Using Crop Sensor Cameras for Landscapes?

The common advice is that for shooting landscape and other wide angle photographic subjects you should use a digital camera with a “full crop” or “medium format” image sensor. So called “crop sensors,” such as the APS-C, are only suited for photographing action sports, wildlife and perhaps macro subjects. But the fact is this popular camera format is quite versatile and can be used for a wide variety of imaging. It might even be arguable that they are the best choice for photographers that are restricted to a single DSLR body.

So why might a photographer be restricted to a single DSLR camera body? When exploring new areas, hiking for instance, weight can be a factor. The addition of another camera also equates to carrying an additional load. The different bodies may not use the same battery, meaning the need to pack extras for both cameras. Plus the controls may be somewhat different, leading to potential confusion when making photos. By carrying a single body things get a bit simpler. As the acronym KISS implies, “keep it simple stupid.”

Wall ArtWhen I go out in the field I don’t always know what kind of subject I’ll be encountering. I may be exploring and area I’ve never been to before, or be revisiting a place where there are a variety of potential subject matters. As such I want a versatile system that will allow me to adapt to the situation. Typically I’ll approach such situations by carrying a single camera, a telephoto lens, a wide angle zoom and a macro lens. Most of the time I’ll bring along a 1.4 times extender as well, providing me with an even great range of focal lengths.

Wall ArtMy go to kit consists of the Canon 7D Mark II, an APS-C size sensor camera, my Sigma 150-600mm zoom telephoto lens, my Canon 100mm macro lens, a Tokina wide angle lens, either the 12-24mm or 20 – 35mm zoom, and a 1.4x Tamron tele-extender. With this complement of equipment I’m able to adapt to whatever subject matter presents its self.

Buy Art OnlineThings change a bit if you are a one genre photographer or if you’re out to shoot a particular subject. Without question there are advantages to using a full frame camera. But in my humble opinion, they lack the versatility of the lowly crop-sensor camera. Unless you have an unlimited budget having a telephoto that will couple with the wider format cameras and achieve the “reach” of the smaller sensor bodies is going to be quite cost prohibitive.

Wall ArtIn every endeavor there are compromises. The photographer that pursues a variety of subjects ranging from the ultra close-up to the sweeping landscape may need to give up a little something at one end or the other. For me I prefer to compromise on the wide end of things, preferring to give the advantage to the long end of things. I find myself trying to get closer, more intimate images more often than not.

Buy Art OnlineYou can find my online gallery by clicking on the “prints” link on the left or by visiting

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This entry was posted in Education, General Photography, Nature Photography, Photo Tip, Photography Equipment, Uncategorized and tagged .


  1. Jim Hughes June 29, 2021 at 6:05 pm #

    There’s nothing I can’t do with my Nikon Z50 APS-C camera. I also have a Z6, but when going out I most often reach for the Z50. Size and weight really do matter. In any photo expedition, there’s a point where you start to get tired and start to think about heading home; with light compact gear, you go a lot longer before reaching that point. And sometimes that’s when you find the really good one.

  2. Bill Swartwout Photo July 3, 2021 at 4:35 pm #

    I have not used full frame since my film camera days. My current kit consists of two camera styles, a Nikon (DX) and and Olympus (MFT). The Nikon comes in at 24MP and the OLY at 16. However, I am about to “upgrade” the OLY to a newer 20MP body. I have zooms and primes for both cameras and a Macro for the Oly (because it has an articulating screen in addition to the excellent eye-level viewfinder). This serves me well and I am seeing some nice success with my online gallery at Fine Art America.

  3. Steve Heap July 17, 2021 at 8:02 am #

    I’ve been a full frame user for some time, but I must admit I doubt if you could tell much difference these days between my images and any others. The quality has just improved by leaps and bounds and now the enhanced enlargement in the Adobe products means that you can also go around with a camera with less resolution and boost it when needed. I think there is a big difference when you switch between DSLR and mirrorless though – I find that invaluable in actually seeing what the final image might look like – especially with ND filters attached etc. So I’m happy with my Sony A7R3. I don’t normally carry anything like the collection of lenses that you do though! Great images to illustrate the article!

  4. admin July 17, 2021 at 10:53 am #

    Thanks much for the comments. I greatly appreciate them. Since writing the above article I have bitten the bullet and placed an order for a used Canon 6D body. This will be my first “full size” sensor body since adapting digital photography so many years ago. To be honest one of the biggest selling points to me is that it as an articulating rear screen. That will be very handy for many of the things I do. When I receive it I can imagine myself hiking in the field with a telephoto on my crop camera and a wide angle on the 6D. You can be a report will follow soon.

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