FF vs DX

Started Jan 12, 2013 | Discussions thread
Daniel Lauring
Daniel Lauring Veteran Member • Posts: 9,342
Re: FF vs DX

yray wrote:

For indoor sports you'll need an FX in my opinion. To get the shutter speed to freeze action in basketball, that is to say at least 1/500 but better 1/640 or 1/800, you'll be shooting at ISO somewhere between 3200 and 6400 in a typical gym, assuming 70-200 2.8. Maybe there are brighter gyms, but I haven't come across them yet. I don't think any DX camera would deliver particularly good quality at this ISO, D7000 not excepting. Maybe D400 will be it, but I doubt it. Even the best FX cameras might be struggling a bit in these conditions, in part not so much because of the high ISO as such, but because the artificial light in a gym tends to be very flat and uninteresting, so all imperfections related to high ISO noise and detail loss related to it will become all the more apparent.

For outdoor football and baseball, it is the opposite. You'll get a whole lot more reach with a DX camera, though D7000 wouldn't be my first pick for sports. Given that you're coming from D90, you're probably already used to it, so the loss of reach from acquiring an FX camera might not be something you'll welcome. But the bottom line, with DX you'll get just as far with much smaller, lighter, cheaper lenses (we might be talking a factor of two or three or even larger for all or some of these parameters depending on the lens choice).

I mostly agree with yray.  A DX has advantages with respect to longer reach...yielding greater depth of field when you need it and more reach for the weight (and dollar.)  Indoors, the FX has the advantage of greater ISO performance.  Another area, where the FX shines, is outdoor landscape photography, where the greater dynamic range is also an advantage, though with a tripod, you can make up for it, on some days, and with some subjects, with HDR.

I will say, however, you can get by in dark gyms with even a DX camera, if you are willing to put up with the lower quality.  I took many picks in horribly dark natatoriums, with a 7D camera and a slow F5.6 lens (because the 100-400IS was all I had with enough reach.)  I shot in RAW and was able to recover decent enough quality for myself and other parents.

One other thing, in low light, sometimes, when you need more DOF, the FX's better ISO performance is nullified by the fact that it needs to be stopped down more and therefore you need to boost the ISO.  For example, in group shots and candids, where people are in different planes, the DX's greater DOF means it might be playing at ISO 1600 while the FX camera is at ISO 5000.

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