When learning about photography and gear, we all come across these incredible images that have been taken on a wide variety of cameras… but usually with full frame cameras and quality glass. So people often think, “Oh. I need full frame to take these images!”
People don’t often consider that the glass is equally as important. More importantly, great glass is available for your current camera. The problem is that the big camera companies generally focus on developing their full frame systems and leave APS-C as a stepping stone, when APS-C can produce excellent results with the right lens combo.
The camera and the lens are equal players, and all those incredible shots were taken by people who selected gear that suited their needs.
I cannot stress this enough.
I’ve seen photos shot using a Nikon D750 (one of my favorite full frame DSLRs) with the 18-55mm DX kit lens, and sometimes it looked no different to a shot with a D5500.
Put a 24-70mm f/2.8 on there, and you may have a different story.
I won’t deny the dynamic range of the D810, or that the Canon 50mm f/1.2 on full frame doesn’t have a practical equivalent on APS-C, or that the a7S II has insane ISO performance, or even that the 5D series and the 24-70mm f/2.8 is the all-round combo for many people, or that full frame is what some people do need for their work.
But it doesn’t mean that you need to ditch your APS-C DSLR right now and get one of those cameras. Because you probably still haven’t mastered it, and you also may not have the money for such high-end cameras and lenses.
So master your current equipment, get creative with what you have and/or what you can afford.
Your camera doesn’t have the dynamic range of full frame cameras? Bracket your images and blend them in post.
Want quality bokeh? Look into primes, not just by the same people who make your camera, but third-party offerings like the Sigma 30mm f/1.4. Want sharp landscapes? Look at the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. Fast zoom? Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8.
Equivalency comes into play.
f/1.8 x 1.5 crop factor = f/2.7, so you’re getting “FF-esque” bokeh on APS-C (generally speaking, and it depends on lens rendering).
Olympus wouldn’t be focusing on pro users with the E-M1 Mark II if they didn’t have the lenses to back it up. Fuji wouldn’t invest so heavily into their APS-C line if they didn’t believe in it. Because full frame isn’t the be-all and end-all, even for pro users (I won’t get into MF and the Hassy X1D/Fuji GFX 50S).
The Canon 80D and Nikon D500 show that there is a place for APS-C for “serious” use.
In conclusion, the sensor in your camera is capable of achieving incredible results, and it’s up to you to pair it with a lens that allows it to shine and you to make the most of it. You don’t need full frame to take amazing shots.
About the author: Will Solis is a photographer who believes in striving to create the most out of what you have. You can find his work on Instagram as @willsolis1.