Is full frame worth the price?

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yongyuan
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Posted Sun Jun 9, 2013 9:48AM

Hello guys, 


I am graduating from my high school in Shanghai, China, heading to university. And my parents is considering upgrading my gear. I currently uses Canon 7D (with a battery grip), EF 35mm F2.0, Tokina 11-16mm F2.8, Tamron 90mm F2.8. 


I have long been told that full frame cameras are much better than APS-C ones in terms of image quality, and they are more professional. After carefully checking RAW samples from dpreview, I think it is true that the quality is better (a much bigger sensor after all). But I am doubting if it worths the price. (Of course I know the more expensive, the better, but ... )


7D is an excellent camera when it comes to speed. I have used 5D Mk II from my classmates and it clearly doesn't performs so well, especially in focusing and continuous shooting, but 5D Mk III is just too expensive, about 3000USD here in my country. 6D is around 1650USD here. I also need full frame lenses to work with the body. Canon 24-70 F2.8 II is 1900USD and Tamron 24-70 F2.8VC is 1150USD. (I want a lens with F2.8, it works much faster, both in shutter speed and in focusing, which is important because I also shoot much on campus)


So my question is is the improvement of image quality really worth the price? 7D is now around 900USD, very cheap compared to others yet offers excellent performance. If I go for a full frame body, buying new lenses is almost inevitable (wide-angle needed). Is 6D also a choice? (The performance can be unsatisfactory compared to 7D, but maybe I can work with both of them). And what are your opinions on choosing the 24-70 lenses? 


Looking forward to your suggestion, both full frame users and APS-C users! 


 


Thank you so much. 


 


Dai
blackwaterimages
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Posted Sun Jun 9, 2013 12:33PM
Keep your 7D, get better lenses. Full frame is nice, but not essential. It will give  you better performance in low light and super shallow DOF if that's what you desire, but its certainly not just "more professional".  I'm a professional, and I put my Canon 5D Mark II aside to just use Fuji X-Mount gear now. My clients don't regard me as less professional - the images are just as good, or better.  Don't look for an excuse to spend money.
simonbradfield
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Posted Sun Jun 9, 2013 2:21PM

I'm in a similar boat. I've got a 5DII and a Fuji X Pro 1, and I find I just use the smaller Fuji now. Excellent image quality, relatively light & compact. Much kinder on the back if you're trudging around all day with a pack full of kit.


I'm sure the IQ of your 7D is absolutely fine. If you have the burning urge to spend money, spend it on travel or props. Spend it on improving your skills as a photographer, not just your kit. 
Bike_Maverick
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Posted Sun Jun 9, 2013 7:19PM

I'm gonna contradict to what people above me are saying and tell you that full frame is awesome. I'm actually considering upgrading to Medium Format to get even larger sensor. To me, Fuji x100 is excellent at having leaf shutter and therefore much faster sync speed - it does amazing things on a sunny day with just one speedlight. Anything else (including 7D) is just plain worse than the large sensor.


It doesn't mean you can't do great things with 7D though, but if I were you I'd buy a used 5D Mk2 (can get one for ~1400USD) or even Mk1 (~500-600 USD) - larger sensor is so much better.


 


I don't understand the weight reason - I'm hiking 1000-1500 elevation in one day with my photo gear on the back without any problems. Maybe hitting the gym once in a while would improve back issues.
fotoVoyager
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013 12:23AM
Ah, but do it every day for weeks above 4000m or hour after hour pounding the pavements of some busy city and you'll soon see the attraction of tiny camera kit!

Having said that, if you want the best quality full frame is the way to go. Whether you can justify the expense for the falling return is another matter and needs detached consideration. Probably better sticking with you current set up and seeing if you can turn a profit with that rather than adding to your costs.

A good professional photographer will get a good result out of any useful camera you hand them, don't get caught up on the equipment. Seeing is all.
Bike_Maverick
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013 12:51AM
Posted By fotoVoyager:

A good professional photographer will get a good result out of any useful camera you hand them, don't get caught up on the equipment. Seeing is all.


A very common cliche which is a mistake. SOMETIMES it's true. All the time? No way.


You come to a photographer and tell him to shoot high end makeup ad with no strobes and they will lough at your face.
kelvinjay
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:48AM
After years of shooting with DSLRs, I couldn't wait to get my hands on a full frame body and ditch the poxy viewfinders of my crop bodies. I dreamed of full frame: that immersive and sense of engagement with the scene I was shooting that I had so missed since moving from film to digital. That's what I love about shooting full frame. That and the ultra shallow DOF I can have shooting at f/2.8 on my zooms.

As far as image quality goes, I have no idea if the newer crop bodies are equal to full frame models, but I can't imagine there is a vast and noticeable difference once you discount DOF and focal length differences.
Difydave
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:20AM

There's a difference between someone who actually makes money out of photography (or anything else for that matter) needing a certain amount of gear to get the job done, and wanting to have the best that can be afforded by their business, and someone who is starting up and needs to dip into their own pocket to buy gear. (And I know in the case of most photographers it will be "their own pocket" in any case, but if money is already being made by the buisiness it puts buying gear in a different light) 


Someone who shoots cosmetic ads will actually need a studio, lighting, backgrounds and a ruck of other gear and props. Someone who shoots landscapes has different requirements. Lightweight gear and a pair of hiking boots.


Given a reasonable quality of camera and lens,  then in either case as Kelvin says above  FF or crop will probably make little difference in the real world output.


The skill of the photographer will have a greater effect on the end result.


Personally I'd buy the kit I actually needed when I needed it. I wouldn't buy random equipment banking on possible future earnings simply because I felt I ought to have it.


 


 


 


   
yongyuan
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:33AM
/
/Thank you for your opinions. Although I have a Canon A-1 film SLR inherited from my grandfather, hardly have I used films (which is the size of FF sensors). Does DOF look very different on APS-Cs and on FF bodies? Will it be much more different to work with 6D? (I previously used 450D, and I don't think it is so good in operation) The budget limitation is around 3500USD, almost enough for 6D and Canon 24-70 Mk II, but it is a very large sum of  money needed to be seriously considered. 


I see different opinions offered, all providing me with much to think, and I am still looking forward to more. 


Thanks. 


 


ETA: What about dynamic range? Do FF bodies leave a larger space to edit afterwards than APS-Cs? 

(Edited on 2013-06-10 05:51:24 by yongyuan)
wdstock
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:40AM

Couple of points:


- I believe the 6D doesn't quite make the XXXL resolution threshold.


- As far as dynamic range, for a given pixel count, the pixels on a FF sensor are bigger than an APS sensor. So all things being equal, you should get more dynamic range on a FF sensor. However, there are other factors, so that is not a guarentee.
                        
kelvinjay
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:13AM
From a purely practical point of view, I always used to be able to shoot my formal wedding groups at f/5.6 on the crop bodies and expect that people on the 2nd row would be sharp if I'd focussed on the front row. What I found when I switched to full frame was that I needed to change that to f/8 to achieve sufficient DOF. Not a massive change, but a fairly important one to be aware if you've gotten used to using particular settings for particular subjects.

With portraits too, shooting at f/2.8 I could be confident of always getting the eye sharp but switching to full frame meant having to double check focus more as the shallower DOF could sometimes be too shallow. It's all a matter of what you get used to, but there are differences you need to be aware of. When shooting interior architecture shots, I used to be able to use f/8 to achieve the DOF I wanted, but now have to use f/11-f/16 more.

If you want greater DOF for landscapes and architecture, then crop frames can have the advantage in being able to achieve a greater DOF closer to the sharpness sweet spot of a lens. As for whether full frame is worth it, to me it totally was, but the cameras I use now, 5D2 and 5D3, are much more capable beasts than the 20D and 30D I was using before.

For my own shooting style, I'd hate to go back to that restricted crop-frame viewfinder view again, but others are perfectly happy with it and it works for them. Horses for courses, I guess.
Whiteway
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:28AM
When you mention 'restricted view' with a cropped sensor camera, Kelvin, do you mean that your wide angles are not so wide? Because, of course, you feel the benefit at the other end of the scale, where a 200mm lens is a 300mm-equivalent.
kelvinjay
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:32AM
No. I mean that looking through the viewfinder itself on a crop frame body feels like looking through a smaller hole. Looking through the 5d2 or 5d3 - the ground glass screen just looks bigger. I feel more immersed in the scene and less like I'm looking at it through a letterbox or whatever.

ETA:

Couldn't think of a way to show this until it was iPhone to the rescue!

So, excuse the lousy shot, but hopefully this shows what I was failing to explain. I stuck a 5d3 on a tripod with a 50mm lens and took a selfie in the mirror by sticking my iPhone lens touching the camera body to look through the viewfinder. I then did the same thing but through my old 30D crop frame body. The image below shows the difference in how big an image you see. It's nothing to do with the magnification of the lenses - I could have shown the same thing with no lenses attached at all. it's the comparative size of what you see which is what I'm getting at.

FFvsCrop

I just find it so much easier to feel part of the scene and to shoot through the bigger viewfinder of a full frame body. It really has improved my compositional awareness too.

(Edited on 2013-06-10 09:57:28 by kelvinjay)
kelvinjay
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013 10:22AM
Also - if the OP wants to compare dynamic range then you can look at dxo - who some people regard as reliable:

Comparison of some common Canon DSLRs.
KolaczanCLOSED
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013 10:49AM

Kelvin, the viewfinder on the 7D is actually vastly better than most (all?) other APS-c cameras. One of the very nice features of the camera.


 


FF will give better low light performance and a narrower DOF. Beyond that it isn't likely going to be that "magical" of a difference. Photog skills and maybe lighting equipment will make a vastly bigger difference than FF vs crop.


 
barolo1961
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013 11:13AM
/
/I think that there is another factor to take into account: when used on a APS-c camera the same lens is tested at higher frequency than in a full format camera. Since the quality of the response of a lens depends on the frequency and it diminuishes with the frequency, a lens used on a FF camera can have, at least in principle, a quality AT THE CENTER higher than the same lens used with a APS-sensor. Obviously there can be compensating effects, and in particular when used on a FF camera the lens uses more of the external part where its quality is lesser. One can try to check this for instance by looking at this site, where it is possible to see the effect of the same lens on a FF and on a cropped sensor:


http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=271&Camera=736&Sample=0&FLI=0&API=0&LensComp=355&CameraComp=0&FLIComp=0&APIComp=0


You can for instance compare the 24-105mm on the Canon 60D and on the  1Dsmk3. I am quite impressed by the difference in quality, which cannot be attributed to the small difference in Mpixels (the 60D has 18Mp while the 1DsMK3 has 21.1 Mp). (Edited on 2013-06-10 11:15:18 by barolo1961)

(Edited on 2013-06-10 11:19:34 by barolo1961)

(Edited on 2013-06-10 11:20:38 by barolo1961)

(Edited on 2013-06-10 11:33:24 by barolo1961)
Whiteway
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013 12:29PM
Posted By Kolaczan:
Kelvin, the viewfinder on the 7D is actually vastly better than most (all?) other APS-c cameras. One of the very nice features of the camera.

Perhaps that's why I did not appreciate Kelvin's point, since I have no beef at all with the viewfinder on the 7D.
Sieboldianus
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:10PM

Posted By blackwaterimages:
[...]Full frame is nice, but not essential. It will give  you better performance in low light and super shallow DOF if that's what you desire, [...]


Isn't it the opposite? You get more shallow DOF with APS-C compared to Fullframe? At least that is what I experienced.
I really like to have both, D300 and D800 (D7100 would be even better than D300 though). The 1.5 Cropfactor is totally great on the D300 and I like to take it on vacation with the 50mm where I don't want to worry about expensive equipment getting stolen. Also, filming and letting someone take pictures beside you with the 2nd camera is a nice way to incoorporate stills & close-ups into your movies (I do action/sport where this is applicable).
kelvinjay
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:38PM

Posted By Sieboldianus:

Posted By blackwaterimages:
[...]Full frame is nice, but not essential. It will give  you better performance in low light and super shallow DOF if that's what you desire, [...]


Isn't it the opposite? You get more shallow DOF with APS-C compared to Fullframe?


No. DOF is basically a function of focal length, aperture and sensor size. A larger sensor enables you to create a shallower DOF at any given focal length, or focal length equivalent, compared to a smaller sensor. This is partly why the Canon 5dmkII caused such a stir on the video scene when it was launched, as its large sensor enabled many people to be able to shoot all those ultra shallow DOF focus pulls that the Vimeo crowd seem so pleased with.

ETA: re the 7D, I don't know anything about it in particular, but just assumed all the Canon APS-C sensor bodies like the 30D and 650D etc had a similarly small viewfinder.

(Edited on 2013-06-10 13:42:32 by kelvinjay)
erniedecker
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Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:55PM

Kelvinjay is right about DOF. If you're dying to spend money I'd just upgrade your glass and keep the 7D.I have never felt that FF was "better". It is just a different tool with different results-mainly DOF.


Another way to look at it--can you look at a beautiful print and tell what camera it was shot with. No. Only MAYBE in a FEW exceptions.
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