Lens vs Camera: The FF APS-C Dilemma

Started Aug 3, 2014 | Discussions thread
Pepe-Lepue Senior Member • Posts: 1,942
FF getting cheaper - but glass osnt

philip pj wrote:

'Absolutely. It's the NEX-7 of the FF crowd; an older (but still excellent) sensor design, no on-sensor PDAF, very demanding of lenses, and has some awkward features like lack of EFC'

Not my experience at all. ... Sensor is two years old and good enough to be better than everything else! ... See below for lack of EFC induced anything you care to dream up.

My quote isn't disputing the quality of the sensor but merely stating it's age (it is from the same generation as the NEX-7 sensor). It doesn't have PDAF on sensor. 36MP FF is very demanding... although I bet you usually get more resolved than 24MP FF, especially near the center. However, my complaints about lack of EFC have nothing to do with inducing anything. Lack of EFC causes an extra shutter actuation each time you press the shutter button and that:

  • Adds latency (delay) to when the image is captured... not a lot, but noticeable.
  • Adds sound... not surprisingly, about 3X as annoying on my A7 vs. A7 with EFC on.

Using EFC actually reduces IQ slightly under some circumstances, but not enough for me to worry about even for most of my computational photography experiments. In fact, I have the same two complaints about lack of EFC on my NEX-5. IMHO, it is way past time for Sony to design the sensor chips to get rid of the mechanical shutter entirely -- and I'd be very happy if they could use the extra power and space for sensor-movement anti-shake.

It's the same with all my lenses whether they cost $200, $1000 or $1600.

My average lens cost me under $30... not that cost correlates all that well with IQ. As I stated before, most lenses can resolve at least 14MP on APS-C, which means the A7R is just barely getting what most lenses have to offer near the center (some lenses can out-resolve 24MP APS-C, but that's basically up against diffraction limits for most lenses wide open -- beyond them for red light or stopped down). The FF edges are another story, but probably more often for dark corners near wide open than for blur -- which is the surprising result I pointed-out in my article.

The camera companies never took APS-C crop sensors seriously (see how few primes to convince yourself) and nor should you. It is cul-de-sac, in my opinion.

Pentax and Fuji sure are taking APS-C seriously, and others are serious about micro4/3.

I'm not sure I disagree with your "cul-de-sac" notion, but FF may be one too. It will not be too long before fab technology makes FF and even larger sensors cheap enough to not be a major issue. I think things are headed both directions: tiny sensors embedded in things and bigger sensors for dedicated cameras. I'm working toward a 500MP, >1000FPS, 4x5" sensor in my research.

Right now, the sweet spot is somewhere between APS-C and FF, and it's there not just for fab cost, but also because there are so many lenses (and lens designs that can be tweaked for new lenses) to choose from for that range. I don't know if that will continue to be a good enough reason, especially if some new technologies start getting more widely applied in lenses: radical aspherics ("dimpled" lenses, as used in some cell phones), diffractive optics, tunable optics, etc. However, I'd say APS-C will continue to be serious until modestly-priced FF sensors have the same resolution in an APS-C crop (around 54MP FF). I'd guess that's at least a few more years -- which means APS-C and FF will probably both be around when you retire the camera you're about to purchase now.

FF is certainly getting affordable. But the glass isn't getting cheaper. And APS-C glass of the same quality will always be considerably cheaper and lighter.
--
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 Pepe-Lepue's gear list:Pepe-Lepue's gear list
Sony RX100 III Sony a6000 Sony E 30mm F3.5 Macro Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm F1.8 ZA Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS +5 more
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