Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?

Started Apr 11, 2013 | Discussions
dpyy
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Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
Apr 11, 2013

Isn't it amazing how close in performance the APSC in NEX is compared to the FF sensor on A99? If you look at the scores from DXO, it's not very different maybe half to at most one stop of difference in ISO performance. Even if you look at test photos, including the tests done here at dpreview the difference is minimal. I guess a bigger performance jump from APSC to canikon's FF but not to sony's own flagship FF.

So is the FF going to slowly phase out? Does the FF NEX even makes sense at this point? At maybe 3-4x the price, you're only getting marginally better results. Unless the FF NEX is expected to out perform the A99 significantly?

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Lightshow
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Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
In reply to dpyy, Apr 11, 2013

FF is just becoming mainstream, Nikon & Canon have just released entry level FF cameras, I've been waiting for a FF camera for mounting all types of lenses to for the last few years, Sony is so far the leading contender since they already released a FF E mount video camera, Pentax is rumoured to return to FF, Samsung is rumoured to be working on a FF mirrorless camera...

And I'm mostly interested in an EVIL FF for the DOF control, lower noise is a bonus.

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sergerez
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Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
In reply to dpyy, Apr 11, 2013

I think even if you put the price difference (and even APS sensors improvements) aside, the FF will always have an upper hand, especially in terms of depth of field and resolving power. The latter can have a limit for human eye, but the former won't ever.

Serge

dpyy wrote:

Isn't it amazing how close in performance the APSC in NEX is compared to the FF sensor on A99? If you look at the scores from DXO, it's not very different maybe half to at most one stop of difference in ISO performance. Even if you look at test photos, including the tests done here at dpreview the difference is minimal. I guess a bigger performance jump from APSC to canikon's FF but not to sony's own flagship FF.

So is the FF going to slowly phase out? Does the FF NEX even makes sense at this point? At maybe 3-4x the price, you're only getting marginally better results. Unless the FF NEX is expected to out perform the A99 significantly?

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Keit ll
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Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
In reply to sergerez, Apr 11, 2013

The main obstacles to having a FF 'NEX' will be price & the technical aspects of obtaining fast & accurate focus.

Sony have shown with the FF A99 that they cannot produce a competitive FF camera. The Canon 6D & Nikon D600 are just as good if not better than the A99 & are significantly lower in price than the Sony camera.

There are few , if any , FF lenses that can focus reliably on mirrorless cameras & until this becomes possible a FF 'NEX' will always be a non starter.

I am reluctant to conclude this as I have always supported the idea of having a more compact FF format but technology needs to improve before this can become a reality.

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blue_skies
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Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
In reply to dpyy, Apr 11, 2013

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51250906

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eths
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In reply to dpyy, Apr 11, 2013
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forpetessake
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Nope, it's rather the opposite.
In reply to dpyy, Apr 11, 2013

dpyy wrote:

Isn't it amazing how close in performance the APSC in NEX is compared to the FF sensor on A99? If you look at the scores from DXO, it's not very different maybe half to at most one stop of difference in ISO performance. Even if you look at test photos, including the tests done here at dpreview the difference is minimal. I guess a bigger performance jump from APSC to canikon's FF but not to sony's own flagship FF.

So is the FF going to slowly phase out? Does the FF NEX even makes sense at this point? At maybe 3-4x the price, you're only getting marginally better results. Unless the FF NEX is expected to out perform the A99 significantly?

As sensor prices continue to fall, the FF will become dominant. The APS-C, m4/3, and other odd formats are transitory, the only reason they exist is the large sensor manufacturing costs. But eventually, silicon will drive away the metal (and glass). By increasing the sensor size the lenses become cheaper to produce. Sensor QE of modern sensors is not far from the maximum (ideal sensor), there isn't much room for APS-C improvements left, the sensor size will soon become the only determining factor.

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dpyy
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Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
In reply to blue_skies, Apr 11, 2013

blue_skies wrote:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51250906

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Henry

I read that thread, but no one really had a really good explanation of why FF is needed. The only recurring answer that seems to be consistent is the need of extreme dof. Really? Can a sensor format be really be sustained by the demands of dof alone?

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nevercat
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Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
In reply to dpyy, Apr 11, 2013

Your question is easy to answer: NO!
But the answer is not as easy as you may think.
You can have several reasons to go "Full Frame", like the better resolution, better low light, less problems with lens defects, better DR etc. All these are technical immage quality things. Then there is the DOF control: The larger the sensor, the more control you can have over DOF with the same Field of view.

All these are important reasons to go full frame (or even larger). But there are some downsides to FF also, like camera size, lens size, price of the lenses (the bigger the glass elements in the lens the more expensive they are), the weight of your gear.

An other reason to not go FF is the price of your equiptment. A larger sensor will allways be more expensive then a smaller one. larger lenses will allways be more expensive then smaller ones, so in total your euiptment will cost more $$ when you go FF, not everybody is willing to pay that price (in $$ and in size) for Full Frame. For these people the cameras with smaller sensors (like the Nikon 1, the m43 and the aps cameras will be important when they do want better IQ then they can get with their cellphones or compact cameras.

So there will  be a market for all the larger sensorsizes. For the compact cameras it will become harder to get proffitable as the cellphones are taking better and better picturews at the moment.

And there is one more reason for the FF cameras to sty on the market: The bigger is better syndrom. People see the beautifull pictures taken with FF cameras by real pros and think that you can take those quality pictures too only by buying the same camera as the pro. They do forget that the high IQ of the pictures is made by the skills of the photographer more than by the camera...

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blue_skies
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Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
In reply to dpyy, Apr 11, 2013

dpyy wrote:

blue_skies wrote:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51250906

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Cheers,
Henry

I read that thread, but no one really had a really good explanation of why FF is needed. The only recurring answer that seems to be consistent is the need of extreme dof. Really? Can a sensor format be really be sustained by the demands of dof alone?

Continuation in:

There are two opposing trends, if you read the original (first) post:

  • APS-C sensor cameras keep getting better
  • FF sensor cameras keep getting more affordable

The second trend has put more FF cameras in the hands of amateurs (prosumers) than was foreseen and has actually given a rise to FF camera sales - no longer are they only used for professional venues.

And ask yourself - if you are in a professional venue, would you be satisfied with APS-C, knowing full well that your colleagues are using FF? The answer is not extreme DOF.

Most pro's use (zoom) lenses that are f/2.8. This equates roughly to f/2 on APS-C. That is sufficient DOF. (You can get extreme DOF with e.g. 85/1.4, but most pros only use such lenses for specific situations).

The answer is that APS-C cameras do not compete at the level of low noise, performance, sureness of focus method, and anyone trying FF versus APS-C for fast action will stay in FF domain, for a while to come. Even Sony has been struggling with the A99 to find professional acceptance - the SLT technology does not deliver at this level.

Now, there are many areas - landscape, social, travel, where APS-C cameras (DSLR or MILC) have come a long way and are becoming dominant.

But to your main topic question: No, I see no signs of FF cameras phasing out at all. See the rate of introduction of new FF cameras, and there corresponding sales.

I am not in the FF camera target market, but I would spring for a FF Nex, if the price was right. And I think that there are many more like me.

FF camera technology remains expensive, but the manufacturers have found ways to make APS-C gear quite expensive as well. Which tells me one thing - everyone continuously keeps looking for that one-better thing.

See the background buzz of people questioning FF, both in the positive and in the negative sense.

I am actually pleased to see that high end (non P&S) camera sales over all have been holding steady.

After all, the Cell Phone camera is now the most ubiquitous camera out there...

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dpyy
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Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
In reply to nevercat, Apr 11, 2013

nevercat wrote:

Your question is easy to answer: NO!
But the answer is not as easy as you may think.
You can have several reasons to go "Full Frame",

like the better resolution

Not really, the nex7 has the same resolution as A99

, better low light

Half a stop, from NEX to A99.

less problems with lens defects

Why? There's no evidence that SEL has more defects than SAL?

, better DR etc

Less than 1 EV (again according to DXO)

. All these are technical immage quality things. Then there is the DOF control: The larger the sensor, the more control you can have over DOF with the same Field of view.

This one yes, DOF is the absolutely one thing where it is compelling to go FF.

So back to my question, is DOF enough to sustain a sensor format?

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EinsteinsGhost
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Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
In reply to blue_skies, Apr 11, 2013

blue_skies wrote:

Continuation in:

There are two opposing trends, if you read the original (first) post:

  • APS-C sensor cameras keep getting better
  • FF sensor cameras keep getting more affordable

How so? Canon 6D and Nikon D600 simply follow the formula that Sony A850 did four years ago. The price has pretty much stayed put. However, more important is the price of lenses themselves. I have seen plenty of people complain about A99 being too expensive. I cannot agree with them, but more importantly, they seem pretty content if Sony were to drop the price by a $300-400 dollars. It won't even cover a lens that could get optimal performance out of a larger investment.

Solely looking at results, if APS-C and smaller sensors keep getting better, we're looking at focus shifting at other areas, including cost and convenience.

Most pro's use (zoom) lenses that are f/2.8. This equates roughly to f/2 on APS-C. That is sufficient DOF. (You can get extreme DOF with e.g. 85/1.4, but most pros only use such lenses for specific situations).
The answer is that APS-C cameras do not compete at the level of low noise, performance, sureness of focus method, and anyone trying FF versus APS-C for fast action will stay in FF domain, for a while to come. Even Sony has been struggling with the A99 to find professional acceptance - the SLT technology does not deliver at this level.

Based on what you say here, pros seem more dependent on each other than independent. But, as far as DoF is concerned, there isn't a practical advantage to it at longer focal lengths, only at shorter focal lengths due to lack of larger aperture short focal length lenses for APS-C.

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dpyy
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Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
In reply to EinsteinsGhost, Apr 11, 2013

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

blue_skies wrote:

Continuation in:

There are two opposing trends, if you read the original (first) post:

  • APS-C sensor cameras keep getting better
  • FF sensor cameras keep getting more affordable

How so? Canon 6D and Nikon D600 simply follow the formula that Sony A850 did four years ago. The price has pretty much stayed put. However, more important is the price of lenses themselves. I have seen plenty of people complain about A99 being too expensive. I cannot agree with them, but more importantly, they seem pretty content if Sony were to drop the price by a $300-400 dollars. It won't even cover a lens that could get optimal performance out of a larger investment.

Solely looking at results, if APS-C and smaller sensors keep getting better, we're looking at focus shifting at other areas, including cost and convenience.

Most pro's use (zoom) lenses that are f/2.8. This equates roughly to f/2 on APS-C. That is sufficient DOF. (You can get extreme DOF with e.g. 85/1.4, but most pros only use such lenses for specific situations).
The answer is that APS-C cameras do not compete at the level of low noise, performance, sureness of focus method, and anyone trying FF versus APS-C for fast action will stay in FF domain, for a while to come. Even Sony has been struggling with the A99 to find professional acceptance - the SLT technology does not deliver at this level.

Based on what you say here, pros seem more dependent on each other than independent. But, as far as DoF is concerned, there isn't a practical advantage to it at longer focal lengths, only at shorter focal lengths due to lack of larger aperture short focal length lenses for APS-C.

Why is DoF only an advantage for shorter focal lengths?

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Erik Magnuson
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Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
In reply to dpyy, Apr 11, 2013

dpyy wrote:

I read that thread, but no one really had a really good explanation of why FF is needed.

Need is relative - FF offers the following advantages

  • About 1.5 stops noise
  • Large optical viewfinder
  • Unique lens options (although adding a speed booster fixes some of this if you have mirrorless. But not with useful AF or optical finder.)
The FF cameras from Canon/Nikon are mature, well tested, and comprehensive systems (example: flash capability )  Why would they go away?  

The only recurring answer that seems to be consistent is the need of extreme dof. Really? Can a sensor format be really be sustained by the demands of dof alone?

Sony/Minolta made the 135mm STF, Nikon makes the 105 and 135mm defocus control lenses, and both Canon and Nikon make 200mm f/2 lenses.  Obviously, there is some demand for extreme DOF.

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EinsteinsGhost
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Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
In reply to dpyy, Apr 11, 2013

dpyy wrote:

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

blue_skies wrote:

Continuation in:

There are two opposing trends, if you read the original (first) post:

  • APS-C sensor cameras keep getting better
  • FF sensor cameras keep getting more affordable

How so? Canon 6D and Nikon D600 simply follow the formula that Sony A850 did four years ago. The price has pretty much stayed put. However, more important is the price of lenses themselves. I have seen plenty of people complain about A99 being too expensive. I cannot agree with them, but more importantly, they seem pretty content if Sony were to drop the price by a $300-400 dollars. It won't even cover a lens that could get optimal performance out of a larger investment.

Solely looking at results, if APS-C and smaller sensors keep getting better, we're looking at focus shifting at other areas, including cost and convenience.

Most pro's use (zoom) lenses that are f/2.8. This equates roughly to f/2 on APS-C. That is sufficient DOF. (You can get extreme DOF with e.g. 85/1.4, but most pros only use such lenses for specific situations).
The answer is that APS-C cameras do not compete at the level of low noise, performance, sureness of focus method, and anyone trying FF versus APS-C for fast action will stay in FF domain, for a while to come. Even Sony has been struggling with the A99 to find professional acceptance - the SLT technology does not deliver at this level.

Based on what you say here, pros seem more dependent on each other than independent. But, as far as DoF is concerned, there isn't a practical advantage to it at longer focal lengths, only at shorter focal lengths due to lack of larger aperture short focal length lenses for APS-C.

Why is DoF only an advantage for shorter focal lengths?

Because at longer focal lengths, you start getting options on APS-C and DoF becomes shallower. For example, 200mm f/2.8 on APS-C compares to FoV and DoF of 300mm f/4 on FF. Yes, you can go shallower on FF by using a 300mm f/2.8 lens instead, but now cost and weight issues creep in. Also, at some point, shallow DoF can become too shallow and you'd end up stopping down anyway (a fact with macro lenses, for example).

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Erik Magnuson
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Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
In reply to EinsteinsGhost, Apr 11, 2013

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

How so? Canon 6D and Nikon D600 simply follow the formula that Sony A850 did four years ago. The price has pretty much stayed put. However, more important is the price of lenses themselves.

Exactly - an FF system is now more affordable because so many already have Canon/Nikon lenses, flashes, etc.  (Actually, if you include the free or rebated accessory incentives of Dec 2012, prices of the 5DII and D600 dropped below A850 levels.)

Solely looking at results, if APS-C and smaller sensors keep getting better, we're looking at focus shifting at other areas, including cost and convenience.

Sensors of all sizes are getting better.  New capabilities open up new frontiers, i.e. shooting wildlife at dawn or dusk, shooting by candle light, etc.

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EinsteinsGhost
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Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
In reply to Erik Magnuson, Apr 11, 2013

Erik Magnuson wrote:

dpyy wrote:

I read that thread, but no one really had a really good explanation of why FF is needed.

Need is relative - FF offers the following advantages

  • About 1.5 stops noise
  • Large optical viewfinder
  • Unique lens options (although adding a speed booster fixes some of this if you have mirrorless. But not with useful AF or optical finder.)
The FF cameras from Canon/Nikon are mature, well tested, and comprehensive systems (example: flash capability )  Why would they go away?  

The only recurring answer that seems to be consistent is the need of extreme dof. Really? Can a sensor format be really be sustained by the demands of dof alone?

Sony/Minolta made the 135mm STF, Nikon makes the 105 and 135mm defocus control lenses, and both Canon and Nikon make 200mm f/2 lenses.  Obviously, there is some demand for extreme DOF.

The STF (and Nikon's DC lenses) have more to do with the rendering of OOF areas than to help achieve extreme DoF. For example, for a similar composition, 85mm f/1.4 probably provides a shallower DoF on FF than 135mm f/2.8 does.

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Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
In reply to Erik Magnuson, Apr 11, 2013

Erik Magnuson wrote:

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

How so? Canon 6D and Nikon D600 simply follow the formula that Sony A850 did four years ago. The price has pretty much stayed put. However, more important is the price of lenses themselves.

Exactly - an FF system is now more affordable because so many already have Canon/Nikon lenses, flashes, etc.  (Actually, if you include the free or rebated accessory incentives of Dec 2012, prices of the 5DII and D600 dropped below A850 levels.)

Chances are, their replacement won't be starting at that price point. Lower sale prices are not indicative of incoming pricing strategy. It is a marketing strategy. I suspect that manufacturers see camera bodies merely as the goose that lays golden egg anyway.

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Bart Hickman
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Re: Is FF sensors going to slowly phase out?
In reply to sergerez, Apr 11, 2013

sergerez wrote:

I think even if you put the price difference (and even APS sensors improvements) aside, the FF will always have an upper hand, especially in terms of depth of field and resolving power. The latter can have a limit for human eye, but the former won't ever.

It's pointless to discuss performance w/o considering price.  It doesn't matter how good FF is if APS-C is more than adequate at a much lower price (and size).

If performance was all that mattered, computers would still use 8" hard-drives because they'd always have the edge in terms of capacity and cost per byte.

Bart

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Bart Hickman
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Re: Nope, it's rather the opposite.
In reply to forpetessake, Apr 11, 2013

forpetessake wrote:

As sensor prices continue to fall, the FF will become dominant. The APS-C, m4/3, and other odd formats are transitory, the only reason they exist is the large sensor manufacturing costs. But eventually, silicon will drive away the metal (and glass). By increasing the sensor size the lenses become cheaper to produce. Sensor QE of modern sensors is not far from the maximum (ideal sensor), there isn't much room for APS-C improvements left, the sensor size will soon become the only determining factor.

Where did you hear sensor prices are going down?  I'm just curious.  I'm pretty sure they aren't getting cheaper, but maybe you have some data to the contrary.  The recent less-expensive FF cameras are not an indication of cheaper sensors.  They are a defensive move to protect market share from advances in small sensor cameras.  I suspect the profit margin on the bodies isn't that good.

Also, why would a FF lens be less expensive to produce than a lens for a smaller sensor?  I would think the cost/performance function is a curve, not a straight line.  Ie., a huge sensor is difficult to produce a lens for (due to massive moving parts), but a super tiny sensor is also difficult to produce a lens for (due to requirements on the optical precision).  It's not clear to me where the optimal spot on this curve is--it could be FF, but where's the data?

I would think the optimum would depend on the field of view.  I can see how a larger sensor is easier to design wide angle lenses for.  But not for telephoto lenses.  And the NEX system has the very short flange distance which should also make wide-angle lens design easier (probably makes no difference for telephoto lenses.)

Bart

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