Mirrorless Vs Full Frame
There’s no disputing the fact that full-frame cameras are becoming popular among pros and enthusiasts, but do you need one?
Why would you choose one over the other if you were in the market for a new camera or an upgrade?
The answers to the above questions aren’t always obvious, as you’ll see in our comparison, but it’s important to know exactly what you get from both.
What is A Mirrorless Camera?
Mirrorless cameras are modern digital interchangeable lens or single-lens cameras that don’t use manual viewfinders or mirrors to produce images.
A mirrorless camera makes use of an electronic viewfinder to interpret and display the image captured by the camera’s sensor while shooting.
How A Mirrorless Camera Works
In terms of operation, a mirrorless camera’s lens captures light, passes it through a sensor that does the processing, and projects the image to the electronic viewfinder, camera display, or monitor.
In the entire process of capturing and producing an image, there are no mirrors involved, hence the name mirrorless camera.
Mirrorless cameras can create an image instantly without having to bounce the image over a series of mirrors.
What Is A Full Frame Camera?
A modern digital full-frame camera is one whose image sensor is the same size as the 35mm film commonly used in traditional SLR cameras.
A full-frame camera can be mirrorless or a normal DSLR, so, technically, you wouldn’t say a full-frame camera is better than a mirrorless one without going into details like sensor size, lenses, depth of field, and resolution.
You may also want to check Mirrorless vs DSLR Cameras
Without diving too much into the details of sensor formats, the 35mm sensor format in a full-frame camera gives the camera an edge when it comes to depth of field and cropping.
This sensor format is currently the largest available for mass-produced pro and enthusiast DSLR and mirrorless cameras.
So, the key difference between a full-frame and ordinary micro four-third or APC-C cameras is the size of the sensor, which is expectedly larger in full-frames.
Of course, this also means that full-frames are significantly larger and heavier than non-full-frame cameras, even for mirrorless types like the Sony A7.
The larger 35mm sensor on a full frame allows you to capture a big or non-cropped image without having to use a wide-angle lens, especially when your subjects are very close to you.
Of course, you can still achieve the same results if you get a wide-angle lens on a normal APC-C or micro four sensors.
You don’t necessarily need a full frame in all situations because it is a different shooting format that mimics what older SLRs using 35mm film had in terms of size.
However, professional shooters can appreciate the better control over the depth of field they get with full frames.
Full-frame camera technology isn’t new. It has been used in expensive pro-level cameras for many years. Only recently, when manufacturers such as Sony, with their flagship A7 series of mirrorless cameras, created the hype around full-frame shooting did the format gain traction due to the success of these models.
Mirrorless Vs. Full Frame: Advantages and Disadvantages
Since there are full-frame mirrorless cameras in the market today, this comparison is based on cropped-sensor mirrorless cameras and full-frame cameras.
Advantages of Mirrorless Cameras
- Cropped sensor cameras are more compact than full-frame
- They are also usually more affordable than full frames
- Normal mirrorless cameras can use a variety of lenses, even those designed for full frames and DSLR cameras
Disadvantages of Non-full frame mirrorless cameras
- They offer less control of depth over depth of field, making it slightly harder to focus on subjects and blurring backgrounds
- They need an extra lens when capturing wide images to avoid cropping
Advantages of Full-frame cameras
- They can capture clear, rich, wide-angle images with their large sensor
- They offer professionals and enthusiasts better control over the depth of field
- You can create images with a sharp focus more easily using full frames
- They don’t require many lenses to capture images of different types. Most full frames can do with a single lens for pretty much everything.
Disadvantages of Full Frame Cameras
- They are usually larger and bulkier than normal cropped sensor cameras. Even mirrorless full frames are noticeably large.
- They are more expensive than cropped sensor cameras
- In case you need to buy additional lenses, you will spend more because full-frame lenses are not cheap.
- Using a lens made for a cropped sensor lens on a full-frame negates the effect of having the larger 35mm sensor.
Verdict: Should You Buy Full Frame or Ordinary Mirrorless?
The decision on which to buy between full-frame and cropped sensor mirrorless comes down to personal preference, your shooting style, budget, and your goal.
In most cases, it would be good to have both if you are a professional or enthusiast.