Full Frame Cameras vs. Not

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by dvoros, Nov 25, 2013.

  1. dvoros macrumors 6502

    Sep 1, 2010
    There is a huge price difference between full frame large sensor cameras and the average digitial camera such as a Canon Rebel EOS. Are the full frame cameras worth the price or can the average camera take just as clear and sharp pictures?
  2. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    There are other benefits to full frame cameras. They will have more features etc. yes you can get a sharp image with a cropped sensor. More important than the body is the lens (or lenses). The best camera body in the world will not take a great shot if you are using cheap glass.

    dpreview.com is a great resource for comparing bodies and lenses as well as sample pictures taken with them.

    Is this for a hobby, work or just taking family snaps. All that will have a deciding factor on what camera is right for you. I had some useful advice on here when buying my first DSLR. Might be worth a read. http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1594348
  3. swordio777 macrumors 6502

    Apr 3, 2013
    Scotland, UK
    For most people they are not really worth the higher price. The reason they cost so much more is mainly because the larger sensor is harder to make.

    When you look at the final image, it is almost impossible to tell what kind of camera it was taken on. In terms of clarity & sharpness, there is really no difference to the human eye. A decent lens on a crop sensor camera will take a far better image than a mediocre lens on a full frame camera.

    Often full frame cameras are considered to be more "professional" than cropped sensor cameras and therefore have other features which professional photographers might find beneficial such as improved autofocus, or sturdier construction.

    Hope that helps.
  4. steveash macrumors 6502


    Aug 7, 2008
    Just ignore the user comments, they get some of the worst trolls on the internet!
  5. JackHobbs macrumors regular


    Nov 1, 2009
    I used to have a Canon 50D and now have a 5D Mark 2. There are differences that you may or may not like, I now have to more careful about what settings I use. The depth of field is much easier to change and if I want to, I can really blur the background. Sometimes when I am not thinking and take a grab shot, I get more blur than I want. It has made me think more about what I am taking and what effect I want. As for sharpness, to be honest a lot of that is down to the quality of the lens and camera combination as previous posters have said. I wanted to upgrade because I wanted to film video. As the 5D Mark 3 had just come out, the price for the Mark 2 dropped a bit. I also had a family wedding coming up. I sort of convinced myself that I needed a full frame. I am really enjoying using it but whether I needed it is debatable. It is a great camera though!:D
  6. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    Only within a given generation. Arguably the D300s has some better 'features' than the D610. Pick an older full frame body like a 1DS mk 1 or 2 or a 5D mk 1 and most current APS-C sensored cameras will do better on many image quality metrics.

    On the other hand, what you say about lenses might be a key point - if you're into old interesting glass you're getting more of that character and maintaining the effective focal length. And the viewfinders tend to be bigger.
  7. Ubele macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    Having spent several months researching cameras, I've determined that full-frame cameras have three primarly adavntages:

    1. The bigger full-frame sensor captures more detail. That's important if you plan to print really large (i.e., poster-size) prints, or if you do tight crops and blow them up to medium size. For web shots and typical print sizes (8" x 10" and even bigger), you won't be able to tell the difference.

    2. There is less noise if you take low-light shots at very high ISO settings. For most people, that's not a big deal, but it is for some.

    3. You can get a narrower depth of field, like in those arty oblique-angle shots of faces where one eye is in focus and the other isn't.

    Aside from the higher cost of the camera, you also need to invest in lenses that are high-enough quality to achieve the above benefits. Such lenses can be quiite expensive. They're also bigger and heavier than lenses for smaller-format cameras.

    If you're a professional photographer, you'll probably want a full-frame camera. If you're a very serious hobbyist, and money isn't an issue, and you don't might the extra size and weight of a full-frame system, then you might consider going full-frame. If so, check out the reviews of the about-to-be-released Sony A7, which is "only" $2,000 with kit lens – not cheap, but less expensive than any other full-frame camera on the market. Being mirrorless, it's also smaller and lighter. I ended up buying a Sony NEX 6, which currently is $800 with kit lens. So far, I love it. If at some point I feel the need for a full-frame camera, I figure they'll have come down in price.
  8. jacktorrance macrumors regular

    Jul 21, 2009
    If you're a professional photographer you're not the OP.
  9. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    Of course, pro photographers have been using 'crop' sensor cameras for years - certainly anyone using Nikon kit has. So there's certainly no reason why the OP couldn't aim for 'professional quality' images from any modern DSLR.
  10. Ubele macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    I meant "If you are" in the sense of "If one is."
  11. Ubele macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    Yes, of course. But the OP will encounter posters who claim that, unless you have a full-frame camera and top-of-the-line Carl Zeiss lenses that allow you to take those handful of shots that you can't get otherwise, you'll be hopelessly crippled in your artistic possibilities. Obviously, I disagree with that. Matthew Brady, Ansel Adams, and Edward Weston, to name a few, did okay with the technologies available to them at the time. :)
  12. Alexander.Of.Oz macrumors 68030


    Oct 29, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    Which were pretty well cutting edge for the time! :p

    Jus' sayin' ;)
  13. ohbrilliance macrumors 6502a


    May 15, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    There are also advantages for cameras with cropped sensors:

    1. Lighter and more affordable lenses.
    2. Greater reach. The cropping creates an effective zoom, so for example you can get an effective 300mm zoom with a 200mm lens.
    3. Greater in focus depth of field (this can be either a positive or negative, depending on your needs).

    Some other pros for the full frame cameras:

    1. Wider angles shots with the same focal length, which leads to more options and less compromises on the quality of lenses to get the same wide angles.

    As for the main question. I shoot with a D300, and as an amateur, the camera has much more potential than I have yet to use. I've seen photos taken by professionals with the D300 that are mind-blowing. So you can get fantastic shots with either type of camera, and not necessarily get better shots with a full frame if you don't have the skills to take advantage of it.
  14. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    Another advantage of APS-C or similar sized sensors is the smaller and lighter weight of the camera and lenses. I have a Nex-7 mirrorless and really like the compact size.
  15. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    I currently own one of each, and all thins considered, they're both perfectly capable of taking fantastic images of any subject using the exact same lenses. The huge price difference is because the sensor is the single most expensive component in a digital camera, and besides the fact that you can get more smaller sensors per-wafer of silicon, you also get fewer process defects per sensor in a smaller sensor, all things being equal, so a sensor 2x the size has something like 4x the cost. Clear and sharp pictures are more a function of the lens than the imaging sensor, though the sensor does have some small part to play in sharpness, really the anti-aliasing filters in front of most sensors have more to do with it- but any modern camera should be fully capable of sharp pictures for almost every single subject most people would shoot. Smaller sensors have smaller pixels, so they can actually be capable of resolving smaller details- but you'd have to be making posters and examining them with a magnifying glass to notice.

    Don't worry- just go look at the cameras you can afford, take some test shots if possible, otherwise check out shots from the manufacturer or other users and go take some pictures- the current state of the art technology from any major manufacturer is just fine.

  16. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Not to be insulting ut if you have to ask this, buy the Rebel or the Nikon DX size sponsor.

    Yes there are advantages to the larger size mostly they work better for low light situations and they produce less noise

    But don't think the SLR camera bandy makes the difference. The lens you put in front matter a lot. Don't even think about buying an expensive full frame body before you buy some professional quality lenses.

    A common beginner mistake is to think they are buying abode and the lens is an after thought, just get "whatever". That is backwards. Likely one day you will replace the SLR body but those Nikon or Canon lenses will stay with you for decades.

    The other mistake beginners do is to buy a slow f/5.6 telephoto zoom, like a 200mm. You will not use that much. Better to spend the money on a faster lens like like an f/2.8 zoom or f/1.8 prime

    Lastly, figure this is your FIRST SLR, not your last one. you will replace it. I'd buy a used one. Look at key.com. You can get setup for about $200. Use that then sell it on eBay for $20 less then you paid. Buy the second body after shooting 1,000 or more frames.

    That is another problem with many amateurs. They don't shoot enough. I'd say shoot and process at least 1,000 images between each gear purchase.
  17. Jamie Fletcher macrumors newbie

    Nov 26, 2013
    Purpose of use

    I believe you need to inform us about your particular purpose of taking photos. Different camera models are appropriate for different uses. You then need to consider the pros and cons of specific models that serve your particular purpose.
  18. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    If you considering a crop body, and sizes are weight are important....seriously consider a four thirds mirror less system from Olympus, Sony, Panasonic...etc. You will be amazed at what those bodies can deliver.
  19. pna macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2005
    Thom Hogan does a nice writeup of things to think about in choosing crop sensor (APS-C) vs. full frame for nikon in his holiday guide:


    And a perhaps even more relevant one that looks at 'the full frame debate'.


    I've been shooting for 20+ years now, and digital exclusively for 10 or so, and still don't feel that a move to full-frame would make my pictures better in a way that I shouldn't be able to get with better technique, better support, etc. Photography requires practice to improve, which requires shooting more. Moving to a heavier, bulkier full-frame system, to me means that I would quite likely carry my camera less, rather than more, slowing my learning rather than enhancing my pictures. In talking with others, and reading a lot of posts, I don't think this is an uncommon experience.

    This is why the small mirror less cameras have grabbed so many of us, as you can get DSLR like quality in a package that is unobtrusive and that you can carry with you and shoot without affecting the scene around you that you're trying to capture like pulling out a full size camera tends to. The main downside of mirrorless tends to be fast-focusing on moving objects, so shooting sports is out. For most other things, though, the focus hasn't slowed me down.

    Totally agreed with the comment of buying something old and used and shooting a lot with it, then buying what really makes sense for your needs later. Even gear from several years ago was actually quite good, and most users of cameras don't actually shoot that much with them, so you can easily get a used camera with a really low frame count.
  20. MacCruiskeen macrumors 6502

    Nov 9, 2011
    Not really. By the 1930s shooting 8x10s with a view camera was far from "cutting edge." Weston printed in a shed with a bare lightbulb and no timer. Walker Evans resisted color until someone gave him an SX-70.
  21. stockcerts macrumors 65816

    Jun 29, 2007
    San Francisco, CA
    I was pondering the Sony RX-100, but I also was looking for flexibility with zoom. I read several posts on DPReview and read some threads from people that have both the RX-100 and the HX50/V. The HX50/V has a 30X optical zoom. The sensor is smaller than the RX100, but many have decided the flexibility for zoom is worth it.
  22. Ish macrumors 68020


    Nov 30, 2004
    Just don't put yourself in the situation I found myself in. I upgraded to a 5DII from a Rebel, partly because I sometimes shoot photos for large backdrops, but also because I thought it would have a nice side effect of giving me a great camera to use the rest of the time.

    Well, it did, and it's a great camera, but I found I was leaving it at home more and more because it was, for me, so flipping heavy to carry around! A lot of the fun went out of taking photographs and I didn't post on here for months.

    It all changed when I sold my little back-up camera and bought a Fuji X-E1. Small, portable, great IQ and above all, it put the fun back in photography for me. A couple of weeks ago I sold the 5DII and bought the X100.

    I'm not saying this to persuade you to get this or that camera, but to suggest you think about what is right for you. It may be full frame or it may be a crop sensor, either DSLR or mirrorless. Explore the possibilities and have fun!
  23. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    Getting back to the original question, "Is it worth the price," it's hard to know until you encounter, "the one that got away." And there will always be something that gets away - you may have the "right" camera body, but equipped with the wrong lens. You may have needed a more powerful flash, a tripod, or simply more batteries and memory cards. You may have have lacked the experience to put yourself in the right place at the right time. You should have been in burst mode, rather than single-shot; more aware of "extraneous" details in the composition...

    The missed shot is often the one that teaches us the most, which is why all of us go thorough a succession of cameras and acquire more lenses and other gear. Even the "best" pro gear can present limitations. While it may be tempting to cut to the chase and buy top-of-the-line gear right from the start, learning to make the best of less will teach you lessons you may never learn otherwise.

    The uptick in image quality between today's APS-C/MFT sensors and full-frame sensors is not so great that any but an advanced amateur or pro would be likely to curse the sensor for its limitations on a regular basis.

    Which brings us back to the one that got away. For the pros, it's money. The "is it worth it" equation is very easy. For the amateur, the cost is more likely to be personal disappointment. I regret not being able to make exhibition-quality enlargements of certain shots I took years ago with a small-sensor camera, but I don't lose sleep over it. I still get plenty of satisfaction from those images, and it motivates me to do better the next time.
  24. nateo200 macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2009
    Northern District NY
    Crop sensor cameras can get just as good quality as full frame sensor cameras...of course the difference is the environments...in a studio environment with the best lighting and the best glass you could mount the glass on anything from an old Rebel XTI to a 1D X...where the difference is very large printing and low light...but even with large printing there is allot you can do to enlarge a print in Photoshop, Lightroom, etc...I haven't had to make any prints that exceeded what my camera could do but the one time I made a large print I went into Lightroom and Photoshop and sort up "up-rezzed" the image by removing noise, sharpening the image up a tad and then exporting a couple of megapixels higher...it turned out beautiful and everyone seamed to love the photo. So print size isn't an issue really, on the film side the IMAX DMR process is a great example of taking a smaller format to a larger format and having it look just flat out amazing and to me it proves it can be done in any format (compressed 1080p H.264 from canon DSLR's on 70mm stock is what is REALLY impressive)...so even if you got a small sensor camera you'd still have allot of room to work with...I think its rare that a person exceeds a cameras capabilities, of course features and better quality is nice but theres always something more you can do as the photographer.
  25. Alexander.Of.Oz macrumors 68030


    Oct 29, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    The words "pretty well" infer exactly what they mean. They were using the technology of the times, even if it was just with a bare lightbulb in a shed, it's still electrical illumination is it not? :confused:

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