“Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter

Started Feb 4, 2013 | Discussions
DanielBme
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“Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
Feb 4, 2013

I thought this was such a good article.  Might be beneficial for some to read.  I don't believe I've seen this posted yet.

http://admiringlight.com/blog/full-frame-equivalence-and-why-it-doesnt-matter/

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sarlo100
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to DanielBme, Feb 4, 2013

The equivalence crowd is going to roar into this thread with murder in their eyes.  They're worse than Southern Baptists when it comes to defiling their "religion".

/I'll get the popcorn ready.  This is going to be fun to watch.

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Alex Notpro
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to DanielBme, Feb 4, 2013

Read it, don't agree. I can only imagine that the author must be a noob who has never owned a camera in another format. Equivalence is an extremely useful concept if you own cameras in multiple systems and often need to figure out just what to use for a shot. Even for one-camera folks, it also comes in handy if you ever decide to dump your current gear and go to a larger or smaller format.

This attitude reminds me of compact camera owners who have no idea about millimeters and prefer to think in terms of "X's of zoom" (3x zoom, 10x zoom, etc).

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DanielBme
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to Alex Notpro, Feb 4, 2013

Alex Notpro wrote:

Read it, don't agree. I can only imagine that the author must be a noob who has never owned a camera in another format. Equivalence is an extremely useful concept if you own cameras in multiple systems and often need to figure out just what to use for a shot. Even for one-camera folks, it also comes in handy if you ever decide to dump your current gear and go to a larger or smaller format.

This attitude reminds me of compact camera owners who have no idea about millimeters and prefer to think in terms of "X's of zoom" (3x zoom, 10x zoom, etc).

If you read it seems to me you would have noticed that the author indeed did indicate that as you put it..."Equivalence is an extremely useful concept if you own cameras in multiple systems...".

So not quite sure what exactly you don't agree with then?

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s_grins
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to DanielBme, Feb 4, 2013

I do remember that when I was  4-grader, I've learnt all this wisdom in relation to precipitations and their measurements.

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Matz03
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to Alex Notpro, Feb 4, 2013

Alex Notpro wrote:

Read it, don't agree. I can only imagine that the author must be a noob who has never owned a camera in another format. Equivalence is an extremely useful concept if you own cameras in multiple systems and often need to figure out just what to use for a shot. Even for one-camera folks, it also comes in handy if you ever decide to dump your current gear and go to a larger or smaller format.

This attitude reminds me of compact camera owners who have no idea about millimeters and prefer to think in terms of "X's of zoom" (3x zoom, 10x zoom, etc).

you either didn't read it or didn't read the whole thing, the author cleary mentions he's shot with all the common formats before and mentions the usefullness of knowing the equivalence.

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RicksAstro
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to Matz03, Feb 4, 2013

Matz03 wrote:

Alex Notpro wrote:

Read it, don't agree. I can only imagine that the author must be a noob who has never owned a camera in another format. Equivalence is an extremely useful concept if you own cameras in multiple systems and often need to figure out just what to use for a shot. Even for one-camera folks, it also comes in handy if you ever decide to dump your current gear and go to a larger or smaller format.

This attitude reminds me of compact camera owners who have no idea about millimeters and prefer to think in terms of "X's of zoom" (3x zoom, 10x zoom, etc).

you either didn't read it or didn't read the whole thing, the author cleary mentions he's shot with all the common formats before and mentions the usefullness of knowing the equivalence.

Then why the ridiculous title?    He's just trying to be provocative to get hits.

The content is technically correct, but it's quite biased, downplaying the advantages of FF and bolstering the advantages of smaller formats.

It's funny that there's really no need to be biased like that, since m43 does stand on its own without the need for the drama.

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baxters
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to RicksAstro, Feb 4, 2013

Jordan's article does a good job of discussing the only-in-a-perfect-world argument about sensor noise scaling with the area.

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Jonas B
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to DanielBme, Feb 4, 2013

DanielBme wrote:

I thought this was such a good article. Might be beneficial for some to read. I don't believe I've seen this posted yet.

http://admiringlight.com/blog/full-frame-equivalence-and-why-it-doesnt-matter/

It was posted two days ago and as it isn't a very good article in some ways interest wasn't that high. Here. (The author has edited a couple of places now.)

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mfj197
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to Jonas B, Feb 4, 2013

Jonas B wrote:

DanielBme wrote:

I thought this was such a good article. Might be beneficial for some to read. I don't believe I've seen this posted yet.

http://admiringlight.com/blog/full-frame-equivalence-and-why-it-doesnt-matter/

It was posted two days ago and as it isn't a very good article in some ways interest wasn't that high. Here. (The author has edited a couple of places now.)

As has been pointed out it was posted a couple of days ago.  There has been so much bashing on about equivalence this past year that I think everyone has just about had enough.  People will always have differing opinions, although I think Jordan's pretty spot on the money.

Michael

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Jonas B
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to mfj197, Feb 4, 2013

mfj197 wrote:

Jonas B wrote:

DanielBme wrote:

I thought this was such a good article. Might be beneficial for some to read. I don't believe I've seen this posted yet.

http://admiringlight.com/blog/full-frame-equivalence-and-why-it-doesnt-matter/

It was posted two days ago and as it isn't a very good article in some ways interest wasn't that high. Here. (The author has edited a couple of places now.)

As has been pointed out it was posted a couple of days ago. There has been so much bashing on about equivalence this past year that I think everyone has just about had enough. People will always have differing opinions, although I think Jordan's pretty spot on the money.

Equivalence is not about opinions. But, let's say it is; how can one opinion be spot on the money and another opinion not (in this case)?

OK, I understand I shouldn't read your reply that way but rather as you don't agree with me that his article in some way isn't a very good. That's your opinion and you are entitled to it.

Here is what I wrote in the first thread (source)

=======================
Why is a biased article a good article?
In reply to sderdiarian, 2 days ago

IMO it's a sad things all this talk about this and that which in the end is about people trying to defend or justify their gear.

Jordan is great, he is a fluent writer and I appreciate his every-now-and-then-reviews and I like discussing with him but here he has managed to make something biased and also containing some minor errors.

It's too much of fanboyism over it.

=======================

OK, there you have my opinion.

At another forum the discussion about this article has taken different ways, for example including samples showing how lenses render differently and how this is connected to the format. The smaller the sensor the bigger the problem it seems. The also not so popular thread 5D vs E-M5 also touches that subject. I hope we some day can get super fast, sharp wide open, with little LoCA and smooth OOF background rendering sort of lenses but I haven't seen that yet.

/Jonas

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RicksAstro
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to baxters, Feb 4, 2013

baxters wrote:

Jordan's article does a good job of discussing the only-in-a-perfect-world argument about sensor noise scaling with the area.

By selecting cameras to compete against (on the graph) that were released 7 years ago and 4 years ago? Why on earth would you do that if you are trying to write a balanced article (which he wasn't). Sure, he mentions that the latest generations are 1 2/3 stop better for the same aperture. That's a heck of a large difference!

He then makes much of his argument on keeping the same ISO for both cameras and varying the shutter speed, so he contends m4/3 is better if you need a faster shutter speed, ignoring the 1 2/3 better noise performance.

I take about 90% of my shots with my D800 at apertures that just aren't available on my GH3...in the 2.2-2.8 range with my 85 and at f2.8 with my 70-200. I also have a 24-85 f3.5-4.5 VR which I tend to use at f4.5 where it performs better that the 12-35 f2.8 did wide open on my GH3.

But when I don't want to carry all that around, the GH3 is a great compromise! It gives me images that are almost always excellent and I knowingly am trading DOF control for size, and getting 1/3 stop better noise for the same image DOF and shutter speed than even the D800...that's amazing and is why I'm willing to make the trade-off. The Dynamic range isn't quite as good, but it's now in the good enough range for most of my purposes (as opposed to the earlier m43 cameras except the OMD)

The author was careful to have the facts correct, but I think they could have been presented in a more balanced and less provocative manner, but that wouldn't have attracted controversy and gotten hits...he's employing the Ken Rockwell blog methodology.

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richarddd
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to RicksAstro, Feb 4, 2013

RicksAstro wrote:

The author was careful to have the facts correct, but I think they could have been presented in a more balanced and less provocative manner, but that wouldn't have attracted controversy and gotten hits...he's employing the Ken Rockwell blog methodology.

That's the real problem with the article. It seems designed to provoke a strong reaction rather than to honestly inform. He was careful to have his facts correct (for the most part), but brushed off inconvenient facts so as to obscure the things contrary to his theme. He usually does a much better job.

The vast majority of time I encounter the equivalence mavens is when they're correcting someone who gets something wrong because they don't understand the issues (sometimes with their own brand of provocative equivalence attitude), rather than the author's notion of equivalence gangs roaming the internet bashing m43 in favor of full frame.

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Anders W
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to richarddd, Feb 4, 2013

richarddd wrote:

RicksAstro wrote:

The author was careful to have the facts correct, but I think they could have been presented in a more balanced and less provocative manner, but that wouldn't have attracted controversy and gotten hits...he's employing the Ken Rockwell blog methodology.

That's the real problem with the article. It seems designed to provoke a strong reaction rather than to honestly inform. He was careful to have his facts correct (for the most part), but brushed off inconvenient facts so as to obscure the things contrary to his theme. He usually does a much better job.

The vast majority of time I encounter the equivalence mavens is when they're correcting someone who gets something wrong because they don't understand the issues (sometimes with their own brand of provocative equivalence attitude), rather than the author's notion of equivalence gangs roaming the internet bashing m43 in favor of full frame.

+1

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sean000
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to DanielBme, Feb 4, 2013

I have used 35mm film, APS-C DSLR cameras, and m4/3. They all have their pros and cons, but when it comes down to the photography I do today m4/3 is just the best fit for my lifestyle. Personally I am satisfied with the amount of depth of field control I have as well. I understand equivalency in terms of focal length/angle of view and in terms of depth of field.

What I don't quite get is the total light thing. Of course a larger image circle projecting more light onto a larger sensor is capturing more total light, but I'm not sure why I should care? All that matters is that enough light is hitting my sensor to create a good exposure and a pleasing photograph for my sensor size. I am happy with the results I get using my OM-D… Even in very low light thanks to fast primes and the OM-D’s high ISO performance. I also use it on a tripod for landscapes and architecture. I understand that a larger sensor has certain benefits even at base ISO, but I don't think the differences are as dramatic as they were a few years ago. The gap in dynamic range, high ISO image quality, tonal gradation, etc. has narrowed significantly between m4/3 sensors and APS-C or FF 16MP sensors. 24 MP and 36 MP sensors are different beasts, and have their uses as field cameras for producing very large prints... or for shots where you might need to crop heavily. But for most of us 16 MP is more than enough. Well... that's an entirely different discussion, but back to equivalency:

I see no point in discussing equivalency between different formats unless you are making a direct comparison. There is no need to mention 35mm equivalency on a m4/3 discussion board when someone is simply trying to describe the focal length they used. Just say the actual focal length of the lens to avoid confusion.

Sean

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Matz03
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to RicksAstro, Feb 4, 2013

RicksAstro wrote:

Matz03 wrote:

Alex Notpro wrote:

Read it, don't agree. I can only imagine that the author must be a noob who has never owned a camera in another format. Equivalence is an extremely useful concept if you own cameras in multiple systems and often need to figure out just what to use for a shot. Even for one-camera folks, it also comes in handy if you ever decide to dump your current gear and go to a larger or smaller format.

This attitude reminds me of compact camera owners who have no idea about millimeters and prefer to think in terms of "X's of zoom" (3x zoom, 10x zoom, etc).

you either didn't read it or didn't read the whole thing, the author cleary mentions he's shot with all the common formats before and mentions the usefullness of knowing the equivalence.

Then why the ridiculous title? He's just trying to be provocative to get hits.

The content is technically correct, but it's quite biased, downplaying the advantages of FF and bolstering the advantages of smaller formats.

It's funny that there's really no need to be biased like that, since m43 does stand on its own without the need for the drama.

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When I read it I saw the major FF advantages clearly listed first, and they're big advantages.  He rightfully mentions the m4/3 pro's as well which are rarely mentioned anywhere.

How is it a ridiculous title?  You mentioned in your other comment how you choose the GH3 for certain things, the point of the article is that photographers know the tradeoffs of smaller formats.  It's simple as that.

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Lights
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to DanielBme, Feb 4, 2013

When I'm shooting M4/3 I look in the EVF and adjust the camera to what the shot requires (or try).

When I'm shooting APS-C I look in the OVF, press maybe the DOF preview button..or in familiarity with the lens..set the F-Stop to what I have an idea it will do for DOF.

When I'm shooting film (which I still do sometimes since it's the only FF I can afford and already have) I do the same as APS-C. DOF preview and knowledge of what the lens will do at a given F-Stop - a person does get a "feel" for it after a while.

Equivalence does provide a more technical basis for cross format shooters. It does give an idea to those entering from another format, or for information as to "why" in a technical, gear oriented forum. Why there are differences. What the advantages/disadvantages of a format are (even if they are becoming less in the real world). It is handy to know that diffraction for example rears it's head sooner in M4/3 (but then DOF for practical purposes is greater at a given stop).

I agree that while shooting, a person doesn't think of much but getting the shot with what you have in hand (or on a tripod). But it's OK to know what the differences are and try to learn why...which I'm still learning.

I think the title of the article was a little bit inflammatory, much more so than some of the content.

My two cents in a trillion dollar world.

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RicksAstro
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to Matz03, Feb 4, 2013

Matz03 wrote:

RicksAstro wrote:

Matz03 wrote:

Alex Notpro wrote:

Read it, don't agree. I can only imagine that the author must be a noob who has never owned a camera in another format. Equivalence is an extremely useful concept if you own cameras in multiple systems and often need to figure out just what to use for a shot. Even for one-camera folks, it also comes in handy if you ever decide to dump your current gear and go to a larger or smaller format.

This attitude reminds me of compact camera owners who have no idea about millimeters and prefer to think in terms of "X's of zoom" (3x zoom, 10x zoom, etc).

you either didn't read it or didn't read the whole thing, the author cleary mentions he's shot with all the common formats before and mentions the usefullness of knowing the equivalence.

Then why the ridiculous title? He's just trying to be provocative to get hits.

The content is technically correct, but it's quite biased, downplaying the advantages of FF and bolstering the advantages of smaller formats.

It's funny that there's really no need to be biased like that, since m43 does stand on its own without the need for the drama.

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When I read it I saw the major FF advantages clearly listed first, and they're big advantages. He rightfully mentions the m4/3 pro's as well which are rarely mentioned anywhere.

How is it a ridiculous title? You mentioned in your other comment how you choose the GH3 for certain things, the point of the article is that photographers know the tradeoffs of smaller formats. It's simple as that.

I think it's ridiculous because of course it matters!   There are a subset of cases where the differences are minimal, but I think it's important to understand the advantages of each.

Yes, it listed the advantages of FF, but then goes on to say why "it doesn't matter", downplaying those advantages in a Ken Rockwellian kind of way.

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Macx
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to sean000, Feb 4, 2013

The reason you should care about total light is because it helps you understand why it's easier to make relatively noise-free cameras with large sensors than with small sensors.

At its heart, it's simple physics, telling us that if you keep the light per area the same (in other words, the exposure) the total signal to noise ratio (SNR) will be twice as good on a 135 format sensor than a 4:3 sensor. That translates into more detail and clearer colours. Having four times as much light is the same as opening the aperture two stops. Look up shot noise for an explanation behind this.

This is complicated by the fact that some sensors are more efficient than others and that there are other sources of noise as well, so it's more of an ideal relationship than a real one. In the OP's article, it is claimed that it's more likely that the SNR on a 135 format sensor behaves as if it has a one and two-thirds advantage, compared to a 4:3, than two.

If we trust the article and go with the the one and two-thirds stop advantage of a 135 format sensor, it tells us that if we take two shots (with identical shutter time), one with a 135 format camera set at f/8 and ISO 400, and one with a 4:3 camera set at f/4.5 and ISO 125, we should get pictures with roughly the same amount of noise.

If we use the "ideal" relationship of two stops, it becomes easier to do the mental arithmetic. In this case, ideally a 4:3 camera using f/4 and ISO 100 gives you the same SNR as a 135 camera using f/8 and ISO 400.

Why might this not matter? Because, the linked article claims: People buy into the system realising that 135 format cameras have this noise advantage already. This is not a unreasonable claim at all, I think, but the thing is that this two-stop advantage plays well into the other relationships between formats:

The reason why, is because of the well known differences in depth of field and diffraction for a 4:3 camera compared to 135 one. If we use the example from above, the f/4 ISO 100 shot on the 4:3 camera doesn't only have about the same amount of noise as the f/8 ISO 400 shot of a 135 camera, it also has about the same depth of field and diffraction, if we keep the framing similar. In other words, for such shots there is no difference or advantage to either the 135 format or the 4:3 format. Is this a case of equivalency mattering or not?

In fact, it seems to me, that equivalency helps us understand that there is no physical disadvantage in using a 4:3 camera as long as you use it inside its "comfort zone". It's when you go outside this zone that the advantages of the 135 format appears: If you want a SNR like the ISO 100 and 200 on the 135 cameras, there is as of yet no equivalent in the 4:3 world. If you want lenses with the same field of view and speed as e.g. 35/1.4, 50/1.4 or 85/1.4 there are no equivalent lenses for 4:3, yet. In other words, 135 cameras allow you a wider "gamut" of exposure than 4:3.

If this isn't needed, there is no disadvantage in using a 4:3 sensor, instead you get the advantage of the smaller size and bulk.

And remember, there are no laws prohibiting you from using the right tools for the job: A 135 camera for the shots that are outside the 4:3 camera's comfort zone, and a 4:3 camera for all the shots that is, where you don't want to deal with the extra weight, size and conspicuousness of the larger system.

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exdeejjjaaaa
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Re: “Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter
In reply to Anders W, Feb 4, 2013

Anders W wrote:

richarddd wrote:

RicksAstro wrote:

The author was careful to have the facts correct, but I think they could have been presented in a more balanced and less provocative manner, but that wouldn't have attracted controversy and gotten hits...he's employing the Ken Rockwell blog methodology.

That's the real problem with the article. It seems designed to provoke a strong reaction rather than to honestly inform. He was careful to have his facts correct (for the most part), but brushed off inconvenient facts so as to obscure the things contrary to his theme. He usually does a much better job.

+1

the author as usual is a blogger and hence an attention w...e, that's it.

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