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Author Topic: Why full frame for landscapes at low ISO?  (Read 16935 times)
HSakols
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« on: October 21, 2009, 08:13:26 AM »
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Hi
I presently use a Nikon D300 for many of my static landscape and nature shots where I always use the native ISO (200).  I notice many landscape photographers have switched to full frame (eg D700). So what is the improvement one gains by going full frame if you are still shooting at a low ISO.  Do larger sized prints (eg 16x20) show a significant  improvement just by using a full frame sensor.   Once again I'm not asking about the high ISO advantage of full frame.
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Hank
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« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2009, 08:57:56 AM »
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I think a large part has to do with the Jones family down the street.  Just can't let them have more and better than we do, can we?

There's also the human tendency to blame others and our own equipment for failures.  It couldn't be my fault!  I could have done better if I had "better" gear!

Certainly there's the question of potential.  At some point less capable gear limits the ultimate output options of a photo.  But I have to say that photos I took with my old 30D sell as well today as they did when taken 10 or so years ago, whatever year the model first came out.

We use camera equipment till it is mostly worn out before replacing.  It's just a tool.  Certainly we buy the best we can afford when replacing it, but "best" is tempered by a frank look at our needs, weighing additional costs of the latest greatest against the features of the previous latest-greatest, now on sale at discount. Certainly we'll buy new gear ahead of schedule when it clearly resolves a specific need and we can't wait till the current gear wears out.  But that's an extremely rare occurance.

How do you recognize the working professional photographer?  He's driving an old car, staying in the cheapest hotels, and using well-scuffed older model equipment.  The savings are going into retirement savings and real estate rather than persona.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2009, 08:59:37 AM by Hank » Logged
MatthewCromer
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« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2009, 09:06:00 AM »
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The D700 has essentially no advantages over the D300 for landscape photography (unless you like your landscapes with minimal DOF or because of the particular lenses you have available which match a FF sensor better than an APS-C sensor).

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pegelli
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« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2009, 09:16:30 AM »
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I think Hank is saying (correct me if I'm wrong) that you should be happy with the equipment you have and only replace it when worn or non functioning anymore. I think he's correct since (watch out, old cliche coming  ) the person behind the camera is still much more important than the body or lens.

However, for the same final image size you will have to blow up your pictures less, so lens unsharpness gets less enlarged so quality of FF is probably theoretically better but if you see it in the print is probably questionable.
Also in the end the lower magnification isn't all that impressive. Just draw P&S, APS-C, FF and then some MFDB sized boxes on a piece of paper and judge for yourself how big the step from APS-C to FF really is when you make them visual like that in relation to the many other formats that exist. My own conclusion was that P&S to DSLR is significant, APS-C to FF is just a little hop and if you really want significant bigger MFDB is what you need to do. For me and my hobby this little scetch made me decide that for the time being APS-C will do fine.
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pieter, aka pegelli
Luis Argerich
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« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2009, 09:47:31 AM »
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The statement that FF is "better" for landscapes than a crop sensor usualy comes from people that seldom shoot landscapes.
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HSakols
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« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2009, 10:00:01 AM »
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My only complaint now is that Nikon does not make many quality slow lenses that don't weigh a ton.  My 6x9 view camera is about as heavy as a nikon d3 with fast glass.
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bjanes
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« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2009, 10:29:09 AM »
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Quote from: HSakols
Hi
I presently use a Nikon D300 for many of my static landscape and nature shots where I always use the native ISO (200).  I notice many landscape photographers have switched to full frame (eg D700). So what is the improvement one gains by going full frame if you are still shooting at a low ISO.  Do larger sized prints (eg 16x20) show a significant  improvement just by using a full frame sensor.   Once again I'm not asking about the high ISO advantage of full frame.

Many landscape photographers using dSLRs use photo stitching to gain extra resolution. I particularly admire the work done by BernardLanguillier, who uses the D3x but still needs the higher resolution afforded by stitching. Some photographers who use stitching actually prefer the crop frame sensors since they use the central area of the image as projected by the lens. The resolution of the D3x would be difficult to achieve with cropped frame sensors. However, I doubt that there would be a significant difference between the D700 and D300 under the conditions you specify, and if you use stitching, the D300 might be a better choice if you don't mind taking more frames.
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ArunGaur
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« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2009, 11:58:29 AM »
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Quote from: bjanes
Many landscape photographers using dSLRs use photo stitching to gain extra resolution. I particularly admire the work done by BernardLanguillier, who uses the D3x but still needs the higher resolution afforded by stitching. Some photographers who use stitching actually prefer the crop frame sensors since they use the central area of the image as projected by the lens. The resolution of the D3x would be difficult to achieve with cropped frame sensors. However, I doubt that there would be a significant difference between the D700 and D300 under the conditions you specify, and if you use stitching, the D300 might be a better choice if you don't mind taking more frames.

In fact there have been hot debates regarding Sony cameras whether Alpha700 is not equivalent or better than Alpha 900. And many concluded A900 is redundant.
Arun Gaur

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JeffKohn
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« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2009, 12:36:41 PM »
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When the cameras in question have the same or nearly the same resolution, as in the case of the D300 and D700, there's no real advantage to full-frame. If anything the fact that DX cameras are using the 'sweet spot' of full-frame lenses is an advantage. The one exception is if you have some specific lenses that you prefer the FOV of when used on full-frame. For instance, I've found the 45mm PC-E tilt/shift lens more useful on full-frame, because it's a much more useful FOV (on DX it was kind of an in-between focal length, not 'normal' and not really telephoto either).

To me the real reason to go to FX is more resolution, which is why I didn't think the D700 made much sense for landscapes; but the D3x, 5D2, a900 are much more appealing.
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2009, 01:02:22 PM »
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I don't feel like jumping to DXO to confirm this but I believe that at the same pixel count the FF cameras have more DR.  Obviously you can get higher pixel count FF cameras.  Then resolution becomes your friend.

Check DXO to confirm the first statement.
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BJL
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« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2009, 01:09:19 PM »
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Quote from: HSakols
I presently use a Nikon D300 for many of my static landscape and nature shots where I always use the native ISO (200). ...
I agree with the general trend in this thread.

Once upon a time, when we used film, the dominant reason for using a larger format for landscapes and such was higher resolution, and related claims of getting finer tonal gradations and nicer shadow rendering (better DR?). This was so even though using the same emulsions of the same sensitivity (ISO speed), probably with higher f-stops and lower shutter speeds. So it happened with the same "spec. sheet DR" as was available in smaller formats. The key was getting any given print size at lower degree of enlargement.

With digital, high ISO and low light handling has become a major emphasis, but in your situation where high speeds are taken out of the picture, my guess would be that the move to a larger format for landscape will mostly benefit landscape only if the larger sensor records finer spatial details of the subject: more MP, not higher sensitivity. Translate "lower degree of enlargement" as "higher PPI".


So, if you actually have evidence that the quality of your landscape work is significantly hampered by your current gear anyway, one suggestion is to hope that the recent "Nikon D800" rumor is at least partly right: the part about a 24.5MP sensor in a D700-like body at a far less than D3X-like price. Or learn to love stitching.
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duraace
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« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2009, 01:11:15 PM »
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Quote from: HSakols
Hi
I presently use a Nikon D300 for many of my static landscape and nature shots where I always use the native ISO (200).  I notice many landscape photographers have switched to full frame (eg D700). So what is the improvement one gains by going full frame if you are still shooting at a low ISO.  Do larger sized prints (eg 16x20) show a significant  improvement just by using a full frame sensor.   Once again I'm not asking about the high ISO advantage of full frame.


I've upgraded my D300 to a D700, and the only advantage is that my 14mm-24mm lens is 14mm at the widest, while on a cropped sensor it's 21mm, which makes it better for wide angle landscape on the FF.  No quality issues, except in higher ISO quality. No contest there.
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Panopeeper
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« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2009, 01:20:23 PM »
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1. The D3 has less noise than the D300 at low ISO as well; this transforms into cleaner images and higher DR.

2. FF cameras have a better selection of lenses for wide FoV than the croppers.
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Gabor
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« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2009, 01:27:59 PM »
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Quote from: Panopeeper
1. The D3 has less noise than the D300 at low ISO as well; this transforms into cleaner images and higher DR.
It's negligible in real-world images. I'm not saying there's  no difference, but it's small, and IMHO not worth the price difference even if you compare D700 instead of D3.

Quote
2. FF cameras have a better selection of lenses for wide FoV than the croppers.
Not really, IMHO. In Nikon land you have the 14-24 and 17-35, and that's about it. No doubt the 14-24 is a legendary lens, but it has its disadvantages as well. For DX format, you have quite a selection of 10-20, 11-16, 12-24, etc lenses, some of which are quite good (I'd argue at least as good as the 17-35), and they're all smaller, lighter, and cheaper than the 14-24. There's also a great DX full-frame fisheye. Now granted 10mm DX is not quite as wide as 14mm FX, but unless you really need that extra mm of width (most don't), I'd argue that lens selection is a wash between the two formats.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2009, 01:29:58 PM by JeffKohn » Logged

image66
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« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2009, 01:41:27 PM »
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Oh, come on.  Do you honestly expect any self-respecting photographer to show up at a scenic overlook with anything less than the latest/greatest full-frame camera from either Nikon, Canon or Sony?

Heaven forbid you attend a workshop with a crop-sensor camera.
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Panopeeper
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« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2009, 02:04:57 PM »
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Quote from: JeffKohn
It's negligible in real-world images. I'm not saying there's  no difference, but it's small
I do measure not negligable differences. However, I can not show how much it means in real-word images, for I don't have either camera.

The point is, that many photographers do not utilize the entire DR of the camera (most of them don't even understand, that their Black=5 cuts off a lot of the DR); however, just landscape shots do need the highest possible DR in order to have clean shadows.

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IMHO not worth the price difference even if you compare D700 instead of D3
That's a different issue. It depends on the budget and on the utilization of the high DR. I am landscaper but hobbyist, therefor it is too expensive for me.

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For DX format, you have quite a selection of 10-20, 11-16, 12-24, etc lenses, some of which are quite good (I'd argue at least as good as the 17-35)
I have to pass here. My remark war rather generic; I did not know, that Nikon offers such a large selection of DX WA lenses.
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Gabor
aaykay
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« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2009, 02:11:53 PM »
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Quote from: ArunGaur
In fact there have been hot debates regarding Sony cameras whether Alpha700 is not equivalent or better than Alpha 900. And many concluded A900 is redundant.
Arun Gaur

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Are these not 2 entirely different formats to be "better" or "worser" than the other ? For one to be "redundant" just because one has the other ? We are not comparing say an A200 with an A700 here, is it, where both are products in the same format (APS-C) with one having a few more bells-and-whistles over the other ?  

The A900, being  a Full-frame, gathers 240% of the light gathered by the A700 in every identical exposure.  DOF and other factors being additional factors.  That may or may not be important for the person taking the picture and if one is happy with one's tool of choice, I think that is all that matters.  

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JeffKohn
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« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2009, 02:37:35 PM »
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In fact there have been hot debates regarding Sony cameras whether Alpha700 is not equivalent or better than Alpha 900. And many concluded A900 is redundant.
That's pretty silly, considering the 900 is a 24mp camera. It may be redundant if you only print 8x10, but at larger output sizes there will most definitely be a difference.
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BJL
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« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2009, 02:47:06 PM »
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Quote from: aaykay
The A900, being  a Full-frame, gathers 240% of the light gathered by the A700 in every identical exposure.  DOF and other factors being additional factors.
For many landscape photographs, "identical exposure" very much includes equal DOF; it is not a mere "additional factor" to be brushed aside in comparisons. And once DOF is admitted part of the picture, so that the larger format needs to use a higher f-stop, the light gathered is about equal for equal DOF, equal FOV, equal exposure time.

For equal DOF, the extra light gathering potential of the larger sensor is realized when the larger format can use a longer exposure time, like using minimum sensitivity [ISO] with either format.

This still leaves the question of whether a smaller format camera like the D300 has noticeable DR limitations when used at minimum ISO.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2009, 05:07:38 PM »
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Quote from: HSakols
Hi
I presently use a Nikon D300 for many of my static landscape and nature shots where I always use the native ISO (200).  I notice many landscape photographers have switched to full frame (eg D700). So what is the improvement one gains by going full frame if you are still shooting at a low ISO.  Do larger sized prints (eg 16x20) show a significant  improvement just by using a full frame sensor.   Once again I'm not asking about the high ISO advantage of full frame.

In essence, I keep thinking that DX is better suited for active landscape work than FX (more DoF, lighter lenses, less light fall off,...).

So why am I using a FX body?
- Flagship cameras at Canon/Nikon/Sony get the latest and the greatest sensors with the best DR at low ISO (unclear to what extend this is enabled by the larger sensor),
- FX cameras also get the highest resolution sensors,
- They are on the strategical path for developement at the major brands, and investement in lenses suitable for work with FX cameras ends up being a safer bet.

I am more opened than I used to be about landscape work with limited DoF, but it is unclear to me whether this is a real artistic decision of one that I had to make to cope with the limitations of FX in terms of extended DoF.

Cheers,
Bernard
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