Any Advantage to Full Frame?

Started Aug 26, 2014 | Questions thread
Matsu Senior Member • Posts: 2,027
Of course there are advantages...
5

and as I noted higher up in the thread, they are basically the same as with film. Digital has blurred the lines of comparison for some people, and in some cases. Some have pointed out that you have to look at the blur circles produced by lenses at common apertures to understand why 24MP on one format may not be exactly the same as 24MP on another.

There's a good tutorial here

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/diffraction-photography.htm

Surface area matters because a lens can only focus a point down to a certain diameter for any given aperture. The optical limits of the system come into play.*

There is another side to this too. A smaller sensor can use a wider focal length lens to achieve the same field of view, and this will allow it to use a larger aperture to achieve the same depth of field. So, in theory, you could use a 1.3 stop faster aperture on DX, with a lens of equivalent field of view, to get the same depth in a scene while using a lower sensitivity, all else being equal. It's a trade off, but the lenses do not exist in every case to make the formats directly comparable, for every purpose, not even in the newer APSC or 4/3rds mirror-less formats. For example, there's nothing with as much total light gathering ability as a f/1.8 lens on FX. DX needs f/1.2 to even come close, 4/3rds needs speeds even greater than f/1.

*Now, I've looked at a lot of photos before I ever dared to make any myself - I studied journalism and propaganda for a time. And, looking at both digital and film, I believe digital makes better use of the optical system when it comes to extracting detail and printing it to create the impression of sharpness. Enough of a difference, that digital sensors can keep pace with films many times larger, easily as much as 4x. If I were drawing new world comparisons of digital to film, I'd be tempted to compare them thusly:

1" to 4/3rds sized sensors span a range of quality roughly equal to average 35mm film exposures under field conditions to excellent 35mm film exposures under ideal/studio conditions.

APSC/DX compares roughly to average to good 645 under field conditions

FX beats 645 and compares well with 6x7 studio frames if you exercise good technique/discipline.

It's a good time to be making pictures. The beauty of 135 format is that it can be both a large and small system. It was the small option for many years. We can have smaller lenses and bodies and still take benefit from the advantageous optical properties described above, or we can have much larger and faster machines while keeping everything interoperable.

EDIT, just want to add a note about the systems here, because i realize it might sound like I'm saying that digital sensors rewrite certain optical rules. They don't. It's the film that simply doesn't record and reproduce as clean an impression of sharpness, that's all, in other aspects many will still find the look of film superior for the aesthetic they're searching for, particularly in larger formats that have some stunning lenses.

 Matsu's gear list:Matsu's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Panasonic 20mm F1.7 II Nikon D800 Nikon D810 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED +9 more
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