Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think

Started Jun 10, 2015 | Discussions
wombat661 Regular Member • Posts: 288
Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think
13

This topic was discussed before. Since that time, I did a more thorough study at least on the Nikon line of DSLR to see if the reasoning is truly valid. In the previous thread, people got very offended at the suggestion that full frame cameras can be as economical as APSC, and with the same weight.

Understandably so if you have invested heavily into either system. And some were upset at the misleading title. Again, understandable with all the mirrorless shrills riling up the members, tensions are high. So will try to stick to the facts:

Full frame cameras are expensive. But, because of equivalence, you can get the same light gathering ability and Bokeh with a slower and more economical lens. Just as with mirrorless, you are trying to use computing power to overcome mechanical complexity of the mirror, with full frame sensor size, you are trying to use a larger sensor area to overcome the need for larger and more expensive lens. Sensor cost has come down sufficiently enough for full frame to compete with larger lens just as mirrorless has made gains in trying to catch up to DSLR.

So, I present the cost difference between full frame camera and APSC camera with as equivalent lens as possible.

Cost of APSC vs Full Frame with Equivalent Lens. Blue=APSC, Red=Full Frame

A quick inspection will show that the cost difference between APSC and full frame is not that much. Sometimes one is more, other times less.

What about weight?

Weight of APSC Compared with Full Frame with Equivalent Lens

Quick inspection shows that the weight difference is really not that different either. Only exception is with the large 400mm and 600mm lens.

For reference, here is the lens f-stop equivalence:

Equivalent Light Gathering Ability

Essentially, with the full frame camera, you will be using a higher f-stop lens and corresponding higher ISO. But because of the larger sensor area, the noise even with the higher ISO will be about the same, so picture quality is similar. Even with depth of field. You can use a higher f-stop on full frame and get the same depth of field.

Conclusion:

If you are considering getting either the Nikon D5500 or D7200 APSC camera, seriously consider the D610 and D750 full frame camera. Other than main difference of slower max shutter speed of 1/4000 instead of 1/8000, price difference is not much as soon as you move away from the kit lens.

With Sony and Fujifilm mirrorless, the story is similar as well. Suspect the story will be similar with Canon. A volunteer can check into that.

I think this is truly interesting how technology has changed the conventional thinking. I would definitely start with FF if I were starting today. Comments? Objections?

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Nikon D5500 Nikon D610 Nikon D7200 Nikon D750
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tkbslc Forum Pro • Posts: 16,005
poor assumptions
14

You multiple poor assumptions.  The biggest one being that everyone demands the fastest FF equivalent possible.   The other glaring one is that the slower and cheaper FF lens is the same quality as the faster one on APS-C, just because the apertures are "equivalent".

kaphinga
kaphinga Veteran Member • Posts: 3,351
Re: Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think
1

wombat661 wrote:

Essentially, with the full frame camera, you will be using a higher f-stop lens and corresponding higher ISO. But because of the larger sensor area, the noise even with the higher ISO will be about the same, so picture quality is similar. Even with depth of field. You can use a higher f-stop on full frame and get the same depth of field.

Conclusion:

If you are considering getting either the Nikon D5500 or D7200 APSC camera, seriously consider the D610 and D750 full frame camera. Other than main difference of slower max shutter speed of 1/4000 instead of 1/8000, price difference is not much as soon as you move away from the kit lens.

With Sony and Fujifilm mirrorless, the story is similar as well. Suspect the story will be similar with Canon. A volunteer can check into that.

I think this is truly interesting how technology has changed the conventional thinking. I would definitely start with FF if I were starting today. Comments? Objections?

You make some great points, and I don't argue that it makes sense to go FF if you want a FF equivalent with bokeh and such.

These days, however, I have other priorities.  Basically, I went for a walk -- a long walk -- with my dSLR equipment and started to realize that after about two hours I got tired of carrying anything more than five pounds.  Four pounds is even better. With my five pound weight budget, I can carry a D750 and a small lens. A D750 with a 24-70 f2.8 is slightly over 5 pounds. And I haven't added in a camera bag yet.

I don't really need super-thin DOF for my style of shooting (not that there's anything wrong with thin DOF), and I rarely print bigger than 12x16. And a little noise doesn't bother me especially.  I do, though, have to carry my gear around, and I like the option of being able to carry more than one lens.

I am not diss'ing FF. It's just not the right match for my needs right now.

Maybe I am a wimp for wanting to limit my gear to 5 pounds for an all-day excursion, but that's just the way it is for me.

We are lucky to have so many different choices these days.

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Pic Man Senior Member • Posts: 1,310
Re: Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think
1

Your results seem skewed towards FF. You seem to have put the best glass on APS-C while just average glass on half the FF bodies. There is more to a lens than just its focal length and DOF properties.

For example the 70-200 F4 is a better lens that the 70-300 f4-5.6. The 17-55 f2.8 is better than the 24-85 f3.5-45, not to mention the constant apertures. And what 35mm f1.4 lens are you using on the APS-C camera, the nikon 35mm 1.4 or sigma 35mm f1.4? Both are better than the nikon 50mm 1.8. If you're being economical you wouldn't buy the most expensive lenses for APS-C you'd buy either 3rd party or lenses with a slightly slower aperture.

MoreorLess Veteran Member • Posts: 4,783
Re: Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think
3

Pic Man wrote:

Your results seem skewed towards FF. You seem to have put the best glass on APS-C while just average glass on half the FF bodies. There is more to a lens than just its focal length and DOF properties.

For example the 70-200 F4 is a better lens that the 70-300 f4-5.6. The 17-55 f2.8 is better than the 24-85 f3.5-45, not to mention the constant apertures. And what 35mm f1.4 lens are you using on the APS-C camera, the nikon 35mm 1.4 or sigma 35mm f1.4? Both are better than the nikon 50mm 1.8. If you're being economical you wouldn't buy the most expensive lenses for APS-C you'd buy either 3rd party or lenses with a slightly slower aperture.

One big issue with FF and ASPC though is that the larger sensor won't push a lens as hard so to get equivalent sharpness doesn't need to be as good.

That comparison also generally tends to favour APSC in terms of equivalent speed as well since an F/1.4 lens won't offer the same light gathering or DOF as an F/1.8 lens on FF.

The massive issue of course that it doesn't address is if you own more than one lens, the situation there clearly favours FF over APSC.

Personally my view would be that its only worth going with smaller sensor sizes if your intending to use slower zooms on them and maybe the odd cheap prime. When you start getting into things like F/2.8 zooms on m43 I just don't see the value.

OceanFroggie Contributing Member • Posts: 642
Re: Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think

Thanks that makes interesting reading. But you were comparing top end APS-C lenses rather than the typical budget 18-x zooms most APS-C consumer purchase in terms of cost and weight.

But I agree the differences in terms of cost and weight are not as massive as perceived.

For me personally having used SLRs all my life, I find both APS-C and Full Frame just too bulky, too heavy and frankly as image appliances over priced for 2015.

Technology has moved on and enthusiasts cameras need to move out from under the long legacy of the SLR era dominated by two manufacturers. While I have loved them, they are just too awkward to bother bringing everywhere and especially a pain travelling compared to some of the newer high end products emerging be they ILCs, M4/3, mirrorless, compact bridge, etc, all of which produce comparable and useable images.

rxb dc Senior Member • Posts: 2,103
Re: Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think

Thanks that makes interesting reading. But you were comparing top end APS-C lenses rather than the typical budget 18-x zooms most APS-C consumer purchase in terms of cost and weight.

But I agree the differences in terms of cost and weight are not as massive as perceived.

For me personally having used SLRs all my life, I find both APS-C and Full Frame just too bulky, too heavy and frankly as image appliances over priced for 2015.

Technology has moved on and enthusiasts cameras need to move out from under the long legacy of the SLR era dominated by two manufacturers. While I have loved them, they are just too awkward to bother bringing everywhere and especially a pain travelling compared to some of the newer high end products emerging be they ILCs, M4/3, mirrorless, compact bridge, etc, all of which produce comparable and useable images.

The value in t APS-C at the lower end of the market - D5500, T5i etc. - is actually rather phenomenal. MILC competitors are rather expensive in comparison.
If you consider third party accessories - Yongnuo for instance - flashes and such - canikon become even cheaper.

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The Soul Hunter
The Soul Hunter Senior Member • Posts: 1,875
Re: poor assumptions
1

tkbslc wrote:

You multiple poor assumptions. The biggest one being that everyone demands the fastest FF equivalent possible. The other glaring one is that the slower and cheaper FF lens is the same quality as the faster one on APS-C, just because the apertures are "equivalent".

There are too many assumptions in the OP for it to have any relevance. Obviously the primary assumption is that everyone uses their lenses wide open all the time, and that thinner depth of field is the most important determining factor.
I believe more photographers struggle with insufficient depth of field, and in this, a smaller format gives an advantage.

PerL Forum Pro • Posts: 14,288
Re: poor assumptions
6

tkbslc wrote:

You multiple poor assumptions. The biggest one being that everyone demands the fastest FF equivalent possible. The other glaring one is that the slower and cheaper FF lens is the same quality as the faster one on APS-C, just because the apertures are "equivalent".

But then again the FF has the IQ advantage of the larger sensor which is less demanding on the lenses. So, for instance the 24-85 3.5-4.5 FF Nikon kit lens combined with a 24 mp FF sensor probably outperforms any 17-55 2.8 lenses on an APS-C.

sportyaccordy Forum Pro • Posts: 18,487
Re: Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think

MoreorLess wrote:

Pic Man wrote:

Your results seem skewed towards FF. You seem to have put the best glass on APS-C while just average glass on half the FF bodies. There is more to a lens than just its focal length and DOF properties.

For example the 70-200 F4 is a better lens that the 70-300 f4-5.6. The 17-55 f2.8 is better than the 24-85 f3.5-45, not to mention the constant apertures. And what 35mm f1.4 lens are you using on the APS-C camera, the nikon 35mm 1.4 or sigma 35mm f1.4? Both are better than the nikon 50mm 1.8. If you're being economical you wouldn't buy the most expensive lenses for APS-C you'd buy either 3rd party or lenses with a slightly slower aperture.

One big issue with FF and ASPC though is that the larger sensor won't push a lens as hard so to get equivalent sharpness doesn't need to be as good.

Not true

Lenses work like filters.... essentially, at least in the realm of existing pixel pitches, they basically do sharpness by percentage. I.e. if a lens gets 6MP on a 12MP sensor, it will get 18MP on a 36MP sensor. From data I've seen, it's pretty linear.

FF will push a lens more than APS-C, especially at wider apertures, due to vignetting.

Regarding the lens choices in the comparison, I think they are fair, as they are based on equivalency. If he had chosen the same speed/grade lenses for both formats, it would have been much more skewed IMO.

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MoreorLess Veteran Member • Posts: 4,783
Re: Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think

sportyaccordy wrote:

MoreorLess wrote:

Pic Man wrote:

Your results seem skewed towards FF. You seem to have put the best glass on APS-C while just average glass on half the FF bodies. There is more to a lens than just its focal length and DOF properties.

For example the 70-200 F4 is a better lens that the 70-300 f4-5.6. The 17-55 f2.8 is better than the 24-85 f3.5-45, not to mention the constant apertures. And what 35mm f1.4 lens are you using on the APS-C camera, the nikon 35mm 1.4 or sigma 35mm f1.4? Both are better than the nikon 50mm 1.8. If you're being economical you wouldn't buy the most expensive lenses for APS-C you'd buy either 3rd party or lenses with a slightly slower aperture.

One big issue with FF and ASPC though is that the larger sensor won't push a lens as hard so to get equivalent sharpness doesn't need to be as good.

Not true

Lenses work like filters.... essentially, at least in the realm of existing pixel pitches, they basically do sharpness by percentage. I.e. if a lens gets 6MP on a 12MP sensor, it will get 18MP on a 36MP sensor. From data I've seen, it's pretty linear.

FF will push a lens more than APS-C, especially at wider apertures, due to vignetting.

Regarding the lens choices in the comparison, I think they are fair, as they are based on equivalency. If he had chosen the same speed/grade lenses for both formats, it would have been much more skewed IMO.

That's not my understanding at all, more sensor resolution will always get more out of the lens but there will be limits where that will start to decrease. Hence trying to get the same resolution(which should be what were talking about here even if some FF cameras have higher MP counts) from an imagine area less than half the size will result in less of an advantage.

Vignetting(which can be corrected with digital) and boarder sharpness wide open will push a lens harder on FF but personally I don't think that balances the lens as a whole having to work harder. For one thing of course those issues on FF might not even be viewed as a negative, for another vignetting can be corrected with digital and modern lens designs tend to suffer less in the boarders.

Surely with the very nature of the question it must be based on equivalency, the only argument not to do so would be that the performance FF offers isn't needed hence my point about slower lenses being better value on smaller formats.

davidedric Veteran Member • Posts: 6,650
Re: Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think

. When you start getting into things like F/2.8 zooms on m43 I just don't see the value.

High quality image from a lightweight package.  Just what I want    Nothing to do with "economical"

Each to his own.

Dave

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PK24X36NOW Senior Member • Posts: 2,019
Re: Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think
2

sportyaccordy wrote:

MoreorLess wrote:

Pic Man wrote:

Your results seem skewed towards FF. You seem to have put the best glass on APS-C while just average glass on half the FF bodies. There is more to a lens than just its focal length and DOF properties.

For example the 70-200 F4 is a better lens that the 70-300 f4-5.6. The 17-55 f2.8 is better than the 24-85 f3.5-45, not to mention the constant apertures. And what 35mm f1.4 lens are you using on the APS-C camera, the nikon 35mm 1.4 or sigma 35mm f1.4? Both are better than the nikon 50mm 1.8. If you're being economical you wouldn't buy the most expensive lenses for APS-C you'd buy either 3rd party or lenses with a slightly slower aperture.

One big issue with FF and ASPC though is that the larger sensor won't push a lens as hard so to get equivalent sharpness doesn't need to be as good.

Not true

Yes, absolutely true.

Lenses work like filters.... essentially, at least in the realm of existing pixel pitches, they basically do sharpness by percentage. I.e. if a lens gets 6MP on a 12MP sensor, it will get 18MP on a 36MP sensor. From data I've seen, it's pretty linear.

Compared in the same format, yes. Different formats are not comparable this way, since you need more lens resolution to maintain equal image resolution with smaller formats vs. larger ones.

FF will push a lens more than APS-C, especially at wider apertures, due to vignetting.

Bunk. FF is less demanding on lenses than APS-C, not more. APS-C will need 150% of the linear lens resolution used on FF in order to get comparable image resolution. The math is pretty simple. You need better lenses for smaller formats than you do for larger formats, because you have less "mm" with which to use the lens' lines PER mm resolution. As for vignetting, that's a non-issue easily dealt with in post these days.

Regarding the lens choices in the comparison, I think they are fair, as they are based on equivalency. If he had chosen the same speed/grade lenses for both formats, it would have been much more skewed IMO.

(unknown member) Forum Pro • Posts: 11,521
Re: Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think

wombat661 wrote:

This topic was discussed before. Since that time, I did a more thorough study at least on the Nikon line of DSLR to see if the reasoning is truly valid. In the previous thread, people got very offended at the suggestion that full frame cameras can be as economical as APSC, and with the same weight.

Understandably so if you have invested heavily into either system. And some were upset at the misleading title. Again, understandable with all the mirrorless shrills riling up the members, tensions are high. So will try to stick to the facts:

but you missed a whole slew of facts. someone that is cost concious can get an APS-C system with DX lenses cheaper than using ff lenses.

a good example is someone could get a rebel with IS STM lenses that cover from 10mm to 250mm - the lenses all together cost less than 1K.

even with canon and also nikon you really don't have that range of options available, and have a choice of lighter, smaller and cost effective optics with full frame. you have a few choices, not many.

Alex Sarbu Forum Pro • Posts: 12,434
In theory, Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think

In practice, the opposite is often true.

Alex (in theory, there is no difference between practice and theory; in practice, there is)

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PK24X36NOW Senior Member • Posts: 2,019
Re: Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think

OceanFroggie wrote:

Thanks that makes interesting reading. But you were comparing top end APS-C lenses rather than the typical budget 18-x zooms most APS-C consumer purchase in terms of cost and weight.

He compared equivalent lenses, to the extent available for the types listed, which makes perfect sense.

But I agree the differences in terms of cost and weight are not as massive as perceived.

Yup!

For me personally having used SLRs all my life, I find both APS-C and Full Frame just too bulky, too heavy and frankly as image appliances over priced for 2015.

To each his own.

Technology has moved on and enthusiasts cameras need to move out from under the long legacy of the SLR era dominated by two manufacturers. While I have loved them, they are just too awkward to bother bringing everywhere and especially a pain travelling compared to some of the newer high end products emerging be they ILCs, M4/3, mirrorless, compact bridge, etc, all of which produce comparable and useable images.

Enthusiasts "need" to do no such thing. You were on the right track with the "for me personally" comment above - speak for yourself.

PK24X36NOW Senior Member • Posts: 2,019
Re: In theory, Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think
1

Alex Sarbu wrote:

In practice, the opposite is often true.

Only because APS-C users simply don't have equivalent lenses available in many cases.

Dennis Forum Pro • Posts: 20,213
Re: Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think

You illustrate some examples that show that in some cases, FF might be less expensive than people expect, relative to APS-C.

However, as other people have already mentioned, your examples are not necessarily typical. How many APS-C users have a 35/1.4 instead of the sharp, affordable 35/1.8 ?

Another point is that you have to consider someone's reason for considering FF. If it's to exploit the larger sensor in low light, then they're not buying just to have "equivalent". (If it's for larger prints, they're not buying to use consumer grade zooms).

It's always going to boil down to a personal evaluation.

bosjohn21
bosjohn21 Forum Pro • Posts: 23,056
Re: Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think

I would expect a ff camera to be much better rather than as good as aps

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John aka bosjohn21

Bird pics Contributing Member • Posts: 853
Re: Full Frame is More Economical Than You Think

This entire post is bull droppings. I think the OP started with a conclusion and then filled in "facts" to support the conclusion. Comparing apples and apple dumplings. I have spent lord knows how many hours working this and a lot of other gear question and foung that ASP-C fits both what I shoot and my teeny tiny budget. If Santa leaves a 7200 and the two lenses I still want I can give up being a gear junkie for quite a while.

Steve

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