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Why I don't care about full frame any more.

Discussion in 'Sony E-Mount (incl. NEX, A7, A7R, A3000) Forum' started by JJJPhoto, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. JJJPhoto

    JJJPhoto SC Regular

    71
    Jun 12, 2012
    Although there are brief moments that I long for a full frame Canon or Pentax (mainly just to use my best Canon and Pentax primes as originally intended), I'm actually pretty happy using good APS-C sensors.

    Why? Because after a couple of months of shooting cameras with both Sony full frame and Sony APS-C sensors I found that in both online galleries and in prints up to 24 x 36 inches (the largest I ever print) I absolutely CANNOT see the difference in images shot with a full-frame sensor and an APS-C sensor.

    I shot this with a Sony A99 at ISO 1600:
    DSC00062-XL.

    I shot this with the Sony NEX-6 at ISO 1600:
    [​IMG]

    Both these images look fantastic as 24 x 36 prints and the A99 print actually looks "a little grainier" because of the way I lit the subject compared to the way I lit the model in the NEX-6 image.

    Even at ISO 6400 (the highest I ever go) I cannot see obvious differences between the full frame and APS-C images in web galleries or in prints. Sure, If I "pixel peep" at extreme magnification on my 27-inch monitor I can see some (mostly SUBTLE) differences in my real life shots (I don't shoot test charts), but why does pixel peeping matter since no one (except for us crazies in photography forums) ever look at images in that way?

    At least for now, APS-C technology is holding its own quite well against full frame ... and even with the prices coming down on full-frame cameras the APS-C cameras are MUCH less expensive.
     
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  2. ean10775

    ean10775 SC Regular

    159
    Feb 25, 2013
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Eric
    Both great photos! I'd love to see the same photo though, shot with both cameras. As I'm considering ditching full frame I intend on doing something similar (comparing my 5DII and X-E1) though I won't have the gorgeous models as subjects.
     
  3. Gary

    Gary SC All-Pro

    Aug 19, 2012
    Southern California
    Gary Ayala
    My FF's are collecting dust, replaced by my OM-D's and X-Pro. I'm keeping them for sports/action stuff and that's about it. I've been slowly handing them down with some lenses to my kids.

    G
     
  4. JJJPhoto

    JJJPhoto SC Regular

    71
    Jun 12, 2012
    Even though I had both the A99 and NEX-6 on hand during that shoot I didn't think to do a true side-by-side comparison taking the exact same shots with both cameras. Again, I rarely think that way in terms of tests. I was just using both cameras to see how the "SLR vs mirrorless" and "full frame vs APS-C" would handle the way I shoot that day ... but a strict side-by-side test didn't enter my brain at the time that I had both cameras.

    The closest thing to a fair "direct comparison" I can post beside the shots above is this shot (similar in composition to the NEX-6 shot above) taken with the A99, although this was taken with available light at ISO 6400 and has more grain.

    DSC00044-XL.
     
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  5. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    The A99 still uses an SLT, though. There's a membrane in the way, where there isn't with the NEX.

    At any rate, I still love my FF for other reasons, but the mirrorless have come a loooong way!
     
  6. TraamisVOS

    TraamisVOS SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 29, 2010
    Melboune, Australia
    The thing I don't quite understand yet is why some people feel they need a medium format digital Hasselblad to take the kinds of photos that a regular full frame digital camera could do just as well. I can sort of understand if they're wanting to take huge lush landscapes where I'd imagine the medium format has an advantage, but for regular things like food photography or regular commercial product photography, a full frame could do just as good a job wouldn't it? The average magazine reader wouldn't be able to tell the difference (or care) what photo was taken with a medium format or full frame in any given page in a magazine.
     
  7. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    James, that's the same argument for every step up in sensor size. Why use full frame....APS-C is just as good? Who needs APS-C....m43 is just as good? Who needs m43, those 1" sensors are just as good? Carried to the extreme, we'd all be shooting with cel phones.
     
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  8. TraamisVOS

    TraamisVOS SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 29, 2010
    Melboune, Australia
    I would argue that a comparison between an APS-C sensor and a MF sensor size would have more discernible differences.

    On the other end of the scale, the smaller the sensor, the less choices in depth of field creativity you have.
     
  9. JJJPhoto

    JJJPhoto SC Regular

    71
    Jun 12, 2012
    Please don't think I'm trashing FF ... again, I've used FF DSLRs off and on over the last 7 years and at the time I'm using them I've never been "unhappy" with using any of the FF cameras I've shot with (other than the weight of those cameras). I'm just saying that for what I do (both my personal work and my paid assignments for publication) the current state of full frame vs APS-C technology (and to a lesser extent micro 4/3 sensors like the Sony sensor in the Olympus OM-D) is largely a level playing field when you're talking about the practical application of your photos (online viewing, in print for newspapers or magazines, or for large prints).

    And I imagine my personal experiences in this matter would mirror a large portion (though NOT all) of serious amateur and professional shooters.

    I would likely be more inclined to shoot exclusively FF or medium format digital if I was shooting "nth degree" high fashion for major ad campaigns with celebrities or if I was shooting those decorative landscapes that essentially become wallpaper in some buildings. Fifth Third Bank has an office in Cincinnati where a massive wall is literally covered from top to bottom with a landscape photo of the Cincinnati skyline; in that case you've got a HUGE print that is being viewed at a VERY close viewing distance (people can walk right up to it) so larger sensors will have an advantage there.
     
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  10. ean10775

    ean10775 SC Regular

    159
    Feb 25, 2013
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Eric
    This is always the defining element. No one can argue that one is better or another is not good enough because everyone has his/her own needs and own idea of what is 'enough' in terms of the various aspects of sensor size. For a long time I thought that full frame was what I needed for what I like to shoot - now with the high ISO advancements in smaller sensors, and more compact fast-aperture lenses (like the Fuji 35mm f1.4) I'm not so sure.
     
  11. Hikari

    Hikari SC Veteran

    292
    Jan 5, 2013
    Maine, USA
    But I care. I don't think audiences really care about the gear, but I care about my process. Sure I could get by with "less," but art is not about economics. Photography is just as much about pleasing me as it is about pleasing my audience. Perhaps folks would like my work equally well if I worked in a smaller format, but they do recognizes I don't take pictures like they do. How much is that to do with the benefits of medium-format? BTW, there is a real difference between a 24MP FF sensor and a 22MP P25+ back--I have shot both. I also shoot with 40MP MFD and 37MP FF, I see a difference there as well. Image quality is not just a matter of how many pixels you have and whether you can see the same detail, but it is how the image is rendered.
     
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  12. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    I've had the opportunity to shoot with a Pentax 645D and indeed it renders unlike anything else I've tried. It all depends on what you're looking for.
     
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  13. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    APS is the sweet spot, but if you need or want it FF will provide less DoF at any given aperture. Of course, if you need more DoF at any give aperture a smaller sensor may be the better choice too.
     
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  14. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. SC All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    New Mexico
    Larry
    I think some of the bias is left over from film days, where the difference between a 35mm shot and a 2 1/4 shot were substantial in terms of resolution and tonal scale. In those days my main interest was with black and white, and a lot of my work was on medium and large format. Yet some of my favorite people pictures were shot with my OM1 35mm. One was not "better" than the other; each had its use. Today, though I still enjoy shooting film, my E-M5 beats 35mm film in pure resolution and rivals the Hasselblad film shots. So, size for size, sensors have reached a point where they pack more punch than their film counterparts, though they have a different character, so shooting film is not a fool's exercise.

    In the old days most ad shots were done on 4x5 and bigger. I processed a lot of 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10 transparencies for advertising agencies. I suspect that these days a lot of that same work is done on medium format digital -- a fact that put lab workers like me out of business, thank you very much. (Kidding, though I never expected digital to get so good so fast and thought I might retire from traditional photo processing)

    My two cents, for what it's worth.
     
  15. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    But look at what he specifically said:

    Shoot a cell phone at ISO 6400, and web galleries and prints up to 30" will show a difference.

    It's kind of the same as asking whether you see a difference between ISO 3200 on full frame and ISO 6400 on full frame. Is there a detectable difference? Yes. Does it matter? Not to me.

    The only appeal full frame has for me is the ability to go more shallow DOF than APS-C can do with fast lenses, and that's not something I often want to do.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  16. NJH

    NJH New to SC

    6
    Aug 12, 2012
    South West England
    Honestly one of the attractions of full frame DSLRs is the big bright viewfinder.
     
  17. pictor

    pictor SC All-Pro

    Jul 14, 2010
    From time to time I am tempted by full frame cameras. Until yesterday I dreamed about buying a Canon 6D. Yesterday I went to the camera store, held a Canon 6D with a Canon EF 4/24-105mm in my hands, and was cured. It's just too big and too heavy. Then I turned around and tried an Olympus OM-D E-M5 with a Panasonic 1.4/25mm on it. That's a fantastic combination, I just have to remove my nose, which unfortunately is at the wrong place when I look with my left eye through the viewfinder as I am used to.

    What I wanted to say, is how much I enjoyed your post, JJJPhoto, your pictures are great and I like your argumentation very much.
     
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  18. pictor

    pictor SC All-Pro

    Jul 14, 2010
    I love remarks like this, since answering them is so funny! This is one of the major arguments of those who think that full frame DSLRs are superior to everything else and that everything else is crap (I am exaggerating a little bit). This argument is not half as good as it seems to most. The viewfinders of the Panasonic G series and AFAIK the one of Sony's NEX-7 are both equally large as those of many modern full frame DSLRs. Secondly, all modern viewfinders are rather small compared to the viewfinders of earlier days. This is the moment in which I love to post the following link: A comparison of viewfinder sizes.
     
  19. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    • Like Like x 3
  20. nianys

    nianys SC Regular

    176
    Sep 10, 2012
    Geez, the model is so drop dead gorgeous I can't concentrate on the IQ !! (AND I'm a woman, phew...)
     
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