What is the crop factor and why is it important to photographers?

Crop Factor is a term that is often used when talking about cameras and lenses. So what is it exactly? Here’s all you need to know.

Man photographed behind picture frame

The crop factor can be a confusing subject, especially if you’re not shooting with a full frame camera. Here we are going to discuss what the crop factor is and why it is important for photographers.

What is the culture factor?

Crop factor is the formula for determining focal length based on the size of the camera’s sensor. Based on the 35mm full frame format (sensor size), a full frame SLR, DSLR or mirrorless camera system has a crop factor of one. In other words, if you put a 35mm lens on top of a full frame camera, you have an effective focal length of 35mm. 35 mm multiplied by a fact 35.

A Carl Zeiss lens held in hand

Where the real math comes into play is when dealing with other popular formats, such as APS-C camera systems. Most of these cameras will have a crop factor of 1.5 (Sony, Nikon) or 1.6 (Canon). So a 35mm lens on a Sony APS-C camera would have an equivalent focal length of 52.5mm, roughly that of a 50mm lens on a full frame camera. 35 mm multiplied by 1.5 gives 52.5.

There are many other camera systems that have different crop factors. Micro Four Thirds cameras have a crop factor of two, while smartphone cameras have different and varying crop factors.

Consult the owner’s manual or search online to find your camera’s crop factor.


What this means for your choice of lenses

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Depending on the type of photography you are interested in, your choice of lenses may be complicated by the cropping factor if you need a specific focal length. For example, if you shoot a lot of landscapes and need a large focal length like 24mm, it’s good to know that full frame cameras will give you that focal length for just about any 24mm lens. mm that you use with.

But if you have an APS-C camera, for example, you’ll want to buy a 16mm lens for most brands of cameras (1.5 crop factor) or a 15mm lens if you have a Canon APS- C (cropping 1.6 factor). You need to divide the crop factors to get the 35mm equivalent focal lengths in these cases.

You may also want to know the differences between prime and zoom lenses before purchasing a new camera lens.

A deep dive into the culture factor

The following video goes in depth and helps visualize the crop factor and how it applies to photography.

Not to be confused with the crop factor, cropping in photo editing is also useful when looking to achieve other focal lengths.

The culture factor matters

From the right focal length to the right choice of lens for the job, it’s important to know your camera’s crop factor. It will help your photography immensely by allowing you to capture your subjects at the correct focal length.

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