Are Full Frame SLRs Obsolete?

Started Jan 4, 2014 | Discussions thread
papillon_65 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,030
Re: Obsolete? Really?

Robemo wrote:

I'm not sure what came into the respectable Reichmann to write such a silly article. And I'm not sure why anyone bothers about this question. In fact there is nothing new to discuss. I guess people become confused by the plethora of 'new' camera models and formats.

But as you should know (you have the age to remember) it's all history repeating itself. In the film days the image quality of cameras was decided by the film size, the optics and the photographer (as the person taking the picture, but also as the person that developed and printed the film). There were different models for different film sizes. Most 'amateurs' chose not to walk around with a Linhof, but went for 35mm cameras.

But even within that segment the manufacturers tried to reach specific customers and created markets for specific users with pocket 35 mm, 35mm interchangeable lens cameras, SLR's, bridge cameras and what have you. All to get people to buy the camera they 'needed' or wanted.

Biggest difference with digital are all these sensor sizes which make things confusing. But for the rest it's quite the same. Most people don't print large size prints, not in the film days and not in the digital days. Most of them never needed a DSLR no matter what sensor size in the first place. Yet, they buy DSLR's. Again, nothing new.

There has always been this group of photographers, pro or non pro, that needed the quality of bigger sensors. They didn't suddenly disappear. So why should this group suddenly stop using full frame DSLR? I don't get it. Certainly not because of the Sony A7's. With lenses still the same size, with a bulky lens adapter if you want to use your old glass making the combo just as large as a DSLR and with some serious limitations this is not the revolution that will change everything either. A nice niche camera at best. Will there be a game changer tomorrow? Who knows and who cares if you want to make photos now?

As long as the manufacturers make money with full frame cameras, they will stay. And as my sales rep tells me, the budget full frame DSLR's of the big two are selling very well. Despite the Reichmann rant. And yes, lots of the buyers are upgraders coming from smaller sensor size cameras and probably lots of them won't print large ever. They just fell for the marketing slogans that promise better image quality. Just like in the old days.

I mostly agree but the image quality is better, not in leaps and bounds as of old but still better in terms of tonality and colour etc, particularly as you raise ISO. A property often ignored is the fact the files are more malleable, so if you're into heavy post processing, and sometimes I am, then there is a distinct advantage to a larger sensor.

As for whether anyone non-professional needs a full frame DSLR, Do I detect a slight note of condescension? Most people don't need the performance of a BMW, and in fact can't even take advantage of their top speed etc, yet BMW sell millions of them. Do I, as a non professional need a full frame camera? well if my criteria of image quality is at that level then yes I do. If I want a nice full body shallow dof effect at 35mm or less then yes I do. Full frame cameras are not even that expensive anymore, you can pick up a 5D or 5D2 for less than many smaller format cameras. Lets try to avoid stereotyping people who buy full frame cameras, most people don't need huge TV's yet they also sell in their millions and I don't see people worrying about that. All a user of full frame wants is the same look you can get with the 35mm film but without the hassle, because that's what many of us grew up with, so it's the norm really, there's nothing inherently special or wrong about it, they're just more affordable these days, so why not?

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