Crop sensors and the psychology of full frame / by Nigel Rumsey

a Voigtlander R3A camera & 40mm lens If you ever look at any photographic forum (which I wouldn’t necessarily recommend) there's generally a thread with about 14,000 posts on the never ending debate regarding the pros and cons of full-frame (35mm) sensors vs APS-C. As it happens for some time I've been thinking about trading in my Nikon D7000 (APS-C) camera for a Nikon D610 (full frame), so I find myself in the middle of this debate.

The D7000 is undoubtedly a great camera, probably one of the best APS-C cameras on the market and I've really enjoyed using it. I'm not going to try to try to argue that although the full-frame vs APS-C discussion is mostly not that important (except for certain professional applications) it doesn't apply to me because I have some super-special-photographic-need. No, I freely admit I don't NEED a different camera - full-frame or otherwise - however I have the money (very important), I’ve spent months anguishing over it and I fancy a change.

Part of the problem - and I'm going to 'share' with you here dear reader - is a psychological one. All of my photographic life I've shot on film, if you go over to the portfolio section of this site, the vast majority the shots there were taken on film - I love film. But before we sink down the second biggest rabbit hole in the photo nerd's world back to the subject in hand. One of the undisputed differences in using film is it does take longer. I shoot, I develop, I scan and I edit. Sometimes taking longer can be a good thing (staying neutral folks!) but if you don’t have a great deal of spare time it isn’t, it’s a barrier to creativity. I have undeveloped films I shot nearly a year ago, they're not lost and I will get around to it one day but at the same time it's not that satisfying.

I’m in the situation where I constantly feel as though I just don't have enough hours in the day. Which has resulted in me not shooting - at all really. This is something that makes me frustrated, unfulfilled and generally not a happy bunny (that is a proper psychological term by the way). The other issue related to the film work is crop factor stupid though that is I have a real problem getting over it. I like my 50mm lens to behave like a 50mm lens.

So how is a new digital camera better than the existing one, how does that give me more time? Obviously it doesn’t - I have no valid argument, beyond I fancy getting one. What a new camera does do is inspires you to get out, to make the time you think you don’t have, to stop making excuses (and resolves the crop factor issue). Will it work in my case - I really hope so because this photography thing is really that important to me and I'm not ready to give up on it.

If you are interested in the APS-C vs full frame debate, here’s a great video by Zack Arias which puts the whole thing into context.