Are APS-C Cameras good for landscape photography

Are APS-C Cameras good for landscape photography

Are APS-C Cameras good for landscape photography?

When it comes to landscape photography, choosing the right camera is crucial. One question that frequently arises is whether APS-C cameras are suitable for capturing stunning landscape images. 

APS-C cameras have gained popularity over the years, and many photographers have switched from full-frame cameras to these smaller sensors, which tend to pack in many more advanced features, and are capable of capturing more images per second. 

In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of using APS-C cameras for landscape photography and help you make an informed decision.

An illustration of why and how crop factor happens. A 50mm focal length lens will produce images with a field of view that varies, depends on the size of the sensor in the camera. As you can see, a 35mm format sensor (marked in green) can capture more light than APS-C (red) and Micro 4/3rds (blue). *Sensor sizes in this illustration are approximate.

What is an APS-C Camera?

APS-C cameras have a sensor that is smaller than a full-frame camera but larger than a Micro Four Thirds camera. The sensor size varies depending on the camera manufacturer, but it is typically around 23.5 x 15.6mm. The smaller sensor size results in a crop factor of 1.5x or 1.6x, which means that the lens’ field of view is narrower than it would be on a full-frame camera.

That means a 50mm lens on an APS-C camera will have the same field of view as a 75mm lens on a full-frame camera. Having that crop comes with its own sets of advantages and disadvantages. 

APS-C cameras are loved by wildlife photographers, who always need to get a little closer to wildlife to capture the best images. Using a smaller sensor means that a 500mm lens has the same reach as a 750mm lens, but without losing any of the detail when cropping the images, since the pixels are tightly packed. 

Some of the most popular APS-C cameras are made by Fuji, Canon, and Nikon. Fuji cameras are made for photographers who want a more video-focused, tactile photography experience, while Canon and Nikon’s APS-C cameras are targeted toward entry-level photographers and have fewer lens options and features.

Learn more about choosing the right camera to purchase in the Ultimate Landscape Photography Gear Guide, which is now available on Amazon

APS-C Camera bodies can help you get closer to the action without needing to be closer to the action

Advantages of Using APS-C Cameras for Landscape Photography

Here are many of the major benefits of using an APS-C camera for your own landscape photography. 

1. APS-C Cameras are more Affordable

One of the significant advantages of APS-C cameras is that they are more affordable than full-frame cameras. Often APS-C cameras come with more high-end features built into these cameras than are available in full-frame cameras in the same price range. 

This makes them an attractive option for beginner photographers or those on a budget. As a result, you can save money on the camera body and invest in high-quality lenses, or photography trips to exotic locations that can make a more significant difference than the camera body you are using.

Full frame cameras can be great in and around the city, but APS-C will be better for your back when you climb mountains

2. Lighter and more Compact

APS-C cameras are smaller and lighter than full-frame cameras, making them easier to carry around when traveling or hiking. They are also more compact, so you can easily fit them in with your luggage, or with water and snacks on a hike. 

The smaller and lighter weight is beneficial to anyone who travels a lot, and isn’t willing or able to carry a bag full of extremely heavy equipment.

An APS-C sensor will help you isolate your subjects by getting closer.

3. Higher Crop Factor

The higher crop factor of APS-C cameras can be an advantage when photographing distant subjects, such as mountains or wildlife. It effectively extends the reach of your lens without having to crop the image in, making the lenses appear longer than they would on a full-frame camera.

This is especially relevant for wildlife photography, where an APS-C camera sensor can help you get that much closer to wildlife without having to spend big money on lenses that can cost more than the down payment on a house.

With an APS-C camera, you can use full frame lenses, which will help you build up a set of professional lenses before splurging on a more expensive camera.

4. Wide Range of Lens Options

Most camera manufacturers offer a wide range of lenses that are compatible with their APS-C cameras. This means that you can choose from a variety of lenses, including wide-angle lenses, telephoto lenses, and zoom lenses. 

When using cameras made by Sony, Canon, or Nikon, photographers will be able to use the manufacturer’s full frame lenses on their APS-C camera bodies, but APS-C lenses do not work on full frame. That means there is a much wider variety of lenses available, and you can start building a collection of professional-quality lenses before switching to a larger format. 

The wide-angle lenses are particularly useful for landscape photography, allowing you to capture a broader view of the scene.

APS-C cameras are not the perfect choice for every situation. But their limitations can be overcome using a few techniques.

Disadvantages of Using APS-C Cameras for Landscape Photography

It’s not all roses for APS-C cameras. There’s a reason why most professional landscape photographers opt for more expensive full-frame cameras. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to overcome the limitations of an entry-level camera — especially when shooting landscapes. Here are the techniques I use

If you’re looking at upgrading your camera right now, here are the biggest drawbacks to using an APS-C camera. 

Limited low light performance means it will be harder to get images like this with an APS-C camera.

1. Limited low-light performance

One of the biggest disadvantages of APS-C cameras is their limited low-light performance. Due to the smaller sensor size, they tend to produce more noise at higher ISO settings, which can affect image quality.

When using an entry-level camera like the Canon Rebel T8i, you’ll notice the images get soft and grainy after about ISO 1600, whereas full-frame cameras can shoot up to ISO 4000 before the noise really starts to degrade image quality. 

However, you can overcome this limitation by using a tripod

Dynamic range is extremely important for capturing images like this, where the canyon walls are very dark, and the sky is very bright.

2. Narrower dynamic range

APS-C cameras typically have less dynamic range than full-frame cameras. This means that they have less flexibility in post-processing and may not be able to capture as much detail in high-contrast scenes.

This makes them challenging to use at sunrise or sunset, when there is the most dynamic range between the bright and the dark areas of an image. But you can easily overcome this limitation by using a tripod, keeping your ISO down, and using a simple HDR technique to get higher dynamic range.

This image has a shallow depth of field by using a large aperture. APS-C cameras produce images with more depth of field, or sharper backgrounds, than larger sensors.

3. Limited shallow depth of field

The smaller sensor size of APS-C cameras means that they have a limited shallow depth of field compared to full-frame cameras. This can be a disadvantage if you want to create images with a shallow depth of field, such as portraits or close-up shots.

When you have a once in a lifetime image like this, you want to ensure you’re capturing as much detail as possible.

4. Limited resolution

While APS-C cameras have come a long way in terms of resolution, they still have lower pixel counts than full-frame cameras. This can be a disadvantage if you need to print your images at larger sizes or want to crop your images extensively.

Tim Shields

Tim Shields is the founder of Photography Academy, the author of The Photo Cookbook, and the creator of the Photography Transformation 4-Step System. He holds the designation of Master Photographer in Fine Art from Master Photographers International.