Full Frame or....

jbylake

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I've been an enthusiast since around 1975, when I began photography and had easy access to a fully equipped photo hobby shop in the military.

After a while I settled into shooting mostly black and white, but always carried two camera's, one loaded with color film.

Long story short, a few years ago I decided I no longer wanted to develop film at home, digitize negatives, etc., in a Condo, and I sold quite a few Nikon and Canon bodies, 15 or more lenses, and everything else that went with all of it.

Now, I miss photography more than ever. I would rate my skills as "advanced - enthusiast" if that makes any sense. I've borrowed a couple of DSLR's, but mostly use them in manual mode. I'm ready to take the leap and buy a DSLR, but can't decide on whether to buy something like a Nikon D5300, or pop out some extra cash and get a full frame D610.

I realize that the D610 and a few lenses is going to set me back a lot more money, but I'm wondering whether the quality of the photo's will be such that it's worth the extra money for the full frame camera. Both camera's will require a learning curve, but I think I can muddle my way through that.

So could you give my your thoughts, and reasons for your recommendations?

Thanks in advance for your time and help.

J.
 

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That's an interesting question. My feeling is this: I prefer the way the established lenses work when used on full-frame sensors. Nikon, and Canon, both have kind of lame APS-C lens sets. Their lenses are really designed for the larger capture format, 24x36mm. On an FX Nikon like a D3 or D600 or 610 or 700 or 750 or 800 or 810, the "standard" lenses developed over the last 60 years are perfectly suited to the roles they were designed for: the 20mm is quite wide, the 24mm is wide, the 28mm is the modest wide-angle; the 35mm is the semi-wide-angle; the 50mm is the normal, and the 85,105,and 135mm are the trio of short,moderate,and medium-length telephotos. The 24-70 is a wide-to-short telephoto zoom; the 70-200mm is USABLE in doors in actual living rooms, at 70mm. Same with the 85mm: indoors, on FX, an 85mm lens is actually USABLE in smaller rooms!!!! On APS-C, the same 85mm prime lens means backing up and shooting from the adjoining room.

The D610 is a bit bigger than a D3300 or D5300, but not by an extraordinary amount. To me, the 24/50/85mm trio of Nikon lenses means an FX body and a fanny pack is the whole kit needed for many a day.

We've come to the point that the smaller-sensor,modern Nikon cameras have very good image quality at 1,600 to 3,200...it's no longer a case where the APS-C cameras topped out at ISO 1,000 with solid quality, and the $5,000 D3s was what it took to get to a decent ISO 3,200...that was eight years ago, give or take. YES, the newest FX Nikons have better I.Q. than the newer APS-C models, but the gap, the gulf, is no longer what it was, and I think now that the usability is more the issue...

I just prefer the way the lenses work on the FX size sensor. If however I shot birds and wildlife, I think my preference would flip 180 degrees, and favor the APS-C size capture cameras!!!
 

Gary A.

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I don't shoot Nikon, so I can only speak in generalities.

For me, it sorta depends on what and how you shoot if there is a significant difference between FF and APS-C. I'm a former news photog and I still shoot about the same as when I was a shooting news. Mainly people, in uncontrolled environments, in existing light. I have FF (1D's), APS-C (Fuji) and MFT (Oly).

With what I shoot and how I shoot ... there isn't much significant difference between FF and APS-C. Sure FF helps on the wide end ... but APS-C helps on the long end ... it is all about focal lengths and FOV and using the appropriate lens for your needs, desires and vision. There's no magic in FF or any format/sensor size. Sure FF can deliver a razor thin DOF ... but do I need razor thin DOF ... not for what I shoot and how I shoot. MFT is super small and lightweight ... again, for what I shoot and how I shoot, super small isn't all that critical. I found APS-C to be a very good compromise between the small footprint of MFT and the IQ of FF. So my FF system and my MFT system are used for keeping loose paper from flying around the room when a breeze kicks in.

FF delivers the best low light performance, but I found little need to shoot above 3200 ISO and my 1D's 3200 ISO IQ isn't significantly better than my Fuji 3200 images.

For me, the differences between FF and APS-C are not sufficiently significant to warrant using a FF camera for what I shoot and how I shoot. Improving the Image Impact of my photos does more to up my keeper rate of successful images than a slight difference in IQ.
 

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Gary's current favored Fuji APS-C system was designed from the ground up as an APS-C system of cameras, and the needed lens focal lenghts. And that is the basic difference between Canon and Nikon APS-C cameras and the lenses those two companies make...for those two camera makers, their long roots in 24x36mm camera making have left them in the position of a bunch of older, Japanese camera and lens makers who've grown up with the old lengths....24,28,35,50,85,105,135,200,300...and have made all their "pro-grade" lenses so they are optimally designed to go with their 24x36 sensor cameras.

Fuji on the other hand, took the idea that their mirrorless cameras would be designed with the APS-C sensor as the basis for the entire system! Look at Fuji's gorgeous X-series lens line here in their official brochure on-line! http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/pdf/lenses_accessories_catalogue_01.pdf

Nikon has a whole slew of 18-xxx dog-slow consumer-grade lenses.... 18-55,18-105,18-135, 18-140. Nikon is interested in people who want FX lenses and FX cameras, and for their APS-C users, those folks are forced to sort of adapt....Fuji on the other hand, built around the APS-C sensor size with deliberate intent. Canon and Nikon? APS-C was basically an accident...when they got into d-slr making, that was about the only size of sensor that was affordable, and by affordable, I mean $5899 or thereabouts for a camera, then $3,000 for Canon's first, cheap d-slr, finally dipping to $999 after five or so years of APS-C d-slr making.
 
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jbylake

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Gary's current favored Fuji APS-C system was designed from the ground up as an APS-C system of cameras, and the needed lens focal lenghts. And that is the basic difference between Canon and Nikon APS-C cameras and the lenses those two companies make...for those two camera makers, their long roots in 24x36mm camera making have left them in the position of a bunch of older, Japanese camera and lens makers who've grown up with the old lengths....24,28,35,50,85,105,135,200,300...and have made all their "pro-grade" lenses so they are optimally designed to go with their 24x36 sensor cameras.

Fuji on the other hand, took the idea that their mirrorless cameras would be designed with the APS-C sensor as the basis for the entire system! Look at Fuji's gorgeous X-series lens line here in their official brochure on-line! http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/pdf/lenses_accessories_catalogue_01.pdf

Nikon has a whole slew of 18-xxx dog-slow consumer-grade lenses.... 18-55,18-105,18-135, 18-140. Nikon is interested in people who want FX lenses and FX cameras, and for their APS-C users, those folks are forced to sort of adapt....Fuji on the other hand, built around the APS-C sensor size with deliberate intent. Canon and Nikon? APS-C was basically an accident...when they got into d-slr making, that was about the only size of sensor that was affordable, and by affordable, I mean $5899 or thereabouts for a camera, then $3,000 for Canon's first, cheap d-slr, finally dipping to $999 after five or so years of APS-C d-slr making.

First thanks, to both of you. Here's another way of looking at my question. Suppose there was a hypothetical scale describing my skills and abilities on a scale of one to ten. O.K., several pro's get together and rate me a "5".
Now, skill level being the same and equal for both camera's, APS-C and full frame, which camera would give me the most bang for my buck? I do like shooting in low level light, but also a lot in full daylight. I can't nail myself down to a specific subject or type of things to photograph, so the camera would have to be versatile. I like all sorts of subject matter or objects to shoot, but my hunt is always for the "holy grail", meaning I might go out all day and only take two shots if I can find something that really jumps out to me as "mind blowing". Think Salvidor Dali (LoL) Then again, on other days I might shoot a hundred different things, from people, wildlife, landscape, lakes and streams or whatever happens to catch my eye as interesting at the time.
I am retired, and have no illusions of ever shooting at the professional level, but I'm leery about a DSLR. I think the D610 is an "entry level" camera for folks that have a lot of time with a film camera, or entry level DSLR. I'm concerned that if I buy a "high end" APS-C, that I might outgrow it quickly. Then again, a higher end APS-C may fit my needs for the rest of my days.

Maybe this will help with your recommendations.
Thanks again,
J.
 

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I'm sorry but you kind of lost me there in the paragraph about being leery about a d-slr, and about the D610 and it being an entry-level camera, and your fears/worries of outgrowng a high-end APS-C, and then wondering if a higher end APS-C might last you for the rest of your days. I've read and re-read that a few times, and tried to figure out your previously-mentioned most-bang-for-the-buck criteria and how that would relate to APS-C versus FX. I honestly am not sure what the question(s) involved here is.

Before I head off to bed though, I'll just say, I think the **specific** camera might be more important than the camera format, since the Nikon D5300 is for example APS-C, but so is the D 7200, and the D7200 is a higher-end camera. The earlier D600 FX camera was built directly on the Nikon D7000, the older 16-MP Nikon APS-C model; I assume the D610 is also built on the same basic chassis as the D600 was. So...in Nikon the D610 is quite similar to the D7100 or D7200 in many respects. If you had a Fuji X-series camera, then the camera and its lenses would all be of one kind, all designed as an integrated, full-system camera.

My gut feeling is that the D610 is plenty of camera for most people: 24 MP FX sensor with wide dynamic range, and a sweet spot of file size/resolution/cost. The D750 is a better 'machine', same sensor, nicer camera, still 24 megapixel files. The D7200 is also 24-MP, but APS-C size sensor. I see the D7100/D7200/D610 as being aimed at the same, basic skill level of user, same basic uses. OTOH....the low-end Nikon DX cameras are CHEAP, and you can buy a 3xxx model refurbished for next to nothing, use it, give it to a grandkid in a year, whatever; there **is** some value in buying lower-cost cameras and updating those at $399-$459 a pop, as time passes, without having sunk a lot of coin in to the camera body itself.

Right now, Canadian purchased Nikons are dirt-cheap, due to their 70 cent Looney vs the USA Dollar.

I think a trip to a store that has the cameras in-stock would maybe help a lot, to look through the viewfinders, handle the cams, see what you think. I prefer the bigger viewfinders in FX Cameras over the smaller image in DX cameras.
 

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Turned out to be a long post here :76: so forgive me if I’m repeating what others have written already, due to my lack of patience (not reading the entire thing).

I see you mentioned that you like shooting in Manual mode, so you will probably benefit most from a camera with good direct control, that doesn’t have key functions buried in menus. The Nikon D5300 isn’t one of those; I believe it only has one control dial, to change one exposure parameter in Manual mode, and if you want to change the other you have to press and hold the Exposure Compensation button, and then turn the control dial. And you don’t have instant access to changing the ISO. Higher-end cameras, such as the D7200 and D610, have two control dials, so they are a lot more usable in that regard.

In general, cameras nowadays perform a lot better in low light than film ever did. Even sensors that are considered relatively small today, often produce cleaner images than 35mm film. The difference that may make 35mm film favorable is in the nature of the grain/noise that is present: with film it’s grain, that in some situations can actually add to the aesthetic appeal of the image, while digital noise is rarely considered aesthetically appealing.

If you used to shoot in the same low light conditions you plan to shoot in now, and sort of remember the settings you had to use for a good exposure, that might help in determining how low you can go on the sensor-size spectrum before it becomes problematic. I will just assume that APS-C with fast zoom lenses, or Micro Four Thirds with primes, will probably be at least good enough.

There are two approaches to manual control, when there is ample direct physical control: “modern” and “traditional.”
The modern control scheme revolves around unlabeled dials and buttons. Their specific positions have no meaning, it’s all controlled by software. For example, in Manual mode, you can turn the two control dials endlessly, and the feedback you get for what you have selected is in the rear LCD, the viewfinder, and/or the top-mounted LCD (usually an old-school monochrome display), if present. This control scheme theoretically allows for great customization, and a lot of cameras do offer it; I know Olympus offers a great deal of customization, as pretty much every dial or button can be assigned to do any function you want, and you can even choose the direction it goes (do you want to turn the dial to the left to open up the aperture, or to the right?).
The traditional control scheme is based around labeled dials, like the old-school cameras where every button or dial did something mechanically. Fujifilm is probably the only one that really sticks to this approach in its ILCs, and Nikon has that (sort of) with the Df. Fuji’s lenses have aperture rings (the variable-aperture zooms have them, but they’re unlabeled), and the cameras have marked dials for shutter speed, exposure compensation, etc. The flagship X-T1 has the most, of course — it even has dials for ISO, metering modes and some other things. This lets you look down at the camera, see the dials’ positions, and immediately know what settings you have selected. The main downsides are that it limits the degree of customization you can have, and it doesn’t let you instantly change “modes” to quickly get other settings, like you can on the “modern” controls; a lot of cameras let you set a certain pile of settings to one “preset,” which you can enable at anytime and instantly get all those settings, but with the traditional controls, you just have to change them all manually.

With that in mind, I’ll split my recommendations to two: “modern” controls and “traditional” controls. You have to think about what’s best for you, what you’re most comfortable with, and maybe try them in a store / rent via a rental service to compare them.

Modern
I mentioned Olympus before. I do have a bias towards their cameras — after all, I chose one for my own use — but I think it’s warranted. The OM-D series is terrific, and as long as the sensor + lens combination gives you the performance you need, there’s really not much better you can do elsewhere. A common sore point of these cameras is video, which isn’t as good as the competing Panasonic (with the same lens mount) and Sony offerings.
The current mid-range camera in the series is the E-M10 Mark II. It offers great value-for-money, with the same sensor as the higher-end cameras. The next level up is the E-M5 Mark II which, at its current price of $849, I think is an absolute bargain. Add to that the $849 Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8, and you have a decent zoom-based kit for low light.
Other options include the Nikon D7200, Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 and Sony α6000. If you shoot a lot of fast moving subjects, especially in low light, the D7200 is by far the best option of this group, and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II may be an even better choice.

Traditional
It really comes down to Fuji here. The two cameras you should be looking at are the X-T10 and X-T1. If the X-T10 has all you really need, and it doesn’t feel uncomfortably small in your hands (it looks to me too small for people with large hands, especially when combined with the bigger Fuji lenses, but I’ve never seen it in the real world), then just save the money and get that instead of the bigger and more expensive X-T1.
 

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I'd look at a d7200 and build a few quality lenses around this camera. It does enough for most enthusiasts, sure you may need to go third party on lenses but it kind of does most things well
 

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D7200 is a great tool, it does so many things well and is not expensive considering what you are getting.
Lenses are very important to the overall package and way more expensive then the body if you want top of the line glass but there are ways around it getting cheaper glass and still get great results.

To me full frame is a tool that more then anything brings maximum flexibility to the table.
Its low light performance is better from APS-C, in mid level ISO 1000ISO-3200ISO it will give better and cleaner results and above 6400ISO it will have a definite better and cleaner files.
You can simply get overall better results with full frame over APS-C, if its worth the extra cash is a personal matter because as others have said modern APS-C especially a camera like the Nikon D7200 are very good powerful tools.
Everytime I play with an APS-C camera I find myself going back to full frame, the imporovement is noticable to me!
 

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Here is the thread I started 5 months ago regarding going full frame: How to get to full frame without breaking the bank | Photography Forum

After much good advice and soul searching, I opted to forego full frame in favor of the gear shown in my signature. I still like the full frame concept- it wasn't the cost of the camera that intimidated me as much as the price/weight of the lenses. My life just has too many moving parts for that kind of commitment. :D

Based on your situation, history and abilities, the full frame camera makes more sense if within your budget. Of course, you could always get the D5300 to get your 'feet wet', then later get a D610 (or then-current equivalent) and keep the crop for back-up and/or wildlife or whatnot. If so, you might consider buying lenses that work for either camera from the get-go, and the crop-sensor lenses give away a lot of image when used on a FF camera.
 

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Gary's current favored Fuji APS-C system was designed from the ground up as an APS-C system of cameras, and the needed lens focal lenghts. And that is the basic difference between Canon and Nikon APS-C cameras and the lenses those two companies make...for those two camera makers, their long roots in 24x36mm camera making have left them in the position of a bunch of older, Japanese camera and lens makers who've grown up with the old lengths....24,28,35,50,85,105,135,200,300...and have made all their "pro-grade" lenses so they are optimally designed to go with their 24x36 sensor cameras.

Fuji on the other hand, took the idea that their mirrorless cameras would be designed with the APS-C sensor as the basis for the entire system! Look at Fuji's gorgeous X-series lens line here in their official brochure on-line! http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/pdf/lenses_accessories_catalogue_01.pdf

Nikon has a whole slew of 18-xxx dog-slow consumer-grade lenses.... 18-55,18-105,18-135, 18-140. Nikon is interested in people who want FX lenses and FX cameras, and for their APS-C users, those folks are forced to sort of adapt....Fuji on the other hand, built around the APS-C sensor size with deliberate intent. Canon and Nikon? APS-C was basically an accident...when they got into d-slr making, that was about the only size of sensor that was affordable, and by affordable, I mean $5899 or thereabouts for a camera, then $3,000 for Canon's first, cheap d-slr, finally dipping to $999 after five or so years of APS-C d-slr making.

First thanks, to both of you. Here's another way of looking at my question. Suppose there was a hypothetical scale describing my skills and abilities on a scale of one to ten. O.K., several pro's get together and rate me a "5".
Now, skill level being the same and equal for both camera's, APS-C and full frame, which camera would give me the most bang for my buck? I do like shooting in low level light, but also a lot in full daylight. I can't nail myself down to a specific subject or type of things to photograph, so the camera would have to be versatile. I like all sorts of subject matter or objects to shoot, but my hunt is always for the "holy grail", meaning I might go out all day and only take two shots if I can find something that really jumps out to me as "mind blowing". Think Salvidor Dali (LoL) Then again, on other days I might shoot a hundred different things, from people, wildlife, landscape, lakes and streams or whatever happens to catch my eye as interesting at the time.
I am retired, and have no illusions of ever shooting at the professional level, but I'm leery about a DSLR. I think the D610 is an "entry level" camera for folks that have a lot of time with a film camera, or entry level DSLR. I'm concerned that if I buy a "high end" APS-C, that I might outgrow it quickly. Then again, a higher end APS-C may fit my needs for the rest of my days.

Maybe this will help with your recommendations.
Thanks again,
J.
Jake I was a pro in a very camera demanding genre. You will not outgrow a high end APS-C. When I purchased my first FF camera, a 5D, in use the only difference between the 5D and the 20D, was lens selection, for similar shots I had to go wider on the APS-C 20D and longer on the FF 5D. This was roughly eight years ago. Back then there was a significant difference between the APSC-C sensor and FF sensor. But now the differences, at least for me, are insignificant (and I shoot tons of low light).

If you are a '5', you will never outgrow a high end APS-C. (I am not belittling your skill level.) On the entire forum, I think only a mere handful truly can capitalize on the slight advantages in IQ and photo capture that a pro level FF has over a high end APS-C. You are not speaking of pro level cameras. Modern digital cameras are so good that you will not be able to differentiate an 8x10 from a low end APS-C or a flagship FF. (The exception being extreme low light, ISO 120,000 type of low light.) For me, the three primary reason for a high end camera is build-quality, my 1D's would out-tank a tank and capture performance. My 1D's could shoot fast and accurately making it easier to get 'The Shot' with greater consistency. For most of us, there is little difference between running a four minute mile or running a four minute 20 second mile ... for the Olympic runner that difference is significant. Very few of us are Olympic runners. The third reason is bragging rights, most of us would rather have a Mercedes in the drive than a Ford, even though the Ford will last as long, gets the same mileage, gets us to our destination in the same time and hauls the same number of people around ... the Mercedes does feel better.

Trust me, you will never outgrow a high-end APS-C camera.

Composition, time behind the viewfinder, self-critiquing, expanding and discovering new subjects ... in essence building skill and experience will do much much more to improve your photography than a slight difference between a APS-C camera and a FF camera.
 
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Without writing much, here's a Nikon body overview that I'd agree with 90%:
He goes over both newer and older, APS-C and Full Frame Nikons. I slightly disagree with his D7200 assessment but ok..

And here's a good aps-c vs fullframe video:

Ignore that he's talking about Fuji, this could be any brand.

So.. which body would I get?
Probably a used D7200 if I couldn't afford new, OR D750 if I could afford new, but LENSES ARE MORE IMPORTANT.

Huge amount of #truestory among these two vids.
 

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What I'm saying is that for most hobbyists ... there isn't a need to go full frame. I suggest you purchase the best APS-C camera you can afford. There is nothing wrong with refurbished. Your dollar will go further and the lenses are less expensive. ... But lenses are a different matter.
 
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jbylake

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Thanks to all of you. Darrel, sorry about the confusion, I was up waaaaaayyy past my bedtime.:1251: There's a lot of information to digest. I'm not buying until January, so I still have a few weeks to think this through. I am aware of the costs associated the more expensive FF bodies, and I know what good glass costs. (scary). I am leaning towards a FF. Cost is a consideration, but not the only one. I don't want to buy an APS-C, and all the gear I know I'll want, then have the cost of "upgrading" to a FF camera, if I feel the need too. You all make extremely informative and well though out points, and I have a lot to think about. Actually you each make such good points, that my head is spinning with options to consider! Damn, now I'll worry myself sick until the day comes when it's time to pull the trigger.

Thanks to all,
J.
 

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What if you get all FF gear and end up wanting medium format? :p
 

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