Are Full Frame SLRs Obsolete?

Started 8 months ago | Discussions
Colin Smith1
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Re: Are Full Frame SLRs Obsolete?
In reply to Timbukto, 8 months ago

Timbukto wrote:

The issue of resolution and dynamic range is moot...if those were the only two bullet points I would shoot purely MFT already.

These are the only true obstacles behind MFT for me.

Shutter shock issues at 1/60th to 1/200th shutter speed range...a range that is just too damn useful for me as most my shots fall in this range. It often takes 'bite' off the 16MP sensor. This can even be seen in Dpreview studio comparisons on a tripod, but is often worse in handholding and with IBIS depending on IBIS generation. My E-PM2 was a shutter shock camera and I am not going to pay 1k for a premium version that does not absolutely *eliminate* this issue.

The GM-1 however has issues of its own with its electronic shutter having very slow 1/50th read out slower than Nikon 1s. To this day I find the Olympus XZ-1 and all other variants as wonderful portable alternatives (I want to get a cheap Pentax MX-1).

Finally I get tons of lens choices with thinner DOF and lowlight ability for ridiculously cheap and certain choices are rather managable in weight/size.

Oh and I vastly prefer OVF over EVF.

Dynamic range and resolution are easy engineering problems. Shutter shock with tiny/weightless camera bodies, quality lenses in smaller packages with cheaper prices, and quality EVFS etc are far more difficult problems.

Accurate, fast tracking autofocus is also a difficult problem for MFT manufacturers to overcome.  Also I wonder if the effect of shutter shock is increased by longer focal lengths?  Maybe that is why no MFT companies are currently offering a fixed focal length lens over 300mm that is not a zoom???

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Paul B Jones
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FF Still Useful
In reply to Colin Smith1, 8 months ago

I plan to hang on to mine for as long as it makes the mirrorless crowd feel inadequate.

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Dave Luttmann
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Re: FF Still Useful
In reply to Paul B Jones, 8 months ago

Paul B Jones wrote:

I plan to hang on to mine for as long as it makes the mirrorless crowd feel inadequate.

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Guess again.

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Manfred Bachmann
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Re: Are Full Frame SLRs Obsolete?
In reply to Colin Smith1, 8 months ago

L.Landscape talked about sensor sice, and not Mirrorless! I am pretty sure large sensors will ever give better IQ. I always hear M4/3s is good enough, but to my eyes FF is so much better!

EVF in future FF Body is an other point, i say why not!

manfred

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Per Inge Oestmoen
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Larger sensors will retain their superiority, no matter how good smaller ones become
In reply to Colin Smith1, 8 months ago

Colin Smith1 wrote:

Writers on the Luminous Landscape http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/full_frame_myth.shtml have stated their belief that the age of full frame DSLRs is coming to an end for basically two reasons. One, 16 meg micro 4/3s sensors have gotten very good in quality and noise reduction that they can now be printed to 16x20 (so why would anyone want the bulkier or heavier full frame DSLR ?) Second because the of the Sony mirror less full frame with excellent EVF.

Anyone think that the day is coming when even pros and advanced amateurs will be satisfied with a smaller, lighter mirror less system.

Whether or not my camera has a mirror is secondary. But EVF's are not as functional as optical viewfinders.
If EVF's are to replace optical viewfinders, they must be vastly more long-lived than today's OLED versions which have significantly shorter life span than LCD, they must have much higher resolution, they must use far less battery power, the lag needs to be eliminated, and they have to be capable of functioning in -40 Celsius or lower. If all these criteria are fully met, I might choose an electronic viewfinder. When it comes to "Full Frame," it is mistaken to believe that smaller sensors are as good as larger ones. Remember, all technological advances that smaller sensors can benefit from will be applicable to Full Frame sensors too. That means that the difference in performance will remain. For this reason, larger sensors will never be obsolete no matter how good MFT and other smaller sensors become. The larger ones will still maintain their superiority, and that will be easily visible in dark environments.
- Per Inge Oestmoen, Norway

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jackkurtz
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Re: Are Full Frame SLRs Obsolete?
In reply to Colin Smith1, 8 months ago

I don't think full frame SLRs are obsolete. They could be on the path to being niche products though.

I use a mix of FF (5D Mark III) and M4:3 (Oly E-P5). The E-P5 gets used more and more. But when I need the big camera there is just no substitute. And right now, if I could have just one kit it would have to be the 5D Mark III. The E-P5 is good for about 80-85% of what I do, but the remaining 15% is "Mission Critical" stuff that I can't just walk away from.

I would argue that improvements in sensor technology and camera design actually pose a bigger threat to APS sized SLRs. The M43 sensors and APS sized mirrorless cameras could really drive a stake through the heart of entry to mid range APS dSLRs.

When non tech people ask me which Canikon DXXXX (APS sized sensor camera) they should get I ask them if they've considered an Olympus or Panasonic M43 or Sony NEX. They're smaller, lighter and have terrific image quality. For a lot of these folks, ease of use and portability are paramount.

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chironNYC
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DSLR or ILMC? Ask why SLRs replaced rangefinders.
In reply to Colin Smith1, 8 months ago

Mirrorless 35mm cameras like the new Sony ILMCs are quite similar to rangefinder cameras in many ways.

Why did SLRs replace rangefinders in the 1960s and 1970s? I think that may tell us whether DSLRs will be replaced by ILMCs.

I think that the major reasons SLRs replaced rangefinders were: extended lens selections for SLRs; much better viewfinders that matched the lens being used; greater shooting and focusing speeds with motorized and autofocus SLR cameras; and extensive system opportunities made possible by the greater size of the SLR bodies.

How will these issues play out with ILMCs?

So far, ILMC cameras are somewhat lens limited; there are problems at both the long end (the size & weight of the lens) and the wide end (loss of sharpness and light). DSLR will, I think, continue to have strong advantages in terms of lens choices. There will be many more types of lenses available for SLRs. This will matter a lot to photographers.

In terms of viewfinders, electronic viewfinders on ILMCs already offer advantages over optical viewfinders. One of the most useful advantages is that you immediately see the effects of exposure changes. EVFs will continue to get better. So ILMCs may have an actual advantage in terms of viewfinders.

ILMCs will eventually have no trouble matching DSLRs in terms of speed of shooting (focusing, frame rate, etc). They are not there yet, but they will get there fairly soon.

In terms of the size and range of the systems for each camera type, because the era of electronics has replaced the era of mechanical devices, I think ILMC will eventually be able to have systems as extensive as DSLRs but in a more compact body. Already the Sony NEXs and phone cameras have attributes that are not yet offered on DSLRs.

Conclusion: I think the main advantage DSLRs will have over ILMC will be in the range of lenses that are available for each type of camera. This will be enough, I think, to keep DSLRs very popular with enthusiasts and professionals. And DSLRs will continue to get lighter and smaller, to some considerable extent. But ILMCs will become increasingly important for more casual use and for travel where they will offer very high quality images and lots of electronic processing options but more limited lens selection. So they are here to stay and will be more and more used.

Most photography enthusiasts will have both camera types, for different purposes, just like we now all have tablet, notebook, and desktop computers in our lives. And we are the better for having all of the options.

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Midwest
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Re: Are Full Frame SLRs Obsolete?
In reply to Colin Smith1, 8 months ago

Colin Smith1 wrote:

Writers on the Luminous Landscape http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/full_frame_myth.shtml have stated their belief that the age of full frame DSLRs is coming to an end for basically two reasons. One, 16 meg micro 4/3s sensors have gotten very good in quality and noise reduction that they can now be printed to 16x20 (so why would anyone want the bulkier or heavier full frame DSLR ?) Second because the of the Sony mirror less full frame with excellent EVF.

So since at least some of THEM don't need a FF DSLR, nobody does.

Since they consider an EVF as excellent, that means it's excellent for everyone. Nobody could possibly need, want or prefer an OVF.

Since they consider a larger, easier-handling camera with full body controls to be 'bulkier and heavier' then everyone else would naturally agree and want a small camera which puts size over handling.

Tiresome.

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Dave Luttmann
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Re: Are Full Frame SLRs Obsolete?
In reply to Midwest, 8 months ago

Midwest wrote:

Colin Smith1 wrote:

Writers on the Luminous Landscape http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/full_frame_myth.shtml have stated their belief that the age of full frame DSLRs is coming to an end for basically two reasons. One, 16 meg micro 4/3s sensors have gotten very good in quality and noise reduction that they can now be printed to 16x20 (so why would anyone want the bulkier or heavier full frame DSLR ?) Second because the of the Sony mirror less full frame with excellent EVF.

So since at least some of THEM don't need a FF DSLR, nobody does.

Since they consider an EVF as excellent, that means it's excellent for everyone. Nobody could possibly need, want or prefer an OVF.

Since they consider a larger, easier-handling camera with full body controls to be 'bulkier and heavier' then everyone else would naturally agree and want a small camera which puts size over handling.

Tiresome.

I don't see any of that at all.  I see some people say for them they don't see any difference.  I've done a number of print comparisons for people and they couldn't see anything either.  I think what really happens is that a lot of people blather on about a night and day different....but when presented with a print.....can't seem to see it.  Depends on format of course.  But for aps-c vs FF, it is pretty much non existant.  Going down to m43 it can snow up in moderate print sizes.

I ran a comparison between a D700 and Pentax K-x.  At 20x30, people could not see a difference in a landscape type photo.  Here is a sample comoarison showing the difference at 20x30.  I think it is safe to say there is no difference at all.  A shot of the house down my street.  Both cameras on tripod, base iso, prime lenses.  Huge difference eh?

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Midwest
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Re: Are Full Frame SLRs Obsolete?
In reply to Dave Luttmann, 8 months ago

Dave Luttmann wrote:

Midwest wrote:

Colin Smith1 wrote:

Writers on the Luminous Landscape http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/full_frame_myth.shtml have stated their belief that the age of full frame DSLRs is coming to an end for basically two reasons. One, 16 meg micro 4/3s sensors have gotten very good in quality and noise reduction that they can now be printed to 16x20 (so why would anyone want the bulkier or heavier full frame DSLR ?) Second because the of the Sony mirror less full frame with excellent EVF.

So since at least some of THEM don't need a FF DSLR, nobody does.

Since they consider an EVF as excellent, that means it's excellent for everyone. Nobody could possibly need, want or prefer an OVF.

Since they consider a larger, easier-handling camera with full body controls to be 'bulkier and heavier' then everyone else would naturally agree and want a small camera which puts size over handling.

Tiresome.

I don't see any of that at all. I see some people say for them they don't see any difference. I've done a number of print comparisons for people and they couldn't see anything either. I think what really happens is that a lot of people blather on about a night and day different....but when presented with a print.....can't seem to see it. Depends on format of course. But for aps-c vs FF, it is pretty much non existant. Going down to m43 it can snow up in moderate print sizes.

I ran a comparison between a D700 and Pentax K-x. At 20x30, people could not see a difference in a landscape type photo. Here is a sample comoarison showing the difference at 20x30. I think it is safe to say there is no difference at all. A shot of the house down my street. Both cameras on tripod, base iso, prime lenses. Huge difference eh?

A decent bridge camera could shoot this same photo and it would look the same on my screen. Does that mean even m43 is unnecessary?

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Midwest
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Re: How could they be obsolete?
In reply to tko, 8 months ago

tko wrote:

Writers on the Luminous Landscape http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/full_frame_myth.shtml have stated their belief that the age of full frame DSLRs is coming to an end for basically two reasons. One, 16 meg micro 4/3s sensors have gotten very good in quality and noise reduction that they can now be printed to 16x20 (so why would anyone want the bulkier or heavier full frame DSLR ?) Second because the of the Sony mirror less full frame with excellent EVF.

I know I still value the low light, high ISO of my Canon full frames and the high quality of the lenses, not to mention the obvious advantages of an optical viewfinder in low light or fast movement.. As a wildlife photographer nothing offered to date can match the tracking AF of my 5D III, certainly not the OM E1 or the Sony.

On the other hand I wonder if I will always feel that way? At the age of 67 traveling around the world as I do with heavy gear is becoming more of a burden. If I ever do switch to a mirror less camera system, someone is going to have to make some good fixed focal length telephotos. As for now, I assume the excellent quality of my photos would be hard to give up.

Anyone think that the day is coming when even pros and advanced amateurs will be satisfied with a smaller, lighter mirror less system.

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Colin Smith

Nothing comes close in performance, especially in low light grab shots. I can get a low light shot off on a second from hip to eye, camera off to photo taken, and take over a thousand shoots on one battery. By definition, no other camera type can match this performance. I'm in my 4th week of travel through Asia with my 5d, and it hasn't left my hand for a minute.

Aren't you willing to put up with much slower autofocus and lesser low-light results to have a more petite camera that someone else insists is just as good?

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Midwest
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Re: Larger sensors will retain their superiority, no matter how good smaller ones become
In reply to Per Inge Oestmoen, 8 months ago

Per Inge Oestmoen wrote:

Whether or not my camera has a mirror is secondary. But EVF's are not as functional as optical viewfinders.
If EVF's are to replace optical viewfinders, they must be vastly more long-lived than today's OLED versions which have significantly shorter life span than LCD, they must have much higher resolution, they must use far less battery power, the lag needs to be eliminated, and they have to be capable of functioning in -40 Celsius or lower. If all these criteria are fully met, I might choose an electronic viewfinder.

Some claimed advantages of the EVF - i.e. you can check the white balance and exposure before the shot - are not of much value to some of us. Depending on what ambient conditions my eyes are used to, my perception of exposure or white balance in the EVF may not prove out in the finished shot. And anyhow, I usually touch these things up myself in PP'ing for the shots I care about. And I'm not shooting landscapes or flowers or other things where I have all day to prepare for the shot. I want a viewfinder that does the best possible job of being a viewfinder, and I prefer to leave the metering etc. to the systems on my camera which generally do a very good job of those things without my babysitting them.

When it comes to "Full Frame," it is mistaken to believe that smaller sensors are as good as larger ones. Remember, all technological advances that smaller sensors can benefit from will be applicable to Full Frame sensors too. That means that the difference in performance will remain. For this reason, larger sensors will never be obsolete no matter how good MFT and other smaller sensors become. The larger ones will still maintain their superiority, and that will be easily visible in dark environments.

People seem to forget about that. They think that m43 is moving forward and FF can't. And it is under the more demanding circumstances that the larger-sensor camera continues to get the shot while the smaller-sensor camera hits its limits.

If a smaller-sensor camera can do the job for someone and they want a camera like that, then they've got some to choose from and good for them I say. But I sure do wish the people who have made that choice would stop knocking on my door with their pamphlets, pushing their religion at me.

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ultimitsu
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Re: Are Full Frame SLRs Obsolete?
In reply to Colin Smith1, 8 months ago

Colin Smith1 wrote:

Writers on the Luminous Landscape http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/full_frame_myth.shtml have stated their belief that the age of full frame DSLRs is coming to an end for basically two reasons. One, 16 meg micro 4/3s sensors have gotten very good in quality and noise reduction that they can now be printed to 16x20 (so why would anyone want the bulkier or heavier full frame DSLR ?) Second because the of the Sony mirror less full frame with excellent EVF.

The first reason is pure non-sense. IQ difference between FF and smaller format has been very steadily constant - less than area proportion would suggest, but significantly more than "merely noticeable". The difference between EM5 to D600 is exactly the same as the difference between 20D and 5D1 8 years ago.

The second reason is still in its infancy. A7 is still a mirrorless of 2013, it still uses the sensor to see and the LCd to display the view, which means more heat generated and more battery used and there is still flickr and lag is still unacceptable to many. SLR uses zero energy for viewfinding, sensor stays cool at all times and same battery can power 4 times more shots and there is zero lag too. As long as houses have glass windows, cars have glass wind screens, we uses optical prescription glasses, SLRs are here to stay.

On the other hand I wonder if I will always feel that way? At the age of 67 traveling around the world as I do with heavy gear is becoming more of a burden.

I know many people struggle with the weight issue, either for real of in their mind. My solution to the problem is quite simple - do not bring that many gear. Honestly you can still have excellent memories captured at very high quality even if you only bring 1 zoom and 1 prime with you,wherever you go. I see people get too fixated on having every lens they own with them at all times. Quite a few people I know take 2.8 trinity with them wherever they go. It really isnt necessary. In fact I found that having incomplete focal range forces me to think more, and forces me to practice a certain FL more, as a result I take better pictures. Vice versa, many people have argued that the IQ from superzooms lenses (18-200, etc) are not that bad yet you seldom see high quality image from them, why? because the photographers do not force them to think as much therefore photos come out mediocre.

Anyone think that the day is coming when even pros and advanced amateurs will be satisfied with a smaller, lighter mirror less system.

that will never happen, because by definition pros need to produce work with better quality than his customers, and advanced amateurs want to produce work with better quality than people around him, therefore as the IQ of images of "lay person cameras" get better, pros and amateurs need better cameras for even better IQ, at the same pace.

Hence d7100 did not kill off D610.

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ultimitsu
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Re: Are Full Frame SLRs Obsolete?
In reply to Colin Smith1, 8 months ago

Colin Smith1 wrote:

Accurate, fast tracking autofocus is also a difficult problem for MFT manufacturers to overcome.

Actually it isnt. on-sensor PDAF is become the normal. Once it is matured, which is soon, mirrorless should have the same accurate AF tracking.

On the other hand, inherent lag in LCD view finding may be harder to overcome.

Also I wonder if the effect of shutter shock is increased by longer focal lengths? Maybe that is why no MFT companies are currently offering a fixed focal length lens over 300mm that is not a zoom???

It is important to understand two things:

First, m43 has no inherent "reach advantage". A 300mm lens is a 300mm lens, it only has the optical magnification of a 300mm lens, on any camera. M43 happens to have higher pixel density than FF cameras, that can translate into reach advantage. But there are several caveats:

  1. in 16mp vs 16mp (e.g. Df vs EM5) there maybe 100% more reach in everything was perfect, but in 36 mp vs 16mp (e.g. D800 vs Em5)  there is only 33% more reach.
  2. in reality 4 fold of pixel density does not translate into 4 fold of resolution because lens imperfection eats up some of that extra resolution. For example, when using 50 F1.8G wide open, D800 only delivers extra 60% resolution while having extra 200% the pixel density. Very roughly, I would estimate 4 fold pixel density lead to about 80-100% resolution increase in real world. and you have to square root that to get the "reach", so it is about 30% to 40% more reach even for EM5 vs Df
  3. there really is no theoretical limitations stopping FF cameras from having equally high pixel density. I think soon we could see FF sensors with higher pixel density in the center, allowing more resolution in "cropped mode", while in "full sensor mode" it would use pixel bining for the centre.

Second, as lenses get longer, optical magnification becomes a lot more important than the optical perspective. What I mean is, for example, some people would prefer the look of 85mm over 70mm for portrait, so they buy 85mm for portrait; or they prefer 35mm over 40mm for photo journalism. Optical magnification does not matter at these FL, every lens will produce very sharp images. but as you move into 300mm+ FL, optical magnification is all that it matters, people do not choose 500mm over 400mm because they like the compressed look more, but because 500mm has extra 25% reach. while m43 companies can argue their 45mm will produce close enough results as 85mm on FF, they cannot argue their 400mm lens will produce close enough results as 80mm on FF. the optical magnification just isnt there.

The only partly answr your question, there are yet more reasons why long lenses dont exist on M43.

1, while you can get away with F5.6 equivalent lenses for slow moving subjects - like F2.8 zoom for casual people shooting, you cannot get away with F11 equivalent lenses for fast moving subjects. like 400mm F5.6 for birding on M43

2, longer lenses uses more power to drive AF,

3, large aperture long lenses defeat m43 size advantage.

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qianp2k
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Re: Are Full Frame SLRs Obsolete?
In reply to Colin Smith1, 8 months ago

At sides of NFL or soon the new Winter Olympic games, there are ocean of Full Frame DSLRs namely 1DX and D4.  I don't see mirrorless cameras in any foreseen future can replace them.  I still see all kinds of other PJs are still using FF DSLRs.  ML FF cameras are good option in landscape, studio and portrait photography however.

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dave
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Re: Are Full Frame SLRs Obsolete?
In reply to Colin Smith1, 8 months ago

As a wildlife photographer you have heavy telephoto lenses to lug around. The slight difference in weight of a camera body is immaterial. Besides the large bright FF view finder is much better with those slow teles.

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Mako2011
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In reply to Dave Luttmann, 8 months ago

Dave Luttmann wrote:

I don't see any of that at all. I see some people say for them they don't see any difference. I've done a number of print comparisons for people and they couldn't see anything either. I think what really happens is that a lot of people blather on about a night and day different....but when presented with a print.....can't seem to see it. Depends on format of course. But for aps-c vs FF, it is pretty much non existant. Going down to m43 it can snow up in moderate print sizes.

I ran a comparison between a D700 and Pentax K-x. At 20x30, people could not see a difference in a landscape type photo. Here is a sample comoarison showing the difference at 20x30. I think it is safe to say there is no difference at all. A shot of the house down my street. Both cameras on tripod, base iso, prime lenses. Huge difference eh?

True for many comparisons. Now try the same comparison of a scene requiring ISO 3200 and a 50% crop

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Are APS-C SLRs Obsolete?
In reply to Colin Smith1, 8 months ago

People will eventually buy FF for best image quality, low ISO, and its lens & camera selection. The APS-C film format died a quiet death and was unnecessarily resurrected to digital for price reasons. The smaller sensors in point & shoots moved to cell phones. Micro 4/3rds provides aps-c image quality with smaller lenses and camera bodies.

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qianp2k
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Re: True
In reply to Mako2011, 8 months ago

Mako2011 wrote:

True for many comparisons. Now try the same comparison of a scene requiring ISO 3200 and a 50% crop

Not true even compared at low ISOs at full size if we compare 24mp D7100/NEX-7 no mention even smaller mFT with D610 or 22mp 5D3 at the same 24mp full size with respective lenses in the same AOV.  Even at ISO 100, the difference is still noticeable.

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Dave Luttmann
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In reply to Mako2011, 8 months ago

Mako2011 wrote:

Dave Luttmann wrote:

I don't see any of that at all. I see some people say for them they don't see any difference. I've done a number of print comparisons for people and they couldn't see anything either. I think what really happens is that a lot of people blather on about a night and day different....but when presented with a print.....can't seem to see it. Depends on format of course. But for aps-c vs FF, it is pretty much non existant. Going down to m43 it can snow up in moderate print sizes.

I ran a comparison between a D700 and Pentax K-x. At 20x30, people could not see a difference in a landscape type photo. Here is a sample comoarison showing the difference at 20x30. I think it is safe to say there is no difference at all. A shot of the house down my street. Both cameras on tripod, base iso, prime lenses. Huge difference eh?

True for many comparisons. Now try the same comparison of a scene requiring ISO 3200 and a 50% crop

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Sure. I'll do even better. This is 6400 iso at 20x30. I dont normally do landscapes, portraits or engagement sessions at 6400 iso and 20x30. That said, I often use 35mm Fuji Pro400H....which has far more noise than any DSLR. Never had anyone comment on that either.

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