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View Poll Results: Do you think that subframes are adequate substitutes for a fullframe?
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No 1 20.00%
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Old Mar 18, 2009, 5:50 PM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 43

Hello, I'm starting this thread (hopefully it's not too redundant) in response to the recent discussion that seems to be sweeping the Internet photography community like wildfire: is APS-C better, or worse, than fullfram 35mm?

I've seen comments at dpreview that seem to arise at the conclusion that APS-C is no better than FF photographically and results in hardware that is both heavier and much more expensive for the same IQ. I'm not going to link to that thread, for a number of reasons, first and foremost that DP limits all threads to 150 posts, second that they tend to ban anyone who says things that violate their precious preconceptions about photography (ie "the truth") and so I will just make my own comments here.

...having bought and shot a lot of fullframe and subframe SLRs. My personal list, in order: 400d, 30d, D300, A700, A200, 10D, 5D, D700. I have personally owned and shot tens of thousands of frames through these cameras, shooting at all hours of the day & night in all sorts of lighting conditions & weather. So I'm not going to throw numbers at you or talk about why one is bad and the other is good. I'm just going to point out the strengths and weaknesses of each, from my experience.

Also I'd like to point out that in my opinion there are 3 real sets to consider:

Not just the one comparison between the D700 and the D90 that the OP at Dpreview wanted to restrict the discussion to. Oh by the way the original question was whether or not Pentax was serving its user-base well by not offering a FF camera.

Also I have to say that I am not _NOT_ a professional photographer, just an avid amateur, with a strong interest in both travelling and in taking good photos in a variety of conditions...HANDHELD. Nothing I say here will affect the use of a tripod.

Fair enough. In my opinion one has to consider why one would shoot a DSLR and not just a p&s, not just consider why one would buy and shoot a fullframe or a subframe. Because with the release of high-quality p&s's like the Canon G9, one can easily shoot raw with a p&s and at least a low ISO get very-good shots, certainly a little more noisy than DSLR output but still quite good and you can do quite a lot with them. DSLRs are by no means necessary to get good shots handheld in good to fair light. So considering the G9 (and the G10 and maybe the Panasonic LX3) are now available for less than $500 and will give you 12MP raw files with 10 stops of DR [and I can shoot high-quality panos with a p&s and generate all the FOV and pixels that I need] what is it that a DSLR really gives you?

Well in my opinion what they give you are the ability to take shots in less light that you can shoot in with a p&s and still get good focus, also faster focus & higher FPS plus the ability to use an "optimal" lens for the shot that you want and not just the lens fixed on the camera. Plus one other thing: the ability to clean the sensor. Because a p&s can get dust on the sensor too. You put it in your pocket often enough and turn it on and off, often enough, shake it around enough and volia you will see dust on the sensor. Trust me, that's a trip to Canon USA or wherever to get it off. Hopefully your camera will still be under warranty and you get this done for free. If not, then it's what? $150 minimum service? Something like that. So this is something to consider just as much as DOF or COC or the weight & cost of the camera & lenses that you want.

But to me the most important thing about a DSLR and the thing that makes it make sense to own and shoot relative to a light, small, low-priced p&s shot raw is the low-light shooting capability. I don't really care about FPS when I'm shooting handheld at 1/30s or slower. I don't need a lightning-fast focus for landscapes, especially not in low light...I *definitely* need a sharp focus. I occasionally use fill-flash, 2nd-curtain flash, so that's important too, not to be ignored. But ok most subframes and even one fullframe in that list above has a pop-up flash (which to me right there is the reason to choose it over the others). I don't need a high-resolution camera so 24MP is not of interest to me...I do want the high ISO (assuming that it is accurate, many of the later cameras do not rate ISO accurately, in fact the only ones I know that DxOMark says is accurate are the Sony and Panasonic lines). So to me these are the important issuses that justify the high price, size & weight of a DSLR over P&S: the high ISO, low noise, and the good focus of a phase-detect focus-system over the performance of a contrast-detect AF system in low light. While I find the CDAF of the G9 to be adequate in low light with well-lit subjects, quite often the subject that you're trying to shoot is not well-lit at all, or even high-contrast, and a CDAF system simply will not work well without contrast.

And there is no doubt that DSLRs are much heavier, much bigger and much more expensive than a p&s like the G9. No question about it. But if you're going to shoot reliably & somewhat-conveniently handheld indoors and in low light or a night without a flash, you really can't do this with a G9. It's that simple. Maybe the G10 is better with the shorter lens...maybe the LX3 is even better with a shorter, faster lens, but one has to be careful to be able to correct or avoid the obvious effects of lens-distortion at 28mm effective that limits the utility of such a short/wide-angle lens. That wide-angle can really bite you in terms of geometric distortion and keystoning. So we don't want to have to *rely* on short, fast lenses, though of course if they are good we want to make use of them, and the DSLR wins here on a few counts. If you find a fast short prime that you like, just snap it on and then you will just have to worry about body-IS vs lens-IS or no-IS.

But here we have the meat of the matter.
1-I find lens-based IS to be at least one stop maybe 2 more effective than body-IS.

2-CCD sensors are nice and have good noise properties...but they *are* noisier than CMOS sensors.

3-low MP sensors are usually cleaner than high MP sensors

4-some mfgs make great PDAF sensors that work well in low light...some don't. It's that simple. And it's not even consistent across their line. Some of their DSLRs AF well in low light, some do not, it's that simple.

5- not to be ignored, unfortunately...we really need raw, "raw data", and the year that it took Sony to remove the NR from the raw data really helped me to avoid getting stuck with the A700 and dealing with its low-light focus issues and almost cutting sharpness off the sensor. Paradoxically the A200 focuses just great in low light. Now I see that Canon is doing some real NR on-chip with the 5DMk2, and between that and the egregiously-bad CA and the lack of weather-sealing combined with reports of 5DMk2s breaking down in wet weather I'm really leery of buying one. Not to mention the price. Yet the D700 doesn't escape scot-free either, it tends to streak under lights at high ISO. But between that and the 24MP sensor in the A900 (and it's well known high ISO noise and 12-bit A/D) I'd have to rate the D700 the best of the bunch, above.

Now for the question at hand: do I think that the D300 or D90 is the photographic equal of the D700?

And I have to say to anyone who would agree to that: are you f-ing kidding?!?

They might *operate* the same, but the D700 will run *rings* around thee D300 in terms of noise, and the D90 is even more noisy than the D300!!! Adn trust me if you are buying a DSLR that is what you care about. Speed, focus-quality and noise. You might rate them differently, but you will rate them 1-3 somehow. DOF and COC, that's as much a factor of the lens that you use as the camera. How can anyone in their right mind equate subframe performance to fullframe is beyond me. They obviousy have never struggled to get good clean shots out of a DSLR in low light.

Ok I will grant you that if you are shooting in plenty of light and/or using a flash and you're dealing with crop-related issues that subframes have much to offer over fullframes...using the same glass they will be sharper across the frame, vignette less, and give more DOF at the same Fstop, but DOF can be increased by moving the focus-point out (so there is no need to sweat DOF for deep landscape shots) and in any case if I really care about "resolution" and IQ I'm not going to want to shoot a low-pitch camera over a high-pitch camera, and the gains that the FOV crop gives you for tele and macro shooting are given right back for wide-angle shots. You want to shoot tele or macro in decent light, or use the flash? Fine use a subframe and save money. You want to shoot handheld in low light? You have to go with a fullframe to get the best results. If you're wiling to use a tripod, or you *want* to use a tripod and get absolutely the best results, then the the higher MP of a 24MP is clearly worth the smidgen of extra noise at low ISO relative to noise off the smaller subframe sensor, and the same for the higher dynamic-range and COC of a 12MP FF relative to a 12MP subframe. And any practical experience with both types will make this a non-issue. Anyone with such experience who tells you that subframes are just as good as fullframes is simply lying to you.

The final question: is it worth the extra money?

There's only one person who can answer that question. The guy or gal who buys the gear and takes the shots. Hopefully they get a good deal and have the technical virtuosity to make the most out of either one. Even more so, let's hope that they can write the gear off on their taxes as a business expense. But I've taken *way* too many ff shots and subframe shots to think that a subframe can compete with a ff in low light. There's no doubt about this in my mind, at all. You can get good shots out of a subframe in low light, no question. But you can't get the same SNR of a fullframe. You get 2 out of the 3: low-noise, speed or exposure, and for me, if I'm going to spend $2k on a camera and lens, spending $3k to get a better camera that lets me shoot twice as fast at the same noise and exposure with with a comparable lens correcting for the lack of the FOV crop is a no-brainer. A 5D or a D700, I can practically shoot them around the clock handheld and get decent shots without any NR: if I can see the subject, I can get a good shot of it, handheld. A subframe can be shot handheld at night but it requires a well-lit subject or you have to be happy with small-format results and/or NR. They just put-out too much noise. It's that simple.

Having said that let me list my practical ISO limits for the various cameras that I've shot & listed above along with their critical issues:

400d: This was my first DSLR, I bought a Sigma 18-200 DC OS to go on it, and used DxO to clean up the results. It was ok at F8, clean enough at ISO1600 for some handheld work but severely handicapped by the AF system (same with the 10d & 20d). The G9 focuses far more reliably than the 400d and 10d. It is not useless, but I blew a lot of good shots for the simple reason that I was using a 400d and not a decent DSLR. Otherwise I would have eventually begun to shoot it raw and been happy enough with it.

30D: this was really a revelation over the 400d, it has good low-light AF but it's still a little noisy at ISO3200. Between my hankering for a true 28mm wide-angle with IS and ISO6400 (and the fact that I was a year ahead of the Tamron 18-270VC) I traded my 30D with a Sigma 18-200 DC OS for an a700 with the Sony 18-250 and thus a true love/hate relationship began. I loved the Tamron 18-250...couldn't deal with the a700.

A700: I ended-up buying & selling 3 of these, all with the Sony 18-250 & V3 bios with NR that couldn't be turned off. It's maybe good enough with the v4 bios and NR off but still I found the low-light AF to be less than great, it's full of blue-channel noise at high ISO and the autoWB sucks in anything but daylight...plus even in daylight the autoWB is brownish and the shots seemed to be sharpened to the very edge of moire...they're almost *too* sharp. Plus...does the sensor have an AR coating or not? It seems to ghost an awful lot...though I figured out eventually that this is also partly due to the filters. Take them off, a lot of that ghosting goes away. So now I knew what lens I wanted to use, but I couldn't get a VC version of the Tamron 18-250, so I tried the D300 & Nikon 18-200VR2. I figured "hey it's a Nikon lens, it can't be that bad". I was wrong.

D300: I shot this with the Nikon 18-200VR2 which is really an atrocious lens. The D300 itself is good though. It has good sealing (important since the avid shooter will get caught out in the rain with a $2500 camera & lens), very good low-light AF and simply excellent color resolution & low light automatic WB but the images become saturated with luminance noise at ISO2000 (ISO1600 works very well at night, ISO3200 is good for tight shots in low light, ISO6400 is an act of desperation) and its output is buttery-soft, so as nice as the *colors* are, the fine-detail that you really want to see in a good landscape shot just will not be there. What the D300 gives you in terms of great color and sharp AF, it takes away in terms of fine-detail even shooting raw. Put it up next to a 5D or A700 shot, maybe even a 30D shot, and that's the first thing that you will notice. The A900 and 5DMk2 will simply destroy it in terms of fine-detail. And the 51p AF mode is sloooow. Ok in single-point mode it might be faster and the 7FPS is good for sports-shooting but really this cameras is "a good all-around camera, but not really great at anything".

Trying to get out from under the luminance noise & dull fine-detail problems with the D300 I tried a 5D & Tamron 28-300VC & loved it (with the minor loss of the ISO6400 hovering over my shoulders). Soon enough I learned to shoot raw & sold the Nikon gear. Removed DxO from my computer entirely.

5D: very low noise but only so-so color-resolution in the shadows, AF is good but not great like the D300 & D700, still usually I got well-focused shots with it in low light. Focus wasn't a problem. I took a looot of low-light handheld shots with this rig.

A200: shot it with the Tamron 18-250, loved it in decent light but it's too noisy to shoot at ISO1600 still it performs well ISO100-800 with good noise, very smooth noise, easy to work with noise, and it focuses really well in low light, even the auto-WB isn't bad in low light...surprisingly-good auto WB in low light...can easily match and will probably even beat the D300 in terms of fine-detail but the colors are not quite as good...still not bad at all, though. It might even inspire another look at the A700 but as with the A700 I found the body-IS to be not quite up to the level of lens-based IS but with a fast 28-35mm prime this might be the way to go for low-light shooting, certainly in terms of cost-performance, which again is why I would buy a DSLR in the first place. In any case in terms of all-around performance in a DSLR? For $500 new it's hard to pass up. As a *camera*, all around? It's not a whole lot better than the G9. Put the Sony 24-70 F2.8 lens on the a200, it's no contest. That's a $1300 lens and the G9 still has more range, higher MP, fits in my pocket and costs 1/4 as much. Put a 35mm F1.8 prime on the A200 and it's even better but now I can only use it for wide-angle shots. It cries out for the Tamron 18-250 and a 28mm F1.8 prime. Now you're talking $500 worth of lenses on top of a $500 DSLR, but you're still $300 short of the cost of a new D300 or 50D body, not to mention the Tamron 18-270VC that you would need to match the 18-250 plus a prime on a D300 won't have IS. For what I want to shoot with a DSLR, this is a much-better rig. Side bonus? It's at least a pound lighter than the D300 with equivalent lenses, and smaller too.

D700: when it came out I bought one with the Tamron 28-300VC for Nikon-mount. Found it to be basically a better D300, and I enjoyed the absence of luminance noise combined with the 14-bit D/A and really even better auto WB. I took some fantastic handheld shots at night with this rig. Excellent high ISO performance, low-light AF, color range & auto WB in low light, but still, not all *that* clean...really hits its limit at ISO6400 (which is not accurate) and does streak around bright lights in low light. But still the prototypical fullframe otherwise. I mean, it frees the shooter to shoot around the clock, in any sort of light, almost never having to use a tripod, and with almost no focus worries.

D300-D700? No comparison. Easily worth the extra money.
30D-5D? Much closer. Same camera, slightly less noise.

A200-A700? Really I was much more impressed with the A200. The A700 has a bigger LCD and a bigger viewfinder. Is the A200 chopped liver because it doesn't have a 3" quarter-VGA LCD and a big bright viewfinder with almost 100% coverage? Hell, no. The A200 is also less than half the price of the A700, and has a smaller, lighter body. And they both shoot raw, and I shoot raw, so the DRO doesn't benefit me much. And the A200 makes real raw files. I loved it. Maybe possibly with the V4 bios the a700 can be shot in true raw at a higher ISO with the same noise. Maybe. Possibly. Not according to DxOMark. Also according to DxOMark the D300 is ISO-overrated and the A200 is accurately-rated. In fact that is a common problem with the later cameras, they are almost all ISO-overrated. But still a useful ISO800 with good low-light AF and at least good-looking noise at ISO1600, all for $500, that is not chopped-liver. The thing that you have to remember with the CMOS vs CCD comparison is that a lot of these CMOS cameras produce really crappy, eye-watering noise, with streaks. That usually is not a problem with CCD sensors. It's just like the THD issue, 2nd harmonic noise is not all that bad, 3rd-harmonic noise is a nightmare. And good noise cleans up nicely with a good NR program. There is no CCD fullframe 35mm DSLR but if there was I would love to try it. So there are many CMOS subframes which produce acceptable noise at "ISO1600" vs the a200 which is acceptable at ISO800 but they're not really true ISO1600 cameras and the a200 can at least be shot at ISO3200 without making me gag at the raw images.

If you look at the DxO mark for the A200, A700 & A900


...you will see that there is virtually no difference in the SNR performance of these cameras. The a900 is maybe a half-stop better than the a200 in terms of SNR, for screen-displays. The big difference is in prints. Most shots these days are viewed on-screen...I almost never print my shots. And remember on a screen you are downsampling a 10-12MP shot to a 2-3MP display. For screens, don't need pixels. You need speed, exposure, FOV, good DR, decent noise and a good focus. The a900 is for making great prints, for people who make a lot of prints. The A700 does nothing for me, and only the camera jpegs sell it, because they are so punched-up with DRO and in-camera sharpening. Shot raw, the A200 is probably the better camera.

I've never shot the a900 (I have no real desire to do so because it gives me nothing that I want a fullframe for, or even a DSLR, but the shots look amazingly well-detailed off of it) or the 5dmk2 (somewhat impressive high-ISO performance without the streaking issues of the D700, but the shots always look soft to me, and full of CA [even if that can be taken out with software]). I wouldn't mind trying them but you need a real lens on the A900 to make it worth the trouble, and the 5DMk2 seems to win a lot of competitions by default. A better 5D for slightly more money? Who can pass this up. But I wouldn't begin to compare the *best* of the subframes (clearly the D300) to either a 5DMk2 or a D700 in terms of what I think that DSLRs should be purchased for, I don't know who is coming up with that. You want to shoot landscapes in good light? I can do that well with my G9. I have no need for a $1300 DSLR plus a $1k lens to shoot landscapes in good light. For me DSLRs are all about the lenses & filters that one can put on them, the ability to get to the sensor and backside of the lens to clean them when dust inevitably gets there, the FPS that I need occasionally for action shots, and the low-light performance. Not for taking landscape shots in good light or on a tripod. That's like saying that you need a minitower PC and a 22" CRT to surf the Internet. I'd rather shoot landscapes with a G10 than a D300 any day of the week. Ok *possibly* the D300 will focus better when shooting landscapes in low light than a G10, and I could shoot at ISO400-800 which I would never want to touch with a pocket p&s allowing me to shoot landscapes with lower exposure-times, but I can do that just as well with a fullframe plus I wouldn't have to use a tripod as often.

So to me the arguments that those people were making and the conclusions that they were reaching were sheer nonsense rationalizations from fans of a company that refuses to make a fullframe camera. In my experience this is a no-brainer. If you have the cash to go for a new DSLR, spend the extra cash to get a fullframe or regret it all the way down the line. There is definitely a place for the budget subframe like the a200 and 30D that will give very good performance for relatively little money. But I'm not spending $1300 for a D300 when I can get a D700 for another grand, which would be a far-better all-around camera. Sony fans have a much easier time of this because the A900 is a no-compromise pixel-generator that is hardly any cleaner than the A700 while the A700 is hardly any cleaner, higher-resolution, or really any *better* even in terms of features (ignoring the higher-resolution LCD) than the A200 (you can check the DxOMark data as well as I can) and thus worth nowhere near the extra money making the A200-A900 jump merely a matter of 50% higher linear resolution at 5x the cost, and Canon fans, you can easily afford a 30D *and* a 5D or 5DMk2 if you're that hardcore (of course the question then becomes why buy a 30D & a 5DMk2 if the 30D tops out at ISO3200 and the 5DMk2 tops out at or above ISO6400 & a 1.5x TC only costs you 1 stop & $250). If I'm a Nikon fan, the same with the D700 and the D60, or maybe the D50-D300 if you need a body with a focus-motor. Looking at the Big Picture the one fullframe camera that really makes sense to me is the D700 but I would have to shoot a 5DMk2 first just to see. If you're going to shoot a subframe, any of them will do, really, in terms of noise, but I know for a fact that the 30D and D300 are clean enough to shoot at ISO1600...indicated....at night and give great results under lights. The thing is, ISO1600...indicated...is where things would just start to get interesting with the D700 and 5DMk2. The 5D falls out of the pack, here, offering no significant performance-benefit or cost savings over the higher-resolution 5DMk2 (the D3X and 1DsMk3 likewise are ridiculously-overpriced for what they give you and no one in their right mind would shoot a 1DsMk3 when they can get a D3X for the same price). I also know that most of these cameras are overrated in terms of ISO and that you simply *must* check the DxOMark data for the true ISO and SNR no matter how much people want to poop on DxOMark. But still. I would never try to say that a subframe is the equivalent of a fullframe. A Big Mac will never be a filet mignon.

Ultimately the G9 and similar p&s fall short at night, but one should never ignore them. Quite often they will give you the shots that you need, especially shooting raw. But no one camera & lens will be the perfect match for you and the shots that you want to take, and price is *always* a factor. You will buy more than one camera and you will probably spend a lot more than you really want to, to get the cameras that you want. The main thing is to be happy with what you buy, so that you can focus on taking shots and getting the most out of the gear that you own, instead of buying & trying different cameras & lenses trying to find happiness in your gear. Unfortunately there's a fair amount of that that you have to do to be happy with your gear, and you can't really be happy with someone elses' opinion. You pretty-much have to find that comfort-zone on your own. For some people that comfort-zone stops at APS-C. For others with a fullframe, but for far more with a simple p&s. There are even nuts who are happy with a bridge camera, or with film. But to me it is clear that if I am going to pay $2k and up for a DSLR & lens and carry around a 5 pound bag of that size, I want the most performance possible for that size & weight. I'm not going to buy & carry either an expensive subframe or a crappy subframe when I can get either a good fullframe for a decent price or a good subframe cheap. *THAT* I will not compromise on. Beyond that the only question will be can you live with a camera that runs out of gas when it gets dark and you still want to shoot. And if the answer to *that* question is yes, then sooner or later you are going to feel like an idiot even *carrying* a DSLR when you can get most of the shots that you want with a good p&s. The main justification for a fullframe over a subframe is that it makes the most out of the size & weight of a DSLR, if not necessarily the cost. But that is the burden of the amateur photographer. If you can't live with that, don't buy a DSLR in the first place. At night, even in low light, a subframe will leave you wishing that you had gone ahead and bought a fullframe, and during the day a p&s is good enough, and always, if you're an amateur, you can just not take a picture, for once. And when you are not shooting it, that DSLR is just a $1500 brick hanging off your shoulder, taking up space in your car, waiting to be stolen out of your hotel-room, or left behind after you finish lunch. It has to be worth the trouble as much as the money. And if you worry about the money that you spent on it, you will constantly be thinking of ways to get the same shots for less money, and you will go right back to a good point & shoot and a tripod, or even worse ISO1600 film and a good IS lens. The big advantage of that $2500 fullframe and the $500-$1500 worth of lenses in your bag is that you don't have to worry about buying better gear and you can go on about life. You start to worry about the money, you will end up with a good p&s. Subframes never solve the problem.
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Old Mar 18, 2009, 6:15 PM   #2
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I cannot match your experience and I can in no way match your budget for cameras. I envy you.

For most non-professionals with limited budgets, DSLR's with APS sized sensors are enough. I am happy with my Pentax K200D though it won't shoot very well in indoor sporting venues.

When my budget for cameras increases and the prices of full-frame DSLR's drops another thousand or so bucks, I might jump on the FF bandwagon.

By the way, I really like the hamburgers from Red Robin restaurants, maybe even more than a filet mignon steak.

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Old Mar 18, 2009, 6:54 PM   #3
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...having bought and shot a lot of fullframe and subframe SLRs. My personal list, in order: 400d, 30d, D300, A700, A200, 10D, 5D, D700. I have personally owned and shot tens of thousands of frames through these cameras, shooting 24 hours a day.
Call me a skeptic. :roll:

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Old Mar 18, 2009, 7:22 PM   #4
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point taken, correction made.
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Old Mar 18, 2009, 9:06 PM   #5
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"In addition, why stop at 24x36mm, as medium format will out perform in many aspects. Why not a 39mp Hassey?"

Because the performance advantage of medium-format over 35mm is lost on most shots, and the disadvantages of MF gear compared to 35mm are obvious. Even ignoring the higher cost, they aren't cost-effective compared to 35mm gear. But the advantages of a fullframe compared to a subframe play right into the reasons why people buy DSLRs in the first place.

"I carry a camera for miles at a time. Most of the time the lens mounted covers your 35mm field of view of 100-400mm and many times with a one stop converter extending the equiv of 566mm. Full frame simply is not an option, especially when my use is normally restricted to daylight and never printed larger than common 8x10 or 11x13 sizes."

Well, let's just put it this way, your gear is optimum for certain shots, but suboptimum for the rest. I can get 566mm out of a bridge-camera, now, certainly with the 1.7xTCs that they normally take. Is there enough light in your shots to take it with, say, a Panasonic FZ7 with a 1.7xTC? Does it need to be literally 566 mm? You're shooting handheld or on a tripod? A garden-variety F4-F5.6 100-400 lens with a 1.5x TC is going to be what, F8 at 566mm? Wide-open? And without a tripod you're going to have to shoot that at 1/750s handheld with IS...1/2000s without IS? You would have some advantage over a bridge-camera handheld, but not on a tripod, and a fullframe with the same lens using a 2x TC would match it anyway, for all intents and purposes. In any case you'd be better-off either using a tripod or busing-out a faster, longer lens. Plus it would be way sharper anyway, without the TC and not shot at full zoom, plus stopped-down a bit.

The problem is that you get better price-performance with small-sensor cameras, and you get better *performance* with large-sensor cameras. A subframe is neither fish nor fowl. It's a "middle of the road" solution that's not really optimal for anything. But certainly it would be possible to take the same shot with a fullframe, using the same lens and a 2x TC (within some small range of error). A 500mm lens on a subframe with a 1.5x TC would give you (1.5)^2 * 500mm which is roughly 2.3 x 500mm at the cost of 1 stop, a 500mm lens on a fullframe with a 2x TC would give you 1000mm at the cost of 2 stops but you can make that up in the camera. Of course if the ff wasn't at least 1 stop better in terms of SNR and DR then the subframe would give you a better shot, short of the a200/a700/a900 comparison above I doubt that there is a fullframe that isn't at least 1 stop better than a comparable subframe in terms of DR and SNR.

Or considering that the 500mm lens will have a FOV of 5 degrees and a 400mm lens maybe 6 degrees, you can just move a little closer and take the same shot better with the same lens & TC. A smaller sensor simplifies the glass required to get a shot. It isn't going to give you a *better* shot if you can reach it with a bigger sensor. If that were the case, then you would shoot a bridge camera with a TC. You have the same problem with noise: if you can get the shot adequately with a p&s, it's overkill to use a subframe, and even more so with a fullframe. But the p&s isn't going to give you a *better* shot than the subframe and likewise the subframe isn't going to give you a better shot than a fullframe.
I think that this is another reason why Panasonic and Olympus are pushing the 4/3rds standard. It gives the format even more of a glass advantage relative to fullframes without sacrificing so much in terms of SNR to make them little better than a p&s. The distinction between 4/3rds and ff is much more clear than the distinction between aps-c and ff. Though ultimately they are all cameras and ultimately they can all take the same shot. The same goes with MF gear but the market for it is so small that the equipment can't compete in terms of price/performance. MF is just too good for most of the shots that most people want to take and thus it has not seen the advantage of a large market share in terms of manufacturing efficiency lowering the cost of the gear, yet because of the small market there has not been the competitive push to higher ISOs that justifies the purchase of ff cameras and lenses. Instead you see the push to higher MP while trying to maintain the DR and SNR advantage of MF over 35mm, so in the end what you are likely to see with MF is the same thing that happened with the a900 and D3X. Very-high resolution MF sensors that are just slightly better than 35mm gear in terms of DR and SNR, but far more expensive with expensive lenses to match. Someone will have to be willing to keep the MP & price down and compete solely on ISO and then also come out with a suitable range, for MF to make serious inroads into 35mm. If that happens, then 35mm will have the same problems that APS-C has now, in that the pitch is too low to allow the format to go much further, and then *possibly* MF will begin to take over the high-end 35mm format just like 35mm is beginning to take over the high-end APS-C market. The key is in the economics of mass production, but this would require Canon or someone like Canon to take an interest in MF gear. And this would be a classic chicken-egg problem. They would have to come out with their own line of lenses, sensors & cameras, and someone would have to buy them, but that will happen if there is a good gap in terms of price between 35mm and the existing MF markets, and the D3X, D3, D700 and A900 start to make severe inroads into Canons' 35mm revenue. Very-likely they will mirror Panasonic & Samsung and come out with a mirrorless MF camera that uses EF lenses. No, an EF mount maybe but a shorter backfocus distance.
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Old Mar 18, 2009, 10:43 PM   #6
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Old Mar 18, 2009, 10:47 PM   #7
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"For your paragraph, according to the theory there will be no advantage when shooting at the same DOF and same shutterspeed. Its a wash. You would need to reach for the tripod at the same time at two stops higher ISO and stopped down two stops more on the lens. You may even have to use the tripod before me, as that massive lens is going to weigh a ton."

You wouldn't need to give up 2 stops to switch from a subframe to a fullframe, just one stop, with the same lens and a 2x TC vs a 1.5x TC. You'd give up a slight bit of FOV as well as the aperture at wide-open, which yes, would affect the AF system. I wouldn't have a problem shooting a fullframe up one stop in ISO relative to a subframe at or neaer the same MP, the AF might be an issue, but as I said if you *can* reach the shot with the fullframe there's little to no loss in IQ.

Beyond that I'm confused -seriously- as to what the point of your post is.

There is what you can do and what you can't do, and what you are willing to do and not, and what you want to do and not. Is your point to tell me that what you want to do is not what I want to do? We are two different people, that is probably obvious to anyone reading your message. If your point is to say that I couldn't take those same shots with a fullframe, you're obviously wrong. If your point is to tell me that you needed to take those shots with a subframe? Well, that's great, but I don't see how that's relevant to me. Is your point to tell me that you think that you made the best choice of gear for the shots that you wanted to take, and a fullframe wouldn't have been a better choice? Maybe. That all depends on what you intend to do with your gear *other* than to take those shots. Even if they are indeed indicative of the potential of the gear that you made to take them, and can't be matched with anything else. Either qualitatively, practically or in terms of price/performance.

You might remember part of what I said before. I don't take animal shots.

So why are you talking to me about animal shots?

So you felt that you had to use that gear and take that shot from that distance? Good for you. I wouldn't have. Very possibly if I HAD to I might want to use that same gear. Is that what you want to hear?

So are you happy now?

Was that the whole point here?

Tell me one other thing. What are the odds that between the time that you saw that deer and the time that you pointed your camera at it and took the shot, that it would run off? Can you guess why it would do that?

Because it really doesn't give a damm about whether or not you want to take a picture of it. The world has indulged you *twice* on this issue. In the future I'd appreciate it if you would remember this when you need self-affirmation.
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Old Mar 18, 2009, 10:55 PM   #8
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"That's my point. Best choice has to do with what your doing and what you intend to do with the results"

This is so obvious as to really ring my bell as to why you felt the need to tell me.

It seems that your posts were made to hear yourself talk, yes? Did you think that this is some new thought that the world has never seen before?

I'm going to close my mouth now before I say something like "you're an idiot, please stop wasting my time". oops there I went and said it.
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Old Mar 18, 2009, 11:05 PM   #9
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"I think I'll leave you alone. Seems you don't want to discuss, just proclaim."

That's the point. You are doing just that in all your posts, in response to mine.

There's nothing to discuss. What is, is. What you chose to do, you chose to do. What is there to discuss about this?

What I wrote, I wrote in order to tell people what I've done and why I did it. What is there to discuss about this?

Where in any of this is there anything to "discuss"? There's your opinion and mine. Your experience, and mine. There's nothing to "discuss" here. And what you chose to do is to "proclaim" what you have done in response to what I "proclaimed" that I have done. But what you were trying to do had little if anything in common with what I was trying to do. But you felt as though you had to "proclaim" it *ANYWAY*.

So I gave you your affirmation, which you were clearly in need of. Ok?

Beyond that there is another problem. There are opinions, and there are stone, cold hard facts. You stated an incorrect opinion, I corrected it. You also stated somewhat obvious opinions (a number of them) and I pointed out at least one instance where what you said was painfully obvious. Egregiously obvious. And even before I could come back and delete what I said you had quoted and responded to it. So it wasn't obvious ENOUGH for you. It seems that this whole thread has to be about you, yes or no?

You're not interested in "discussing" anything here. You're merely interested in grabbing the spotlight and shining it on yourself. So why don't you go do that in another thread...maybe start your own thread and talk about your experiences out shooting deer and dogs with ducks in their mouths, with subframe cameras, fast zoom lenses and TCs?

There must be something about fullframe cameras that really attracts you after all, huh? I'll bet that whenever anyone talks about fullframes on this board, you show up with your stories about shooting deer and dogs with a subframe camera and a zoom lens, and your pictures, hm? Because you have to give the other side of the equation, the side of the equation that no one else here is apparently smart or knowledgeable enough to figure out on their own?

Dude. We don't need you to point out that the FOV crop helps when you're shooting long shots. Do we? I say "no". Do we need you to tell us that a 2x TC can render a lens inoperable in AF mode while a 1.5xTC might not? No. Or let's look at this another way, we really need you to tell us all about photography because none of us know anything about it.

Next I expect you to "discuss" the fact that DSLRs generally take CF cards not SDHC cards like most point & shoots do.

Seriously if I want to hear your stories about you and your gear, I'll ask. If you feel the need to tell me, please restrain yourself. If you want to "discuss" this in the forum at large, start your own thread. If you want to critique what I have said, fine. But I have nothing to say in response to what you have said, that I haven't already said, or even in response to what you might say from now on about what I have already said. To say more would be redundant, and I will leave it to others to carry on. Discuss aps-c with someone else, I have said all I have to say about it.
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Old Mar 18, 2009, 11:36 PM   #10
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************ wrote:
So to me the arguments that those people were making and the conclusions that they were reaching were sheer nonsense rationalizations from fans of a company that refuses to make a fullframe camera. In my experience this is a no-brainer. If you have the cash to go for a new DSLR, spend the extra cash to get a fullframe or regret it all the way down the line.
I suppose I should congratulate you for joining at Steve's and taking the time to write such a detailed post.

I read, but this point grabbed my attention. All I can say is it depends how you use a camera, what your looking for in a final product, as well as what your willing to spend.

.................................................. ................................................

I didn't say that you would regret it at EVERY point down the line.
You will certainly have times when you *don't* regret it. Can't afford one, you won't regret it. Use the money saved somewhere else, you won't regret it. Take a shot with a subframe that you just can't get within reason with a fullframe? You won't regret it. But overall through time you will regret it. On my opinion. Maily because you will find yourself taking a lot more shots wide-angle in low light than at high zoom in good light, and the more shots that you take in good light the less that you need a DSLR in the first place, and your expensive subframe won't be as good for taking shots in bad light as a fullframe.

Of course if you only take high-zoom shots at the limit of a lens/TC combination in light just good enough to use it with a subframe, or likewise use your subframe to take shots that suit it better than a fullframe, you will be happier that you bought a subframe instead of a fullframe more often. But inherent in this is that it would be better if you had a fullframe, or maybe even a p&s, if you wouldn't take those shots.

My question is just how stupid do you need to be for me to have to say this to you. And if this is the level of "discussion" that interests you, then we don't have much to talk about. Furthermore if I read through your other posts and feel the same way, I'm really going to be upset.
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