FF vs DX

Started Jan 12, 2013 | Discussions thread
yray
Contributing MemberPosts: 899
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Re: FF vs DX
In reply to kpaschall, Jan 12, 2013

kpaschall wrote:

I'm sure either direction will be fine but i'm struggling over which platform to move to. I've got a D90 with the kit lens that i'm going to pass down to my son and leaning toward getting a full frame. The size and price of D600 appeals to me but could always go with a used body. But i'm at a point where I want to get some good lenses so i'm not clear if FF is a better fit than DX for me. Camera will be used for the broad range of family pictures, travel, but also a lot of kids sports, both indoors (basketball) and outdoor football and baseball. I may rent the 70-200 2.8 lens for catching some of the indoor sports initially and get a couple good primes to start.

Video isn't a primary concern as I use my Canon HF G10 for sports video.

Can anyone who has experience with both give me the high points on FF vs DX and a D600 vs. a new D7000 for example based on my needs?

Thanks.

From my perspective, there are really two aspects to your question: reach and low light capability.

For indoor sports you'll need an FX in my opinion. To get the shutter speed to freeze action in basketball, that is to say at least 1/500 but better 1/640 or 1/800, you'll be shooting at ISO somewhere between 3200 and 6400 in a typical gym, assuming 70-200 2.8. Maybe there are brighter gyms, but I haven't come across them yet. I don't think any DX camera would deliver particularly good quality at this ISO, D7000 not excepting. Maybe D400 will be it, but I doubt it. Even the best FX cameras might be struggling a bit in these conditions, in part not so much because of the high ISO as such, but because the artificial light in a gym tends to be very flat and uninteresting, so all imperfections related to high ISO noise and detail loss related to it will become all the more apparent.

For outdoor football and baseball, it is the opposite. You'll get a whole lot more reach with a DX camera, though D7000 wouldn't be my first pick for sports. Given that you're coming from D90, you're probably already used to it, so the loss of reach from acquiring an FX camera might not be something you'll welcome. But the bottom line, with DX you'll get just as far with much smaller, lighter, cheaper lenses (we might be talking a factor of two or three or even larger for all or some of these parameters depending on the lens choice).

So, your football and basketball needs work at cross purposes.

For travel, family and everything else FX generally works better. When you travel, you'll probably find that wide angle is more important than super telephoto, unless you're into wildlife and such. The extra headroom for low light shooting is always welcome, even for family pics, and so on. The greater depth of field for the same field of view in DX over FX might be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on what it is you're shooting, so I wouldn't base my decision on this, or only as a secondary factor.

I do have D7000 but rarely use it. I can't say that it is particularly bad in any way, it is just a little finicky with AF and exposure, so my confidence level in it is a bit low. It is also a little too small for comfortable handling, so I pretty much never take the vertical grip off. At the end of the day, I think my D7000 will be passed down to my daughter when she's ready for it. You can take excellent quality shots with it, no doubt, it just doesn't feel or handle right for me. From what I understand, D600 has similar handling characteristics, though, I'm sure it is also a great image-making apparatus. The consistent oil/dust threads on this and other forums would give me a pause though.

Personally, I would give you an unconventional advice that you're probably not likely to take. For just a little over what you would pay for a new D600 (assuming its price doesn't continue falling), you can get a used D700 and a used D300 in very good condition. This is what I would do, but it is predicated on my specific needs and preferences.

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