Going full frame?

I am writing this before taking the plunge, in order to explain to myself why I’m doing it. If, in fact, I do it. We’ll see. It’s just that my mind keeps skittering away when I try to think of the advantages of a full frame DSLR, so I need to get them down on electronic paper, so to speak.

The most obvious advantage is that it’s more sensitive to light. This means better low-light pictures, such as star shots. Will this help me much in my photography? Probably not.

Right after that we switch from “advantage” to “difference”, which is not the same thing. Of course a full-frame camera utilizes lenses differently: no crop factor involved, so the focal length (which is so often expressed in terms of 35mm film camera equivalent) will be “as written” (a 50mm lens is “normal” focal length, not a short telephoto 80mm equivalent). The depth of field is also altered accordingly. Will this help me much? Again, probably not.

The resolution difference is pretty minuscule as the FF DSLR I’m considering is 20MP as opposed to my APS-C camera’s 18MP. Presented on a physically larger sensor, there is only a slight improvement in sharpness and dynamic range. If it were a 28MP sensor this would be different. So … much help here? Ah, not really.

Okay, why was I thinking I should buy this? Because it’s the only piece of hardware I can acquire that would actually make any difference at all in my work? Maybe. Because I found a Canon 6D used for about 1/3 the price of a new one and it’s for sale in the same province so no massive import costs? Perhaps. Because I’m bored? Yes, probably that one. I mean, it’s not like I have trouble producing good photos from the cameras I’ve already got, right?

Screenshot from 2020-01-10 13:16:30
Canon 6D ad image

So I did some research, specifically reading articles about the advantages/disadvantages of the full frame cameras. None of the things I read presented me with any information I hadn’t already considered myself. Really there’s not much reason to go full frame no matter who you are or what you shoot unless you can get that sensor with the huge increase in pixels so that the density of same is equivalent to the cropped sensor version. With film photography the resolution is fixed by the amount of silver particles per square area, which is pretty much the same across all negative sizes – but the larger the negative the greater total number of particles so the sharper the image. Increasing the sensor size by a factor of 3 without a corresponding increase in the number of pixels doesn’t really mean much.

Sounds like I’ve talked myself out of it, again. In fact I keep coming back to the notion that what I really want is an old Canon Elph 150 with its 20MP CCD sensor and 10X zoom. The only one of those I can find right now costs more than the new-but-shop-worn Elph 180 – which only has an 8X zoom and a CMOS sensor – and has to be imported besides.

Screenshot from 2020-01-10 13:15:36
Canon Elph 150 ad image

No worry, no hurry as it’s not going to be ‘photography weather’ again around here for a long time yet.

4 thoughts on “Going full frame?

  1. My Nikon Df is a full frame camera and I love how it works in terms of lighting and composition. I’ve also worked in medium format with my Kodak Medalist II and my Rolleiflex Automat MX, so it’s given me the opportunity to at least compose for larger images when composing for the digital camera. The only issue I’ve had is when I’ve tried to put legacy lenses on my Df, there’s some serious vignetting that makes me choose whether to be “artistic” or just get a better lens for the mount.


    1. One of the reasons I picked the Canon was wanting to use the old Pentax lenses I’ve got; came across some comments that there were problems getting old glass correctly adapted to the Nikons, mostly with no infinity focus. I don’t recall hearing of the vignetting problem before.
      Full frame cameras have advantages, but I was weighing out the one I can afford against how much it would add to my photography specifically. It doesn’t pan out, unfortunately. Now if I could foot the bill on one of those expensive Sony Alphas with the 42MP full frame sensor … It probably still wouldn’t offer much for my kind of shooting. Nice cameras, though.


  2. After having owned dozens of 35 mm cameras, mostly Nikon, some no-name rangefinders and numerous lenses nowadays I’m happy, more than happy, with my Canon SX710HS. That thing does good photos and 1080 video and is small enough to have it on me pretty much everywhere I go. It’s starting to fail now. Pfff, was kinda cheap so new one shouldn’t be a problem.
    Sometimes I open my alu cases and take out all my old analogue gear and *sigh … and then I put all that shit away again. I really only need that one compact camera.


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