Matrix size matters.

One of the most important and basic parameters of any photographic equipment is value of the photosensitive camera sensor. And this is not about about megapixels, but about the real physical area of ​​the photosensitive element.

What is crop factor

What is crop factor

Previously, most photographers shot on film cameras that used the so-called 35mm film (film standard from the distant 1930s). Those were quite old times, and somewhere since 2000, digital-SLR cameras (DSC) became very popular, the principle of operation of which remained the same as in film cameras, but instead of the DSC film, they began to use an electronic photosensitive matrix, which forms the image ...

That's just the price of making such a matrix hundreds of times more expensive than ordinary film. Due to the huge price of manufacturing an analogue of 35mm film and the general complexity of manufacturing a huge matrix with millions of transistors, a number of manufacturers began to produce sprinkled cameras... Concept 'cropped matrix 'meansthat we are talking about a smaller matrix for a standard size of 35mm film.

Crop factor (Crop - from English "cut") Is an indicator for cropped matrices, it measures the ratio of the diagonal of a standard 35mm film frame to the diagonal of the cropped matrix. The most popular crop factors among CPCs are K = 1.3, 1.5, 1.6, 2.0. For example, K = 1.6 means that the diagonal of the camera sensor is 1.6 times smaller for the diagonal of a full-frame sensor or for a 35mm film diagonal.

In fact, not all central control centers are equipped with a cropped matrix, now there are a lot of cameras in which the matrix size is equal to the size of a 35 mm film, and K = 1.0. Cameras in which there is a matrix the size of a classic 35mm film, are called full-frame digital SLR cameras.

Cropped cameras are usually APS-C cameras with K = 1.5-1.6, or APS-H cameras with K = 1.3. Full-frame cameras are commonly called Full Frame. For example, Nikon's cropped APS-C cameras are called Nikon DX, while full-frame cameras are called Nikon FX.

DX (cropped camera, APS-C type, K = 1.5) has a matrix with dimensions of approximately 23.6 to 15.8 mm, the area of ​​such a matrix is ​​equal to 372,88 sq. Mm.

FX (full-frame camera, K = 1.0) has a matrix with dimensions of approximately 36 to 23.9 mm, the area of ​​such a matrix is ​​equal to 860,4 sq. Mm

Now we divide the area of ​​the matrices and we find that the DX matrix is ​​smaller than the full-frame matrix in 2,25 times. To quickly calculate the real difference in the physical dimensions of a full-frame and a cropped camera, it is enough to square the crop factor. So, DX cameras use crop factor K = 1.5, we get that the areas of DX and FX cameras differ by 1.5 * 1.5 = 2.25 times.

If we install a standard (for example) lens with a focal length of 50mm per cropped camera and look into the viewfinder, we will see that the viewing angle is narrower than with the same lens on a full-frame camera. Do not worry, everything is in order with the lens, simply because the matrix of the cropped camera is smaller, it “cuts out” only the central region of the frame, as shown in the example below.

The difference between cropped and full-frame cameras

The difference between a cropped and full-frame camera. The first picture was taken on a full-frame camera and a 50mm lens, the second picture was taken on a cropped camera and the same lens. The viewing angle on the cropped camera has become smaller.

At the same time, many people have the opinion that the focal length of the lens is changing - but this is just an illusion. In fact, the angle of view that a person observes in the viewfinder is changing, the focal length of the lens does not change. Focal length is the physical size of the lens and will remain the same on any camera. But because of this illusion, it is convenient to say that on a cropped camera, the visible picture is similar to a 75mm lens (50mm * 1,5 = 75mm) when used on a full-frame sensor. That is, if we take two tripods and two cameras - one full-frame, the other cropped and screw a lens with a focal length of 75mm on a full-frame one, and on a cropped one with a focal length of 50mm - then in the end we will see an identical picture, since they have will be the same.

The recalculated focal length is called Equivalent Focal Lengthabbreviated EGF. EGF recalculated even for cropped lenses like Nikon DX and canon Ef-s.

Full-frame shot

Full-frame shot in full-frame mode

And an example of the same picture taken from the same distance, without changing the settings, but only in cropped mode:


Full-frame shot in DX mode. The difference in viewing angle is visible. DX mode, or DX camera as if cut from the original image, which gives the lens, only the central area.

In fact, when using lenses from Full frame cameras on cropped cameras, we get some significant advantages:

  1. Reduced viewing anglemaking a telephoto from a standard lens, and a super telephoto from a telephoto. So using a 300mm telephoto, we get a viewing angle the same as in a 450mm lens on a 35mm film. This is a pretty great opportunity to buy a cheap zoom telephoto for less money and due to the crop factor, get a large EGF.
  2. Due to the fact that full-frame lenses work only in the central area on cropped cameras, you can get rid of such image defects like vignetting, a drop in resolution at the edges of the frame, part of the distortion. Usually in the central region of the frame, image quality is maximum.

Also, using lenses from cropped matrices, we get lenses cheaper. Although there are downsides. Lenses from cropped cameras need to cover a smaller area of ​​the photosensitive element, which means you can use less expensive glass, make less weight, etc. At the same time, when buying lenses for cropped matrices and with the subsequent transition to full frame, you will have to additionally buy new lenses for a full frame. I advise you to read the related article - Nikon lens differences, and - Features of cropped cameras and lenses


Cropped cameras (cropped matrices) are simply smaller matrices, and in order to understand the amount of matrix reduction, the concept of crop factor is used. The crop factor is convenient to use to obtain EGF lenses when using them on cropped cameras. To obtain EGF of any lens, when using it on a cropped camera, it is enough to multiply the value of the focal length of this lens by the crop factor of the camera.

More information in the sections

Material prepared Arkady Shapoval. Please, if this material was useful to you, help my project. And don't forget that everyone can write your review for one or another photographic equipment.

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Comments: 236, on the topic: Matrix size matters.

  • Andrei

    Please tell me how the depth of field will change depending on the format ??? For example, how will the picture of Nikora 85 / 1,4 differ on the D80 and D700 (with which device will the background be better, stronger, in general, where the depth of field will be less ????)
    Thank you in advance!!!!!!

    • Arkady Shapoval

      The picture will be different due to the composition of the frame, as the D80 will roughly cut out the center area from the picture, giving an 85 / 1,4 lens and it will need to move away to properly compose the scene. And vice versa, to compose a scene with 700 points, you will need to approach - accordingly, twisting the focuser ring closer, which will affect the blurring of the background and the corresponding visible depth of field. Grip, just like the focal length of the lens, does not change - these are the physical parameters of the lens itself. Given that the actual aperture of 1,4 on the D80 will be 1,4 * 1,5 = 2.1, which will also be worse for controlling the depth of field than on the FF. With the same frame composition tasks, the Nikkor 85 / 1.4 will benefit in artistry and background blur D700.

      • Konstantin

        Hello! Aperture question “Considering that the actual aperture 1,4 on D80 will be 1,4 * 1,5 = 2.1 ...” As I understand it, the aperture (diagram hole) is a constant value and it does not change depending on which f / device is installed (DX or FX). This value shows the diameter of the diagram hole, i.e. 85 / 1,4 = 60,7 mm, and nothing else. You probably meant that 1,5 times less light will fall on the matrix on the crop. Many amateurs have the misconception that there are supposedly lenses with aperture less than 1. This phenomenon physically cannot happen, because the object cannot emit less light than falls on the f / apparatus matrix. Objectives marked with f / <1 show only that their max open aperture diameter is larger than the FR of the lens itself. I ask you if I am wrong somewhere.

        • Arkady Shapoval

          In the example, the recount is indicated for the depth of field, and not for aperture. You have not fully quoted my answer to the user.

  • Andrei

    Thanks a lot for clarification)))
    I wish you creative success !!!!!

  • Sveta

    Thank you very much!

  • Jury

    and in a number of cases a larger flu with the same frame layout for crop will not be a disadvantage, but an advantage =) each coin has 2 sides =)

    • Arkady Shapoval

      yes, we know about it. I wrote somewhere that the same macro in soapboxes with a small matrix is ​​better than in DSLRs.

  • Jury

    I apologize for the typo that came from nowhere =)

  • I’m taking a picture for the crop so far, but I want a full frame)))

  • Sasha

    Tell me, did I understand correctly? If you put a 5000mm lens on the Nikon D35, then in comparison with the whale 18-105, the capture will not be commensurate with 35mm, but it will be equal to 50 mm. whale?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      No, such a thing that for a kit lens, you also need to take into account the crop factor for D5000, and your Kit 18-105 has an EGF of 27-160mm. For example, the “real” 18 is a damn wide angle, but on the crop it's just the usual 27mm.

      • Sergei

        It is worth adding the answer to this question in the article. Because after reading the article the answer remained unclear, it’s good that there is an answer in the comments.

  • Shulc

    U. Akkady! Tell me please
    Nikon 5100 with a lens of 70-200. It just happened ..
    Will there be any sense?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      will be.

  • Eugene

    Tell me, Arkady, did I understand correctly? If we put a Nikon AF-S 5100mm f / 50G lens on the Nikon d1.8, then in the end we get a 75mm lens, but if we put a Nikon 35mm f / 1.8G AF-S DX, will 35mm remain?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      EGF for 50mm will be 75mm, and for 35mm it will be 52. The fact that 35 1.8 is designed for DX format does not say anything. Focusor distance is just a physical quantity and does not depend on the matrix. For example, on a soap dish, a 5mm lens is quite common, but for 35mm film, 5mm simply does not exist. Therefore, roughly speaking, mm is always written under 35mm film, even for DX cameras.

      • Ivan

        Arkady wrote:
        "For example, on a soap dish, a 5mm lens is quite common, but for 35mm film, 5mm simply does not exist."
        There is, but the truth is not 5mm, but 5.6mm.
        Here is the link:

        • Arkady Shapoval

          5 does not exist.

      • Sergei

        An excellent answer is that EGF is recounted even for whale lenses. Can you add clarification on this in the article, please?

  • Viktor

    I want great pictures, will it work out- Nikon D5100 Kit 18-55 VR
    and what is the difference - 18-55 VR and 18-105 VR what is the difference on the photons?
    I am very grateful to you earlier!

    • Arkady Shapoval

      These are different lenses, a lot depends on the lens. It will be difficult to explain in a nutshell. In the comments, links to the corresponding lens reviews are highlighted, there are sample photos there. Which one you like best - take that one. Personally, I advise you to take option 18-105

  • R'RёS,R ° F "RёR№

    which crop is better than 1.5 or 1.6

    • Arkady Shapoval

      1.5, the smaller the crop, the larger the matrix, the better (in general) the images.

  • Anastasia

    Arkady, tell me, is it worth buying a 90-24 f (85-2.8) if lens on the D4, while I use the whale 18-105, but it does not suit me that it is very dark. Is the lens quality difference really not visible on the crop matrix?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Very little visible. Here review 24-85, he will help to decide.

      • Artem

        So it turns out that it doesn’t matter what crop you put the lens in quality?

  • R'RёS,R ° F "RёR№

    Thank you Arkady! You write reasonably and interestingly!

  • Maksim

    Hello Arkady, your article about the crop factor is very well written, but the phenomenon of the crop factor in combination with depth of field and focal length becomes very difficult to learn the first time. Because you need to understand well what the depth of field and focal length are. In order to link these 3 concepts together, I had to read about the same thing from different authors many times, and then “digest” what I read for a while. For example, for a long time I could not understand: Kit's lens on the D90 18-105, what kind of image it gives: full-frame or cropped, then I realized that you can't put cropped on a full-frame camera. And then I learned that the letters on the “DX” lens speak about it.
    And what I wanted to ask is Arkady. In your article, you have two pictures with the sizes of the matrices that are found on cameras: firstly, in the first picture, nothing is clear (although it may be just a picture and there is no need to understand anything, and secondly, IF IT IS NOT WRONG, the camera models are written where this or that matrix, and what class the camera belongs to: "soap dish", advanced digital compact, etc. Sincerely, Makim.

  • Dmitry

    Arkady, hello to you! I came across an interesting article:
    Can you comment? Thank you in advance. :)

    • Arkady Shapoval

      An article as an article.

    • Oleg

      Hollyadin hollow and illiteracy, lead people astray. For example, they write there:
      Take, say, a fifty fifty / f50. On a fullframe, it is not surprising that it behaves like a fifty-fifty 1.4 / f50. On crop, it behaves like the equivalent of 1.4 (FR) * 50 (crop factor) = 1.6mm, i.e. turns from a standard into a weak body - almost everyone knows this. However, many do not know that its equivalent minimum aperture value is also changing - it turns into 80 (F) * 1.4 (crop factor) = F / 1.6! Thus, if we proceed from the definition of frame equivalence voiced above, on a cropped camera this fifty-fifty lens allows you to get frames equivalent to those that would have turned out on a full-frame camera using an 2.24 / f80 lens (which does not exist in reality).

      An 80mm lens, unlike 50mm, will give a different perspective anyway. he simply by definition cannot give the same image.

  • Dmitry

    Ps I will clarify what point is of interest.
    Is the crop factor really affecting the diaphragm in the direction of decreasing the amount of light, and vice versa, its capabilities are used to the fullframe by 100%.
    Thank you.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      When exposing the same uniformly luminous body to the crop and FF, the same exposure lens when shooting with the same lens. Recalculating the aperture on the crop mainly shows its effect on the depth of field, and not on the amount of transmitted light.

      • Dmitry

        Thank you so much! :)

  • Dmitry

    Pps: Here's another:
    with comments.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      In the near future I will bring this article to mind so that it is clear on the fingers with examples, and not bare text.

      • Dmitry

        It would be great))

      • den

        Thank you, I'm waiting.

      • Anatoly

        Arkady, I think it is necessary to explain in more detail about the RF and EFR, many people confuse these two concepts, I think this will clarify the situation in the perception and understanding of the difference between the FF and the crop

    • Victor

      In the article to which the link is, the author claims that the pixels on the full frame matrix have a physical size larger than the same pixels on the cropped… Nikon D800 - 36,3 megapixels. Nikon D300 - 12,3 megapixels. The difference in area is 2,3 times, and there are 2,95 times more pixels on the full-size one. Well, how can they be larger? And since the author has an erroneous premise, therefore all his arguments about the impossibility of using full-frame lenses on a crop without losing quality are erroneous.


    Scanning a full frame of 35mm film (Vuescan Pro) with 4800 dpi results in a file of more than 24 megapixels, which is inaccessible even to full-frame Canon Stamps. The HP SJ 3010 produces 48-bit TIFF color depth. Later HP SJ models provide 96-bit color depth.

  • Olga

    Help me choose an inexpensive, possibly used, portrait lens for the Sony Alpha 500. Amateur portrait shooting at home and outdoors. Thanks!

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Do you need models or purchase assistance?

  • dow

    Thank you, very interesting and intelligible!

  • Anatoly

    The material was correctly and intelligibly presented, I read with pleasure, thank you very much.
    Question: Do lenses designed for cropped matrices and lenses for a full frame differ significantly in resolution?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      They differ, but we can only talk about actual instances.

  • Oleg

    Arkady, why do you write that when using lenses from Full frame cameras on cropped cameras, the viewing angle decreases, making a telephoto lens from a standard lens, and a super telephoto from a telephoto lens. The fact that the viewing angle becomes smaller is yes, but it doesn’t turn into a telephoto, it just turns out a cropped image and, moreover, the perspective remains unchanged, and this is the most important thing for a portrait lens. It looks like for example, I would cut out the central part in Photoshop in the photo and say that I was shooting with a longer telephoto lens.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Do not rip out part of my article, but quote in full “At the same time, many people opinion is formedthat the focal length of the lens is changing - but this is just an illusion. Actually the viewing angle is changing, which the person is watching in the viewfinder, the focal length of the lens does not change. "

      • Alexander

        Sorry, with all due respect to you, your answer to Oleg is not clear. There was an opinion about your contradiction with yourself. Why should I be misled by paragraph 1, where you said, “and due to the crop factor, get a strong approximation.” Or it is necessary understand - 'and, due to the crop factor, get the illusion of a strong approach'.

  • Oleg

    Sorry, I mean I just misunderstood.

  • Ivan

    Yes, I’m apparently far from the photo))) I decided to switch to a SLR camera after a soap dish, I read a bunch of articles about what articles to choose, I chose between Nikon D5100, D90 and Pentach K-5. As a result, there was not enough money for the Pentax and chose the D5100 (the rotary screen played a decisive role). Now I’m not at all pleased with the quality of images from a conventional whale lens, I don’t even know where it could be better, but then they notice some sharpness and shadow))). Thanks for the article, only now I realized what the crop factor is. I just didn’t understand, it turns out that a full-frame lens on a cropped camera will be better than a crop one? And yet, my father has a film pentax. Can I mount his lens on my nikon through adapters and is it worth it?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Not always FF will be better, since there are so many different lenses in quality. From pentax it will be necessary to install through an adapter with loss of infinity.

  • Klimin Andrey

    Correct, plz.,
    "DX (cropped camera, APS-C type, K = 1.5)"
    “DX (cropped camera, APS-C type, K = 1.5)”.

    • Arkady Shapoval


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