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Are you looking into whether full frame vs crop is best for shooting real estate photography?

It’s important to understand the parallels and distinctions in the never ending debate between full frame and crop to determine which sensor is best for real estate photography and your individual needs. Selecting the right camera system is crucial since it can affect how you take photos and the overall quality of your photography.

In this post, we’ll discuss the difference between full frame vs crop sensors and which is the better option for real estate photography.

To make your decision even easier, we’ve also listed the pros and cons of both options and provide examples of some popular sensors.

Alright, let’s get into the nitty gritty!

Why the Right Gear Is Essential for Real Estate Photography

Real estate photography gear

Real estate photography aims to help buyers imagine properties and make decisions fast. This means viewers need to see everything, ranging from confined interiors to broad exteriors.

To ensure high image resolution, good composition, and proper lighting, it starts with having the right gear. And that doesn’t only entail the actual camera, but also the right lens, tripod, flash and diffusers, as well as photo editing software.

While you’ll likely use additional lighting to enhance the scene, picking a camera body that has an excellent sensor for shooting in low-light conditions is important.

With that said, let’s take a look at the difference between full frame vs crop sensors.

What Is the Difference Between Full Frame and Crop Sensors?

Full frame vs crop sensors
Full Frame vs Crop Sensor

Every digital camera contains a sensor, which is a piece of hardware inside the camera that captures light and converts it into signals, resulting in an image. 

Even though a full frame and a crop sensor camera can both have 24 million pixels, a crop system will pack the pixels closer in a smaller sensor. As a result, a full frame sensor will have bigger and better pixels, which prevents you from losing valuable image space when shooting.

As a general rule, the larger the sensor, the better imaging capability it has, especially in low light.

However, there is a significant price difference to consider and some photographers may want to start out with a crop sensor, so let’s now take a closer look at a full frame sensor vs a crop sensor.

Note: Be aware that if you buy a cropped sensor camera, your lenses will not fit a full frame camera body if you upgrade in the future.

Full Frame Sensor

Full frame sensor Canon EOS 5D camera

A full frame camera has a sensor the size of a 35 mm film camera (24 mm x 36 mm). This standard size makes it the most expensive yet professional camera sensor because it offers the most room for a full projection. 

It uses the largest amount of space possible that is provided by the full projection of a given lens.

As a result of the larger size and increased megapixel count, full frame systems can maintain their dynamic range even when shooting in low light. It produces a shallow depth of field because its focal length is shorter. 

To give you a better overview, here are the full frame sensor characteristics:

  • Standard size used by 35mm film stock
  • Shallow depth of field
  • Broad dynamic range and high quality
  • Works well with extreme ISO speeds

And here are some examples of popular cameras with full frame sensors:

Crop Sensor

Crop sensor Nikon D3200 camera

As the name suggests, a crop sensor is smaller than the standard 35mm size, which introduces a crop factor to the photos these cameras take. In other words, the edges of your photos will be cropped for a tighter or more narrow field of view.

This crop factor isn’t optimal for real estate photography since getting a wide angle shot is crucial in making houses look spacious. You’d have to use a wider angle lens like a 14mm by 24mm lens, but that’s still not enough to shoot great interior photos.

With this in mind, here are the main characteristics of a crop sensor:

  • Smaller dimensions than 35mm film stock
  • Greater reach than a full frame sensor
  • Lighter and less expensive equipment
  • Naturally lower image quality

Here are some popular crop sensor cameras:

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Pros and Cons of Full Frame vs Crop Sensors

Full frame camera

If you take photography seriously, you might want to go for a full frame sensor, as it provides the highest quality imagery. It’s excellent for getting nice, large shots of properties, especially interiors. But it’s also great for landscape photography.

Not only do full frame sensors work tremendously well with higher ISO speeds, making them work well in low-light situations, but they also have a better dynamic range.

However, larger format sensors will also cost you more while crop sensors can be much less expensive. They also weigh less, which can be appealing for casual and novice photographers. 

To make your decision easier, here are some pros and cons of each sensor. 

Full Frame Sensor Pros:

  • Higher/better overall image quality 
  • Excellent low light capabilities
  • Full dynamic range
  • It allows you to get the full width of your wide angle lens
  • Most models are prosumer (“professional” and “consumer”) or higher level cameras

Full Frame Sensor Cons:

  • Heavy and expensive equipment
  • Image files can be extremely large

Crop Sensor Sensor Pros:

  • Good for zooming in on objects
  • Smaller size and lighter weight 
  • More affordable cameras and lenses

Crop Sensor Sensor Cons:

  • Not as good overall image quality
  • The crop factor limits wide-angle usability
  • The crop factor also affects the depth of field 

Verdict Full Frame vs Crop — Which Is Best?

Full frame vs crop

As mentioned earlier, a camera with a full-frame sensor provides a 1:1 ratio with lenses, which prevents you from losing valuable image space when shooting. And this is especially important when shooting smaller spaces and still making them look spacious. 

Cameras with APS-C sensors, on the other hand, have a narrower and cropped view, and this can significantly limit your prerequisites when it comes to capturing compelling real estate photos.

However, because of the size of the sensor and lenses needed for full frame, it’s among the most expensive camera sensor options available. In contrast to a full frame, a crop sensor is smaller and lighter, making them less expensive.

But if you’re serious about real estate photography and want to do it on a professional level, a full-frame camera is a must despite its higher purchase price. This is because the crop factor on wide angle lenses makes it very difficult for photographers using a crop sensor to get the type of shots necessary to do professional real estate photography.

So while new professionals might want to save money when starting out, they will end up wasting money on a crop frame when they inevitably have to buy a full frame later on.

For more details, you can check out our blog post a no nonsense guide to real estate photography gear.

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We hope this blog post helped you decide whether to invest in a full frame or crop sensor to help you get started taking awesome, high-quality real estate photography.

If you enjoyed reading this post, you may also want to check out the following related resources:

Stina Pettersson

Professional Blogger

Stina is an entrepreneur, digital marketer, and professional blogger who's passionate about real estate photo editing, being outdoors with her pup, and sweaty gym sessions. She loves the written word and has been writing for publications like Forbes and Thrive Global. Originally from Sweden, she's called South Florida her home since 2013.

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