FX Sensor Questions and Help

Started May 1, 2013 | Questions
Shibby26
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FX Sensor Questions and Help
May 1, 2013

Hi guys, Im a 4/3 shooter and looking at upgrading my setup to a FX system or maybe a D7100 with good glass.

I enjoy shooting landscapes, wildlife, and holiday travel photos. I enjoy my current gear but the 12mp sensor is getting old and behind the competition, and doesn't give me alot of cropping when printing. Im also a new home owner with lots of empty walls for getting pictures printed.

These are the upgrade paths im looking at -

D600 + Kit 24-85VR  +  70-200 F4 ( I have good filters at 72mm already so can re use these for this kit lens.

D600 + Tamron 24-70 VC +  70-200 F4

D7100 + Sigma 17-50 + 70-200 F4

So here are some questions I need help clarifying

  • I read on the d7100 review that 24mp on a APS-C sensor is equivalent pixel density of around 50+ MP on Fullframe. Does this mean then a landscape photo that doesnt require much editing at low iso will be better on a D7100?
  • If viewing a large prints I'm guessing the higher pixel count would look better?
  • I have come across a few places that say to get best results, sharpness across the frame, that FF needs to stop down alot more. IS this always the case or more on the lenses. I guess for portraiture this isnt a issue, but for travel photos/landscapes, would I have to shoot around f8 all the time for optimum settings? This may offset the iso advantage by having to up the iso to get good shutter speeds.
  • Does having larger pixels mean the sensor can capture more details?

Any other info will help or links. Theres not much price difference  in these setups maybe $400 more for the d600, and the kit lens is about the same as the sigma 17-50

Cheers

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Nikon D600 Nikon D7100
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pipee
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Re: FX Sensor Questions and Help
In reply to Shibby26, May 1, 2013

A full frame with the same megapixel count will capture about twice as much detail as a crop frame.

Because the pixels are crammed onto a sensor half the size of a full frame it is true that D7100 is equivalent density to a 50+ megapixel fullframe. This puts a lot of strain on the lens so in real life, you will not resolve near that many megapixels.

There are many detailed explanations on why that is but I like to think in simple scenarios:

As we all know, at the same focal lengths, the full frame will be wider than a crop frame due to the cropped image. The full frame thus can get closer to the subject or zoom in to achieve a similar result to the crop frame. So it's simple, you are resolving more detail than the equivalent crop frame because you are closer to the subject.

A lens will struggle more in the corners more on a full frame because it uses a bigger area of the lens. If corner brightness and sharpness is important to you, then do research on the lens.

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pipee
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Re: FX Sensor Questions and Help
In reply to Shibby26, May 1, 2013
 Theres not much price difference  in these setups maybe $400 more for the d600, and the kit lens is about the same as the sigma 17-50

Cheers

They are not the same. While the Sigma 17-50 is an awesome lens for a crop frame, it will not be as sharp (in center at least) as even the cheapest of full frame zooms on a D600 due to the reasons above. My $50 Nikon 28-80 on a D600 resolves more than anything on the crop frame.

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Shibby26
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Re: FX Sensor Questions and Help
In reply to pipee, May 1, 2013

Thanks for the info, I did mean it would be similar in price as in D600 + 24-85 vs d7100 sigma 17-50.

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michaeladawson
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Re: FX Sensor Questions and Help
In reply to pipee, May 1, 2013

pipee wrote:

A full frame with the same megapixel count will capture about twice as much detail as a crop frame.

Because the pixels are crammed onto a sensor half the size of a full frame it is true that D7100 is equivalent density to a 50+ megapixel fullframe. This puts a lot of strain on the lens so in real life, you will not resolve near that many megapixels.

There are many detailed explanations on why that is but I like to think in simple scenarios:

As we all know, at the same focal lengths, the full frame will be wider than a crop frame due to the cropped image. The full frame thus can get closer to the subject or zoom in to achieve a similar result to the crop frame. So it's simple, you are resolving more detail than the equivalent crop frame because you are closer to the subject.

A lens will struggle more in the corners more on a full frame because it uses a bigger area of the lens. If corner brightness and sharpness is important to you, then do research on the lens.

I'm sorry.  I can only assume you are terrible at explaining things.  Your explanation of the resolution differences between FX and DX and how close you are to the subject makes no sense at all.

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A. Westreich
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Re: FX Sensor Questions and Help
In reply to Shibby26, May 1, 2013

Shibby26 wrote:

D600 + Kit 24-85VR  +  70-200 F4 ( I have good filters at 72mm already so can re use these for this kit lens.

I have the D600 and 70-200.  It is a great combination.  The kit lens is well thought of.  I can't comment on your other choices as I haven't used those lenses.

So here are some questions I need help clarifying

  • I read on the d7100 review that 24mp on a APS-C sensor is equivalent pixel density of around 50+ MP on Fullframe. Does this mean then a landscape photo that doesnt require much editing at low iso will be better on a D7100

No.  But see below.

  • If viewing a large prints I'm guessing the higher pixel count would look better?

Maybe.  It depends upon the size of the print and the viewing distance.  In practical terms of moderate print size (11x14, 16x20), it makes some (but not head slapping) difference. It depends too on the quality and character of the image.

  • I have come across a few places that say to get best results, sharpness across the frame, that FF needs to stop down alot more. IS this always the case or more on the lenses. I guess for portraiture this isnt a issue, but for travel photos/landscapes, would I have to shoot around f8 all the time for optimum settings? This may offset the iso advantage by having to up the iso to get good shutter speeds.

Sort of.  A characteristic of decreasing the sensor size is that you get greater depth of field for a given f-stop.  It is not "sharpness across the frame" but how much foreground and background are in focus.  The upside is that it is much easier to  isolate subjects - blur the background - with full frame.

Most of my travel/landscape shots are at f8 - f11.  Most of my bird shots are at f2.8 - f8.  It is not a matter of optimum settings - it's about having the flexibility to create the image that you want.

I think you underestimate the ISO advantage.

  • Does having larger pixels mean the sensor can capture more details?

Sort of.  The advantage of the D7100 and to a greater extent the D600 is the increased dynamic range of the images - at least over the current crop of m4/3's.  You'll be able to capture more shadow detail while still keeping highlights.  Again, it depends upon the image.  There are certainly images (evenly lit scene of moderate dynamic range) where an m4/3 will for all practical purposes be indistinguishable from a D600 image.  But in low light or contrasty scenes where you want to hold details, the larger sensors make a significant difference.

Any other info will help or links. Theres not much price difference  in these setups maybe $400 more for the d600, and the kit lens is about the same as the sigma 17-50

Cheers

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PHXAZCRAIG
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Re: FX Sensor Questions and Help
In reply to Shibby26, May 1, 2013

24mp on DX and 24mp on FX is the same resolution and will give (all things equal) the same detail in prints.

However, all things aren't equal.   24mp on DX concentrates those pixel in a smaller area and thus demands more quality from a lens in the center area of the lens in order to make maximum use of those pixels.  24mp on FX spreads those pixels out over a wider area, and thus while not requiring quite as good lens resolution in center, it requires better lens performance at the edges and corners.   Corners on all lenses are not as 'good' as the center, particularly wide open, with less resolution there and potential vignetting issues.

All in all, it costs less to have an extremely good performing lens for DX than it does for FX.

Since FX lenses also have to cover a wider sensor area, they have to be physically larger, though this really only applies to any significance at focal lengths below 40mm or so.   Thus you see a lot of wide angle DX zooms, as they can be made significantly smaller and cheaper than wide FX zooms (or primes).

This adds up to a cost, size and weight advantage for DX compared to FX, though the difference primarily may exist only in a single (wide zoom) lens in your bag.

The main advantage between a 24mp DX and a 24mp FX camera (assuming mostly the same body and feature set, like the D7100 and D600, or a D300 and a D700) is that the larger sensor gathers more light, thus should have an advantage in dim lighting.   That advantage seems to be right around 1 stop, judging from the cameras I've seen since the D300 and D700 came out.

Dynamic range depends more on the sensor generation than anything else, though I suppose theoretically there may be an advantage to FX.

There's no doubt an FX system is more expensive and heavier than a DX system.   As FX is more expensive, those cameras have tended to have more features and better build than DX systems, which may make FX in general look like a natural upgrade from DX.  It's not.   Cameras that are very similar other than the sensors (like D300/D700 and D7100/D600) show little advantage in the resulting images aside from high-ISO performance.    For landscape work, the D7100 may well have an advantage over the D600 due to not have the corner performance issues of FX, and a bit more depth of field at equivalent f-stops, though stopping down is going to mitigate a lot of corner issues.   A d600 on the other hand may extend your no-flash shooting opportunities into situations you can't cover with a d7100.

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Mikael Risedal
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its simple a matter of lens and light
In reply to pipee, May 1, 2013

as long the light is enough so the signal/noise don't hurt the smaller APS sensor  you need a 1,5 better lens in resolution and contrast with the APS  compare to a 24x36mm  sensor area.

This excluded the border and corner issue regarding resolution

PS I saw that PHXAZCRAIG has a well written explanation

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PK24X36NOW
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Re: FX Sensor Questions and Help
In reply to Shibby26, May 1, 2013

Shibby26 wrote:

So here are some questions I need help clarifying

  • I read on the d7100 review that 24mp on a APS-C sensor is equivalent pixel density of around 50+ MP on Fullframe. Does this mean then a landscape photo that doesnt require much editing at low iso will be better on a D7100?
  • If viewing a large prints I'm guessing the higher pixel count would look better?
  • I have come across a few places that say to get best results, sharpness across the frame, that FF needs to stop down alot more. IS this always the case or more on the lenses. I guess for portraiture this isnt a issue, but for travel photos/landscapes, would I have to shoot around f8 all the time for optimum settings? This may offset the iso advantage by having to up the iso to get good shutter speeds.
  • Does having larger pixels mean the sensor can capture more details?

Any other info will help or links. Theres not much price difference  in these setups maybe $400 more for the d600, and the kit lens is about the same as the sigma 17-50

In order of your questions:

  • No, a landscape at low ISO (or any ISO) will not be better on a D7100. The pixel density is a non-issue, since the pixel count is the same for both cameras, and the D600 has a sensor more than twice the size, providing it with an advantage IQ-wise.
  • There is no "higher pixel count;" both the D600 and D7100 have 24MP.
  • FF doesn't need to "stop down a lot more," a roughly one and one third stop difference equalizes depth of field. As for sharpness "across the frame," the FF camera will provide better sharpness than the APS-C camera more often than not, since the APS-C camera demands much more resolving power from the lens due to its sensor being less than half as big. Even if you require the same DOF and need the shutter speed to remain the same, thus "offsetting" the ISO advantage of the bigger sensor, the fact remains that with the FF sensor, you have the flexibility to isolate subject vs. maximize DOF, whereas the APS-C camera will often limit your flexibility (because the lenses aren't fast enough to match the FF lens DOF range). Would you rather have more flexibility or less?
  • Having larger pixels does not mean the sensor can capture more details; having a bigger sensor does mean the sensor can capture more details, since taking the same image means a longer focal length lens on the FF camera as compared with the APS-C camera, which magnifies the image details more (as respects the image being "projected" (if you will) onto the sensor by the lens).

The other benefit you'll get with a D600 vs. a D7100 is a much bigger viewfinder that is much more of a pleasure to use. Don't believe the supposed viewfinder size comparisons on DPR, they are incorrect (they incorrectly assume the APS-C sensor is 2/3 the size of the FF sensor, when you consider their math, when in fact the APS-C sensor is less than half the size). The "coverage" and "magnification" of the viewfinder is "coverage" of the sensor and "magnification" of the sensor, which means that they apply to the sensor size, not the "crop factor."

In short, if you want better image quality, more flexibility, and a better viewfinder, get the D600. If you want to save a few bucks and don't care about the reduced image quality, reduced flexibility, and crappy viewfinder, get the D7100.

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Mikael Risedal
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Re: FX Sensor Questions and Help
In reply to PK24X36NOW, May 1, 2013

PK24X36NOW wrote:

Shibby26 wrote:

So here are some questions I need help clarifying

  • I read on the d7100 review that 24mp on a APS-C sensor is equivalent pixel density of around 50+ MP on Fullframe. Does this mean then a landscape photo that doesnt require much editing at low iso will be better on a D7100?
  • If viewing a large prints I'm guessing the higher pixel count would look better?
  • I have come across a few places that say to get best results, sharpness across the frame, that FF needs to stop down alot more. IS this always the case or more on the lenses. I guess for portraiture this isnt a issue, but for travel photos/landscapes, would I have to shoot around f8 all the time for optimum settings? This may offset the iso advantage by having to up the iso to get good shutter speeds.
  • Does having larger pixels mean the sensor can capture more details?

Any other info will help or links. Theres not much price difference  in these setups maybe $400 more for the d600, and the kit lens is about the same as the sigma 17-50

In order of your questions:

  • No, a landscape at low ISO (or any ISO) will not be better on a D7100. The pixel density is a non-issue, since the pixel count is the same for both cameras, and the D600 has a sensor more than twice the size, providing it with an advantage IQ-wise.
  • There is no "higher pixel count;" both the D600 and D7100 have 24MP.
  • FF doesn't need to "stop down a lot more," a roughly one and one third stop difference equalizes depth of field. As for sharpness "across the frame," the FF camera will provide better sharpness than the APS-C camera more often than not, since the APS-C camera demands much more resolving power from the lens due to its sensor being less than half as big. Even if you require the same DOF and need the shutter speed to remain the same, thus "offsetting" the ISO advantage of the bigger sensor, the fact remains that with the FF sensor, you have the flexibility to isolate subject vs. maximize DOF, whereas the APS-C camera will often limit your flexibility (because the lenses aren't fast enough to match the FF lens DOF range). Would you rather have more flexibility or less?
  • Having larger pixels does not mean the sensor can capture more details; having a bigger sensor does mean the sensor can capture more details, since taking the same image means a longer focal length lens on the FF camera as compared with the APS-C camera, which magnifies the image details more (as respects the image being "projected" (if you will) onto the sensor by the lens).

The other benefit you'll get with a D600 vs. a D7100 is a much bigger viewfinder that is much more of a pleasure to use. Don't believe the supposed viewfinder size comparisons on DPR, they are incorrect (they incorrectly assume the APS-C sensor is 2/3 the size of the FF sensor, when you consider their math, when in fact the APS-C sensor is less than half the size). The "coverage" and "magnification" of the viewfinder is "coverage" of the sensor and "magnification" of the sensor, which means that they apply to the sensor size, not the "crop factor."

In short, if you want better image quality, more flexibility, and a better viewfinder, get the D600. If you want to save a few bucks and don't care about the reduced image quality, reduced flexibility, and crappy viewfinder, get the D7100.

it is a lens issue for the APS, need 1,5 better lens compare to the 24x36 in good light, se earlier explanation excluded the border and corner resolution for 24x36mm  which also is a lens issue

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