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"Full Frame" vs crop factor

Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 10:47 am
by Andy
This topic has been "beaten to death" in other forums, but why not here, to? :)

When affordable DSLR's came on the market a few years ago, one of the big complaints by many nature photographers was loss of their formerly "wide angle" lenses. Because of the nature of the optics and mechanics, 35mm based lenses were not "designed" specifically for the sensor sizes.

A number of lens mfgrs have started to market "digitally" optimized lenses which have been designed for the crop factor that is on many DSLR cameras. Of course, not every sensor size is the same, which means the crop factors vary, though perhaps not significantly.

One of the new "downsides" of those lenses is how they will act on a "so-called" full frame cameras. For example, the newest Pro-offering from Nikon (the D3) is a so-called full frame camera and shoots at something like 12 megapixels. However, if I am reading their specs correctly, it switches to the crop factor when the lenses designed for "digital" is mounted and reduces to less than 6 megapixels. While I know there are megapixels and then there are megapixels, I am not sure I personally want to give up extra to achieve so-called "full frame."

I say "so-called" because whether its full or not depends on your perspective. On a 35mm film system with lenses designed for that system -- a 35mm rectangle is "full frame." On a Medium Format camera, its tiny. My D2 takes the full frame rendered by the sensor. Its just that I use lenses which were originally designed for a 35mm rectangle. I have changed my equipment to meet my shooting needs (personally, I have a 14mm, a 60mm micro, and a 300mm f2.8 fixed and one zoom--a 12-200VR). That is approximately the same wide range I had with film and slightly longer on the long end.

In my mind, unless I wanted to go much wider, I couldn't see the need for "full frame" for my personal shooting needs (though it might be interesting to mount the 14mm on one and see).

At the end of the day, I think its great that we have all these offerings -- and each person will need to equip based on her/his own shooting style/needs

Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 7:03 pm
by iamtull
Thanks Andy,
There are always new people on the forum so beat to death or not some have no experience with digital.

Thanks again

The distinct advantage of digital cropping

Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:57 pm
by Pentaxguy
Andy, I used to be dedicated to slide film, and never though I'd go digital. But since adding two digital SLRs with a 1.5x factor on my lenses, my film cameras are getting lonely. I've always been an "optical extraction" kinda guy, enjoying the power of telephoto images. Now my 70-300mm APO lens becomes the equivalent of 100-450mm, with no loss in speed, on my digital cameras. The standard digital 18-55mm is the equivalent of 27-82mm. And I can always buy a 10-17 or 10-20mm lens if I want wide angle. 10 mm is like 15 mm on a 35mm film camera. So I see no real downside for the shots I take. By the way - think about this - my Sigma 170-500mm lens acts like a 250-750mm lens!!!

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 3:06 pm
by Andy
Pentaxguy: I tend to agree. For me, there has been nothing but "upside" with the 1.5 factor. My 300 f2.8 acts like a 450 f2.8. To me, its only been the folks who like the really wide side of things that have been asking for "full frame."

The other thing I like is that the aspect ratio of my sensors on both my D100 and D200 are almost identical to the 13 x 19 maximum dimensions of my Epson Printer, which only a minor crop necessary. It allows me to compose with my camera, knowing what I see in the viewfinder is very close to what my finished print will be.

Posted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 7:51 am
by ixl
It's all very personal, but let me tell you that once you get used to full frame digital, it's very hard to go back.