Sunday 22 March 2009

Full Frame or Cropped sensor

I read a mag yesterday and it confirmed things that I have been saying for the last couple of years, since Full Frame cameras came out and namely the Canon 5D people on forums see them as a holy grail-something to aim for whilst having to 'put up' with a camera body with a cropped sensor. I have always believed that a cropped sensor with the correct amount of pixels (I will come to that bit in a minute) will give as good an image as a full frame sensor. When the full frame bodies came out people were over joyed at being able to get good wide angle shots-great for landscapers, but the camera manufacturers soon dealt with that by bringing out super wide and lenses like Canons 10-22 and Sigma's 12-24 so that advantage was gone, with the new bodies using the latest technologies in processing, noise isn't so much of an issue either until you hit a certain amount of pixel density and here's the rub. The magazine tested the Nikon D700 Full Frame against the D300 and found image quality on both to be excellent and quite evenly matched up to ISO 1600, they also tested the Canon 40D and 50D and noted that the 50D with 15 MP against the 40D'S 10MP lost on image quality due to too many pixels as that was producing lots of noise as I believe Martin mentioned a few weeks ago when he borrowed one, so it seems that with the cropped sensors we have reached the plateau of around 12 mp for optimum IQ and after that IQ starts to drop off, I am sure in the future new processors will somehow remove grain and allow higher and higher ISO's to be used. So now we see an advantage with Full Frame sensors where you can still get good IQ at ISO 1600 and above but how many of us actually use extreme ISO, the price difference between a Full Frame body and cropped sensor body is substantial, the lenses needed for the Full Frames a have to be the best and are extremely expensive, this goes for the 50D as well, the high pixel count does not take kindly to cheaper lenses, the cropped sensors give you the reach advantage as well-its like having a 1.5x extender on which for people like myself can be a real boon, yes I do have a Full Frame camera but I also have a Cropped one as well and I find myself reaching for the D300 more times than the D3. So it was summerised as saying that very few (normal i.e. not pro's that need high MP bodies for agency work) people would see an advantage when using a Full Frame body to a cropped body as few people use extreme ISO and very few people print over A3 which a 10-12mp body can do nicely, dont get caught up in all the snobbery of Full Frame unless you need to and can afford the lenses.


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