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Are Full Frame Advantages Disappearing?
#1
Good Evening Zoners (evening in Europe, that is)



Like many others, I'm putting money into my piggybank to buy a full frame (FF) body.



I'm also taking the FF view when looking at new lenses.



With recent sensor developments, however the reasons to change from (DX) crop format seem to be reducing.



High ISO noise, dynamic range, and feature set are eating into FF territory - and crop cameras already have lower weight, cheaper/lighter lenses (for similar functions) - and lower cost, of course.



Am I just getting nervous, or will I find that before I save the £ € $ to buy the FF body the advantages are no longer worth the cash?



The reasons I give for/against above are examples, of course - there are many reasons for/against FF vs crop



I would welcome any comments, thanks.
#2
On a technical level, whatever improvements are made to crop sensors can be generally applied to FF sensors too. So the gap will remain there. However I guess the question is at what point is the camera "good enough" for the intended uses? So it will still come down to the photographer's real needs if going FF is worth while.



At a practical level, the most significant reason I might look to going FF is for the potential of shallower DoF, but for most of my shooting I'm fighting the other direction and suffering from lack of DoF, so that's not a big selling point for me.



The size and weight difference are not really significant if you stay in roughly the same class. For example, at one point I had a Canon 50D and 5D, and there was no practical difference in size and weight in normal use. Of course there were other feature differences as significant as the sensor itself. You can only consider out of what's available at a given time what is the best route to meeting foreseeable needs.
<a class="bbc_url" href="http://snowporing.deviantart.com/">dA</a> Canon 7D2, 7D, 5D2, 600D, 450D, 300D IR modified, 1D, EF-S 10-18, 15-85, EF 35/2, 85/1.8, 135/2, 70-300L, 100-400L, MP-E65, Zeiss 2/50, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300/2.8, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Olympus E-P1, Panasonic 20/1.7, Sony HX9V, Fuji X100.
#3
Thanks. My prime interest is dynamic range



I'm starting to take good high ISO as a 'given' in any recent body



I guess I'm creating a problem for myself as I'm trying to see 2 years ahead.







[quote name='popo' timestamp='1286651319' post='3560']

On a technical level, whatever improvements are made to crop sensors can be generally applied to FF sensors too. So the gap will remain there. However I guess the question is at what point is the camera "good enough" for the intended uses? So it will still come down to the photographer's real needs if going FF is worth while.



At a practical level, the most significant reason I might look to going FF is for the potential of shallower DoF, but for most of my shooting I'm fighting the other direction and suffering from lack of DoF, so that's not a big selling point for me.



The size and weight difference are not really significant if you stay in roughly the same class. For example, at one point I had a Canon 50D and 5D, and there was no practical difference in size and weight in normal use. Of course there were other feature differences as significant as the sensor itself. You can only consider out of what's available at a given time what is the best route to meeting foreseeable needs.

[/quote]
#4
However you look at it for a given technology level, 35mm should always have a 1stop advantage over APC-S due to it having twice the area to gather light.



So for low light, ISO1600 FF should be about the same as ISO800 APS-C



For Shallow depth of field, FF f/2 gives same DOF as APS-C f/1.4 (with same FOV). Thus to achieve what you get with a 50mmm f1.4 on APS-C you would need a 33mm f/1.0 -> expensive!



If you want large DOF then they should be equal:

FF: 24mm, f/16, ISO200, 1/100

APS-C 16mm, f/11, ISO100, 1/100



Should both give the same result in terms of resolution and DOF.



I think theoretically you should be able to get 1 stop better dynamic range from 35mm than APS-C but i'm not sure if this lives out in practice...
#5
The dynamic range is more dependent on the individual pixels (size, quality, etc.) than on the size of the sensor.



Though in general in DX the pixels are generally crammed together more, resulting in lower DR.



For me the fullframe advantage is still there. But it is purely that extra stop in low-light quality. I very often shoot at 3200 or 6400 ISO.

(Aside I would love to be able to upgrade my D700 to a D3s)
#6
[quote name='AAC7man' timestamp='1286649993' post='3559']

High ISO noise, dynamic range, and feature set are eating into FF territory

[/quote]

I guess you've been hanging out at dpreview a bit too often <img src='http://forum.photozone.de/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Smile' /> There's no APS-C that can match the high ISOs of a recent FF camera. For example, even the 550D, which has one of the best APS-C sensors, can barely touch the high ISO performance of the original 1Ds... and that took how long? <img src='http://forum.photozone.de/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Big Grin' />





[quote name='AAC7man' timestamp='1286649993' post='3559']

- and crop cameras already have lower weight, cheaper/lighter lenses (for similar functions) - and lower cost, of course.

[/quote]

Umm 5D2's lighter than the 7D <img src='http://forum.photozone.de/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/wink.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Smile' /> Even if the numbers were the other way around, would that make a difference in the way you're going to carry/use the camera? No. They're all chunky... unless of course, you're talking about EVIL cameras with APS-C sensors.



Also people compare lenses in all the wrong ways. First, the cheaper/lighter lenses available for smaller formats also produce inferior image quality than what you get with FF lenses + FF bodies. It's not difficult to get better resolution when the digitising area is 2.6 times the area of APS-C... so FF lenses that are 2.6x worse than a particular APS-C lens will still produce the same quality on FF. Now think about the last time anyone used a APS-C-only lens on a crop camera because it was better than a FF lens <img src='http://forum.photozone.de/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/wink.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Smile' /> Also this allows people to use a much wider range of interesting (cheaper, inferior by FF standards but better than the best APS-C) lenses to produce unique images. And let's say the APS-C lenses still had IQ that was as good (which they most often don't), the lenses are still not equivalent. For example there's no lens equivalent to a 24-70 2.8 or a 70-200 2.8 on a FF because that would be a mythical 16-45 f/1.8 or a 44-125 f/1.8 lens on APS-C. Btw, try explaining that to the FourThirds crowd ;D





[quote name='AAC7man' timestamp='1286654175' post='3561']

My prime interest is dynamic range



I'm starting to take good high ISO as a 'given' in any recent body

[/quote]

They go hand in hand. You can't have good dynamic range without low noise. There's no such thing as detail in the shadows with a lot of noise. Noise destroys detail after all.





[quote name='AAC7man' timestamp='1286654175' post='3561']

I guess I'm creating a problem for myself as I'm trying to see 2 years ahead.

[/quote]

Like I said, the most active sensor developer in the DSLR photography business took [url="http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Canon/canon_eos1ds.asp"]almost 8 years[/url] to match the ISO performance of their first FF DSLR with an APS-C (go to DXOMark and get the graphs and see for yourself). So I don't see how far they'll go in the next two years. And don't forget... like Popo said, FF development isn't standing still either. The low-noise game is on in the FF sector than in the APS-C market, with Nikon pushing with D3/D3s/D700, etc. with lots of clever noise reduction in the pipeline itself.
#7
I guess the same arguments can be applied to FF vs medium format :-))



[quote name='genotypewriter' timestamp='1286776387' post='3572']

There's no APS-C that can match the high ISOs of a recent FF camera.[/quote]



Sony A850/A900 and Nikon D3X have similar pixel density as 10/12 mpix APS-C cameras (D200/D300), so that's not exactly true.



Obviosly the 2.25x difference in light gathering is not going to dissapear, however the point is that crop sensors are so good at the moment, that the main FF advantages are no longer "so obvious" in most of the situations. The appearance of lenses like 25mm f/0.95 doesn't help either :-)



[quote name='genotypewriter' timestamp='1286776387' post='3572']

Also this allows people to use a much wider range of interesting (cheaper, inferior by FF standards but better than the best APS-C) lenses to produce unique images.[/quote]



I don't get this one, care to elaborate? There are tons of FF lenses that look really poor on high density FF sensors, while still can be used APS-C because of sweet spot.
#8
Thanks for the fascinating comments everybody. I wouldn't disagree with any of them. I guess I'm just getting nervous in that I've already spent a lot on FX glass (like N 24-70, and I intend to get 70-200 next month) and won't get the real payback until I have an FX body - which I've never actually tried. Maybe I need to hire a D3s for a day to compare with my D200 results, that will kill or cure (and probably later, bankrupt)



Keep shooting!



Jim



(no, I'm not a great DPR fan)













[quote name='genotypewriter' timestamp='1286776387' post='3572']

I guess you've been hanging out at dpreview a bit too often <img src='http://forum.photozone.de/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Smile' /> There's no APS-C that can match the high ISOs of a recent FF camera. For example, even the 550D, which has one of the best APS-C sensors, can barely touch the high ISO performance of the original 1Ds... and that took how long? <img src='http://forum.photozone.de/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Big Grin' />







Umm 5D2's lighter than the 7D <img src='http://forum.photozone.de/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/wink.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Smile' /> Even if the numbers were the other way around, would that make a difference in the way you're going to carry/use the camera? No. They're all chunky... unless of course, you're talking about EVIL cameras with APS-C sensors.



Also people compare lenses in all the wrong ways. First, the cheaper/lighter lenses available for smaller formats also produce inferior image quality than what you get with FF lenses + FF bodies. It's not difficult to get better resolution when the digitising area is 2.6 times the area of APS-C... so FF lenses that are 2.6x worse than a particular APS-C lens will still produce the same quality on FF. Now think about the last time anyone used a APS-C-only lens on a crop camera because it was better than a FF lens <img src='http://forum.photozone.de/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/wink.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='Smile' /> Also this allows people to use a much wider range of interesting (cheaper, inferior by FF standards but better than the best APS-C) lenses to produce unique images. And let's say the APS-C lenses still had IQ that was as good (which they most often don't), the lenses are still not equivalent. For example there's no lens equivalent to a 24-70 2.8 or a 70-200 2.8 on a FF because that would be a mythical 16-45 f/1.8 or a 44-125 f/1.8 lens on APS-C. Btw, try explaining that to the FourThirds crowd ;D







They go hand in hand. You can't have good dynamic range without low noise. There's no such thing as detail in the shadows with a lot of noise. Noise destroys detail after all.







Like I said, the most active sensor developer in the DSLR photography business took [url="http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Canon/canon_eos1ds.asp"]almost 8 years[/url] to match the ISO performance of their first FF DSLR with an APS-C (go to DXOMark and get the graphs and see for yourself). So I don't see how far they'll go in the next two years. And don't forget... like Popo said, FF development isn't standing still either. The low-noise game is on in the FF sector than in the APS-C market, with Nikon pushing with D3/D3s/D700, etc. with lots of clever noise reduction in the pipeline itself.

[/quote]
#9
[quote name='Lomskij' timestamp='1286786840' post='3573']

I guess the same arguments can be applied to FF vs medium format :-))

[/quote]



Absolutely. However, FF DSLRs are in the reach of many amateur budgets, while even the most afordable digital MF cameras are not.





[quote name='Lomskij' timestamp='1286786840' post='3573']I don't get this one, care to elaborate? There are tons of FF lenses that look really poor on high density FF sensors, while still can be used APS-C because of sweet spot.

[/quote]



I'm sure what genotypewriter referred to was not sharpness alone, but the creative potential, especially regarding DOF, that is available to FF users by cheap or at least rather affordable lenses. Think about a 35/2.0 for example. Yes, you can buy a 24/1.4 for your APS-C camera instead, but the difference in price can almost buy you a FF body.



For me, this is the main advantage of FF: limited DOF. Personally, I don't care much about anything above ISO 1000, nor do I find the dynamic range lacking in any modern DSLR (at least not for my usage). However, the creative potential I have even with what is considered rather average glass is priceless to me. Plus, of course, the large and bright optical viewfinder.



However, thinking about FX one should also take into account some issues that many have "forgotten" about after a longer period of crop camera usage: vignetting can be surprisingly hefty, as well as distortion.



-- Markus
Editor
photozone.de

#10
I asked the question of yours to myself often... I'm upgrading from D90 to D700 and feel quite comfortable inside, because:



- I love shooting with wide angle lenses; bird shooting or sports photography is not my style.

- except for my 11-16mm Tokina, all of my lenses are FF compatible. This one was the most critical issue for me, because UWA lenses for FX are quite pricy (the -expected to be- new Tokina 16-28mm can be a relief).

- bigger pixels = higher tonal range and good ISO perfromance (I don't need huge prints). The D700 owners I talked with, told me that usually 400 is their base ISO (also they can take brilliant pictures with ISO 1600).

- D700 is an affordable FX body in Nikon universe. I gave up waiting for a D700 successor which will be most probably a D700x with video avalibility (and with a significant higer price tag).



Yet; having said these, I will see if my expectations will be met, beginning from next week...



Kind regards,



Serkan
  
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