Crop factor

Does size matter?

One of my goals for my recent camera upgrade was to jump from a ‘crop-sensor camera’ (like the Nikon D500) to a ‘full-frame camera’ (like the Canon R5). I had long avoided the full-frame cameras like the Nikon D800 and D850 because they (and their lenses) were so much larger, heavier, and costlier… but I favor smaller and lighter equipment because I like to be able to hike with them.

The switch from DLSR to mirrorless, however, enabled me to get a full-frame camera body (Canon R5) that was actually lighter (738g) than the crop-sensor camera body (Nikon D500) that I had been using (860g). To be fair, though, the R5 with its 24-105mm kit lens was heavier (1438g) than the D500 with its 16-80mm kit lens (1340g). But, I rationalized, it’s full frame! better quality, right?

But what else was I gaining… or losing? People often say that crop-sensor cameras have better ‘reach’ – because their effective focal length is a multiple of the lens focal length, making subjects appear ‘closer’. The truth is much more complicated. Read on.

Canon 500mm; 1/640 at f/7.1, ISO 2000
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