Accurately comparing FF vs APS-C sensor performance? An open discussion.

Started Apr 8, 2013 | Discussions
Robsphoto
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APS-C vs Full Frame: Depth of Field
In reply to Klipsen, Apr 9, 2013

Klipsen wrote:

All APS-C does is crop.

For a given magnification at the sensor plane and a given aperture, DoF is ~ identical.
--
Ceterum censeo soleam calidam ISO esse delendam.

Yes, I think this was confirmed a long time ago by Bob Atkins here:

http://photo.net/learn/optics/dofdigital/

Quote from above page:

If you use the same lens on a small-sensor camera and a full-frame camera and crop the full-frame image to give the same view as the digital image, the depth of field is IDENTICAL

Cheers

Rob

http://www.robsphotography.co.nz/crop-factor-advantage.html

“Full Frame”  Cameras vs  “APS-C”  Cameras: Analysis of  the Crop  Factor  and “Telephoto  Advantage” of  an APS-C  Camera

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VirtualMirage
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Re: Accurately comparing FF vs APS-C sensor performance? An open discussion.
In reply to Endos, Apr 9, 2013

Endos wrote:


But even if you compare the two using the same focal length of the lens (in this case, a 50mm lens on both), the APS-C will still have more depth of field than the Full Frame at the same aperture.

That's not true, just the oposite ir correct.

Yep, you are right there.  That is what I get having 10 different web pages open when referring to my references.  I flipped two of my pages.

I refer to this for my data on depth of field:

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

and

http://www.dofmaster.com/doftable.html

The Full Frame has its advantage in being able to offer shallower depths of field

Only if you compares the same frame with the same focal length.

Why would want to compare it any differently?  I am trying to make a comparison as close to apple to apples as possible.  With your explanation, you are asking me to compare apples to oranges.  Just because someone has a Full Frame doesn't mean they want to capture a particular subject differently than they would on an APS-C.  There may be times that they do, but in most cases they could very much as well do the same with the APS-C too.

If I use a 35mm on an APS-C to get  a view similar to what I would with a 50mm on a Full Frame, I very well wouldn't be using a 35mm on a Full Frame to capture the same scene.  I would be using a 50mm.

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Paul

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VirtualMirage
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Re: Accurately comparing FF vs APS-C sensor performance? An open discussion.
In reply to VirtualMirage, Apr 9, 2013

VirtualMirage wrote:

How so?

For any given focal length equivalent, the Full Frame will always have less depth of field at the same aperture as an APS-C.

If you go by just focal length, then your "framing" wouldn't be the same and thus wouldn't take the same picture.  But even if you compare the two using the same focal length of the lens (in this case, a 50mm lens on both), the APS-C will still have more depth of field than the Full Frame at the same aperture.

My eyes crossed on this one and I grabbed the wrong data from the wrong pages, my pages were flipped.  Disregard this one please.

The Full Frame has its advantage in being able to offer shallower depths of field and having a 1:1 focal length to focal length equivalent.  This is beneficial when you want to shoot very wide, like using an 8mm fisheye lens or a 16-35mm.

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Paul

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Paul

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VirtualMirage
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Re: Long story short:
In reply to Klipsen, Apr 9, 2013

Klipsen wrote:

All APS-C does is crop.

For a given magnification at the sensor plane and a given aperture, DoF is ~ identical.
--
Ceterum censeo soleam calidam ISO esse delendam.

Your "~" is key here.  It's close, but not identical.  What appears to be making the impact is that the circle of confusion is slightly smaller on an APS-C than a Full Frame, by .01mm.

At very close distances from lens to subject, the difference will be small.  But as you get further away from your subject, the depth of field differences grows bigger and bigger.

For Example:

APS with 50mm (75mm equivalent) at F/2.8:

  • At 1ft, the DoF is .01ft
  • At 5ft, the DoF is .33ft
  • At 10ft, the DoF is 1.36ft
  • At 50ft, the DoF is 39ft

Full Frame with 75mm (75mm equivalent) at F/2.8:

  • At 1ft, the DoF is .01ft
  • At 5ft, the DoF is .22ft
  • At 10ft, the DoF is .9ft
  • At 50ft, the DoF is 24.1ft

Notice how as the distance from lens to subject increases, how the depth of field on the APS-C becomes greater than the Full Frame?

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EinsteinsGhost
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Re: Long story short:
In reply to VirtualMirage, Apr 9, 2013

VirtualMirage wrote:

Klipsen wrote:

All APS-C does is crop.

For a given magnification at the sensor plane and a given aperture, DoF is ~ identical.
--
Ceterum censeo soleam calidam ISO esse delendam.

Your "~" is key here.  It's close, but not identical.  What appears to be making the impact is that the circle of confusion is slightly smaller on an APS-C than a Full Frame, by .01mm.

At very close distances from lens to subject, the difference will be small.  But as you get further away from your subject, the depth of field differences grows bigger and bigger.

For Example:

APS with 50mm (75mm equivalent) at F/2.8:

  • At 1ft, the DoF is .01ft
  • At 5ft, the DoF is .33ft
  • At 10ft, the DoF is 1.36ft
  • At 50ft, the DoF is 39ft

Full Frame with 75mm (75mm equivalent) at F/2.8:

  • At 1ft, the DoF is .01ft
  • At 5ft, the DoF is .22ft
  • At 10ft, the DoF is .9ft
  • At 50ft, the DoF is 24.1ft

Notice how as the distance from lens to subject increases, how the depth of field on the APS-C becomes greater than the Full Frame?

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Paul

With same (or wider) FOV, FF will have the ability to better isolate. But when we tend to disregard FOV and want it to be as narrow as possible, crop sensors end up with the edge. For example, at about 30 ft, Minolta 200/2.8 would have a DOF of 8" with APS-C but 12" on FF, because now the lens is actually providing a wider FOV. A 300/2.8 on FF, of course would match the FOV of 200/2.8 on APS-C, and will have a shallower DOF.

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moimoi
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Nope...
In reply to Klipsen, Apr 9, 2013

Klipsen wrote:

All APS-C does is crop.

For a given magnification at the sensor plane and a given aperture, DoF is ~ identical.

That's untrue, because FF allows to shoot closer to your subject with an equivalent angle of view.  To get the same FF angle of view with APS-C, you must move back from the subject, which ultimately leads to less shallow dof.

The smaller the sensor is, the less shallow the dof is.

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Ceterum censeo soleam calidam ISO esse delendam.

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The_Wicker_Man
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Re: Nope...
In reply to moimoi, Apr 9, 2013

moimoi wrote:

Klipsen wrote:

All APS-C does is crop.

For a given magnification at the sensor plane and a given aperture, DoF is ~ identical.

That's untrue, because FF allows to shoot closer to your subject with an equivalent angle of view.  To get the same FF angle of view with APS-C, you must move back from the subject, which ultimately leads to less shallow dof.

You're both right - and therefore both wrong.

For a given magnification at the sensor plane, you need same focal length and same camera to subject distance. So DOF will be the same but FOV will be different (because all APS-C does is indeed crop). So Klipsen is right.

Alternatively, one can change the subject to camera distance, which will change the magnification at the sensor plane. So FOV will be the same but DOF will be different. So moimoi is right as well.

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Klipsen
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You misunderstand
In reply to VirtualMirage, Apr 9, 2013

VirtualMirage wrote:

Klipsen wrote:

All APS-C does is crop.

For a given magnification at the sensor plane and a given aperture, DoF is ~ identical.
--
Ceterum censeo soleam calidam ISO esse delendam.

Your "~" is key here.  It's close, but not identical.  What appears to be making the impact is that the circle of confusion is slightly smaller on an APS-C than a Full Frame, by .01mm.

I  put the ~ there, because you can't have the same number of pixels and the same pixel size on the two formats, and both have an influence on the perceived DoF.

At very close distances from lens to subject, the difference will be small.  But as you get further away from your subject, the depth of field differences grows bigger and bigger.

Actually, it's at shorter distances and wide apertures that the relative differences are most important.

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Ceterum censeo soleam calidam ISO esse delendam.

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Allan Olesen
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Look at effective lens diameter, and it all makes sense
In reply to VirtualMirage, Apr 9, 2013

You went a long way to discover something which can be explained much easier if you just look at the effective lens diameter (for example you have an effective lens diameter of 25 mm if you shoot with focal length 100mm and f/4):

  1. At the same shooting distance and same field of view, you will get the same DOF with the same effective lens diameter, even with different sensor size.
  2. At the same shooting distance and same field of view, you will capture the same total amount of light per second with the same effective lens diameter, even with different sensor size.
  3. At the same total amount of light you will get the same amount of noise on cameras with comparable sensor technology, even with different sensor size.

1+2+3: Same DOF = same noise, even with different sensor size.

Some explanation to item 1 which may not be obvious at first:

Shallow DOF is caused by different parts of the lens looking at the subject from different angles and thus seeing slightly different parts of the background aligned with a point in the foreground. At the same shooting distance and the same effective lens diameter these angles will be the same, no matter what focal length and sensor size you have behind the lens.

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VirtualMirage
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Re: You misunderstand
In reply to Klipsen, Apr 9, 2013

Klipsen wrote:

I  put the ~ there, because you can't have the same number of pixels and the same pixel size on the two formats, and both have an influence on the perceived DoF.

Pixel size doesn't matter when it comes to measuring DoF.  The sensor can be 12MP, 16MP, 24MP, or even 100MP, Dof will be the same.  But you are right that it makes it more or less perceptible, but it doesn't change DoF.

Actually, it's at shorter distances and wide apertures that the relative differences are most important.

Most important? Not necessarily.  Most perceptible, probably.  But it doesn't hide the fact that there is a difference in DoF due to a difference in the size of circle of confusion with each sensor size.

You are stating perception, I am stating the technical side.  Perception is .9 inches and 1.0 inch are the same, but technically they are not.  And while from afar that won't make much of a perceptual difference, it becomes more noticeable the closer you get.

Maybe I should have posted my examples in inches instead? Or perhaps cm or mm?

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VirtualMirage
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Re: Look at effective lens diameter, and it all makes sense
In reply to Allan Olesen, Apr 9, 2013

Allan Olesen wrote:

You went a long way to discover something which can be explained much easier if you just look at the effective lens diameter (for example you have an effective lens diameter of 25 mm if you shoot with focal length 100mm and f/4):

  1. At the same shooting distance and same field of view, you will get the same DOF with the same effective lens diameter, even with different sensor size.
  2. At the same shooting distance and same field of view, you will capture the same total amount of light per second with the same effective lens diameter, even with different sensor size.
  3. At the same total amount of light you will get the same amount of noise on cameras with comparable sensor technology, even with different sensor size.

1+2+3: Same DOF = same noise, even with different sensor size.

Some explanation to item 1 which may not be obvious at first:

Shallow DOF is caused by different parts of the lens looking at the subject from different angles and thus seeing slightly different parts of the background aligned with a point in the foreground. At the same shooting distance and the same effective lens diameter these angles will be the same, no matter what focal length and sensor size you have behind the lens.

True.  But the difference between the way you explained it and the way I explained it, is mine shows how much of an impact it has by using real examples and what kind of loss of advantage one sensor might take based on lab based, constant measurements.

Yours explains the theory, but doesn't provide any results showing how much it a sensor gets effected.  I guess it can be like saying one is the essay, the other is the summary?

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OldClicker
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Re: You misunderstand
In reply to VirtualMirage, Apr 10, 2013

VirtualMirage wrote:

Klipsen wrote:

I  put the ~ there, because you can't have the same number of pixels and the same pixel size on the two formats, and both have an influence on the perceived DoF.

Pixel size doesn't matter when it comes to measuring DoF.  The sensor can be 12MP, 16MP, 24MP, or even 100MP, Dof will be the same.  But you are right that it makes it more or less perceptible, but it doesn't change DoF.

Actually, it's at shorter distances and wide apertures that the relative differences are most important.

Most important? Not necessarily.  Most perceptible, probably.  But it doesn't hide the fact that there is a difference in DoF due to a difference in the size of circle of confusion with each sensor size.

You are stating perception, I am stating the technical side.  Perception is .9 inches and 1.0 inch are the same, but technically they are not.  And while from afar that won't make much of a perceptual difference, it becomes more noticeable the closer you get.

Maybe I should have posted my examples in inches instead? Or perhaps cm or mm?

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Paul

DoF is perception.  Anything that changes the 'perceived' sharpness changes the DoF.

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Some would have you believe that having to adapt to new technology is a workaround, but having adapted to old technology is photography.

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tko
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you did it the hard way
In reply to VirtualMirage, Apr 10, 2013

There's a proven theorem that's been around for a while. By "proven" I mean mathematically derived from lens and sensor properties. It states that for equal DOF, all sensor sizes offer about the same performance, assuming equal sensor and lens technology. Yes, this applies to diffraction as well.

So, the major advantage of FF occurs with reduced DOF. You're trading DOF for low light performance. But remember you can always stop FF down, but you can't open smaller systems past the capabilities of their lenses.

Put another way: given enough light, the same DOF, and assuming a high enough quality lens and sensor, a cell phone and a medium format camera will have about the same image.

Yes, in the real world this might not be true. Possible the cell phone has the most recent, state of the art sensor. Perhaps the larger sensor has a greater dynamic range due to larger sensor sites. There are a ton of practical differences between a tiny and large sensor.

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KFZ
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Re: Accurately comparing FF vs APS-C sensor performance? An open discussion.
In reply to VirtualMirage, Apr 10, 2013

Been there, done that. Get a D800/D800E FF & 1.2, 1.5 Corp in one body! In this case FF is 99% advantage.  The only 2 disadvantages are Price and a bit more weight.

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VirtualMirage
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Re: You misunderstand
In reply to OldClicker, Apr 10, 2013

OldClicker wrote:

DoF is perception.  Anything that changes the 'perceived' sharpness changes the DoF.

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Some would have you believe that having to adapt to new technology is a workaround, but having adapted to old technology is photography.

That is where I feel you are wrong.  Maybe it is just symantecs, but DoF is not perception.

DoF may affect our perception of sharpness, but DoF itself is not perceived. DoF is a measureable range in which an object appears sharp, aka in focus.

DoF is created by the optics, its relation and distance to the sensor, and the aperture setting.  It can be changed from shallow to deep based on these factors.

If DoF was just perception, then wouldn't the amount of DoF perceived change from person to person despite all the constants above being the same?

Since perception is based on an individual's experience, that means that it could appear differently to someone else.  But Dof doesn't work that way, it is measureable and can be changed precisely.

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Paul

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VirtualMirage
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Re: you did it the hard way
In reply to tko, Apr 10, 2013

tko wrote:

There's a proven theorem that's been around for a while. By "proven" I mean mathematically derived from lens and sensor properties. It states that for equal DOF, all sensor sizes offer about the same performance, assuming equal sensor and lens technology. Yes, this applies to diffraction as well.

Yep.  My point here was to bring this up where I feel it is often overlooked.  Nothing more.

So, the major advantage of FF occurs with reduced DOF. You're trading DOF for low light performance. But remember you can always stop FF down, but you can't open smaller systems past the capabilities of their lenses.

That is true too, which I mentioned as well.

Put another way: given enough light, the same DOF, and assuming a high enough quality lens and sensor, a cell phone and a medium format camera will have about the same image.

Yes, in the real world this might not be true. Possible the cell phone has the most recent, state of the art sensor. Perhaps the larger sensor has a greater dynamic range due to larger sensor sites. There are a ton of practical differences between a tiny and large sensor.

Also true, which can warrant advantages to both.  The one that fits the greatest needs of the photographer is going to be the better tool to use.

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VirtualMirage
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Re: Accurately comparing FF vs APS-C sensor performance? An open discussion.
In reply to KFZ, Apr 10, 2013

KFZ wrote:

Been there, done that. Get a D800/D800E FF & 1.2, 1.5 Corp in one body! In this case FF is 99% advantage.  The only 2 disadvantages are Price and a bit more weight.

It may have been inclusive in your price, but don't forget the higher quality glass to keep the resolution up and the distortion down as you deviate further from the center of the lens.

Paul

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Rab G
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Re: Accurately comparing FF vs APS-C sensor performance? An open discussion.
In reply to VirtualMirage, Apr 10, 2013

You mention DXOmark what about camera iso settings compared with actual measured level have you looked at the A99 graph for that it looks bad really bad!!!

The A77 iso setting against measured setting seems to be much more accurate than the A99 so would that not make it difficult to compare shots supposed to be at the same iso ?

For example  snr 18% results

A99 measured  iso 439 manufacturers iso 800

A77 measured  iso 635 manufacturers iso 800

A99 measured iso 913 manufacturers  iso 1600

A77 measured iso 1302 manufacturers iso 1600

A99 measured iso 3762 manufacturers iso 6400

A77 measured iso 5412 manufacturers iso 6400

A99 is WELL out on all iso measurements.

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VirtualMirage
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Re: Accurately comparing FF vs APS-C sensor performance? An open discussion.
In reply to Rab G, Apr 10, 2013

Rab G wrote:

You mention DXOmark what about camera iso settings compared with actual measured level have you looked at the A99 graph for that it looks bad really bad!!!

The A77 iso setting against measured setting seems to be much more accurate than the A99 so would that not make it difficult to compare shots supposed to be at the same iso ?

For example  snr 18% results

A99 measured  iso 439 manufacturers iso 800

A77 measured  iso 635 manufacturers iso 800

A99 measured iso 913 manufacturers  iso 1600

A77 measured iso 1302 manufacturers iso 1600

A99 measured iso 3762 manufacturers iso 6400

A77 measured iso 5412 manufacturers iso 6400

A99 is WELL out on all iso measurements.

Yep, I mentioned in my original post that I looked at that briefly as well but I felt it would get too convoluted to try to explain and understand correctly as well as everyone else understand it the same way as well.  The A77, on average, was around 1/4 - 1/3 of a stop off.  The A99, on average, was around 2/3 - 3/4 of a stop off.  But the A99 isn't the only guilty member of this party.  The D800e looks to be between 1/3 and 1/2 of a stop off and the D7100 is closer to a 1/2 stop off.  The closest one I have seen of the current cameras is the K5-IIs, which looked to be around 1/4 stop or less off.

I've created a full blown spreadsheet with both manufacturer's and measured ISO and their results via DXOMark for both print and screen.  I did this for the A99, NEX-7, A77, K5-IIs, D800e, and the D7100.  I even did my best to calculate the 1/3 stops in between each full stop since DXOMark doesn't show that to get a better estimate.

But what I wasn't completely sure of was what does it mean?

Are the cameras shooting at a slower shutter speed than they should?

Or

Are they shooting at the correct shutter speed for the manufacturer based ISO, which will underexpose the image, and then adding some positive exposure compensation through processing to have it match the proper exposure?

If it was the shutter speed varying, then it won't increase noise.  It would be quite the opposite.  But the cost is a longer shutter interval.

If it was the added exposure compensation in post, then that would increase noise but the shutter speed would be correct.

Since I wasn't sure of what it was exactly doing, I felt I couldn't accurately use it as examples if I didn't fully understand what was going on under the hood.

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harold1968
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the problem with this analysis
In reply to VirtualMirage, Apr 10, 2013

is that you have chosen to measure some specific variables

without commenting on how accurate or otherwise your measurements or sources are you miss a big thing about larger sensor vs smaller, that is the amount of light collected per unit area of lens glass

its a well known fact that FF lenses don't have to work as hard as APS-c lenses. What does this mean ? It means that a lower quality FF lens will look sharper then a higher quality APS-C lens as imperfections in the glass are magnified more for smaller sensors (although conversely FF sensors require more glass and therefore higher tolerances).

there are other differences but putting technicals aside I find them large in the real world.

for example i still think the landmark Canon 5D produces sharper pictures then any APS-C camera made today (and the nikon D700 for that matter). i am talking about base ISO of course.

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