Why smaller sensors beat full-frame sensors for wildlife photography

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by freixas, Jun 11, 2019.

  1. coastalconn

    coastalconn Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    That is exactly where I ended up. D850 and D500. I'm still in the honeymoon period with the D850 and only around 7k clicks. But from what I can tell, the D850 does hold up better in IQ. The AF still is slightly better on the D500. In good light and fairly low ISO you can not tell a difference between the 2 cameras when you shoot the same subject at the same distance with the same lens and crop both to the same size. The D850 shines though when you would overstuff a DX viewfinder though.


     
  2. freixas

    freixas TPF Noob!

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    The two cameras have almost identical pixel pitches. The D850's pixels are about 1.03x the size of the D850's. Viewed at 1:1, the same object (shot with the same lens, etc.) should appear about the same size. If the D850's images look better, I would point to a difference in the electronics (which includes the sensor design). The D500 was released in 2016, the D850 a year and a half later. Both are listed as "pro"
    cameras. Perhaps someone with more Nikon experience could provide more detail on the potential electronic differences in the two cameras.

    Because the pixel pitch is so close, there is no point seeing if the smaller pixels yield a superior image when down-sampled.

    How about a Nikon D850 vs a Nikon D5 (close to a 1.5x difference)?
     
  3. coastalconn

    coastalconn Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The answer is simple. The D850 is a BSI sensor. However on paper if you view Bill Claff's photons to photos, the D500 has a greater PDF than the D850 or D5 in crop mode.

    However I was referring to the title of this thread. I was a die-hard DX shooter however the D850 changed that because I loose 1 FPS and the AF drives my 500/4 and 300/2.8 slightly slower with a slightly lower hit rate, the IQ is better when you have to lift shadows and in general with PP. I always felt the D500 could get a little "crunchy" at times with IQ.

    And if your curious what Nikons I have shot with the list is very long starting with a D40 up to a D4 with all D8xx models also. I think my flickr page is still in the link and I tag all images with camera and lens, fyi...
     
  4. freixas

    freixas TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the insight.

    The title could use some work. :) A more appropriate title might be "Why smaller pixels beat larger pixels for wildlife photography--all other things being equal and for smaller pixels that aren't too small".

    The D850's pixels aren't really all that big. The thing I learned from the article at ClarkVision (link is now at the top of my OP) is that, if you want bigger pixels, you might be able to do that in post. By choosing smaller pixels, you can opt for either more resolution or less noise. Photon noise is unavoidable--it increases as pixel size decreases. The S/N ratio for the electronics, though, is being raised every year.

    Someone like Roger Clark could probably calculate (or maybe has already calculated) the theoretical minimum pixel size (assuming downstream noise is 0) as a function of maximal acceptable noise and available light.
     
  5. Original katomi

    Original katomi No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The tech speak went over my head about five pages ago. I decided that if when I ever change from canon 600d then it would have to be to med format as I have pushed my kit to the limit.. and it’s pushed back
     
  6. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    Pixel pitch. Noise. S/N ratio. Crop factor.

    Pffft... just grab a camera and go shoot something.
     
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  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    One thing to keep in mind is that from both Canon and Nikon,The full frame cameras offer in-camera size reduction.
     
  8. Original katomi

    Original katomi No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Now that I do understand
     
  9. Original katomi

    Original katomi No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have enough trouble getting all that I want in the frame
    Ok joking aside my current trend for panaramas means that I am taking 20 shots to male 1 photo
    I have looked at FF and the advantage for me is minimal I would have to move to Med format
    So big pixels small pixels... I work with what I have
     
  10. freixas

    freixas TPF Noob!

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    Then I would have to say that this thread is not for you. :)

    Seriously, this topic was intended for people who don't use all of whatever sensor size they have. I just went out doing some bird photography at a local wetland and there might be one or two photos that I don't crop (and that's shooting with an APS-C camera and a 400mm lens with a 1.4x extender).
     
  11. freixas

    freixas TPF Noob!

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    No one is forcing you to pay attention to any of these things. Do you feel some need to put down those who do?
     
  12. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    Sorry you feel 'put down'. Perhaps if you concentrated on taking photos instead of sweating bullets over such minutiæ....
     
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