Photography 101: Continuing Education—Lenses

Tony Northrup is a gear-head. And thank God for that. He does all the computations and testing that I’m too lazy to do (or too stupid to do). In this video he answers the question: Should You Use Full-Frame Lenses on Crop-Bodies? I’ve been intrigued with this question since I switched from film to digital technology in 2009. For years I wasn’t able to get a satisfactory answer to my question: If you crop a full-frame image to APS-C size (Nikon=1.5x or Canon=1.6x) will the result be as good (or better) than the un-cropped APS-C image? Everything I read was anecdotal and not backed up with data.

Here Tony explains (in excruciating) detail why you don’t have to buy expensive full-frame lenses for your crop-body cameras to get great results. We learn early on to buy the best lenses we can afford and those are typically lenses for full-frame camera bodies. Unfortunately, they are often wasted on crop-bodies and you pay a real premium to buy them (not a particularly good value-to-dollar ratio). However, there are exceptions to this conclusion: shooting wildlife is one exception and buying full-frame lenses with the expectation of upgrading to a full-frame camera in the future is another one.

All of my lenses are full-frame lenses. Why? Because my primary shooter is a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV full-frame DSLR and I use it for everything except wildlife (and I even use it for wildlife if I can get close enough to fill the frame). Rather than crop my wildlife full-frame images in post (significantly reducing their resolution) I simply shoot with my other camera—my Canon EOS 7D Mark II crop-body (1.6x) camera. If you’re new to photography or have never completely understood the dynamic of full-frame versus crop-body I invite you to give this video a watch. Education is power.

Stephen F. Dennstedt

Field Notes: By way of complete disclosure I had a business relationship with Chelsea and Tony Northrup. I was a paid contributor to their online blog before they discontinued the format. With over a million followers they are considered by many to be experts in the field—Chelsea is the personality and Tony is the techno-nerd. They were great folks to work with and I enjoyed my time with them. I no longer receive any compensation from them but I still value and respect their ongoing contributions to the photography community. You can read my articles at Northrup Photo HERE. Visit their YouTube Channel HERE. SFD

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