Today I show you what the crop mode does in the A7 series of cameras. It is good for smaller images from your full frame camera, as well as giving you different framings for prime lenses, especially when filming video. 

Most full frame sony cameras have a mode in them called crop mode.

This is where it will switch between taking a whole sensor readout or a crop of the centre of that sensor.

The reason they have it is because when the Sony A series of cameras was born, there weren’t that many FE lenses, or full frame e mount lenses. So the technicians came out with the crop mode, so people who had come over from the E mount cameras and had E mount lenses, just made for crop sensors, could still use those lenses on their new A series cameras.

If you have it set to auto, when you attach a crop sensor lens, it will crop in on the frame so you don’t get that hard vignetting, but you can set it to manual and override this…and crop in on full frame lenses as well as lenses made for crop sensors.

If we skip forward to 2021, there are plenty of FE lenses for the full frame E mount system, but the crop mode is still in our cameras.

Now between that time of there being very few full frame native lenses and now, a lot of sony users found this crop mode to be really handy for a couple of reasons.

You could shoot with a prime lens and very quickly switch to a different framing, or if you used zoom lenses and it wasn’t quite long enough, you could switch to the crop mode and get a little bit more reach.

It does sound like a fantastic mode, but there are drawbacks. With a camera like the A7iii, at 24mp in the full frame mode, this would drop the Mp count to 10Mp in crop mode…which by todays standards is quite small.

However, with the R series of cameras, it can still be useful for stills. With the A7rii and Riii at 42Mp, this would mean a cropped resolution of 18Mp and with the A7riv at 61Mp, this would mean the crop images would be 26Mp.

I used to shoot a lot of real estate shots in Dubai with the A7rii in crop mode and the 10-18mm f4 lens. It was a nice light combo and the customer was more than happy with the results, as they were just going on line.

So for photography it only really benefits the high resolution cameras and when you think about it logically, you could still shoot full frame shots and crop in afterwards for the same end result.

Now for videography, this is where the crop mode is really useful, and I use it for this a lot of the time. On every camera but the A7s series, you can shoot in 4k in both full frame and crop mode. And if you have good quality glass, this means having two lenses in one for primes, or a bit more reach for zooms. So I can shoot with my 35mm prime. Have the full frame option at 35mm, and then quickly switch to crop mode and it gives the equivalent field of view of a 52.5mm lens. And then with my 85mm, I can get the 85mm experience, or switch to crop mode and have a 127.5mm equivalent framing.

So the crop mode is really useful for shooting video, or for the really high megapixel cameras for stills. But it is nice that they haven’t done an Apple and taken out functions that the users do actually use on a regular basis.

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