

However, full-frame cameras also come with some drawbacks, such as higher cost, weight, and size due to the larger and more expensive sensors, bodies, and lenses. They also have less reach than crop-sensor cameras which can be a disadvantage for wildlife, sports, and macro photography.

What aspect ratio for digital cinema? ›

Common aspect ratios are 1.85:1 and 2.39:1 in cinematography, 4:3 and 16:9 in television photography, and 3:2 in still photography.

Which aspect ratio gives best quality? ›

The best aspect ratio to shoot videos in is 16:9 since most modern displays, such as TVs, tablets, phones, and computer displays have a 16:9 aspect ratio display.

What aspect ratio is most realistic? ›

Most photographers choose to shoot in 3:2 aspect ratio in the camera, a standard ratio of an image based on 35mm film. But if you're planning to shoot just for social networks purposes, choosing 4:5 in your camera may work in your favor.

What is the digital equivalent of a 50mm lens? ›

Are all 50mm lenses equivalent?
SystemAOV (diag)FF equiv.
digital SLR (full-frame)46.8°50mm
digital Medium (44×33mm)57.4°40mm
6×7 (72×56mm)84°25mm
6 more rows
Oct 14, 2022

Is 35mm film higher resolution than digital? ›

Photos taken on film can be scanned and edited on your computer. One of the biggest advantages of shooting your photographs on film (as opposed to digital) is the resolution. Film captures photos at a higher resolution than most digital cameras because the resulting photos have more pixels per inch.

What makes 35mm film so special? ›

“When filming on 35mm, each frame consists of a single image taken when the footage is shot. However, when it is filmed digitally, each frame on screen consists of thousands of tiny pixels that are put together to create the image. This gives footage shot on film a more subtle and accurate depiction of the images.”

What frame rate are Hollywood movies? ›

Motion pictures, TV broadcasts, streaming video content and even smartphones use the standard frame rate of 24fps.

Is 24 or 30fps better for cinematic? ›

Universally, 24fps is accepted as the norm for a “cinematic” frame rate. 30fps is accepted for broadcast in North America, and 25fps is the broadcast standard in Europe. In the one-second sequence below, several individual frames pass each second.

Why you don't need full frame? ›

More Noise and Less Sharpness

Also, the density of pixels on crop sensors is usually higher. And they need more resolving power from lenses. So a sharp lens on a full frame might not produce the same sharpness on smaller sensors… even if both sensors have a similar resolution.

Can you be a professional photographer without a full-frame camera? ›

There's a myth out there that states that you cannot be a professional photographer unless you own and use a full-frame camera. Quite honestly, we're tired of hearing such drivel. Being a pro has nothing to do with the gear you use. It's how you use it, and boy can you get some work done with APS-C cameras.


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