Cropping Full Frame Vs Shooting A Crop Camera

So, here’s a question to chew on. What will give you a better image – a crop camera (DX, APS-C) with a subject that fills the frame OR just shooting the same scene with a full frame camera and then cropping the photo to the same field of view?

I see this come up all the time in various forums and throughout the internet photographic community and I thought it was high time someone really put this idea to the test. So, check out the video below for the whole scoop:

Below are the images from the video. Note that they will make more sense if you watch the video first!

Click them to enlarge and note that you may have to give them one more click when they open to finish fully magnifying them.

First, the D500 against the D5:

D500 v D5 full size


d500 v d5 (d5 downsized)


D500 v D5 (upsized)

OK, next let’s go to the D810

D500 vs D810 (dx) full

D500 vs D810 (dx) D500 downsampled

D500 vs D810 - D810 DX upsize

Finally, here are the ISO 6400 tests with the D5 and D810 cropped to DX size against the down sampled D500 ISO 6400 file:

D500 vs D5 ISO 6400 D500 downsampled

D500 vs D810 ISO 6400 D500 downsized to 810 DX

Again, these images really need to be studied in the context of the video. Thanks for stopping by!



If you enjoyed this article, I think you’ll REALLY like my e-books, Secrets To Stunning Wildlife Photography and Secrets To The Nikon Autofocus System. They’re filled with hundreds of pages of information just like this. Check it out – click here (hey, it’s free to look 🙂 )

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5 years ago

[…] Cropping Full Frame Vs Shooting A Crop Camera | All About Your Camera’s Crop Modes | Use A Teleconverter Or Crop The Image? | Comparison Test – A Crop Camera vs A 1.4x Teleconverter On Full Frame […]

Willy Enns
Willy Enns
6 years ago

Hi Steve, great article. How does the D500 compare to the D850 in crop mode since they now will be the same mega pixel at 20mp.?


[…] In this first set of photos, the light was getting low, and the monkeys were at a little bit of a distance. I had my D5 and D500, so, to put more pixels on my monkeys, I went with the D500 and 600mm F/4. (It’s better to use a crop camera than to crop full frame camera of lower pixel density – see this post.) […]

6 years ago

Great piece of info, would love to see it updated using the new D850, perhaps against the D7200?

Ulf J
Ulf J
7 years ago

Steve, Thanks a lot for straighten this issue up once and for all! You are the only one I have seen that have proven these theories in a undisputable and convincing way. I thought it has to work this way, but have always been told otherwise by articles and forums on the web, not to mention camera salesmen… Now I have read your posts, seen your videos, joined your FB site, subscribed to your newsletters, bought and read your eBook. Even if I have been photographing for half a century, introduced by my father who was a professional photographer, I… Read more »

7 years ago

Just seeing one video is making a day. What great work. I’m a starting professional, building a beautiful website too, and as yours is renewed, I will put a beautiful link to your website (as my purely photography related website link). Keep up the work, man. Thank you…

Kindest regards,