Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor for Amateur Sports Photography

Started 4 months ago | Discussions
Edward NJ
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Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor for Amateur Sports Photography
4 months ago

Although I am an amateur, I have taken photography seriously in the past year. I mostly shoot sporting events such as races (5K, 10K, Half-Marathons, Marathons) also Spartan Races and some Tough Mudders for the local chapter of a non-profit organization called Team RWB that helps veterans to connect with their communities through physical and social activities. One of my pictures is being use to advertise their new Nike T-shirts

I have used different L lenses with my modest T4i; I have also used a 6D which I loved, although I wasn’t too thrilled about its autofocus. To make the story short, I was wondering how much are you gaining in image quality if you have to crop your images to compensate for the ‘wider’ angle in a full frame? Is it worth it if am losing some resolution?

I know that ultimately full frame is the way to go but I really like my 70-200 2.8 IS II, I feel that I will lose some reach switching to a full frame, and like I said I do not make money with my photography so a 300mm or 400mm prime are not an option. One of the main reasons why I am asking is because I refuse to buy the Sigma 18-35 1.8 since it’s a non-full frame lens.

Thanks in advance,

Edward

P.S. I just recently started using Flikr, constructive criticism is welcome!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/120991416@N08/sets

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OvinceZ
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Re: Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor for Amateur Sports Photography
In reply to Edward NJ, 4 months ago

I've done a couple of fun runs. You really need two cameras with different lenses attached to do these events. One with the 70-200 or similar and another with 16-35 or 24-70. That way you can cover the start with the tele and as they approach switch to the wider angle. The 60D or 70D might be worth considering. Used cameras are cheaper, too. Ideally the tele can be used with the 
C size sensor and the wide on the full frame. There you go, this is an expensive hobby.

Vince

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BigBen08
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Re: Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor for Amateur Sports Photography
In reply to Edward NJ, 4 months ago

Edward NJ wrote:

To make the story short, I was wondering how much are you gaining in image quality if you have to crop your images to compensate for the ‘wider’ angle in a full frame? Is it worth it if am losing some resolution?

I know that ultimately full frame is the way to go but I really like my 70-200 2.8 IS II, I feel that I will lose some reach switching to a full frame, and like I said I do not make money with my photography so a 300mm or 400mm prime are not an option.

Two benefits of full frame for sports are excellent high ISO image quality (for indoor sports) and superior AF. I'm thinking about cameras like the 1DX, 5D3, 1D4.

If you need such a camera it will have a wider fov compared to your t4i. If you put a 200mm lens on a 5D3 (22mp), it's image would need to be cropped down to 8.6mp to provide the same fov the lens would on the t4i (18mp). Now 8.6mp still gives a pretty decent image quality, but it could be a problem if making large prints.

I don't believe it makes much sense to buy an expensive FF camera and then have to do heavy cropping. Along with the FF camera you'd most likely want a longer lens like the 300 or 400. And that means more money to spend.

For outdoor sports photography you do, upgrading to the 7D for its improved AF would be better than spending a boat load of money for FF.

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GammyKnee
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Re: Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor for Amateur Sports Photography
In reply to OvinceZ, 4 months ago

OvinceZ wrote:

I've done a couple of fun runs. You really need two cameras with different lenses attached to do these events. One with the 70-200 or similar and another with 16-35 or 24-70.

I agree completely: two bodies with wide and tele mounted will let you get much more variety in your shots for this kind of thing.

Regarding cropped FF vs frame-filled crop sensor (or indeed FF + teleconverter vs cropped sensor with bare lens), you'll get a variety of conflicting opinions over which one wins.  Personally I wouldn't want to call it, because the conditions from one race to another will change, tilting the advantage one way or the other. For example, in some races you may be able to get much closer to the competitors. Don't forget that a compromise option is available in the form of APS-H; you could get a used 1D (mark IV, III or even IIn) that will excel at sports and give you a blend between image quality and "reach". Just a thought.

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Gearóid Ó Laoi, Garry Lee
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Re: Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor for Amateur Sports Photography
In reply to BigBen08, 4 months ago

Edward NJ wrote:

To make the story short, I was wondering how much are you gaining in image quality if you have to crop your images to compensate for the ‘wider’ angle in a full frame? Is it worth it if am losing some resolution?

I know that ultimately full frame is the way to go but I really like my 70-200 2.8 IS II, I feel that I will lose some reach switching to a full frame, and like I said I do not make money with my photography so a 300mm or 400mm prime are not an option.

Two benefits of full frame for sports are excellent high ISO image quality (for indoor sports) and superior AF. I'm thinking about cameras like the 1DX, 5D3, 1D4.

If you need such a camera it will have a wider fov compared to your t4i. If you put a 200mm lens on a 5D3 (22mp), it's image would need to be cropped down to 8.6mp to provide the same fov the lens would on the t4i (18mp). Now 8.6mp still gives a pretty decent image quality, but it could be a problem if making large prints.

I don't believe it makes much sense to buy an expensive FF camera and then have to do heavy cropping. Along with the FF camera you'd most likely want a longer lens like the 300 or 400. And that means more money to spend.

For outdoor sports photography you do, upgrading to the 7D for its improved AF would be better than spending a boat load of money for FF.

I have ff myself and 1d4 but i agree with above.
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chile7236
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Re: Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor for Amateur Sports Photography
In reply to Edward NJ, 4 months ago

not an educated shooter but i have been shooting surfers and track meets for a little bit now.  mostly used my 7D and it has been good to me (paired with the EF70-300 IS USM and the Sigma 150-500).  i am getting ready to see if the 6D can give me the same (read: hoping for even better) results.  i just got my 6D and have mostly shot birds/birds in flight with the two lenses and i am pretty happy with it.  cropping an FF image keeps the image cleaner than cropping the APS-C shots in my short experience using the 7D and 6D...once the surf picks up, i intend to see how the 6D handles it.

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Peter too
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Re: Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor for Amateur Sports Photography
In reply to Edward NJ, 4 months ago

I have used a 5D3 with a 70-200 F4 IS to shoot a marathon and the same lens on a 7D to shoot tennis matches. The high frame rate of the 7D is good in e.g. tennis where you are trying to capture that instant when the ball is on the racket and the player has both feet off the ground. For tennis an even higher frame would be useful. For a road race there is less need to capture that perfect instant and a 5D3 works well.

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CE Barnes
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Re: Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor for Amateur Sports Photography
In reply to Edward NJ, 4 months ago

Edward NJ wrote:

To make the story short, I was wondering how much are you gaining in image quality if you have to crop your images to compensate for the ‘wider’ angle in a full frame? Is it worth it if am losing some resolution?

Hi Edward,

I trust al is well.  You got some good advise here in the forum..  Full frame vs APS-C or APS-H will continue to be a debatable subject forever.  I shoot sports exclusively and have been doing so for over 25 years.  Although for some years I shoot full frame I used to do it with a  APS-C sensor camera.  When you do the transition to full frame you will notice the difference.  The lost of reach alone will make you wonder if you did the right choice.  I am, like you, completely in love with my 70-200 f/2.8 and think that it's a great choice for shooting races.

To answer your question, what you will gain in other aspects such as the ones mentioned by others here in the discussion will compensate for the loss of reach, and you will not be affected much by cropping.  The other aspect that has not been mentioned but that has been the topic of many discussions is pixel density.  For example, my 1DS might have fewer MPixels than other cameras but it has higher pixel density than many.

For the kind of imaging you are taking you don't need to change your gear.  Enjoy what you are doing!

Cheers,

Charlie

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Edward NJ
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Re: Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor for Amateur Sports Photography
In reply to Edward NJ, 4 months ago

Thank you for the great replies!!  This forum is great, unfortunately it's hard to get the best of both worlds cheap 

Things would be easier if Canon had a nice EF-11-24 2.8, so I would not have to debate over the Sigma 18-35 1.8 (non FF lens).  I really liked the 6D but the auto focus and burst rate were a little disappointing, specially the auto focus.  I could live with less reach with my 70-200 if the auto focus was a little more appropriate for sports in that way I wouldn't be sacrificing reach and also AF cross points (even my T4i has nine).

Well, we'll see what Canon has to offer this year, the release of the new 7D Mark II specs may settle the debate for me.  I am leaning towards staying in the crop market for now, unless Canon releases a 6D Mark II with more cross AF points, which is probably not happening in the near future.  5D Mark III still too expensive for me, considering that photography it's a hobby.

Edward

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irm
irm
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Re: Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor for Amateur Sports Photography
In reply to Edward NJ, 4 months ago

I am  not sure what your issue is with the AF? I have used 10D, 40D, 7D and now 6D. The 6D has a lesser burst rate than the 7D, but still is more than acceptable for athletics at least.

In most cases I only use 1 focus point for landscape mode, but the disappointing thing is switching to portrait and trying to have the athlete properly located in the photo, but this is also an issue with the 7D.

You learn to use your tools to get the best from them.

I do find that I like the results from the 6D, I did have problems with the 40D and 7D, the results in my mind were not as good as the 10D.

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irm
irm
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Re: Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor for Amateur Sports Photography
In reply to irm, 4 months ago

Have a look at the exif for this one.

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chile7236
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Re: Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor for Amateur Sports Photography
In reply to irm, 4 months ago

yeah, I shot some surfers today with my 6D for the first time...definitely an adjustment but I was able to readjust my timing.  I did miss a few shots but nothing that made me want to throw it in the ocean.

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saralecaire
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Re: Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor for Amateur Sports Photography
In reply to Edward NJ, 4 months ago

If it's mostly outdoors with good daylight, don't discount the practicality of super zooms.

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Gregh42
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Re: Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor for Amateur Sports Photography
In reply to Edward NJ, 4 months ago

Edward NJ wrote:

Although I am an amateur, I have taken photography seriously in the past year. I mostly shoot sporting events such as races (5K, 10K, Half-Marathons, Marathons) also Spartan Races and some Tough Mudders for the local chapter of a non-profit organization called Team RWB that helps veterans to connect with their communities through physical and social activities. One of my pictures is being use to advertise their new Nike T-shirts

I have used different L lenses with my modest T4i; I have also used a 6D which I loved, although I wasn’t too thrilled about its autofocus. To make the story short, I was wondering how much are you gaining in image quality if you have to crop your images to compensate for the ‘wider’ angle in a full frame? Is it worth it if am losing some resolution?

I know that ultimately full frame is the way to go but I really like my 70-200 2.8 IS II, I feel that I will lose some reach switching to a full frame, and like I said I do not make money with my photography so a 300mm or 400mm prime are not an option. One of the main reasons why I am asking is because I refuse to buy the Sigma 18-35 1.8 since it’s a non-full frame lens.

Thanks in advance,

Edward

P.S. I just recently started using Flikr, constructive criticism is welcome!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/120991416@N08/sets

I recently made the switch from a 7D (also a crop sensor) to a 5d iii and just shot a few soccer games. I am shooting with the 70-200 non-IS, so it is similar to your situation.

My initial impressions:

1) I do miss the reach. I'm going to purchase a 1.4x converter. 50-75% of my shots were at the max end of the lens. For me this is more of a "shooting style" thing. It depends on the type of shots you are trying to get. I am also adjusting my style to have more shots that are a little wider.

2) This may be a little subjective, but I think the image quality is quite a bit better on my 5d iii with the same lens. The bokeh is "creamier" than what it was before.

3) The AF is also really solid on the FF 5diii (and also good on the 6D from what I've heard). On my recent shoot I only had a few pictures that were out of focus, mostly due to the Servo mode I was running and other players jumping in front. In the past on the 7D I was also impressed with the AF, but I think the 5d iii is better.

4) I miss the FPS of the 7D... It's not quite as good as the 7D.

For me, the balance of FF vs. Crop is between getting the shots (where FPS/reach is important) and balancing the better image quality. If you're going for mostly sports I think you'd be happier with a 7D. Either way you'd have a significant step up from your T4i. Unless you are selling your photos, or really finicky, the better IQ may not be worth the premium.

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Edward NJ
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Re: Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor for Amateur Sports Photography
In reply to Gregh42, 4 months ago

Thanks Greg.  I can always rent a FF when if I really feel the need for better ISO or dynamic range performance.  The 7D Mark II may be coming soon, hopefully it won't disappoint.  I rented the 6D last year for a Spartan Sprint (partially indoor); I liked the IQ and ISO performance was outstanding; however I felt a little limited with the one cross type point in a larger view frame.  I also missed some of the reach I have with my T4i.

A 1.4TC sounds like a good plan for a 5D Mark III and a 70-200, good luck.

Edward

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