with low light performance of the 5n, what is the appeal of full-frame?

Started Nov 10, 2012 | Discussions thread
RicksAstro Veteran Member • Posts: 3,647
Re: I answered a question about the *appeal* of FF

tesilab wrote:

I'm not confusing facts with psychology.

I am fully aware of (and covet) the factual advantages of FF sensors over smaller sensors.

  • The fact that other things being equal a larger pitch pixel wil collect more light and have less noise is well known.
  • The fact that larger sensors allow a shallower depth of field covering the same FOV as a smaller sensor is also well known.

Except for size, I thought the D700 to be the perfect camera at the time it came out. I would prefer the latest generation technology be applied to a full frame sensor with a lower pixel count, since I shoot in the dark, and I've always been an available light photographer.

BUT the question that was asked was about what explains the appeal of FF cameras. And I think FF, for its benefits, has an appeal that exceeds its indisputable benefits. So my answer addresses the gap between the real benefits of FF cameras and their appeal. Psychology does play a role here.

Actually, pixel pitch has very little to do with image noise performance in modern sensors with microlenses.   The latest high megapixel count cameras have virtually identical high ISO performance at the image level (not per pixel level) then their less dense counterparts even at the same level of technology.  DXO tests confirm this over and over.

It's the overall surface area of FF camera which is by far the largest benefit for noise.  At the same f stop, the FF is gathering over twice as much light than it's APSC counterpart (and 4x the m43 cameras).   When viewed at the same magnification/image size, that is what gives FF the advantage.

I think your "psychological" appeal comes down mostly to the shallower DOF a FF can give.    A smaller sensor camera just doesn't look as nice with similarly prices lenses.  Put the ultra cheap 50 1.8 on a FF camera, and you can produce some beautiful shots that you can't replicate on APSC or m43 for 5-10x the price of lens.   The blurred background give images that more "professional" look to most of the public.   Yes, a pro with a great eye can produce even more meaningful and dramatic images with deeper DOF in many cases, but the shallow DOF look is a great crutch for the average photographer to help isolate your subject and make a pleasant looking image (i.e. no branches growing out of your subject's head).

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