The real advantage of Full Frame.

Started May 17, 2008 | Discussions
arguros Senior Member • Posts: 1,095
The real advantage of Full Frame.

Hi All,

I just wanted to ask you all why (nearly) everybody claims that the Full Frame is the really way to go to get better pictures and pro results andwhy it is much better than the DX format.

Why do you think that the same photographer can take better pictures with a FF camera compared to a DX one?

What are the real and material advantage that a FF camera has over a DX?

What are the missing opportunity that you have using a DX vs a FF camera?

Why should a picutures look much better if shot with a FF Camera?

Don't you think that the advantages of FF as of today are a bit overstated?

Wouldn't you agree that the same great pictures can be taken with both formats?

arguros

pixelman105 Senior Member • Posts: 1,085
Re: The real advantage of Full Frame.

the bigest advantage of full frame is better high ISO performance. Personally I believe that with the improvement in electronics this advantage will slowly go away. Another advantage is that wide angle lenses are wider on full frame. this again is slowly going away as lens designs are also improving.

Actually I think that over time it is the future of full frame that is in danger of becoming obsolete not DX after all if electronics and optics get to the point where the difference is so small that 90% of the people can't take advantage of the differences I think most people will opt for smaller cameras just because of the convience

Just look at who few of us have opted to use medium format over 35mm - sure it is better, but not enough better to justify the size and cost. The same thing will someday happen to FX and eventually even DX

Just imagine a digital camera the size of a P&S that had image quality of a D3

arguros wrote:

Hi All,

I just wanted to ask you all why (nearly) everybody claims that the
Full Frame is the really way to go to get better pictures and pro
results andwhy it is much better than the DX format.

Why do you think that the same photographer can take better pictures
with a FF camera compared to a DX one?

What are the real and material advantage that a FF camera has over a DX?

What are the missing opportunity that you have using a DX vs a FF
camera?

Why should a picutures look much better if shot with a FF Camera?

Don't you think that the advantages of FF as of today are a bit
overstated?

Wouldn't you agree that the same great pictures can be taken with
both formats?

arguros

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noirdesir Forum Pro • Posts: 13,561
High ISO, larger viewfinder, shallow dof + IQ for all but best lenses

Only some lenses currently out-resolve the 12MP D300 DX sensor, more lenses out-resolve the D3 sensor. This can/will change over time.

I guess at some point Liveview and/or viewfinders with a Liveview capability will remove the advantage of a larger viewfinder at some point, but it will be a long time.

D Knisely Senior Member • Posts: 2,053
Re: The real advantage of Full Frame.

Aside from the physics of noise which will always dictate that larger photosites are better, there are numerous technical and creative advantages of FF, including:

  • Wide is wide again. It doesn't take a 10mm lense with its natural IQ and perspective issues to get wide angle views.

  • You can shoot at f/22 again since diffraction limitations of small pixels are reduced. This is very advantageous for hyperfocal techniques as well as for macro work.

  • DoF is shallower at a given aperture. This means that you don't need f/1.2, f/1.4, etc. lenses as much; you can get good separation with f/2.8, perhaps.

  • Image viewfinder is brighter and larger.

  • For the same lens and resultion, the results will be better in some senses with larger pixels of FF because the resolving power of the lens doesn't have to be as good. E.g., CA effects will be more "pixels wide" on DX vs. FX. This is offset because FF requires coverage of a larger image circle, so avoiding vignetting and getting sharpness in corners may be worse in FX.

Those are the reasons that I'm waiting for a D400, moreso than the high ISO benefits.

Photographers who are returning to FX with the D3 are realizing all that they have been missing from film days! FX is clearly here to stay.

Unfortunately, this is going to bifurcate the DSLR camera lines more and more since the consumer-ish models will continue to use incompatible small sensor formats and serious amateurs will be forced into all-pro lens lineups. I would not be surprised to see the FX series evolve into a lineup with a new lens mount that permits much smaller form factors and cost reductions and possibly with even smaller sensor sizes. D40-D60 image quality is overkill for 95% of users and most people complain about the size of the cameras while also yearning for P&S capabilities such as live view and video capture. They want to look cool and have the flexibility of changeable lenses, add-on flashes, etc., however. If you look at high-end P&S cameras like the Canon G9, they capabilities are quite impressive. The ONLY limitation is noise at ISO greater than 200. A slightly larger sensor size would fix that.

I would not be surprised to see consumer DSLRs merge with HD-quality video platforms for a big portion of the market.

We live in VERY interesting times.

Doug

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Markogts Contributing Member • Posts: 524
Ken Rockwell has the answer

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/full-frame-advantage.htm

it's not only noise, it's lesser enlargment for same print size that counts too. Of course, the main parameter remains the photographer!

lmpmd Veteran Member • Posts: 3,063
Re: The real advantage of Full Frame.

The clamor you hear for FF is a mistake and will hurt the wildlife shooter on a budget. It means a future of heavy, large, expensive lenses to get him good reach. Noise can be solved in other ways, using technology.

The desire of those unwilling to change, unwilling to accept that their wide angle lenses aren't as wide as they should be by their preconceived notions, will hurt others if Nikon goes FF on all their better cameras.

Wildlife shooters, on a budget can get some decent reach with a 300mm f4 lens and maybe a tc, but loose reach with FF and are forced to buy heavy and expensive lenses requiring tripods - to hold the weight.

We are at a crossroads and I hope we make the right choice. This FF is really hyped up as a great thing. But wouldn't you rather carry a 300mm f4 VR (when it comes out)for miles than a 500mm lens and heavy tripod.
--
Larry

monte12345 Senior Member • Posts: 2,672
The actual advantage is actually quite basic.

The simple fact is that for any given print size the larger the format, the less magnification will be required in the final print.

Consider an 8 x 10 inch print. With the DX format a magnification of 12.7 X will be required to make the print if you don't crop anything except the excess width. With the FX format that total magnification will be 8.5 X. With an 8 x 10 inch large format camera, the total magnification will be 1.0 X.

So, why does the magnification matter. It matters because you are magnifying any defect along with your image, be it noise, lens softness, you name it. Which means that if your pushing the limits by making a very large print, the larger format will produce a better looking print. BTW, my experience is that the DX format will make a great looking 16 x 24 inch print, the FX format will go to 24 x 36 inches. If you need prints larger than this, well that explains why you can still buy medium format digitals and scanning backs as large as 4 x 5 inches.

As for the crop factor issues, I expect that in time that will disappear. Currently you can get a 10mm focal lenth for the DX format an I expect that within 2 or 3 years we will see an 8mm rectilinear lens available for the DX format. So the wide advantage to the FX format will basically vanish. However, if you need to shoot long, the DX format will always have a cost advantage. The DX cameras will cost less and I don't see that ever changing.

So, in the long run it will eventually boil down to just one question, how large do you need to print and how much quality will your require?

TrekSF6 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,090
Re: The real advantage of Full Frame.

See this excellent post by Bobn2 for what should be considered a great advantage of FF:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1039&message=27962992
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mchung Regular Member • Posts: 398
Re: The actual advantage is actually quite basic.

I'm not understanding your argument here. Would a 12MP DX sensor and a 12MP FX sensor taking a picture of the exact same image (correcting for field of view, etc.) not require the same magnification to get to a given print size?

What you say I would agree with if we were talking about film, where the size of the film grain becomes the barrier to higher levels of magnification and therefore the larger the frame size the better. However, when you're dealing with pixels, my contention is that if the sensors are the same height and width pixel dimensions (and therefore MP count, too), you have to magnify both DX and FX images the exact same for the same output.

Now, I'll give you that the pixel quality will then become a factor which then can explain differences between DX and FX even at the same output size. You'll get better pixels with the D3 than the D300 especially with high ISO. Other factors are lens-based (resolving ability, CA and other optical aberration control, vignetting/fall-off, and corner softness). I'd suggest that maybe it's the pixel quality that is the key to larger quality on FX? I sure see a visible difference between my D3 and D200 even under similar situations.

Martin

monte12345 wrote:

The simple fact is that for any given print size the larger the
format, the less magnification will be required in the final print.

Consider an 8 x 10 inch print. With the DX format a magnification of
12.7 X will be required to make the print if you don't crop anything
except the excess width. With the FX format that total magnification
will be 8.5 X. With an 8 x 10 inch large format camera, the total
magnification will be 1.0 X.

So, why does the magnification matter. It matters because you are
magnifying any defect along with your image, be it noise, lens
softness, you name it. Which means that if your pushing the limits
by making a very large print, the larger format will produce a better
looking print. BTW, my experience is that the DX format will make a
great looking 16 x 24 inch print, the FX format will go to 24 x 36
inches. If you need prints larger than this, well that explains why
you can still buy medium format digitals and scanning backs as large
as 4 x 5 inches.

maratus Regular Member • Posts: 264
Re: The real advantage of Full Frame.

With same pixel size you won't loose anything but FPS.
i.e. 27mp on FF = 12mp on APS-C, files with FF are much bigger.

But in any other situation 27mp FX is better than 12mp DX, isn't it?

For landscape shooters with sharp hi-quality lenses Hi-Res FF is a godsend. Very expensive though.

lmpmd wrote:

The clamor you hear for FF is a mistake and will hurt the wildlife
shooter on a budget. It means a future of heavy, large, expensive
lenses to get him good reach. Noise can be solved in other ways,
using technology.

The desire of those unwilling to change, unwilling to accept that
their wide angle lenses aren't as wide as they should be by their
preconceived notions, will hurt others if Nikon goes FF on all their
better cameras.

Wildlife shooters, on a budget can get some decent reach with a 300mm
f4 lens and maybe a tc, but loose reach with FF and are forced to buy
heavy and expensive lenses requiring tripods - to hold the weight.

We are at a crossroads and I hope we make the right choice. This FF
is really hyped up as a great thing. But wouldn't you rather carry a
300mm f4 VR (when it comes out)for miles than a 500mm lens and heavy
tripod.
--
Larry

VRII Senior Member • Posts: 2,529
Re: The real advantage of Full Frame.

simple (mechanical) answer, the bigger the sensor the more resolution it can capture along with larger pixel size.

for example an Olympus 4/3 sensor has a pixel size roughly of um6.9, in comparison the Canon 1Ds has a pixel size of um8.8

As far a photographic skills, a talented professional, can use either a DX or FX or a 4/3 sensor and know how to operate it with-in its limits to obtain professional grade results.

JasonODonelly Forum Member • Posts: 99
Less depth of field

better bokeh

James Mess Contributing Member • Posts: 579
Re: The real advantage of Full Frame.

pixelman105 wrote:

the bigest advantage of full frame is better high ISO performance.
Personally I believe that with the improvement in electronics this
advantage will slowly go away. Another advantage is that wide angle
lenses are wider on full frame. this again is slowly going away as
lens designs are also improving.

Actually I think that over time it is the future of full frame that
is in danger of becoming obsolete not DX after all if electronics and
optics get to the point where the difference is so small that 90% of
the people can't take advantage of the differences I think most
people will opt for smaller cameras just because of the convience

Just look at who few of us have opted to use medium format over 35mm

  • sure it is better, but not enough better to justify the size and

cost. The same thing will someday happen to FX and eventually even DX

Surely any improvements in electronics, etc will be applied to both FX and DX?

If FX stayed the same and all advances in tech were applied to DX, your argument holds, but any such technological advances will be applied to both formats.

Kaj E Veteran Member • Posts: 9,370
Re: Less depth of field

Not better bokeh, but stronger.

APS-C typically has better bokeh because the MTF charts are better in the center of the frame (sagittal and meridional closer to each other). FX typically loses on the sides.
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Grevture Veteran Member • Posts: 4,188
Bigger is Better ...

... at least for some applications.

But there is no magic size of sensors that is the 'best'.
All sizes have their strengths and weaknesses.

There is alot going on regarding things like how much information you can read from a certain sensor area and the resulting noise and sensitivity capabilities. Others have written about that in this thread.

But there is also an optical side to this issue that many seem to forget.

Since we are dealing with light here, and light has distinct wawelengths and that affect how opticts work there will always be some difference in what kind of image you can get with different size of sensors combined with lenses. That is just physics and not much electronics can change (with the current level of technology at least). In electronic devices smaller is almost always better, with optical devices it just ain't that simple.

For many uses there is a definitive advantage to use bigger sensors: it is a lot easier to build lenses with reasonable thin depth of field (DOF) for a large sensor then with a small sensor (try a medium format camera if you do not belive me). And it is much, much less complicated to build reasonable fast (large maximum aperture) wide angles lenses the bigger sensor you have. Read this thread for more explanations on that:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1018&message=26304026

And on the other hand: For long distance photography (using tele lenses) and for all kinds of photography where a large DOF is an advantage, then a small sensor is a a definitive advantage.

So both larger and smaller sensors have their advantages.

But why all this lust for 24x36 sensors? Well, basically that size is a very good compromise between larger and smaller sizes. The exact size is rather arbitrary, but for a very substantial amount of the professional photography going on that size happen to be very useful.

A lot of the bread and butter photography done by professional photograhers is carried out at short and medium distances (think informal quick portraits, press conferences, weddings, group shots af all kinds and types etc). To get such jobs done easily a lens like a 24-70/2.8 or a 70-200/2.8 on a FF camera is a very, very useful tool. With smaller (like DX sized) sensors it is more expensive to get the same thin DOF for these working distances. With larger sensors the cameras quickly becomes unwieldly for use without an tripod. Try holding a H3D above your head for a while ...

24x36 sensors is no magic bullet for better images, it just happen to be a very useful size, and for a lot of the everyday photography carried out by professionals it happen to be both large enough and small enough at the same time.

For someone mainly doing birding or other long distance shooting a DX sized sensor currenly seem like a better option. For someone shooting wide angle shots of bugs and insects a even smaller sensor is very useful (I can't remember the name if that japanese photographer with his amazing insect photography carried out with modified medical lenses and sensors). And for someone doing portraits in a studio or on location when there is plenty of time to spend, then a medium format sensor has certain advantages.

24x36 is a compromize, and a very useful one for many uses.

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monte12345 Senior Member • Posts: 2,672
Nope, consider the size of the image area.

With the Dx format the image sensor is basicaly 16 x 24mm, the FX is 24 x 35mm. Eight inches is equal to 203.2mm. So 203.2/16 = 12.7 and 203.2/24 = 8.47. Image sensors are now nearing the point where the resolution of the sensor will exceed that of the lenses at any aperture. The D300 is currently right about at the diffraction limit for f8, at apertures smaller than this the image sensor actually out resolves the lenses. With the D3, the diffractiion limit is probably in the range of f11 to f14 because of the larger image area. Point is, once the image sensor can exceed the resolution of the lens, the only constraint on magnification will be the size of the final image.

BTW, 35mm film hit this point ages ago so this isn't anything new. Generally, 35mm film would hit the resolution wall at about a 16 x 24 inch print size if you examined the print closely with the naked eye and used a lens aperture in the f5.6 to f8 range. But back then we didn't have ready access to sharpening methods that worked as well as Unsharp mask. So it's possible to make an acceptable looking print from digital which is larger than what was once considered normal for 35mm film. However, if you use a magnifying glass on those digitally enhanced prints you'll quickly realize that there is a lack of real detail at the very fine level. So, if you try an magnify an image too much, it will "break up" and look soft on close examination no matter how many mp you have or how much you manipulate it. The simple fact is that there is a distinct theoretical limit to how much detail a lens can resolve and it's a barrier that just cannot be breached. So, once you hit that barrier, the only answer is to use a larger imaging format and reduce the total magnification of the final image to what is within those limits.

BTW, with film that limit was just about 16 to 20X with common photographic lenses and techniques. With the enhancements available in digital, I would say that limit is about 25 to 30X but the level of fine detail will basically match that of a film print at the same magnification. These digital tweaks cannot make detail out of nothing, all they can do is make the detail that does exist look more distinct.

Bottomline, there is a distinct limit to how much you can magnify the image that is projected by the lens on the image sensor. So, if you need a really large print that can withstand critical examination, the only answer is to use an image format that won't require an extreme magnification for that final print.

Grevture Veteran Member • Posts: 4,188
More direct answers ...

arguros wrote:

I just wanted to ask you all why (nearly) everybody claims that the
Full Frame is the really way to go to get better pictures and pro
results andwhy it is much better than the DX format.

Because it happen to be true for many uses.
See my other post above that elaborates on this a bit.

Why do you think that the same photographer can take better pictures
with a FF camera compared to a DX one?

Depends on what kind of pictures you are after.

What are the real and material advantage that a FF camera has over a DX?

Thinner DOF, bigger brighter wiewfinders, more image information for the same sensor resolutions ... In short it is a very optimal sensor size for camera bodies that are easy to work with.

What are the missing opportunity that you have using a DX vs a FF
camera?

1) Thinner DOF.

2) Currently higher iso with good colors and dynamic range -- but this advantage might go away as technology advances though.

Why should a picutures look much better if shot with a FF Camera?

Depend on the picture. Do you think all digging is carried out with just one size of shovels? Different work requires different tools.

Don't you think that the advantages of FF as of today are a bit
overstated?

Nope.

Wouldn't you agree that the same great pictures can be taken with
both formats?

Not the same pictues, but with different kinds of images you gate different advantages ... Again, you seem to be dead set that there should be one single optimal sensor size. We will have use of different sensor sizes just as a we will find different sizes of screwdrivers useful.

You seem to be strangley irritated that many people are happy about the fact that larger sensors finally coming down in price ...

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The Winemaker Regular Member • Posts: 175
Re: More direct answers ...

One point on lenses and telephoto that is not making sense here guys/gals. Let's say I shoot with a Tamron 28-300 VC lens on DX format. At the 300 end, the image (being smaller in physical size) amounts to the equivalent of, what? 480mm? (1.6x) Take the same scene on an FX format camera, same lens (it's compatible for both formats). Image you are trying to capture might be smaller at first, or so it seems, but if you just enlarge it 1.6X from what it was originally, it's going to look the same as the DX format. Hence, the worry that you need to pack along Huge lenses or you will miss that shot are not logical. Shoot that Eagle at 300mm with the DX or the FX and when you crop and factor in the DX to FX difference, that Eagle is going to be the same size.

But for the times that you can fill the frame at FX format (35mm) then any magnification you do to it is cleaner, crisper.

In 2005 the preferred PROFESSIONAL landscape camera was 4" X 5". I have 2. S

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Anastigmat Forum Pro • Posts: 12,663
Re: The real advantage of Full Frame.

The real advantage of full frame is that it offers more sensor real estate so that the individuals can be large and there can still be an adequate number of them. If the designer gets too greedy and cram a lot of pixels onto the sensor, then the advantage of a full frame over the ApS-C sensor will not be there.

arguros wrote:

Hi All,

I just wanted to ask you all why (nearly) everybody claims that the
Full Frame is the really way to go to get better pictures and pro
results andwhy it is much better than the DX format.

Why do you think that the same photographer can take better pictures
with a FF camera compared to a DX one?

If the FF has bigger pixels, then obviously the advantage is lower noise. Lower noise at high ISO settings also allows the use of a faster shutter speed, and it allows the photographer to set the lens at a smaller aperture even in less than optimum lighting conditions. Since the middle apertures are often sharper, the picture can be sharper.

What are the real and material advantage that a FF camera has over a DX?

Better image quality because of lower noise and also less need for detail smudging noise reduction in camera software.

What are the missing opportunity that you have using a DX vs a FF
camera?

Not sure what you mean by missing opportunity.

Why should a picutures look much better if shot with a FF Camera?

Lower noise, more details because there is no need to use heavy doses of detail removing noise reduction.

Don't you think that the advantages of FF as of today are a bit
overstated?

No, I haven't heard any outrageous claims made for FF.

Wouldn't you agree that the same great pictures can be taken with
both formats?

arguros

That will depend on what kinds of pictures you are thinking of and whether the full frame camera is designed for maximum number of pixels or not. Not all full frame cameras are created equal, and not all DX cameras are either.

Kaj E Veteran Member • Posts: 9,370
Re: Nope, consider the size of the image area.

monte12345 wrote:

The D300 is currently right about at the diffraction limit
for f8, at apertures smaller than this the image sensor actually out
resolves the lenses. With the D3, the diffractiion limit is probably
in the range of f11 to f14 because of the larger image area.

The D300 becomes diffraction limited at about f/11 and the D3 at about f/16-18.

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