APSC vs FF

Started 10 months ago | Questions
chr68
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APSC vs FF
10 months ago

It looks like the apertures of the FE mount lenses that are available are ~1 stop lower that what we could get on a classic APSC camera.
The 24-70 does only open at 4.  It is easy to find the equivalent on APSC opening at 2.8. ...

This limitation seems inherent to the low distance we have between the sensor and the lens that makes optical corrections much more complex to implement.
I'm wondering then what the benefit would be to have a FF camera like the A7 compared to an other APSC.

Of course I know that with adapters you can set lot of third party lenses.
Concerning the size, if you compares the A7 with an APSC camera, the benefit is less evident.

What are the optical and Image Quality advantage of the A7 full frame camera compared to APSC?

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SQLGuy
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to chr68, 10 months ago

You really should have searched and read some threads here. This has been discussed extensively.

But:

A full frame sensor is about twice the area of an APS-C sensor. That means it needs twice as much light to illuminate it. Correspondingly, a lens of the same field of view, and similar physical size, will probably be a stop slower. In terms of noise and IQ, you get a good one stop advantage on FF over APS-C, so it's a wash.

For me, the big advantages are in using legacy lenses. I get full use out of a 55/1.2, instead of wasting half the light that comes through it, and my 14mm is once again an ultra-wide-angle instead of a 21mm equivalent. A full frame sensor also allows for shorter depth of field for better subject isolation. A lot of fast lenses, especially the more affordable ones, get soft and glowy wide open. Full frame allows you to stop these down a bit for better sharpness and still have good subject isolation and low light capability.

If you're shooting more telephoto, you may be less interested in these benefits, as the APS-C crop factor is a cheaper and (IMO) better way of extending the reach of a long lens than a focal multiplier; and long, fast, full frame lenses are big and expensive.

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Lightshow
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to chr68, 10 months ago

For the most part I echo what SQLGuy has said, if you don't have a manual lens collection the reasons to go FF with E-mount are not that great at the moment other than maybe ISO noise, for many staying with APS-C will be a better choice.
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to chr68, 10 months ago

chr68 wrote:

This limitation seems inherent to the low distance we have between the sensor and the lens that makes optical corrections much more complex to implement.
I'm wondering then what the benefit would be to have a FF camera like the A7 compared to an other APSC.

isn't the nex series aps-c? don't nex cameras have the same short distance situation as the a7?

Of course I know that with adapters you can set lot of third party lenses.
Concerning the size, if you compares the A7 with an APSC camera, the benefit is less evident.

isn't the nex series aps-c? aren't nex cameras the same size as the a7?

perhaps you are confusing aps-c with dslr?

what you really wanted to ask is mirrorless vs. dslr, not aps-c vs. full frame?

What are the optical and Image Quality advantage of the A7 full frame camera compared to APSC?

aps-c dslr or aps-c mirrorless?

or am i just confused? lol

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kartikjayaraman
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to SQLGuy, 10 months ago

To my eyes, the ISO advantage is definitely there in a FF sensor. APS-C just cannot cut it when you go above ISO 400 unless you PP a lot (some bodies like the Nikon D7100 in that price range are pretty good though). Those who have or had owned an APS-C like the A77 know what I am talking about
FF sensors like the A7 are very usable even at ISO 6400:

Here is an ISO6400 shot on a cloudy day with almost no bright colors but looks quite usable

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GaryW
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to kartikjayaraman, 10 months ago

kartikjayaraman wrote:

To my eyes, the ISO advantage is definitely there in a FF sensor. APS-C just cannot cut it when you go above ISO 400 unless you PP a lot (some bodies like the Nikon D7100 in that price range are pretty good though). Those who have or had owned an APS-C like the A77 know what I am talking about

Well, if we were talking about my old A100 I'd agree, but I venture into much higher ISO without as much worry in the past.  For example, I have an ISO 3200 shot that I only did minor NR in PP, and printed at 5x7, I can't tell.  It could be ISO 100 for all one could tell.  So, it really varies depending upon the need.  If you really need top-notch 8x10s, then maybe you need every last scrap of quality, but otherwise, I kind of wonder if people are being a bit obsessive with statements like "you can't go over ISO 400".

FF sensors like the A7 are very usable even at ISO 6400:

Here is an ISO6400 shot on a cloudy day with almost no bright colors but looks quite usable

Perfectly usable, but you probably could have gotten similar results from a Nex camera at 3200.  Anyway, why such a high ISO in the daylight?  Seems a bit unnecessary unless it was really dark, in which case, the photo seems too bright.

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GaryW
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to chr68, 10 months ago

chr68 wrote:

It looks like the apertures of the FE mount lenses that are available are ~1 stop lower that what we could get on a classic APSC camera.
The 24-70 does only open at 4. It is easy to find the equivalent on APSC opening at 2.8. ...

Not easy to find a 24-70 (or equivalent) on the Nex APS-C e-mount at f2.8.  Even if you want to look at DSLRs, I find the APS-C f2.8 lenses to be quite large, heavy and often expensive.

The only f2.8 zoom I have is the Tamron 17-50 and while it's really good, it's big and heavy and more expensive than any other lens I've gotten.  And the corners are soft at f2.8.  You don't hear that too often, but for all of the complaints about soft corners for the kit lens, it's not the only lens with soft corners at wider apertures.  Then again, at f4, it's really sharp, nice color and bokeh.... but heavy.

This limitation seems inherent to the low distance we have between the sensor and the lens that makes optical corrections much more complex to implement.

What limitation?  You can always add dead air to the back of a lens if you want.  Choose any DSLR f2.8 lens, add an adapter, and stick it on your FE-mount camera.  Done.

The limitation is that DSLRs cannot use a lens with a short registration, and can only be so compact.

I'm wondering then what the benefit would be to have a FF camera like the A7 compared to an other APSC.

If size or weight matters, I'm wondering what the benefit would be in a DSLR.  

Of course I know that with adapters you can set lot of third party lenses.
Concerning the size, if you compares the A7 with an APSC camera, the benefit is less evident.

Whether A7 or Nex, I think size has to be part of the equation. If that's not important, then it's probably a better idea to use a DSLR with a wider lens range to choose from -- some of which are cheap lenses, some not -- same with bodies.  The A7 might have a slight price advantage depending on what you wanted to do with it.

But, I would have to think long and hard before getting an FF camera with f4 lenses instead of using an APS-C camera with f2.8 lenses.  Put a prime on the FF, and you may have a different calculation.

What are the optical and Image Quality advantage of the A7 full frame camera compared to APSC?

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Fredy Ross
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to GaryW, 10 months ago

If you don't take landscapes and don't print large and don't crop you don't need full frame. I bought the a7r for landscapes. I expect to see every leaf clear and sharp. I still haven't got the right lens 24-70mm which I am waiting for but have been using my ultra wide ff at 15mm in the meantime. I have found inside a church that 64000ISO in full frame was good for a large print and a shot I took of an outside scene didn't blow out the sky, so I am a happy camper. Sony is letting everyone down by not producing excellent lenses till now but they will come. In the meantime I am using my canon lenses with metabones adapter. fredmiranda just did a review of his experience with the a7r. good luck with your decision.

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Lightshow
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to kartikjayaraman, 10 months ago

To my eyes, the ISO advantage is definitely there in a FF sensor. APS-C just cannot cut it when you go above ISO 400 unless you PP a lot (some bodies like the Nikon D7100 in that price range are pretty good though). Those who have or had owned an APS-C like the A77 know what I am talking about
FF sensors like the A7 are very usable even at ISO 6400:

Here is an ISO6400 shot on a cloudy day with almost no bright colors but looks quite usable

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Hmm, that's interesting, I have a bunch of >800 ISO shots on my NEX-7 that are very usable, same with my A7r with some shots >10000 ISO, it really depends on the subject, how it's shot, and how it's displayed.
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Chad Hardy
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to chr68, 10 months ago

What do you like to shoot?  I like the A7 because it is an everything camera.  It isn't the best at anything, but it is really good at everything.  It is probably worst at sports/action and to be honest it is still good enough for my enthusiast needs.  From there it only gets better.

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Jim Maher
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to Fredy Ross, 10 months ago

Add to that if you don't need shallow depth of field for portraiture, or other people shots ,than you don't need full frame.

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SQLGuy
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to Jim Maher, 10 months ago

Jim Maher wrote:

Add to that if you don't need shallow depth of field for portraiture, or other people shots ,than you don't need full frame.

-Jim

I'd disagree with that on a few bases:

1. Larger sensors are better for low light shooting.

2. Larger sensors are better for wide angle shooting.

3. Full frame sensors allow you to take better advantage of the wealth of legacy SLR lenses out there. There was a recent test someone did comparing a $6000 35mm Leica Summicron on a NEX-7 to a probably $100 or less Olympus OM 50mm on an A7. Effective field of view is the same for these two combinations. To my eye, the A7/OM combination won handily. I certainly get better use out of my old lenses on the A7 than I did on the NEX-7 I owned previously. Also, using a full frame sensor with a full frame legacy lens mean you can use the correct hood with the lens... an added bonus.

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RonFrank
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to chr68, 10 months ago

Nigel Tufnel: "These go to 11."

FF is likely more to do with DOF and shooting wide, although APS lenses go as wide as FF.

Does the extra size provide necessary real estate?  No.

Is the ISO advantage significant? Not really.  Look at latest DXO ISO rankings to compare, we are at the point of nit picky meaningless debates when it is APS vs. 35mm.

I shot FF for decades. I now shoot APS.  APS has some advantages as does FF which is why I will keep my APS and buy a FF at some point.

IMO the FF A7 is rather pointless as the lenses are hardly a savings and the APS Nex5x/6/7 were great size wise.  The way things are going we will have a DSLR sized mirrorless kit that can not focus well compared to DSLR, but won't that be awesome... or not....

DSLRs grew to 36mpix a couple years ago, but that is rarely needed much less actually used. I see very few folks printing beyond 11x14" with their monster sensors. There are a few, but the 16mpix Nex6 can make a great 20x30".  36mpix, not needed especially when one can stitch photos with little effort.

The A7/r camera is a great landscape tool.  Shooting birds OTOH is rather pointless as a DSLR does a much better job and size is irreverent when you are carrying a 8-12 lbs lens.    The A7 is a small package but the glass is FF and the size difference drops to almost nothing  as the lens focal length increases.  I like the larger bodies when shooting a larger lens like my 80-200mm f2.8.

Lets face it, technology has made the technology so good it has gone beyond our needs.  I know of no one printing beyond 20x30" so do we need a sensor that can enlarge to bill board size? Because that my friend is what a 36mpix sensor is good for, printing/displaying REALLY big!

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Euell
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to SQLGuy, 10 months ago

SQLGuy wrote:

You really should have searched and read some threads here. This has been discussed extensively.

But:

A full frame sensor is about twice the area of an APS-C sensor. That means it needs twice as much light to illuminate it. Correspondingly, a lens of the same field of view, and similar physical size, will probably be a stop slower. In terms of noise and IQ, you get a good one stop advantage on FF over APS-C, so it's a wash.

For me, the big advantages are in using legacy lenses. I get full use out of a 55/1.2, instead of wasting half the light that comes through it, and my 14mm is once again an ultra-wide-angle instead of a 21mm equivalent. A full frame sensor also allows for shorter depth of field for better subject isolation. A lot of fast lenses, especially the more affordable ones, get soft and glowy wide open. Full frame allows you to stop these down a bit for better sharpness and still have good subject isolation and low light capability.

If you're shooting more telephoto, you may be less interested in these benefits, as the APS-C crop factor is a cheaper and (IMO) better way of extending the reach of a long lens than a focal multiplier; and long, fast, full frame lenses are big and expensive.

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A7 with kit lens and a number of legacy lenses (mostly Canon FD)

A full frame lens can be used with a tilting adapter for an APSC camera, but not generally on a full frame camera. This, of course, only applies to non-emount lenses, E-mount lenses do not require an adapter.

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blue_skies
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to chr68, 10 months ago

chr68 wrote:

It looks like the apertures of the FE mount lenses that are available are ~1 stop lower that what we could get on a classic APSC camera.
The 24-70 does only open at 4. It is easy to find the equivalent on APSC opening at 2.8. ...

This limitation seems inherent to the low distance we have between the sensor and the lens that makes optical corrections much more complex to implement.
I'm wondering then what the benefit would be to have a FF camera like the A7 compared to an other APSC.

Of course I know that with adapters you can set lot of third party lenses.
Concerning the size, if you compares the A7 with an APSC camera, the benefit is less evident.

What are the optical and Image Quality advantage of the A7 full frame camera compared to APSC?

Using f/2.8 'super' zoom (wide-to-tele) lenses would quickly evaporate the 'compactness' factor of the A7/r cameras. Going with f/4 OSS lenses is a better choice.

I'd rather carry an f/4 OSS zoom lens with a faster prime, than having to use the large f/2.8 OSS zoom all day long. The same argument can be made for the APS-C cameras - even for APS-C, f/2.8 results in a sizable lens.

Consider that the FE2470Z/4.0 lens is similar in size & cost as the m43 12-40/2.8 Pro lens - you'll realize that even smaller format cameras pay a hefty price for fast zoom lenses.

You can adapt f/2.8 non-FE lenses quite easily, so you have plenty of options.

Mind you, there is no image box, so wide-angle lenses do not grow to artificial large sizes because they have to rear-project the image from a distance. Rather, they can come much closer to the sensor (except that the extreme case, UWA RF, causes magenta shift and smearing issues in the corners on the FF sensors).

If lenses are larger than the cameras flange distance, e.g. at around 55mm, the benefit of mirrorless disappears, as the lens for a mirror-box based DSLR and the mirrorless cameras reach about the same distance from the sensor in each format. (DLSR using a shorter lens - that needs an adapter on mirrorless).

As to the FF versus APS-C trade-off, the FF sensor is more than twice the area of the APS-C sensor. This requires lenses to project a larger image circle, which will grow lenses in girth: at the same FL, the FF lens will be heavier/wider. With such a lens, your sensor receives over twice the amount of light, and can have much larger pixel sites at similar resolutions, which all results in the larger sensor having higher dynamic range, producing lower noise levels at higher ISO settings, and capturing more fine detail for a lower resolving lens (as the lp/mm actually goes down for the larger sensor).

With the A7, you'd gain: noise-free, high ISO, shallow DOF (control), sharper images (with lp/mm limited lens), but the cons are: heavier lenses, needs more precise focus, larger camera body.

With the APS-C Nex, you'd loose roughly a stop wrt/ noise, ISO, DOF control, and you would need higher IQ lenses for the 24Mp sensors (Nex-7, A6000). But the lenses would be smaller & lighter, focus can be quicker (fewer steps), and the camera bodies are tiniest.

I would recommend carrying a zoom and a prime. If they are both OSS, you are also covered for video with either. The A7/r does not have OSS prime lenses yet, so video with a prime will be choppy, unless you use a stabilizer or video tripod. Of course, an f/1.8 prime on the A7 is a full stop beyond the f/1.8 prime on the Nex, resulting in more DOF control and lower noise output.

If you use the A7/r mostly in stopped down aperture mode (e.g. to gain more sharpness), then the better choice would be an APS-C camera, unless you have a lot of legacy glass. With legacy glass you have the choice to use a focal reducer (speed booster) on the APS-C or use the A7/r FF. In both cases, the lens will be back to its intended use (wider FOV than just APS-C crop).

Sometimes, using a straight adapter, narrowing the FOV by the crop factor, can be beneficial. E.g. if you have a fast 35mm/f1.8 lens, then with both straight and speed booster adapters you effectively get two lenses: 35/f1.4 and 50/f1.8. (Note, the lens is made 'faster', but effectively, since you are using a slower sensor, it is the same as using the lens on the A7/r).

On the A7/r, you can achieve the same by using 'crop-mode', but the pixel count drops to 10.5Mp for the A7 and 15Mp for the A7r.

If you use tilt and shift adapters, than only the APS-C has low cost solutions. On the A7/r you'd have to get a TS lens, which are quite expensive.

Look at pictures that you typically take - what type of lens, what type of lighting, what type of exposure. If you have lots of high-ISO images with stopped down aperture, just get a faster prime lens. But if you have lots of high-ISO images with a fast lens, you may want the A7/r FF sensor. If most of your ISO is at 1600 or below, you'd be happier with APS-C cameras.

(Be careful with the Nex-7, it is ISO 1600 limited, that is a stop slower than the other Nex cameras at ISO 3200).

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SQLGuy
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to Euell, 10 months ago

Euell wrote:

SQLGuy wrote:

You really should have searched and read some threads here. This has been discussed extensively.

But:

A full frame sensor is about twice the area of an APS-C sensor. That means it needs twice as much light to illuminate it. Correspondingly, a lens of the same field of view, and similar physical size, will probably be a stop slower. In terms of noise and IQ, you get a good one stop advantage on FF over APS-C, so it's a wash.

For me, the big advantages are in using legacy lenses. I get full use out of a 55/1.2, instead of wasting half the light that comes through it, and my 14mm is once again an ultra-wide-angle instead of a 21mm equivalent. A full frame sensor also allows for shorter depth of field for better subject isolation. A lot of fast lenses, especially the more affordable ones, get soft and glowy wide open. Full frame allows you to stop these down a bit for better sharpness and still have good subject isolation and low light capability.

If you're shooting more telephoto, you may be less interested in these benefits, as the APS-C crop factor is a cheaper and (IMO) better way of extending the reach of a long lens than a focal multiplier; and long, fast, full frame lenses are big and expensive.

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A full frame lens can be used with a tilting adapter for an APSC camera, but not generally on a full frame camera. This, of course, only applies to non-emount lenses, E-mount lenses do not require an adapter.

Sure, but how often does someone actually do it? It's a lot more common to want to use lenses for regular photo taking than on tilting or shifting adapters. Add to that reports that the cheap shifting adapters are pretty much worthless...

Regarding RonFrank's comment about little difference in ISO capability, here's the actual DXO comparison of the A7 and NEX-7. Same resolution, more than a stop difference in high ISO noise: http://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-A7-versus-Sony-NEX-7___916_736

This shot was at ISO 5000 on the A7. Before the A7, I had a NEX-7... it wouldn't touch this at 3200, let alone 6400 (which was the next step it could hit):

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kartikjayaraman
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to GaryW, 10 months ago

GaryW wrote:

I have an ISO 3200 shot that I only did minor NR in PP, and printed at 5x7, I can't tell. It could be ISO 100 for all one could tell.

Actually most camera sensors can create images which will look clear in 5x7. We are talking about pixel level clarity here. You should be able to crop heavily and still retail clarity even at high ISO. FF sensors can do this much better IMO.

GaryW wrote:

I kind of wonder if people are being a bit obsessive with statements like "you can't go over ISO 400".

I said "when you go over ISO 400" and that is true for most scenarios. If you don't crop or create only 5x7s then you may be able to scrape by; but at ISO800 and above, APS-C sensors start showing Luminance as well as Color noise. I can't comment about all APS-C cameras but when I briefly had the A77 I could clearly see this artifact. But again if you are only viewing screen size/small prints  you might not be able to "see" a difference, although there is. PP however has improved a lot and tools like Topaz provide great NR features so a lot of high ISO APS-C images can be made to look "cleaner" at the sacrifice of losing some detail (unless you do selective NR).

Here is an example of an ISO1600 shot shot with the APS-C camera A500 , the shot was cleaned with Topaz. Looks clean and will definitely look good in a 5x7 or even a 1.5x11 print but a little bit of feather detail was sacrificed which again is not very evident due to the Sharpening used.

There are some APS-C cameras which are pretty good at handling high ISO but then there are many variables involved. I think the NEX-6 and Nikon D7100 for example do a good job in this area.

GaryW wrote:

Perfectly usable, but you probably could have gotten similar results from a Nex camera at 3200. Anyway, why such a high ISO in the daylight? Seems a bit unnecessary unless it was really dark, in which case, the photo seems too bright.

Well It was a cloudy day and at 300mm and 1/320s and f/5.6 (wide open) the camera marked an Auto ISO of 6400 which caused the image to be exposed well (especially the shadows in the feather areas). The photo does not look too bright to me.

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FuzzyQball
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to kartikjayaraman, 10 months ago

My 5n will go to 3200 no problem.

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Euell
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to SQLGuy, 10 months ago

SQLGuy wrote:

Euell wrote:

SQLGuy wrote:

You really should have searched and read some threads here. This has been discussed extensively.

But:

A full frame sensor is about twice the area of an APS-C sensor. That means it needs twice as much light to illuminate it. Correspondingly, a lens of the same field of view, and similar physical size, will probably be a stop slower. In terms of noise and IQ, you get a good one stop advantage on FF over APS-C, so it's a wash.

For me, the big advantages are in using legacy lenses. I get full use out of a 55/1.2, instead of wasting half the light that comes through it, and my 14mm is once again an ultra-wide-angle instead of a 21mm equivalent. A full frame sensor also allows for shorter depth of field for better subject isolation. A lot of fast lenses, especially the more affordable ones, get soft and glowy wide open. Full frame allows you to stop these down a bit for better sharpness and still have good subject isolation and low light capability.

If you're shooting more telephoto, you may be less interested in these benefits, as the APS-C crop factor is a cheaper and (IMO) better way of extending the reach of a long lens than a focal multiplier; and long, fast, full frame lenses are big and expensive.

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A7 with kit lens and a number of legacy lenses (mostly Canon FD)

A full frame lens can be used with a tilting adapter for an APSC camera, but not generally on a full frame camera. This, of course, only applies to non-emount lenses, E-mount lenses do not require an adapter.

Sure, but how often does someone actually do it? It's a lot more common to want to use lenses for regular photo taking than on tilting or shifting adapters. Add to that reports that the cheap shifting adapters are pretty much worthless...

Regarding RonFrank's comment about little difference in ISO capability, here's the actual DXO comparison of the A7 and NEX-7. Same resolution, more than a stop difference in high ISO noise: http://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-A7-versus-Sony-NEX-7___916_736

This shot was at ISO 5000 on the A7. Before the A7, I had a NEX-7... it wouldn't touch this at 3200, let alone 6400 (which was the next step it could hit):

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A7 with kit lens and a number of legacy lenses (mostly Canon FD)

Don't we expect the NEX 7 successor to be a bit better at high ISO? I would rather hope so. Of course, iit can never be as good as a technologically equivalent full frame sensor, but it can get very close. As far as tilt is concerned, I actually can use the scheimflug advantage a fair amount and am thinking of acquiring just such an adapter. If you've never shot large format, then you simply can't appreciate what tilt can do for you in expanding DOF.

 Euell's gear list:Euell's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Sony Alpha NEX-5 Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony a6000 Canon EF 300mm f/4.0L IS USM +15 more
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Jabez02
Regular MemberPosts: 406
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Re: APSC vs FF
In reply to blue_skies, 10 months ago

If you are only wanting to use T / S functions for every so often for special projects then you could use software such as DxO ViewPoint  2.

It;s a lot cheaper than a Canon 17 or 24mm. Like with all software manipulation you will loose some pixels doing so, but if you start with a well exposed and sharply focused 24MP or 36MP then you won't notice a lot of difference.

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