To go full frame or not?

Started Apr 8, 2013 | Discussions thread
Rob Sims
Rob Sims Contributing Member • Posts: 607
Re: To go full frame or not?

Tastybread wrote:

Main reasons I love the NEX-6
Prefer the layout of controls.
Love and utilize the tilting screen a lot.
Love the wireless trigger app
The focus peak feature
Not huge, but like and use the smile shutter
Image quality
Above all, the size. I have no inhibitions taking my camera everywhere I go.

Reasons I'm interested in the D600
I love low light situations but hate noise.
The image quality is overwhelmingly tempting. So much detail.

I do hate the size however.

I know this seems more favorable towards the nex, but I love the look of photos taken with full frame cameras and don't know when sony will release a FF NEX. But I wonder if I'll take fewer photos because the size of the nikon seems so cumbersome.


This is going to be a long post, so apologies in advance.  See I moved the other way, going from a FF Nikon D700 down to an APS mirrorless (NEX-6 + NEX-5N).  But I might be able to contribute something if I explain my history a bit:

About 5-6 years ago I had the similar decision as I had been moving up the Nikon range from a D50-->D80-->D90 and mainly because I wanted better low ISO.  The jump from APS to FF would give me a massive 2-3 stop improvement in high ISO performance and I loved the idea of more bokeh.  In fact, the 24-70/F2.8 gave as much bokeh as any F1.8 prime on my APS sized D90, and a 50/F1.4 or 85/F1.8 give me something completely new on FF.  The most immediate thing I noticed was the jump in weight and bulk.  Suddenly, it wasn't just throwing a camera bag into my rucksack with perhaps one spare lens, it become a much more dedicated hobby where I had to plan more when I was going to use my camera and make provision for it.  At the time, it was fine, and I was shooting weddings for friends/family so it was great to 'impress' people with (multiple) large dSLRs and there's no doubt the pictures that came out of the camera where great, with dreamy Bokeh.

But that was then, and this is now.  I was getting more and more sick of lugging my kit around, such that I ended up pretty much taking 'just' the D700 and the 24-70/F2.8 + 50/F1.4 prime with me.  Just bear in mind that FF lenses are also heavy.  The 24-70 alone weighs close to the NEX6 + NEX5n with 2 small lenses. The straw that broke the camel's back was a holiday in Cambodia, visiting Angkor Wat.  It was a scorching day and I got so fed up with the weight of my camera that I vowed never to lug it with me on another holiday... I ended up using my iPhone5 for the photos of the temples. Sad really as I probably won't re-visit.

I 'downgraded' and now carry a NEX-6 + SEL3518 and a NEX-5N + SEL1018, all in a Lowepro Passport, with space for other stuff, and it's all pretty light.   I also have a SEL1650PZ I stick on the NEX-5N if I true a compact camera for the day.  I can tell you, the D700 hasn't been out of the flat once since I made the move to NEX.  It's just not as fun to use for me.

Bear in mind that this is definitely a case of diminishing returns.  The move from a compact to an APS is significant, especially as it opens up the multiple lenses.  The move from APS to FF is greatly less so... but the negatives (weight, bulk, indiscreet usage) add up considerably.  I was lucky to be moving down from FF to APS that was a few generations on, because there was close to no image trade-off, other than perhaps at ISO 6400.  It's an absolute joy to take a photo with a small camera and not scare your subject by facing a giant camera at them.

Only you know your photographic needs, and only you know your tolerances.  But perhaps wait for the NEX-7N, or think about investing in a new prime before jumping on the FF train and perhaps losing some of what makes photography so fun.

Just my 2P's worth.


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