Most camera manufacturers are now focusing on their mirrorless cameras in both the APSC and Full-frame sensor sizes. Mirrorless cameras provide several advantages over DSLRs, and one of them is size. However, many of the lenses produced for these new cameras were still large. Lately, Sony, Fujifilm and Nikon have been producing smaller lenses. This has resulted in a more compact kit. Although Sensor Sizes vary considerably from small ones in point-and-shoot cameras and smartphones to large Medium format sensors, this article refers to cameras with either APSC or Full Frame sensors. The diagram below shows the relative size relationship between sensors, but it is not to scale.
Camera Flange and Lens Size
Both Nikon and Sony have a flange that accommodates both APSC and Full Frame lenses. Fujifilm designs its flange specifically for the APSC sensor. This means the circle into which you place a lens, the flange, is smaller on the Fujifilm camera than on the Nikon or Sony. Fujifilm’s smaller flange and smaller sensors mean they can make high-quality lenses that are smaller and less expensive. The more professional lenses made for Sony and Nikon are larger and more expensive. The advantage of an APSC/Full-Frame flange is (provided you purchase full-frame lenses) you can start with a cheaper APSC camera and move up to a full-frame camera without buying new lenses.
Getting the Lenses Smaller
All three companies have initially concentrated primarily on very fast lenses (lenses with a very low f-stop). This has meant, in most cases, larger, more expensive lenses. To make them smaller, they have made the new lenses slower; for example, rather than making an f-1.4 lens, they are making an f2.8 lens. When you look at the camera bodies in profile, the size of these smaller lenses makes full-frame cameras and APSC more similar in size. Keep in mind that a slower lens can have the same image quality as a faster lens.
Granted, the full-frame camera bodies are slightly larger and perhaps heavier, but the sizes difference is less significant. This means your choice of cameras may be more driven by ergonomics, ease of use, lens availability, cost, and the various advantages of different sensor sizes rather than size.
APSC versus Full Frame
One key difference between APSC and full-frame sensors is resolution; the other is the depth of field. APSC cameras have a deeper depth of field but are limited to 26 megapixels; full-frame cameras have a shallower depth of field but have up to 60 megapixels of resolution. So if higher resolution is important full-frame cameras will be your choice. A deeper depth of field might appeal to landscape photographers seeking to get everything in focus. Still, a portrait photographer might prefer a shallower depth of field, which would more easily produce background bokeh. So this is either a disadvantage or an advantage depending on your preference. Some photographers will own both kinds of cameras and use one or the other depending on what they are doing.
Sony’s New Smaller Lenses
There are two Sony A7C 24mp cameras in the image below, 24mp, the first with the 24mm f2.8 lens, the second with the 40mm f2.5 lens. The third camera is the 60mp A7R IV camera with a 50mm f2.5 lens. These are all prime lenses and provide most photographers with a good variety of options for most photographic needs. The fourth camera is the 26mp Fujifilm X-T4 with a 35mm equivalent lens to contrast it against the A7R IV as both of these are considered top cameras by each manufacture. What is surprising is both cameras are somewhat similar in size with these lens choices.
The image below shows two A7C cameras with two of the new lenses, compared to two Fujifilm X-E4 cameras; here again, they have a similar size. The Fujifilm, smaller and lighter, still has a similar profile when shown with the lens attached. The Fujifilm camera is shown with a 35mm and 75mm equivalent lens.
The image below has two Nikon Zfc 20mp APSC cameras on the left with the 50mm f2.8 lens and the second with the 28mm f2.8 lens. The third camera is the Nikon Z7II 40mp full-frame camera with a 28mm lens. Again the final camera is the X-T4 for comparison purposes.
Choosing a Camera
The table below shows the current pricing for these cameras and selected lenses. Given that the size of these cameras is very similar, choosing between them is still not straightforward:
- If the maximum resolution is most desirable the A7R IV would be the obvious choice.
- A photographer with a limited budget who might consider upgrading at a later date to a higher resolution might be interested in the Nikon Zfc
- A potential future upgrader who is concerned about maximum lens option might choose the A7C over the Nikon, as Sony has the most lens options at the moment.
- If one is never going to upgrade to full frame then the X-T4 or X-E4 might be the best choice, if you are going to buy more lenses as they will be more reasonable, lighter and smaller.