Canon 30d with 50mm f/1.2L is comparable to an 85mm lens on full frame, which makes the 50mm focal range on crop ideal for classic portraits and lifestyle shots.

Here at the shop, we get a lot of questions about crop sensor and full frame sensor cameras.  Full frame cameras have a sensor that measure 24mmx35mm.  Any sensor smaller than this will experience a “crop factor.”  In today’s post, we’ll explore the difference between ultra wide angle (UWA) perspectives from  crop and full frame.  Be sure to check back with us for a follow up post exploring the telephoto spectrum on crop and full frame.

Here’s a list of gear used for this post:

Some popular crop sensor cameras, like the Canon 60D and  Canon 70D, are super capable cameras whether you’re shooting video or stills despite the smaller sensors within.  Canon denotes these types of cameras as APS-C.  Per usual, Pro and I dusted off our trusty shop camera, a 30D.  We also grabbed the Canon 6d because it’s relatively new and an affordable full frame camera with some great features.
On the 30d, we fixed the 10-22mm lens.  The rule of thumb is, any lens on a crop sensor camera is equivalent to its focal length multiplied by 1.6 on a full frame.  So the view through our 30d with the 10-22, in it’s full frame equivalent, is actually more like a 16-35mm lens.


Outside the shop, Pro set up a tripod so that our position wouldn’t change between shots and switching cameras.  To the 6d we attached the 17-40mm f/4.  Even though Canon makes a 16-35mm f/2.8, we opted to use the 17-40 because the 10-22 can’t reach f/2.8 and f/4 was much more doable for this UWA.  The shot above was at 17mm, 1/500, f/5.6 and ISO400.  At this focal length, you can see that there is definitely some distortion present in the image.  Notice the “straight” edge of the IEPR studio roofline.  Even though this image has been resized for web, the 17-40 resolves the detail in the brick rather nicely as well, and the L glass has great color rendition.

The above photo was taken with our 30d and 10-22 at the same exact position as the photo with the 6d.  The only difference is the focal length, here at 10mm.  There is less obvious distortion in the roofline but the image is somewhat off-kelter (maybe my mistake!).  The main point here is that the amount of stuff you see through the 30d and 10-22 is pretty much the same as the 6d and 17-40 combo.  At 10mm on a crop sensor, you will get photos that are similar to 16 or 17mm on a full frame.

In our next two photos, I wanted to demonstrate how each sensor resolves depth of field at the same aperture.   Above, the 6d has more developed bokeh, even at f/4, which separates Pro from the background just enough to make him pop.

The 30d’s sensor at f/4 does not capture the same amount background blur.  The difference is subtle between the two but it’s there nonetheless.

Above is shot with the 30d, the next two shots just show the camera and lens combos as well as the equivalence between the crop 10 and full 17.

The above photo shot with 6d and 17-40mm.

Next, we threw on the 14mm f/2.8 lens on the 30d and took the photo above.  The equivalent field of view is 22mm on full frame.  Let’s compare this to what 14mm on full frame looks like.

Big difference!  It’s much easier to go wide on full frame, than on crop.  Now a days, there are great UWA lenses designed specifically for crop sensor camera bodies.  These lenses will only work on crop bodies, but lenses like the Canon 10-22 and Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 are super capable and great at what they are designed to do.  Go super wide!

To better illustrate this difference, check this out.  The red bounding box above outlines what you see through the 14mm on crop against what 14mm on full frame shows overall.

If you have a crop sensor camera, don’t for one second think that you can’t get bokeh.  My favorite focal length is 85mm.  On crop, that equates to a 50mm lens.  The photos above and below are shot with a 50L on a 6d and 30d respectively.  Shooting a 50mm at max aperture on crop generates really nice bokeh and subject separation.  Don’t be afraid to get up close and personal with your subject to help generate background blur.  At the end of the day, it’s not about which camera you’re using.  It’s all about how you’re using it.

In future posts, we’ll further explore the differences of mid range lenses and break out the telephoto lenses.  Full frame may go wide easier, which is debatable now with UWA for crops, but a crop body will telephoto like it’s no one’s business.  We’ll have to save that for next week!  Don’t forget to subscribe to receive updates about whats happening here at our studio.  We have in studio classes coming up that will give you a chance to play with all our gear and pick up some meaningful tips.  Stick around!

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