Any Advantage to Full Frame?

Started Aug 26, 2014 | Questions
5th street Forum Member • Posts: 97
Any Advantage to Full Frame?
1

I use a D90 and am considering a D7100 or D5300 or D610. If I understand things correctly, there is no advantage at all, for my use (noise in low light is not a concern to me), of a D610 over the two DX choices. The disadvantages of the D610 include a narrower depth of field (all things being equal), higher cost for camera, higher cost for lenses, more weight and larger size. Surely, I must be overlooking or wrong about something given the increasing popularity of full frame. Where am I wrong in my thinking?

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Nikon D5300 Nikon D610 Nikon D7100 Nikon D90
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Yveske Regular Member • Posts: 101
Re: Any Advantage to Full Frame?
3

Every system has its advantages and its disadvantages. Some crave for smaller DOF, you seem to resent it. Some people absolutely need high ISO capabilities, you don't. So some people find DX not to their liking and some swear by it.

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PHXAZCRAIG
PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 13,434
Re: Any Advantage to Full Frame?
6

You may not be wrong at all.

Much of the drive toward 'upgrading to full frame' is marketing driven, as if it is an upgrade at all.   It's more a 'sidegrade'.   You give up some things (cost, weight, lighter wide angle lenses) for other things (mainly 1 stop better high ISO).

But the ability of a full frame camera to give better results in low light than DX is real.  And that opens up more shooting opportunities.

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Matsu Senior Member • Posts: 2,026
The same as film
2

A larger recording surface allows for larger reproduction and more overall dynamic range.  That being said, at least on visual inspection, smaller sensors seem able to produce output with similar real world detail to larger film formats.  4/3rds and APSC easily do the work of most of the best 135 format films.  Whether 135 format films were really any good for anything much larger than 8x10 depends on what you were shooting and how you were enlarging it.  Some people have beautiful 20" wide prints from 35mm (135 format) film.

Whether or not we get small cameras and lenses built around certain sensors has less to do with the sensor and more to do with the design and marketing goals of the company.  For years there small 135 format cameras and lenses, including SLRs.  These seem to have fallen out of fashion when camera makes decided that bigger cameras and lenses looked "more pro", but smaller full frame glass still exists.  A number of primes from 28 to 135mm aren't obtrusively large.  Many are older manual focus or "AF-D" designs, but most still work just fine.

Most cameras with a 4/3rds, even 1", or larger sensor are good enough to get sharp detailed shots in a variety of conditions.  In the future people will choose bodies and glass that produce a look they're after, rather than a minimum size that's finally good enough to print a certain size, X.

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mikemsphoto Senior Member • Posts: 1,773
Re: Any Advantage to Full Frame?
2

You gain in wide angle ability but lose on the telephoto end. If you like to shoot birds, maybe you should stay with DX. If you like to shoot architecture, FX has a definite advantage in the wide angle options.

Also FX viewfinder image is much nicer.

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romfordbluenose Senior Member • Posts: 2,957
Re: Any Advantage to Full Frame?

You're not wrong. Both the D7100 and the D5300 will blow your D90 away. You just need to decide which one. Basically this depends on whether you need the screw drive or not, and if you prefer the D7100 features or the D5300 features.

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Nikonparrothead Veteran Member • Posts: 5,079
Re: Any Advantage to Full Frame?
1

5th street wrote:

I use a D90 and am considering a D7100 or D5300 or D610. If I understand things correctly, there is no advantage at all, for my use (noise in low light is not a concern to me), of a D610 over the two DX choices. The disadvantages of the D610 include a narrower depth of field (all things being equal), higher cost for camera, higher cost for lenses, more weight and larger size. Surely, I must be overlooking or wrong about something given the increasing popularity of full frame. Where am I wrong in my thinking?

Sounds like your photographic needs are best served by DX. Of the two DX cameras you list, I couldn't tell you which one suits your needs best. I also thought the D610 was roughly the same size as the D7100 (wait, that means the D5300 is the camera for you).

DX DSLRs -- and I started with a D70 and a D200 before moving on -- don't suit my needs. I actually prefer the reduced noise, better low light and tonality (to my eyes) afforded by the FX chip, which is the same size as 35mm film. I hated that my 85mm, 105mm and 180mm lenses weren't giving me the FOV that I prefer (though it was cool that my 300mm became more useful for sports.

I learned on 35mm film and -- had the two formats been available at the same time -- would have saved up more and skipped DX entirely. Though we're at the point where a whole generation (maybe a generation and a half) of photographers have only known digital and I'm sure some of those will weigh in.

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M Lammerse
M Lammerse Forum Pro • Posts: 11,367
Re: Any Advantage to Full Frame?

5th street wrote:

I use a D90 and am considering a D7100 or D5300 or D610. If I understand things correctly, there is no advantage at all, for my use (noise in low light is not a concern to me), of a D610 over the two DX choices. The disadvantages of the D610 include a narrower depth of field (all things being equal), higher cost for camera, higher cost for lenses, more weight and larger size. Surely, I must be overlooking or wrong about something given the increasing popularity of full frame. Where am I wrong in my thinking?

Nothing wrong,

You should buy what you need. You are nothing overlooking. Nikon make some great DX camera's.

OP 5th street Forum Member • Posts: 97
Re: The same as film

Matsu wrote:

A larger recording surface allows for larger reproduction and more overall dynamic range.

This is something I've been puzzling over and I don't understand. If each sensor has 24 MP then it seems to me that (unlike film where a larger film has more sensitive area to be exposed to light) if the larger sensor (D610) has the same number of pixels as the smaller sensor (D5300 or D7100), the resolution should be the same. For example if you took identical photos with the two size sensors, the ability to crop and enlarge a part of the photo would be equal. The large sensor camera and the small sensor camera (with the same total pixel count) could be printed with roughly equal success on large paper. Of course, in the case of the D810, the greater pixels would lead to better enlargements. I'm using common sense with this and might be overlooking something.

This comment applies to your term "larger reproduction".

I don't understand enough about dynamic range vs pixel count to comment. I would appreciate further explanation. Thanks.

LMCasey Contributing Member • Posts: 842
Re: Any Advantage to Full Frame?

Of course there is an advantage to FF. The question is whether you need the capabilities. You really should read an article on "equivalence" to understand them. One advantage that has been mentioned already is dynamic range, which is related to sensor size. You get a one stop advantage in DR with FF. Also, you say that you get shorter DOF with FF, but that's only if you decide to use the same aperture. Since this is also a one stop difference, simply use one stop smaller aperture, and one stop faster ISO, and you have equivalence, but you retain the capability for shorter DOF if using the larger aperture. The only time you could be at a disadvantage with FF is if your FF camera has a lower pixel density than the APS camera you are comparing to (and if you buy a flavor of D800, there's no chance of that at present). The true disadvantage  of FF is the cost. Bodies are more expensive, and lenses are more expensive. The truth about DX lenses though is that they are usually somewhat lower quality than FF lenses (that's why the DX lenses are also less expensive). You tend to get what you pay for; with FF you pay a premium for benefits that may or may not have a pay off for you.

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OP 5th street Forum Member • Posts: 97
Re: Any Advantage to Full Frame?

Nikonparrothead wrote:

I learned on 35mm film and -- had the two formats been available at the same time -- would have saved up more and skipped DX entirely. Though we're at the point where a whole generation (maybe a generation and a half) of photographers have only known digital and I'm sure some of those will weigh in.

I grew up on 35mm film too and always envied a friend who had a Hasselblad. And I too would have skipped DX had FX been available from the beginning of digital. This background makes it difficult for me to let go of the desire to go full frame now that the prices are becoming more approachable. It is hard to sort all this out.

OP 5th street Forum Member • Posts: 97
Re: Any Advantage to Full Frame?

LMCasey wrote:

The only time you could be at a disadvantage with FF is if your FF camera has a lower pixel density than the APS camera you are comparing to (and if you buy a flavor of D800, there's no chance of that at present).

This is something I don't understand. Perhaps you meant to say "total pixels" rather than "pixel density". Given the smaller area of the DX cameras I'm considering, their pixel density is greater than that of the D610...if by pixel density, you mean number of pixels divided by area of the sensor.

And even for the D810 with 36 MP, it seems to me that the pixel density (by my definition) would be less than that of the D5300 or D7100. Since the sensor area of the D810 is over double that of the D5300 or D7100, the total number of pixels for the d810 would have to be greater than 48 MP to have an equal or greater number of pixels per area.

OP 5th street Forum Member • Posts: 97
Re: Any Advantage to Full Frame?

mikemsphoto wrote:

You gain in wide angle ability but lose on the telephoto end. If you like to shoot birds, maybe you should stay with DX. If you like to shoot architecture, FX has a definite advantage in the wide angle options.

Also FX viewfinder image is much nicer.

Good points; I had not thought about the viewfinder difference. This may depend on too many factors to give a definite answer, but in general, do you think that the FX telephoto end disadvantage can be overcome by a tighter crop in post processing?

low3llSD Regular Member • Posts: 263
Re: Any Advantage to Full Frame?

just be okay you'll have less money in your wallet when you go fx.

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Christof21 Senior Member • Posts: 2,908
Re: Any Advantage to Full Frame?

5th street wrote:

I use a D90 and am considering a D7100 or D5300 or D610. If I understand things correctly, there is no advantage at all, for my use (noise in low light is not a concern to me), of a D610 over the two DX choices.

The disadvantages of the D610 include a narrower depth of field (all things being equal),

No, this is completely wrong, this is a misconception. There is no disadvantage of a narrower depth of field, you can always have the same dof by stopping down. In the opoosite , a smaller sensor can not have a dof as shallow as a FF (assuming you have lenses with the same.max f-number). You should read articles on equivalence as suggested in one answer.

The main advantage of a FF is that you have more options: shallow dof (only if you want), higher ISO,.. And more dynamic range which is IMHO really important

higher cost for camera, higher cost for lenses, more weight and larger size. Surely, I must be overlooking or wrong about something given the increasing popularity of full frame. Where am I wrong in my thinking?

Nexu1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,745
Re: Any Advantage to Full Frame?

I find shallow depth of field an advantage for full frame, not a disadvantage (at least for my wants/needs with portraiture).

ebsilon Contributing Member • Posts: 628
Re: Any Advantage to Full Frame?

M Lammerse wrote:

5th street wrote:

I use a D90 and am considering a D7100 or D5300 or D610. If I understand things correctly, there is no advantage at all, for my use (noise in low light is not a concern to me), of a D610 over the two DX choices. The disadvantages of the D610 include a narrower depth of field (all things being equal), higher cost for camera, higher cost for lenses, more weight and larger size. Surely, I must be overlooking or wrong about something given the increasing popularity of full frame. Where am I wrong in my thinking?

Nothing wrong,

You should buy what you need. You are nothing overlooking. Nikon make some great DX camera's.

There's nothing wrong with the DX cameras - but the DX lens system is woefully ignored by Nikon. As a D7000 owner, this is my biggest gripe.

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PHXAZCRAIG
PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 13,434
Re: The same as film
1

Larger reproduction depends on resolution, so a 24mp DX sensor would allow for the same size print at the same resolution as a 24mp FX sensor.

Dynamic range is another story.   Larger sensors have the ability to collect more light, which can lead to better dynamic range.

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Alan Brown
Alan Brown Veteran Member • Posts: 5,520
Re: Any Advantage to Full Frame?

I use a D90 and am considering a D7100 or D5300 or D610. If I understand things correctly, there is no advantage at all, for my use (noise in low light is not a concern to me), of a D610 over the two DX choices. The disadvantages of the D610 include a narrower depth of field (all things being equal), higher cost for camera, higher cost for lenses, more weight and larger size. Surely, I must be overlooking or wrong about something given the increasing popularity of full frame. Where am I wrong in my thinking?

Depending on your needs it may not necessarily be an advantage.

I recently bought a Nikon 1 camera (with a smaller than Dx sensor) just to get the deeper DOF I wanted for video use and a usable continuous auto focus...which neither Nikon Dx or Fx offerings give me.

The Fx has uses peculiar to that format which I can use.

As has been said already.. Buy what you need.. Not what you think you should.

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Jack Hogan Veteran Member • Posts: 6,154
The smaller format's size penalty
6

5th street wrote:

Matsu wrote:

A larger recording surface allows for larger reproduction and more overall dynamic range.

This is something I've been puzzling over and I don't understand. If each sensor has 24 MP then it seems to me that (unlike film where a larger film has more sensitive area to be exposed to light) if the larger sensor (D610) has the same number of pixels as the smaller sensor (D5300 or D7100), the resolution should be the same.

The blur disk may be the same size on the sensor but it takes up a larger portion of the image (more pixels) in the smaller format. Smaller format lenses need to be relatively better to make up for their sensor's size penalty. In DX vs FX they typically aren't because they are often the same lens design repackaged (in mFT vs DX they sometime are because mFT designers, aware of the problem, redesigned their lenses from the ground up).

And the larger format's pixels are larger, resulting in better noise performance.

That's why the larger format will normally be measurably and perceivably better than the smaller one in terms of IQ in most typical situations when viewed at the same output size, as you can easily confirm at DxOmark.com: a quick glance at the top ten lenses on the D610 show an average of 21.3MP while the same top ten on the D7100 average out at 17.4MP, despite its lack of an AA filter (which is a bit of a mixed bag). Similar benefits in noise and DR.

Of course this presumes standard situations: in some specialized applications (like birding) sensor pitch counts more than sensor size. Still, at typical Landscape photography focal lengths and f/numbers for instance, larger is hard to beat when it comes to IQ.

Jack

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