Can we do away with the 35mm equivalent nonsense?

Started Feb 24, 2010 | Discussions thread
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kb2zuz Veteran Member • Posts: 3,202
Can we do away with the 35mm equivalent nonsense?

For decades we were able to get by using a multitude of formats:

  • 8x11mm Minox (3.2x FOV Crop)

  • 110 (2x)

  • APS (1.44 for real APS-C)

  • 35mm

  • 35mm pano (.57x)

  • 645 (.62x)

  • 6x6 (.55x)

  • 6x7 (.5x)

  • 6x8 (.46x)

  • 6x9 (.42x)

  • 6x12 (.34x)

  • 6x17 (.25x)

  • 4x5 (.27x)

  • 5x7 / 13x18cm (.2x)

  • 8x10 (.13x)

  • 11x14 (.1x)

  • 20x24 (.055x)

We never used those FOV crop/focal length multipliers back then, I'm just using it for an illustration of what photogrpahers have dealt with in the past... How many common sensor sizes are we dealing with today? Less than 10?

On all these film formats we would know what a given focal length at a given f/ stop would look like (and if we didn't know exactly, a little visualization or a quick calculation would give us a rough idea.)

When did the consumer become so uneducated that everything has to be dumbed down to the point of actually distorting numbers? I know a 50mm on my 503cx looks very different than a 50mm on my Canon FTb, which looks very different than a 50mm on my D100. I know a 12" (~310mm) lens on my 8x10 Linhof Kardan, looks very different than a 300mm on an APS-C camera. Before I get blasted: I'm not touting my brilliance, claiming I'm smarter than the average consumer, I'm complaining that camera companies (particularly their marketing divisions) are treating us like idiots.

Can the camera companies give the general public some credit? For the low end models stick to the tried and true "3x, 5x, 12x zoom" metric that is easily understandable and "ultra wide angle" or "super telephoto" as qualifiers if necessary, as the people they're marketing those cameras to likely do not even have a solid idea of what 35mm equivalent lenses look like so they don't have a basis for comparison to begin with. But don't sell a pro or semi pro camera or lens with numbers that are roughly equivalent to what it would look like on a different camera. The people that won't understand the physical focal length are not likely to know what a given focal length looks like on 35mm, and those that do, can usually figure it out for themselves.

I yelled at an Olympus rep 4 years ago for trying to tell me their 35-100mm f/2 as the fastest 70-200 lens on the market. The marketing divisions have to give the consumer some credit and faith that they actually understand some of the basics.

Now there are people calling for camera companies to start giving the apertures in "35mm equivalent aperture" which may give a rough qualitative idea of what a lens may perform like but will greatly skew any mathematical analysis, including the most basic things like "what exposure do I use in bright sunlight." What made 35mm the end-all-be-all? When will it end? After aperture gets adjusts will ISO have to be reformulated to the new math? How about Guide numbers for flash? Should shutter speed have a new "equivalent" because IS lets you hand hold for an extra 4 stops?

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