The Advantages of a Full Frame Camera

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A full frame camera captures footage in a "full frame" aspect ratio. Learn about the advantages of a full frame camera with help from a professional filmmaker in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Cameras & Promotions for Filmmakers
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Video Transcript

Hi guys, I'm Justin Z. I am a Los Angeles independent filmmaker and a freelance editor. I've been getting some basic filmmaking questions including this one what are the advantages of a full frame sensor on a camera. Well first you want to understand what they are. A full frame sensor is a digital sensor with a series of pixels on it that creates the image. Full frame versus cropped frame is the difference between more or less pixels as well as a bunch of other things which I'm going to go over, but the thing you need to know is that most DSLRs with the exception of say the Canon 5D, don't have a full frame sensor. Usually far more professional cameras such as the red have full frame sensors. Now we'll go through the advantages. So the first advantage is low light performance. When you have a full frame sensor it is able to pick up light a lot better than a cropped frame sensor. This can be great for low light situations but more importantly it creates less noise when it comes to a low light image. So say you have low light like say I don't know, moonlight or simulated moonlight, when you have a full frame sensor it makes it so there's less grain on the screen for full frame versus cropped grain where you're going to have more grain. The second advantage is depth of field. Cropped frame sensors are not as good with shallow depths of field. It makes it so it's harder to focus and doesn't create as high quality of an image. Full frame sensors are much better for this because they retain much more information, therefore, it can play around with depth of field much better. The next advantage is viewfinder brightness. Basically a sensor can take in a lot more light, therefore, it can display a lot more light on the viewfinder. This is really dependent on the camera's viewfinder but professional grade cameras, when they have viewfinders on them, will be able to see a lot more detail so you can tell the range of light is being used while it's a little harder on a DSLR camera. The final advantage is that if the camera has a full frame sensor then it probably has a professional body. The only exception to this is the Canon 5D. All Canon DSLRs are first and foremost for photography and videography next. The professional grade full frame cameras that you usually see are meant for video, shoulder mounted or just larger bodies that fit on tripods with bigger rigs and that's the type of stuff you want on professional film shoots. Unfortunately DSLR cameras are not built that way and that's just the world we live in but hey at least we get some higher quality cameras these days. Well those are the main advantages of a full frame sensor. If you have any other questions regarding this or other filmmaking techniques, feel free to ask.

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