Cropped sensor vs full frame

A friend is researching Canon mirrorless cameras, a move from dslr. She’s comparing the R6 Mark II, 24 mp full frame, to the R7, 32mp cropped sensor. She typically prints images in the 24x36 range. Does the full frame trump the cropped sensor despite the lower mp number?

It all depends… A comparison is about a lot of things besides sensor size and MPs. It’s also about budget, quality of lenses that will be used, and expectations or requirements for image quality. Does she want to shoot in a jungle after dark, or grandkids on a playground? What limitations does she find with her current rig?

Hi Anna,
I agree with @Diane_Miller.

In addition to the quality of the lenses, your friend should consider the size of the crop lens selection.
Some manufacturers do not yet offer many lenses for crop cameras, nor do they allow third-party manufacturers. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with Canon in this regard.

Canon’s EF (pre-mirrorless) full frame lenses will work on their crop sensor bodies, but are, of course, bigger, heavier and more expensive. I assume it’s the same for the RF mirrorless lenses. The EF lenses work perfectly on the mirrorless bodies with a $100 adapter. But get the Canon adapter; the cheap ones are cheap junk.

One of the biggest draws for the full frame for me was the larger viewfinder. I always advise anyone that they need to get their hands on as many as possible to be able to make the best decision.

You all bring up valid points. My curiosity was piqued when she asked about the comparison between a full frame with fewer MPs and a cropped sensor that has more MPs. I had no idea if this is even a worthwhile analysis though. It makes complete sense that adding in variables like lenses and their specs, type of shooting requirements are factors that could ultimately impact performance and image quality.

Thank you for taking the time to weigh in!

Well for comparison purposes, a 40mp cropped sensor (Fujifilm) could print a 24x36 image at about 220 dpi. Don’t know if that helps…

Actually, a 40 MP sensor of any size would have the same print resolution.

But pixel size is something to consider. A smaller sensor with more MP will have smaller photosites, which results in more issues with noise and lower dynamic range. For example, smaller photosites give less tonal information to allow shadows to retain detail and contrast when lifted.

But a smaller (cropped) sensor increases the apparent focal length of lenses.

So what she should think about are things like, does she want larger photosites to allow more dynamic range? Or does she put more priority on lens reach or equipment size and weight?

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Good info, Diane! Thx.

Thx David.

I have been using Micro 4/3rds for over a decade and get very good prints at 18x24 with no problem.

Thanks Kristen. Lisa is faced with the dilemma of selecting a mirrorless that best serves her purpose. She’s been using a cropped sensor dslr for years and is now ready to switch to a mirrorless. Some of the specs for the full frame vs cropped sensor in her price range have her taking a deep dive into minutiae.

Always get the biggest sensor you can afford. Virtually no image ends up as shot. We are not superhuman enough to make perfect decisions when shooting and cropping is the most powerful way to improve an image. And the more that’s left after the crop the better the quality of the final product.

Thanks for your thoughts.