There is a pattern that has been more than evident the past year in the camera industry. That pattern is smaller and more compact full frame cameras. Between Sony’s recent A7C launch, the new Panasonic LUMIX S5, and the Nikon Z5, there are plenty of compact, full-frame camera bodies for videographers to get their hands on at an entry level price point. So does this mean it is the end of the line for APS-C sensor cameras? Well, probably not.
The price has never been better for a full-frame hybrid camera, capable of high quality still photos and sharp, high resolution video at high framerates. If you were making an investment today in a camera to get your new video business off the ground you would be hard pressed not to pick one of the solid full-frame options I previously mentioned. After all, many of these camera bodies only cost between $500-$1000 greater than their APS-C counterparts. There remains a few reasons why an APS-C sensor camera is still a solid option for a small studio or independent filmmaker though.
One reason you might buy an APS-C sensor camera in 2020 is that you are already invested in an APS-C system. For instance, it makes more sense for me being invested in an Sony APS-C system to upgrade to the a6600 as opposed to look at the new A7C. If I were to switch to a full-frame body I would ultimately want to pick up full-frame lenses and accessories. By the time you add up the total cost you are looking at a hefty investment. Additionally even if you are not already invested in an APS-C, the lenses will cost much less than full-frame lenses due to their size and crop factor.
Another reason you would want to opt in for an APS-C camera is for the size. While the bodies for full-frame cameras have gotten smaller, the size footprint for the lenses remain the same. The size advantage still belongs to APS-C when you consider the fact that since the lens can be smaller you can operate with a smaller tripod, a gimbal rated for less weight, and operate handheld for longer without fatigue.
Why am I not scared about the future of APS-C then? Does it not seem like it is only a matter of time before the price gap closes on these entry level full-frame cameras and the APS-C sensor is left in the dust? I do not think so. I believe APS-C camera bodies have their own shrinking down left unannounced. I believe the smaller glass of the system will continue to be an asset to handheld and gimbal camera operators. Lastly, besides the Fujifilm X-T4 which is probably the most feature filled APS-C sensor camera on the market, the strongest showing we have seen on the APS-C front is the Sony a6600 in late 2019. We are due for some new APS-C releases from Canon, Nikon, and Sony (as the a6600 was essentially a a6500 with a bigger battery, flip screen, and no recording limit). There is a good chance these new cameras will provide competitive features to their compact full-frame counterparts at a lower, competitive price point.
Where do you think the future of APS-C sensor cameras lies? Are they done for good? Have the major camera companies figured out how to make full-frame work in small bodies without compromise? What is your next potential camera upgrade? As always, I would love to hear your thoughts in the discussion below.