Full Frame vs Crop Cameras
2012 and the big action, this year, is in the full frame cameras. Nikon released the D800 and the D4, Canon has released their 5Dmk3 and the 1Dx, Sony is poised to release the Alpha 99. The talk of the town is that Nikon will be coming out with a full frame the D600 at around $1,500 US and Canon will have to follow suit.
Obviously, full frame cameras must be better. If not, why is all the buzz and all the press promoting all these cameras that start around $3,000 and top at $6,500? People say:
Bigger pixels, less noise…
Some of it can be true, but it's not always the case. Let take the cameras with the biggest pixels around, the Hasselblad HD4 serie and the Phase 1 IQ serie. Their pixels are so big that they compete with the CO2 bubbles of any pop drink when you open the bottle/can. But meanwhile, it's hard to go above ISO 400 with these cameras and to get the excellent image quality. The choices are ISO 50, ISO 100 or ISO 200. No taking photos of black cats in a coal mine.
On a full frame camera, the number on the lens from the focal lens is the “bible.” You get what you see. A Canon 16-35mm lens on a full frame camera gives an angle of view from: 83° to 44° and a 500mm give an angle of 3°
On a Canon crop camera like the 7D, the number on the lens from the focal lens need to be multiplied by 1.6. A Canon 16-35mm lens on a 7D gives an angle of view from: 70° to 35° and a 500mm give an angle of 2° The perspective is the same, just the angle of view is cropped.
I do “some” bird photography, it's more like an attempt. I have far more success with BOG (Birds on the Ground) than with BIF (Birds in Flight).
The vast majority of the bird photographers at Reifel Bird Sanctuary use Canon and almost all of them have switched from their full frame cameras to the 7D. That's because of the crop factor. The 500mm becomes the equivalent of an 800mm, then there is the 1.4x tele-converter and we have the equivalent to a 1120mm at f/5.6! In bird photography, focal length trumps everything, except for the skills of the “birder/photographer.” And even then an “incompetent” birder like me with my 400mm on a Canon 7D, will often get better photos than an expert with a 200mm f/2 on a full frame camera.
In the photo world, there two type of photographers:
- The wide angle photographers. People that see the world in wide. It's a “vision thing.”
- The tele photographers. People that see the world in some small chunks, the tele people. I'm a tele photographer. The tele matches my vision.
If you are a wide angle photographer, you will be happier with a full frame camera. If you are a tele photographer, you will be happier with an APS-C crop camera.
BTW, I'll defy anybody to look at a photograph and say: this is a full frame camera and this is an APS-C crop camera.