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Author Topic: thom hogan FX vs DX  (Read 6379 times)
HSakols
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« on: April 24, 2013, 09:12:29 AM »
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Thom Hogan has a new article on his site comparing FX to DX.  I think he makes some interesting points.  Being a the owner of a full frame camera,  I wonder if the time will come when the full size sensor is just not necessary. What are your thoughts.  Notice I didn't post this in the medium format forum. 
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Michael N. Meyer
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2013, 11:56:03 AM »
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I have found that I use my FF camera and my APS-C cameras in different ways, that each gives me qualities for certain uses that the other doesn't. For my personal work, I'm starting to see much less need to carry the larger FF DSLR when my APS-C mirrorless gives me the same image size and essentially the same image quality. (Leaving aside any aesthetic differences in rendering that some may or may not see.) I don't go in for that ultra shallow depth of field and I use more or less normal focal lengths for most things so I might be an outlier in this regard. The one aspect of my FF DSLR that I prefer over my mirrorless is the in body stabilization, though that has nothing to do with sensor size.

I'm about to print a show (opening 6/6 6pm @ Littlefield NYC in  Brooklyn for anyone local) that includes images from a 10mp DX DSLR, 12mp DX mirrorless and 24mp FF DSLR (as well as a couple of scanned 35mm). Even at 20x30, I expect all of the images to hold up just fine and hang together more or less seamlessly.
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2013, 08:15:30 AM »
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When I shot Canon, my 'primary' body was full frame and my 'back-up' was cropped frame.  Now, with Nikon, I've got two full frame bodies and with the D800 giving me 16MP in cropped frame, don't really see the need to add a cropped frame body.  The frame rate is slower than the D700 but fast enough.

I used the full frame, primarily, for scenics, landscapes and architecture while the cropped frame was used primarily for sports.  The cropped frame gave me nearly the same sensor count as the full frame whereas cropping the full frame would have eaten into the pixel count too much.  The cropped frame body had a higher frame rate too.

Is this the article you're referring to?

His points are certainly valid and can make a difference for someone new to full frame shooting. 
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Jason DiMichele
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2013, 09:22:51 AM »
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I use both FF and APS-C cameras myself. With regard to quality I am happy with both. However I mainly use my APS-C as a backup or for wildlife when I need more reach. I really enjoy the larger optical viewfinder of the FF. I suppose it's due to the years of medium and large format viewfinders and ground glass. It's just so nice to view a larger, brighter image. While LiveView is great and the LCD resolutions are fantastic these days, I think I still prefer the large optical viewfinder. That would be one of my best reasons for purchasing a MF digital back one of these days.

Cheers,
Jay
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Jason DiMichele
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2013, 02:35:03 PM »
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Hi,

My take is that APS-C is perfectly good for A2 size prints. Full frame may have a small benefit at A2, I am not really sure.

Personally, I mostly shoot full frame (Sony Alpha 900 and 99SLT) but use an Alpha 77 (APS-C) for street shooting and telephoto reach.

A year ago I was shooting some trees on a windy day and ended up shooting both full frame (Sony Alpha 900, 24MP) and APS-C (Sony Alpha 55, 16 MP). In this case the APS-C image made it to the wall, A2 size. My main problem was the branches moving in the wind. The newer APS-C camera has better high ISO and I was able to use a shorter and better lens at a smaller aperture and also got better DoF.

Best regards
Erik


Thom Hogan has a new article on his site comparing FX to DX.  I think he makes some interesting points.  Being a the owner of a full frame camera,  I wonder if the time will come when the full size sensor is just not necessary. What are your thoughts.  Notice I didn't post this in the medium format forum.  
« Last Edit: April 25, 2013, 08:39:33 PM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

Telecaster
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2013, 03:15:29 PM »
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My "full frame" camera (no longer in use but still in my possession) is a Wista 4x5, though to 8x10 shooters I'm a cropped-frame piker.   Cheesy  My only 35mm-format cameras these days are of the film variety, though I have a 35mm digi-rangefinder on the way soon. I absolutely love the Micro-Four-Thirds cameras & lenses & non-M43 lens adapters. How many digital cameras can you mount a 1930s uncoated Zeiss 85mm f/4.0 Triotar on and actually get great results corner to corner?! At least one: my Olympus OM-D EM5.

When I used D-SLRs I went from APS-C to 35mm, then back again. Greater reach with smaller, lighter lenses is what prompted the switch-back. IMO 35mm is great from ultra-wide to moderately long (180-200mm) but beyond that the glass is just too big & heavy to have fun with. Besides, my 53-year-old neck vertebrae have made it clear in recent years that heavy gear Will Not Be Tolerated.

-Dave-
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BJL
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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2013, 06:07:41 PM »
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My "full frame" camera (no longer in use but still in my possession) is a Wista 4x5 ...
I like that perspctive: from now on, "crop format" means anything smaller than that of my first camera, which was the roughly 2 1/2” x 3 1/2” of my Kodak Brownie. So _all_ digital cameras are crop format cameras; it is only a question of how much of a crop works for your needs.

Since I have negligible interest in massive OOF blurring, micro Four Thirds also comfortably meets my needs, with occasional help from some Four Thirds SLR lenses like the 12-60/2.8-4 and 50-200/2.8-3.5. (Which by the way are both effectively faster than even the nice recent zoom lenses for the Fujifilm X system, in situations where manual focussing or slow AF is acceptable: the ”mirror-free” world has not yet put much emphasis on fast zooms, but I think it will as the sysems mature.)
« Last Edit: April 25, 2013, 06:11:56 PM by BJL » Logged
Ray
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2013, 10:00:19 PM »
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The advantages of full-frame 135 format verses cropped format, or APS-C format, have been discussed at great length since the advent of the DSLR. Both formats have their advantages and disadvantages when compared with each other.

I would say the main advantages of the full-frame 135 format are:

(1) Higher resolution in terms of lines per picture height (or width).

(2) Lower noise of the order of one full stop better, on average, across all ISOs, and improved dynamic range, tonal range and color sensitivity.

(3) The option of wider and better-quality wide-angle lenses delivering a wider FoV than is  possible with the cropped format.

The advantages of the cropped format are:

(1) Generally lighter and cheaper, especially when using EF-S or DX lenses designed for the smaller format.

(2) Usually higher resolution in terms of lp/mm, as a result of their (usually) higher pixel density.

The consequences of this second advantage of higher resolution is perhaps the main attraction of the cropped format. It allows one to effectively extend the reach of one's longest lens, which is like adding value to a telephoto lens designed for the full-frame format.

For example, the $1,400 Canon 400/F5.6 prime lens on a recent Canon cropped format, say the 18mp 7D, will probably deliver a sharper (or at least equally sharp) image as a $7,000 400/F4 prime on the full-frame 5D3, although the cropped format with the cheaper lens will not match the shallow DoF and low noise of the much more expensive combination.
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joneil
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« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2013, 07:21:01 AM »
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 I have a D700 and a D7000, and I often use both, side by side, both for different things.   Bottom line is depends on your shooting style, subject, etc.    I don't think one is "better" than another any more than a Jeep is "better" than a Mustang - depends where you are going and on your driving style.

  But in my case, I would not give up either one.

good luck
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Petrus
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« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2013, 08:36:46 AM »
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My "full frame" camera (no longer in use but still in my possession) is a Wista 4x5, though to 8x10 shooters I'm a cropped-frame piker. 

So true, history shows that film sizes and then sensor sizes have come down as the film/sensor resolution got better. It has been a question of both price and convenience, but fortunately modern cameras with relatively small sensors outresolve all reasonably sized film cameras, so there has been no compromise in that regard.

I have both a full "full frame" system (Nikon D4 & D800e) and APS-C system (Fuji X-Pro1 & X100s). They both are good enough (D800e more than...) for magazine photography, the main difference is the handling and speed, where Nikons of course are the king. If somebody did a similar pro DSRL camera with APS-C sensor and full complement of fast lenses optimized for APS-C, I might consider ditching the D4, mostly to save weight and volume, as the IQ from my Fujis is just as good in most regards. Just that the Nikon gets also the shots missed by the Fujis, which is no fault of the sensor size. On the other hand I can use the Fujis in places where I could not go with big Nikons...
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BJL
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« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2013, 08:46:43 AM »
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Ray give a fairly good summary. Let me just in italics change one antiquated, misleading word choice and add a mention of my favorite smaller format, and then make a comment emphasizing that the balance shifts towards smaller formats when dealing with small and distant subjects ("telephoto" and "macro").

The advantages of the cropped smaller format are:

(1) Generally lighter and cheaper, especially when using EF-S or DX or 4/3" format lenses designed for the smaller format.

(2) Usually higher resolution in terms of lp/mm, as a result of their (usually) higher pixel density.

The consequences of this second advantage of higher resolution is perhaps the main attraction of the cropped format. It allows one to effectively extend the reach of one's longest lens, which is like adding value to a telephoto lens designed for the full-frame format.

For example, the $1,400 Canon 400/F5.6 prime lens on a recent Canon cropped format, say the 18mp 7D, will probably deliver a sharper (or at least equally sharp) image as a $7,000 400/F4 prime on the full-frame 5D3 ...
On that last example: a smaller format sensor of higher resolution (lp/mm) can also be used with a somewhat shorter focal length, say 300mm, and this can often move one from needing super-telephoto prime lenses to being able to use telephoto zoom lenses. Not only can this reduce greatly the cost and weight of one's kit, but by allowing more exact matching of focal length to the desired composition and reducing the need to crop, it can make the most of the sensor resolution, reducing the "total image detail gap" between the formats.

Also, smaller formats (or rather, higher sensor resolutions) seem to give a natural optical advantage with small subjects (as in macro photography) by simplifying lens design and making close focusing a bit easier through reducing the degree of optical enlargement needed.
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NancyP
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« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2013, 02:39:30 PM »
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APS-C pixels are smaller than most FF pixels eg. 4.7 microns vs 6.8 microns
Burst rate is dependent on sensor readout design, number of pixels per frame, speed of processing chip, and the buffer size and any limitations of write time onto your memory card. APS-C was long the format of choice for sports and PJ when camera manufacturers prioritized image throughput over other considerations.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2013, 12:30:25 AM »
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Hi,

Canon does it to some extent with the 7D.

Best regards
Erik

So true, history shows that film sizes and then sensor sizes have come down as the film/sensor resolution got better. It has been a question of both price and convenience, but fortunately modern cameras with relatively small sensors outresolve all reasonably sized film cameras, so there has been no compromise in that regard.

I have both a full "full frame" system (Nikon D4 & D800e) and APS-C system (Fuji X-Pro1 & X100s). They both are good enough (D800e more than...) for magazine photography, the main difference is the handling and speed, where Nikons of course are the king. If somebody did a similar pro DSRL camera with APS-C sensor and full complement of fast lenses optimized for APS-C, I might consider ditching the D4, mostly to save weight and volume, as the IQ from my Fujis is just as good in most regards. Just that the Nikon gets also the shots missed by the Fujis, which is no fault of the sensor size. On the other hand I can use the Fujis in places where I could not go with big Nikons...
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kers
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« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2013, 02:32:44 PM »
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'' Now, with Nikon, I've got two full frame bodies and with the D800 giving me 16MP in cropped frame, don't really see the need to add a cropped frame body. ...''
+1

and I find the viewfinder of a fullframe camera much! better...
Makes it easier (possible) to focus manually
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Pieter Kers
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BJL
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« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2013, 03:12:31 PM »
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Now, with Nikon, I've got two full frame bodies and with the D800 giving me 16MP in cropped frame, don't really see the need to add a cropped frame body.  The frame rate is slower than the D700 but fast enough.

I used the full frame, primarily, for scenics, landscapes and architecture while the cropped frame was used primarily for sports.  The cropped frame gave me nearly the same sensor count as the full frame whereas cropping the full frame would have eaten into the pixel count too much.
+1
and I find the viewfinder of a fullframe camera much! better...
Makes it easier (possible) to focus manually
But when you are composing for that 1.5x "DX mode" crop to 16MP, the image of the relevant part in the OVF is distinctly smaller in the D800 VF (0.7x @ 50mm) than it is in any decent APS-C format VF (e.g. 0.94x @ 50mm for the D7100) ... along with the D7100 giving 24MP rather than 16MP on the same part of the scene with the same focal length. So if one is doing a substantial amount of photography with crops to DX mode or smaller in mind, an actual DX format body has some advantages.

And if one wishes to crop even further, the 24 vs 16 comparison can become 12MP vs 8MP or whatever.

(Aside: of course an EVF with "digital teleconverter" option would eliminate the VF image size disadvantage of DX crop mode.)
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Ray
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« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2013, 09:53:24 AM »
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But when you are composing for that 1.5x "DX mode" crop to 16MP, the image of the relevant part in the OVF is distinctly smaller in the D800 VF (0.7x @ 50mm) than it is in any decent APS-C format VF (e.g. 0.94x @ 50mm for the D7100) ...

And that disadvantage, BJL, is offset by the advantage of having something similar to the effect of a rangefinder camera whereby one can see what's immediately outside of the intended frame of the composition, enabling one to quickly fine-tune the composition before pressing the shutter, and/or take into account sudden changes in the scene which occur on the periphery of the DX frame.  Wink
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2013, 10:15:43 AM »
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But when you are composing for that 1.5x "DX mode" crop to 16MP, the image of the relevant part in the OVF is distinctly smaller in the D800 VF (0.7x @ 50mm) than it is in any decent APS-C format VF (e.g. 0.94x @ 50mm for the D7100) ... along with the D7100 giving 24MP rather than 16MP on the same part of the scene with the same focal length. So if one is doing a substantial amount of photography with crops to DX mode or smaller in mind, an actual DX format body has some advantages.

And if one wishes to crop even further, the 24 vs 16 comparison can become 12MP vs 8MP or whatever.

(Aside: of course an EVF with "digital teleconverter" option would eliminate the VF image size disadvantage of DX crop mode.)

I don't find the cropped view in the finder to be an issue.  The 24 vs 16 MP is a different issue.  It depends on what you're using the camera for.  If the APS-C camera is being used for what I suggest I use the full-frame camera for then the difference would play a role.  But the APS-C camera is being used for what I used an APS-C camera for in the past then the difference really isn't that beneficial.

Aside from that, the difference between 24 and 16MP really isn't that much.  When you consider that you have to quadruple the pixel count to double the resolution, a difference of 8MP isn't that much at all.
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BJL
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« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2013, 10:52:51 AM »
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This is fascinating: ever since "APS-C" DSLRs arrived, one of the persistent criticisms from those who prefer 35mm format has been the small "tunnel vision" VF image, and MF users make the same criticism of 35mm SLR viewfinders for the inferior size of their VF images --- and yet, when I mention this with respect to the "1.5x digital teleconverter" mode of the D800, the two replies I get suggest that a "0.5x equivalent" VF image is not much of a problem! It brings to mind some "family values" voters who are suddenly happy to vote for an adulterer/philanderer/serial bigamist when he represents their preferred party.

I don't find the cropped view in the finder to be an issue.
And that disadvantage, BJL, is offset by the advantage of having something similar to the effect of a rangefinder camera whereby one can see what's immediately outside of the intended frame of the composition
Ray, I agree that the "sports-finder" effect is sometimes quite nice. I often use the variant of loose framing, zooming a bit wider than my intended composition, to allow cropping latitude for problems like not getting the moving subject correctly positioned within the frame, and for some warning of objects about to enter the FOV. However, surely different photographers will put different relative weights on the image size disadvantage vs the "peripheral vision" advantage, so I do not see how you can categorically declare that one "offsets" the other as if the VF image size deficit is rendered irrelevant.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2013, 11:04:51 AM by BJL » Logged
BJL
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« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2013, 10:58:38 AM »
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Aside from that, the difference between 24 and 16MP really isn't that much.  When you consider that you have to quadruple the pixel count to double the resolution, a difference of 8MP isn't that much at all.
The importance of a 3:2 increase in pixel count (about 22% increase in linear resolution) will probably be debated for ever: it is the same ratio as the D800's 36MP vs many other cameras' 24MP, for example, and many people seem to think that this is a significant advantage for the D800.
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2013, 11:39:57 AM »
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This is fascinating: ever since "APS-C" DSLRs arrived, one of the persistent criticisms from those who prefer 35mm format has been the small "tunnel vision" VF image, and MF users make the same criticism of 35mm SLR viewfinders for the inferior size of their VF images --- and yet, when I mention this with respect to the "1.5x digital teleconverter" mode of the D800, the two replies I get suggest that a "0.5x equivalent" VF image is not much of a problem! It brings to mind some "family values" voters who are suddenly happy to vote for an adulterer/philanderer/serial bigamist when he represents their preferred party.
Ray, I agree that the "sports-finder" effect is sometimes quite nice. I often use the variant of loose framing, zooming a bit wider than my intended composition, to allow cropping latitude for problems like not getting the moving subject correctly positioned within the frame, and for some warning of objects about to enter the FOV. However, surely different photographers will put different relative weights on the image size disadvantage vs the "peripheral vision" advantage, so I do not see how you can categorically declare that one "offsets" the other as if the VF image size deficit is rendered irrelevant.

The viewfinder on an APS-C camera takes a bit of getting used to.  When I went to buy my first DSLR, a 10D, I returned it the next morning (B&H wasn't too happy with me) because I didn't like the viewfinder.  It was too small.  But later, when I was looking specifically for an APS-C camera with a reasonable pixel count and the narrower angle of view, I got used to it.  The interesting thing about the Nikons; however, is that you don't actually lose the extra room in the viewfinder.  What happens, when you switch to DX mode, is that you get a black lined box in the viewfinder that shows you the cropped area.  But the full viewfinder is still visible and you can see what's outside the cropped frame.  The area outside the DX crop is just as bright.  I can actually make a reasoned argument that this is helpful.  When I shoot sports with a cropped frame camera, because the viewfinder is so narrow, I got into the practice of keeping my left eye open and looking over the top of the camera with the left and through the viewfinder with the right.  It allows me to better follow the flow of play in a sport like hockey and I can anticipate better where the action is going to go and be more ready when something interesting is going to come into camera view.  A big, open ice hit, for example.  With the viewfinder on the Nikon cameras, I have that extra space that lets me continue to see what's outside the frame and it some of the same thing as shooting with both eyes open and working independently.

Yes, 36 vs 24 is the same ratio.  I don't personally, find it that big a jump.  I don't buy into that argument that some people make about the D800.  But 36 from 12 (the D700) is a significant step. 
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