Full frame lenses + APS-C sensors = What kind of issues?

Started Jun 2, 2012 | Discussions thread
Senior MemberPosts: 1,933
Re: Lens selection
In reply to Guidenet, Jul 12, 2012

I missed that you had replied.

Guidenet wrote:

Also, I'm really not sure why you grouped the zoom separately from the prime lens. Most or many prime lenses are the same or more than a zoom even in the same range.

As a practical matter, I need a focal length range including something wide, something normal, and something longish. I can accomplish that with three inexpensive primes on APS-C, or with one nice zoom on a FF, all at roughly the same price, weight, low-light, and DOF. I'd honestly like to know which will perform better for IQ.

This is assuming inexpensive primes. As far as I can tell, many inexpensive primes will give identical IQ to some of the nicer primes, although at 1-2 stops slower.

You compared the Canon 5D over time and yes it has gotten more expensive. You know darned well I'm not talking about the cost of a particular model. I'm talking about the cost of new models as they hit the market.

I used it because it's the cheapest Canon FF. I gave it as an example. Cheapest Nikons -- the D700 and the D800 -- were both introduced at MSRP of $3000. Older models do go down in price over product lifecycle -- maybe 30% -- but are then be discontinued. I haven't seen FF prices fall -- yet.

What do you think? Seriously. I trust your intentions far more than many of the fanbois I see here who only are thinking brand promotion.

Honestly, I have no idea, but I can speculate. I'm out on a pretty long limb here, but my best guesses:

  • There's a lot pointing to cheaper FF dSLRs

  • Sub-$1k will take a long while, because:

  • Full frame requires big sensors. Price of silicon per unit area had not fallen substantially in three decades. Electronics gets cheaper because we can fit more in the same area, but this doesn't apply to sensors.

  • The bulk of the cost of a dSLR is the sensor. At the very least, a FF sensor will be 4x more expensive than an APS sensor. Cheapest Nikon APS has an MSRP of $650. Cheapest Canon is $550. Cheapest Sony is $599. It's hard to work out math by which a dSLR will be close to $1000.

  • Full frame, last I checked (and this was a few years back) was a bit bigger than conventional lithography equipment could handle. As a result, manufacturing required an expensive, custom step, where you had to do this twice and do a superfine alignment. This made it much more expensive than APS. APS-H -- 1.3x crop factor -- was the maximum size you could do with a conventional process. This is solvable with special, custom lithography equipment -- but probably at a price of $250 million to $1 billion. I don't know whether anyone has made that investment

  • Regardless of progress otherwise

I could see someone making a low-quality FF sensor fairly inexpensive by using obsolete technology -- back-of-the-envelope, a super-cheap process would let you make a FF sensor pretty cheap. However, when I did back-of-the-envelope numbers on this a few years back, I found it wouldn't necessarily compete favorably in price/performance with a smaller, more modern sensor. I'm not sure this is true anymore -- the gap between older and newer sensors has closed in recent years. If you compare e.g. a bottom-of-the-barrel D3200 and a top-of-the-line D7000, it's no longer clear which camera has a better sensor. Snapsort actually places the D3200 sensor ahead.

Again, this is pure speculation -- don't read too much into it. I normally hate to post this stuff, but I figured I'd answer the direct question.

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