APS-C vs. FF vs. lenses

MolitorPhotography

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I find the whole Crop vs. Full argument a bit superficial and somewhat humorous that it is so widely and hotly debated. Is full frame better than APS-C.... yes, but really for 2 reasons only
1) Better dynamic range. There is no argument, you will have greater ability to recover shadow and highlight with a full frame sensor simply because they are generally better sensors and you pay for that.
2) Larger field of view. This will allow you more versatility in when you can use a lens with a longer focal length, especially indoors.
Other than that there is no other real benefit to a full frame sensor other than that they usually come on a body that may have more perks. And for the people who say that APS-C gives you more reach, thats hogwash. The image received by an APS-c sensor is CROPPED! you essentially have the same image you would have had if you took it with a full frame camera and cropped it down a bit... there is no extra reach, that is an illusion.
Now it may sound like I am beating up on cropped sensors, let me assure you, I am not. I shoot on a Nikon D7100 which uses an APS-c sensor. My purpose of this post is not to tout one over the other, but to assert why full frame vs crop is a straw horse. There is a very good video out there by DigitalRev TV that compares a pro, full frame body with a kit lens and an entry level DSLR with a nice bit of glass. When you look at it this way, you realize how much your lens choice really matters... much more so than your sensor choice.
When I "upgraded" to my D7100 I asked myself, "do I have the glass to take advantage of the better sensor?" The answer was, no. I knew that before I spent 3 grand on a full frame sensor, I better have 3 Grand worth of quality glass to use on it. In the mean time, with every lens purchase, the technical quality of my photos will increase. No new camera or lens will give me better balance, composition or forethought and that should always be the first tool in your bag.
I am still very wet behind the ears in the photography world and this forum so feel free to knock me down a peg or two if you disagree, but I thought this had to be said for all those newcomers to the hobby and profession that think that the only way they can be taken seriously it with a full frame camera.
 

fjrabon

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Other than that there is no other real benefit to a full frame sensor other than that they usually come on a body that may have more perks. And for the people who say that APS-C gives you more reach, thats hogwash. The image received by an APS-c sensor is CROPPED! you essentially have the same image you would have had if you took it with a full frame camera and cropped it down a bit... there is no extra reach, that is an illusion.
Sure, a crop frame is cropped, but they also typically have greater resolution than a full frame does, and thus can hold the crop better, which makes sense, since crop frames are designed for the crop. Full frames aren't designed to be cropped, and thus can start to lose their advantage if they are cropped. The D800, for example, is a MP giant, but even it has less pixel density than a D7200. the D800 in crop mode isn't as good as a D7200, but it's okay, it's not supposed to be. And the difference only grows as you descend down Nikon's FF line. That's not a knock against full frames, they aren't designed for a 1.5 crop, they're designed to be used to their full potential.

The increased reach of a crop frame is partly real, partly illusion. It's illusion because obviously it's just a crop, but it's real, to the extent that the increased pixel density makes the crop hold up better without losing resolution.
 

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...... The image received by an APS-c sensor is CROPPED! .........

No they're not. My D7100 is spec'd for 6000x4000 pixels, and I get 6000x4000-pixel images out of it. So they're not cropped one single pixel. Only if I call up the 1.3x crop, or crop in post, do I get cropped images. Otherwise, I get 24mp images.
 
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MolitorPhotography

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well, the D800 is 36mp and the D7200 is 24, so even cropped down you are getting larger pixels at about 24mp density; however the point of my post was to assert that the sensor is a moot point when the lens doesnt match
 

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Sure, a crop frame is cropped, but they also typically have greater resolution than a full frame does, and thus can hold the crop better, which makes sense, since crop frames are designed for the crop. Full frames aren't designed to be cropped, and thus can start to lose their advantage if they are cropped. The D800, for example, is a MP giant, but even it has less pixel density than a D7200. the D800 in crop mode isn't as good as a D7200, but it's okay, it's not supposed to be. And the difference only grows as you descend down Nikon's FF line. That's not a knock against full frames, they aren't designed for a 1.5 crop, they're designed to be used to their full potential.

The increased reach of a crop frame is partly real, partly illusion. It's illusion because obviously it's just a crop, but it's real, to the extent that the increased pixel density makes the crop hold up better without losing resolution.

well, the D800 is 36mp and the D7200 is 24, so even cropped down you are getting larger pixels at about 24mp density; however the point of my post was to assert that the sensor is a moot point when the lens doesnt match
ah, true, I was thinking about the D750, my mistake. The point though generally holds for every camera that isn't a D800, which is obviously an outlier in a number of cases. The D600, for example, when cropped has roughly the resolution of a D3100, which is the 2 generations ago Nikon entry level crop frame.
 
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MolitorPhotography

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wow... were really missing the point here.... I guess I can see why this argument is so perpetual.
on a side note, more smaller pixels is not inherently superior to fewer larger pixels, but as I said, I am not touting one over the other, I shoot APS-C but FF is a higher quality sensor in every usable aspect. The point of my post was to dissuade people from using the sensor size to measure they're photographic ability, and offer lenses as a more suitable upgrade option for those looking at upgrading to full frame cameras while asserting that no piece of equipment will improve your photographic eye.
 

jaomul

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I have nice shots from a 10d 6mp camera, some as nice or nicer than from some from my d7100. However if in lower light or a higher dynamic range scene the d7100 does better. My 5d took nice photos as well.

If you are driving in a 10mph zone a fiat panda will do as good as a ferrari. When you need to push these cars then there will be a difference. Different models do certain jobs better, but they can all do the job. Same as cameras
 

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It's more about the the way a lens works with a larger sensors that allows for better DOF control.
 

fjrabon

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well, the D800 is 36mp and the D7200 is 24, so even cropped down you are getting larger pixels at about 24mp density; however the point of my post was to assert that the sensor is a moot point when the lens doesnt match
Sensor and lens are just two tools. I think it's folly to say one or the other is more important, it totally depends on what you're comparing it to and what you're trying to do. If you're doing studio work, for example, camera body may actually be more important than lens. If you're doing outdoor portraits, glass is probably much more important. Sensors though tend to get outdated a lot faster than glass, which I think that's the reason why glass is probably more important. Top level glass often remains top level glass for a decade or more. Top level bodies get surpassed every couple of years.

The nikon full frame kit lens is a really incredible lens. It's just not super fast, is plastic and it has variable aperture. But sharpness wise it will hold it's own against most anything. Color is great too. That kit lens on the D800 in a studio with studio lights and at f/8 for editorial work where high res is demanded is going to completely outshoot a D600 with a 24-70 f/2.8.

I guess my point is that they're all just pieces to the puzzle, and what is the best upgrade option totally depends on your needs. I completely agree that a lot of times the full frame obsession is a bit over the top here. Like I've mentioned a few times, Zack Arias has shot ad campaigns for range rover in the last year on an APS-C camera.
 
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Did you get a chance to watch the video I linked to? Interested if it sways your opinion at all.
 

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fjrabon said:
[That kit lens on the D800 in a studio with studio lights and at f/8 for editorial work where high res is demanded is going to completely outshoot a D600 with a 24-70 f/2.8.

Just a point of reference for the 24-70/2.8 AF-S Nikkor zoom...on the high-resolution D800, it's like lens #495 in terms of performance at DxO Mark, while the 25+ year old 50mm 1.4 AF-D is like #192, and the 50/1.8 AF-S G is around three or four spots lower...I saw this data last night when looking at a Phase One with the Schneider 80mm f/2.8 LS (leaf shutter, $2,990 at B&H today) lens. In other words, the 24-70/2.8 has nowhere near the best optics Nikon makes. The new 18-35 AF-S G wide zoom for example--remarkably better, optically, in fact one of Nikon's best W-A zooms.

Besides...at f/8 with modern high MP sensors, there's ample diffraction, but the need for the f/8 aperture to get good depth of field is actually the overriding "need", not absolute definition or acutance or so-called "sharpness" really, but plain ole' DOF.

It's amusing:a few years ago, Zack Arias wrote an impassioned, zealous article about the need to have a medium format digitial to separate his work from that of the pack (post-purchase public justification perhaps?)...but for a PRINT ad in a magazine, the halftone screen renders almost any camera close to any other camera,and so now he's talked about using the small Fuji for a Range Rover account...

Years ago, when Sports Illustrated was running double page spreads shot with 2.7MP Nikons and 4.1 MP Canon digital using high-end optics (300,400 2.8 for example), it was impossible to separate the digital from the film shots...the halftone screen DPI is so coarse that a high-resolution image is flushed down the toilet, and is replaced with what is actually a VERY low-resolution image made of of not all that many little dots...
 
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fjrabon

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Did you get a chance to watch the video I linked to? Interested if it sways your opinion at all.
yeah, I watched it though I didn't really see the point of comparing two lenses to a do a single do it all lens. That Sigma 28-300 or whatever is worse than any kit lens you'll find attached to any modern dslr. It's analogizing a 550d (which is actually not a bad camera at all) to that lens (which is a piece of junk), which I think is weird. That lens is probably more comparable to the original rebel. It was kind of a jury rigged video/comparison to produce the outcome they wanted, IMHO.
 

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fjrabon said:
[That kit lens on the D800 in a studio with studio lights and at f/8 for editorial work where high res is demanded is going to completely outshoot a D600 with a 24-70 f/2.8.

Just a point of reference for the 24-70/2.8 AF-S Nikkor zoom...on the high-resolution D800, it's like lens #495 in terms of performance at DxO Mark, while the 25+ year old 50mm 1.4 AF-D is like #192, and the 50/1.8 AF-S G is around three or four spots lower...I saw this data last night when looking at a Phase One with the Schneider 80mm f/2.8 LS (leaf shutter, $2,990 at B&H today) lens. In other words, the 24-70/2.8 has nowhere near the best optics Nikon makes. The new 18-35 AF-S G wide zoom for example--remarkably better, optically, in fact one of Nikon's best W-A zooms.

Besides...at f/8 with modern high MP sensors, there's ample diffraction, but the need for the f/8 aperture to get good depth of field is actually the overriding "need", not absolute definition or acutance or so-called "sharpness" really, but plain ole' DOF.

It's amusing: Zack Arias wrote an impassioned, zealous articvle about the need to have a medium format digitial to separate his work from that of the pack...but for a PRINT ad in a magazine, the halftone screen renders almost any camera close to any other camera...when Sports Illustrated was running double page spreads shot with 2.7MP Nikons and 4.1 MOP Canon digital, it was impossible to separate the digital from the film shots...the halftone screen DPI is so coarse that a high-resolution image is flushed down the toilet, and is replaced with what is actually a VERY low-resolution image made of of not all that many little dots...
yeah, I think it's really lighting equipment that often gets the short shrift on TPF, but that's opening up a whole different can of worms. If you're working in a studio, $3000 added to what you're spending on lighting is going to make a much bigger difference than $3000 added to your camera or lens budget.
 

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Having been involved with the previously mentioned formats and the micro format of cell phones and other activity type cams, the argument itself is only important to those who are not aware of the aspects between crop and FF.

Having dealt with Medium and Large format I can attest that the real difference is and always has been sheer size.

Effective Mp count and the like mean nearly nothing if the actual size of the image capture area is of a particular size.

I have seen gorgeous photos from 1.5 and 3 Mp cameras (the old Nikon DCS) up to and including Hasselblad 50Mp+ 645 images.

The real issue is total and absolute resolution CAPABILITY.

The crop argument is an old one and the early days of APS sensors there were issues because the lenses were in fact really re-bayoneted FF lenses. Once the APS lenses became the norm for the crop sensors, then the whole argument became almost academic.

What many here may not be aware of however is that if you slap on a monster Med. Format lens onto any of the small format cameras, the game changes even more. Remember that the AMOUNT of light, not just other aspects of light counts. A wider piece of glass plays a huge role. Sorta like upping the gain on a sound system. (I know bad analogy but it fits.)

There are so many other aspects that few explore in this aspect, but alas I know that the argument remains with OEM factory and body specific lenses.

Id say if you have a chance, try it some time.
 

fjrabon

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Having been involved with the previously mentioned formats and the micro format of cell phones and other activity type cams, the argument itself is only important to those who are not aware of the aspects between crop and FF.

Having dealt with Medium and Large format I can attest that the real difference is and always has been sheer size.

Effective Mp count and the like mean nearly nothing if the actual size of the image capture area is of a particular size.

I have seen gorgeous photos from 1.5 and 3 Mp cameras (the old Nikon DCS) up to and including Hasselblad 50Mp+ 645 images.

The real issue is total and absolute resolution CAPABILITY.

The crop argument is an old one and the early days of APS sensors there were issues because the lenses were in fact really re-bayoneted FF lenses. Once the APS lenses became the norm for the crop sensors, then the whole argument became almost academic.

What many here may not be aware of however is that if you slap on a monster Med. Format lens onto any of the small format cameras, the game changes even more. Remember that the AMOUNT of light, not just other aspects of light counts. A wider piece of glass plays a huge role. Sorta like upping the gain on a sound system. (I know bad analogy but it fits.)

There are so many other aspects that few explore in this aspect, but alas I know that the argument remains with OEM factory and body specific lenses.

Id say if you have a chance, try it some time.
How does a medium format lens being put on apsc change anything? Doesn't matter how much "light is being let in" all that matters is how much light hits the sensor, which is only a function of shutter speed and aperture. That's like saying that if you're pouring one hose into a bucket and comparing to a different bucket with one hose in and one hose on the ground, that the second bucket will fill up faster because two hoses are going. It only matters if both are going in the bucket.
 
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