FF vs DX

Started Jan 12, 2013 | Discussions thread
yray
Contributing MemberPosts: 900
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Re: Cost
In reply to afterburn, Jan 13, 2013

afterburn wrote:

anotherMike wrote:

DX exists simply because of cost - don't think for a minute it's anything else. If Nikon had been able to produce an FX DSLR in 2003 at the same price as the D100 when it came out (the first somewhat reasonably affordable consumer Nikon DSLR), they would have done it. DX bodies today are a reasonable balance compromise between performance, usability, and cost. The thing is, in my view, FX is going down in price to the point where it's not quite as insane to get one. So I think one also has to weight how important the "getting the shot" part of the equation, as I've explained it in this post, is to their own process - as stated before, a guy shooting landscape isn't as reliant on the "getting the shot" process that a larger viewfinder and better AF system would benefit them, but a guy shooting his son in soccer, his daughter in gymnastics, his cousin in ballet and doing general event work for church would. Therefore, anyone who is considering the DX vs FX I propose has to include this aspect as well. I know if I had to rely on a D7000 to do my own studio work I'd be supremely frustrated - I probably would have punted back to the noisier/gritty D300 I had at the time because it got the shot more reliably, but now that I've been FX for a couple of years, I can't go back - I've seen the difference the usability aspect makes, in addition to the technical aspects. But I totally understand why a landscape guy might think his DX kit is good enough for what he does too.

This is soooo correct and rarely anybody realizes it. We have been shooting FX since the 30's of last century, and the ONLY reason DX exists today, is cost. Back around 2000 when the first dSLR camera's appeared on the market, it was impossible to manufacture a full frame sensor with reasonable yields at reasonable cost. Still, even today, it is very difficult and costly so only the more expensive cameras have full frame sensors.

Why?

Because from a single 8" wafer you can make as many as 200 DX size sensors, but only 20 FX size sensors. It also means that if something happens during manufacturing of your FX sensors and you lose just 1 sensor on that wafer for whatever reason, your yield just dropped 5%. It is very, very costly to make FX sensors. Ultimately, the cost per wafer is going to be the same. The more you can fit on a single wafer, the lower the cost per sensor and the less it matters if you lose a few.

So that is why we have DX, because it was (and is) a helluvelot easier to reliably and cost efficiently make a smaller sensor. Nothing else. There is no technical reason why anyone would even want to put such a small sensor in a large body camera.

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Gijs from The Netherlands
Nikon D800

Nikon could have put to rest this DX vs FX controversy if they came out with a 24MP FX in a pro quality body with a top notch AF and 7-8 FPS, with the grip perhaps. They haven't done that, if they did, many probably would have preferred it to either D800 or D4. It would have 10MP in DX mode, which is good enough for many purposes, and low light performance no one would complain about. Better yet, it would have the tried and true D3s AF system which would be both reliable and intuitive to use. But wait, there is a camera now with nearly this exact spec, Canon 5DIII. (Now savage me!) I own way too much Nikon gear to consider switching, but if I were starting afresh, I would consider current Canon offering more versatile and attractive. The only thing I would miss is Nikon ergonomics and handling, but probably mostly because I'm used to it.

As the things stand now, there is still a need in FX and DX, the latter at least for outdoor sports and wildlife, as was pointed out before. Maybe this is part of Nikon's strategy -- not to give away everything in a single package, have these demanding users buy a few bodies.

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