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Drawbacks to using Full-Frame Lenses on APS-C Camera?

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So I've tried searching on this topic a little bit and have been getting quite a few mixed answers about this. Like the title asks, are there any drawbacks to using a full-frame lens on a APS-C camera? For example, the FE 24-70mm on a a6300. I've read here and there that there is actually loss in picture quality, is that true? Others say it's completely fine but...I don't have the technical knowledge or experience to come up with my own confident answer. 



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Technically no problems, no losses. 


Most FF lenses lack OSS and no APSC Sony has IBIS.Whether

thaz a disadvantage depends mainly on working conditions. And

acoarst FF lenses are bulkier than the same combination of lens

speed and FL if it were built for APSC-only.

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In same RARE occasions, and even then only with some lenses, you could experience a slight loss of contrast due to added flare.


This because some lenses utilizes baffles in their optical path or on their back to cut flare, baffles that are sized to fit the sensor (or the film format) such lenses are meant to work with.


So using them on a smaller sensor means that the baffles will be a bit under-sized, and won't be able to cut all the flare.


That said, this is some serious nitpicking ;)


Regarding instead the supposed loss in picture quality, the short answer is: there is none.



GEEK ALERT! Continue at your own risk...


The more complete answer is that when people experience a loss of quality using FF lenses on a smaller sensor body (APS-c, m4/3) what they are really seeing is simply the fact that two sensors with the same amount of megapixels, but of different sizes, will have a different pixel pitch (basically how big the pixels are). The smaller the pixels, the more performing the lens has to be to deliver.


So a 24Mp APS-c sensor (23.6 x 15.7mm, 370mm2 area) is much more demanding in terms of optical quality of the lenses than a 24Mp FF sensor (24x36mm, 864mm2 area) because it is the equivalent of a 55Mp FF sensor (that is, if you extended the APS-C sensor to the same area of a FF sensor). Simple as that.

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FF lenses won't be quite as sharp as lenses intended for APS-C.  Wasn't as much of an issue back in the day with 8-12MP sensors, but 24MP is pretty quality hungry, being an equivalent of around 55MP FF.



Not necessarily true. It all boils down to how good the particular lens is.


For example, tested on the same camera (Nex 7, 24Mp), the otherwise excellent APS-c 35/1.8 Nikon AF G DX was literally murdered at all apertures by the 50 years old Minolta MC 35/1.8.


And most of my Contax glass, from 20 to 30 years old, it is sharper than many APS-c and m4/3 lenses I've used / use (and an m4/3 sensor is even more demanding).

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Not much reason now to put FF lenses on an APSC Sony. 


No APSC Sony has IBIS, so you might as well just get an

original a7, which is barely bigger than an APSC body but

uses the whole image from your FF lenses. Prices on the

a7 are very favorable now compared to APSC. The main

question is no longer price but what feature set you need.

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Had a blast this 4th of July weekend taking photos on the a6300 using an FE 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G OSS I picked up last week. As previously stated, this lens gets pushed out to a max of over 450mm on the 6300. I had my normal kit of a Canon 5D MkIII with a 70-210 and a doubler on it along to compare. There was very little difference in the photos but a huge difference in weight and cost. My Canon felt like a clunker next to the Sony.


Compared to DSLR full framed lenses, using full framed lenses on an APS-C Sony camera has big weight advantages. Plus, I am seriously thinking of switching to the Sony full frame camera from the Canon I am currently using. I will be able to use the lenses on both.

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....... I am seriously thinking of switching to the Sony full

frame camera from the Canon I am currently using. I will

be able to use the lenses on both.


Depends on what you mean by "use". Do a very

thorough research on that. You can do so right

here in these forums. Many variables involved.

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........... I have been checking the Sony web site and it shows lens compatibility.

The lenses I have purchased show they are compatible with the A7rII and the

A6300. Is there something else that I should be looking at?


Now a new puzzle appears. Just what "Sony web site" do you mean.

Sony's own official web site is not gonna discuss how any third party

adapter does or does not preserve the operational features of Canon

EF lenses when adapted to Sony camera bodies.


If you researched this forum you found that adapting Canon lenses to

Sony bodies has widely varied results. I have a fairly extensive Canon

kit that sits mostly unused while I use my Sony E-mount bodies with

A-mount lenses via Sony's own adapters. But having seen too much

regretful discussion about adapting Canon lenses I do not care to put

my Canon lenses on my Sonys.


The forum discussions do include both disasters and successes but

you get to sort that out for yourself. My personal sorting is that it's not

for me, given my gear and my uses of it. YMMV, and surely will.

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  • 3 months later...

Biggest problem for me is carrying unnecessary bulk and weight. All my FF non legacy lenses, Sony FE 70-200, Sony FE 28-70, Sigma 105mm macro, Sigma 120-400mm, are OS so no problem there.


This is absolutely the issue.  The whole point of using an APS-C camera is smaller size, both body and lenses.  I bought my a6000 thinking Sony would be supporting the product line, but they totally abandoned it cranked out FE lenses.


I have no plans to upgrade my a6000 until I see some better lenses.

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Except for the kit lenses all my lenses are FF. 


Since I tend to buy open-box specials, etc, the 

kit lenses were essentially free or even cheaper

than free :-) and I used them on APSC cameras 

via a Speed Booster, so at least I had a benefit 

derived from the bulkier lenses: They were all 

one stop faster than they were marked and still 

had their original FF FoV.   


But with the above system, only the kit lenses 

have OSS. So when the FF Sonys sprouted 

IBIS, I got me one ... at barely bigger than the

APSC bodies, and purchased used, the a7-II 

became the mainstay of my FF lens collection. 


Now that Sony offers IBIS in an APSC body, I 

could just as well use an a6500 instead of the 

a7-II. But it won't be noticeably smaller, and it 

will be quite a while before the a6500 shows 

up at a lower price, so it makes more sense to 

me to use my FF lenses on my FF body and 

use my OSS kit lenses on my APSC bodies.  


The only exception would be macro and long 

lens shots that would require more than minor 

cropping. Why crop the FF down to 12MP or

16MP when the APSC bodies do the cropping 

while still cramming 24MP into the frame ? All 

my macro or long lens work requires a heavy 

tripod so IBIS or OSS is not a consideration in 

that work.   


So, other than long lens, or macro, stuff on a 

tripod, IBIS and OSS are priorities governing 

my choice of gear, not bulk, and not sensor 

size. There's no major IQ difference between 

APSC and FF but for routine handheld stuff 

IBIS or OSS offers a visible IQ improvement.   


If there are AF performance concerns when 

mixing lenses and formats, I can't speak to 

that. Likewise if any "advanced" features are 

defeated by mixing lenses and formats I can't 

speak to that either. None of that impacts my 

working methods for my needs. 

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 5 weeks later...

In practice, the only downside is size / weight, and potentially cost if you buy high end FF lenses. I have the A6500 and the Sony 28m f/2, the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM, the Sony/Zeiss 50mm f/1.4, the 85mm f/1.4 GM, and the Sony 70-300 F/4.5-5.6 all work perfectly. The IQ is fantastic. Any talk of theoretical loss of IQ of FF lenses on a crop sensor is just that--theoretical. For all practical purposes overall IQ is significantly better, because the crop sensor does not use the borders and corners of the FF lens, so virtually all border / corner softness issues with some lenses at wide apertrures disappear. Rent FF lenses and try for your self.

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  • 2 months later...

There tend to be a misconception about FF lenses on aps-c cameras. In general, a FF lens on a aps-c body doesn't perform better than the same focal length aps-c lens on an aps-c body.

A FF lens isn't build for an aps-c camera so a part of the light will never reach the sensor. The image circle of the full frame lens is wider than the aps-c lens.

There are only two reason to buy an FF lens for an aps-c camera (unless of course, you don't mind spending lots of money).

  • You want to switch over to FF and have already started buying FF glass.
  • There is no similar aps-c version. Which in the case of Sony is often.

For some kind of reason, I can't upload images so here is a link to the proof.




And here is another comparison. The very expensive 35 Zeiss performs just as well as the cheap 35/1,8 on a Sony a600.

Of course, if you switch to FF, it is an entirely different matter.



The point is that there people out there who can't justify or can't spend so much money of a hobby. I couldn't and there is another reason I wouldn't want to switch to FF.

Most of these lenses are heavier, and the reason I went to mirrorless is because of the weight. I have arthrosis and dragging more weight is very painful.

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