There are several terms in photography that is confusing for beginners. If you've ever found yourself scratching your head over the mysterious term "crop factor," do not worry. We will help you learn about crop factor and its importance in your photography journey.

Understanding what crop factor in a camera is will help you as you move forward in your career. There are advantages and disadvantages to it and it might help you in the future.

Nikon DX Crop sensor camera

What is crop factor in a camera?

Crop factor, also known as focal length multiplier or lens factor, is a nifty little metric that helps you compare the field of view produced by a lens on your camera's sensor to that of a full-frame sensor.

It's like a relative measure of how your sensor stacks up against the big boys.

There are different crop factor values depending on the manufacturer and type of camera you use.

The most commonly used value for a crop factor camera is 1.5x and 1.6x. Meanwhile, micro 4/3 cameras have a crop factor of 2x.

When did the crop factor start?

The crop factor started during the time of film cameras, like 16mm. The standard sensor is 35mm which is the size of a modern full frame camera sensor.

However, when digital cameras arrived, several sensor sizes were developed. Some are smaller than 35mm.

The term crop factor is used to determine the size of the sensor in relation to a 35mm film.

Film camera

How to calculate the camera's crop factor?

How do we figure out this crop factor thing? It's actually pretty simple.

You just divide the diagonal length of a full-frame sensor by the diagonal length of your camera's sensor.

Let's say your camera has a crop factor of 1.5. That means your sensor is 1.5 times smaller than a full-frame sensor.

How does crop factor affect focal length and field of view?

Now, here's where things get interesting. Crop factor has a direct influence on the effective focal length of your lens when you're shooting with a camera sporting a smaller sensor.

To find the equivalent focal length, you just multiply the actual focal length of your lens by the crop factor.

It helps you understand how your lens's field of view will change on different camera bodies.

When you use a lens on a camera with a smaller sensor, the crop factor works its magic.

It magnifies the image, making your focal length appear longer and narrowing your field of view compared to a full-frame camera.

One advantage of this is bird or wildlife photography. Let's say you have a 200mm lens on a camera with a 1.5x crop factor. This means you are effectively getting a 300mm focal length. 

Pretty neat, right? It's like zooming in without actually touching that zoom ring.

Black DSLR camera

Crop Factor on different camera systems

As mentioned earlier, not all camera manufacturers play by the same rules. They've got their own sensor sizes, which means different crop factors.

For example, Nikon APS-C cameras usually rock a crop factor of 1.5, while Canon APS-C cameras tend to roll with a 1.6 crop factor. So, keep that in mind when you're selecting your gear.

Choosing lenses for cameras with crop factor

Now that you're in the know about crop factor, it's time to choose your lenses wisely.

If you're shooting with a camera that has a smaller sensor, you'll want to get your hands on some "crop-sensor" or "APS-C" lenses.

These babies are specifically designed to account for the crop factor, giving you an equivalent field of view to a full-frame camera with a lens of the same focal length.

Can you use full-frame lenses on crop sensor cameras? 

Yes! There are different lenses that work on both full-frame and crop sensor cameras. However, it is better to check the full specifications before making a purchase.

On the other hand, crop sensor lenses will not work on full-frame cameras. Otherwise, there will be vignetting on your final images. Some modern cameras though have a crop setting to eliminate vignetting.

So, whether you're capturing majestic wildlife or epic sports moments, matching your lenses to your camera's crop factor ensures you get the results you're after.

Crop sensor camera in use

The Bottomline

That's it! Crop factor doesn't have to be a confusing concept anymore. By understanding how it affects focal length and field of view, you can make informed decisions when it comes to lens selection.

So go out there, armed with the knowledge of crop factor, and capture those awe-inspiring shots like a pro! Happy shooting!

Aim Orallo