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Thread: Full frame v cropped sensor

  1. #1
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    Full frame v cropped sensor

    Hi there - I'm looking to upgrade my trusty but old Canon 400d and am wondering if I should upgrade to a full frame sensor, possibly the new 6d. I have a Canon macro lens (100mm) so would be looking at sticking with Canon.

    The things I'm most unsure about upgrading for are:
    - reduced reach in a full frame camera
    - the additional weight
    - the 6d with kit lens looks way more expensive than my current setup and therefore I might be less likely to use it whilst out and about for fear of theft/unwanted attention.

    I tend to use the camera mostly for informal portrait style photography (ie family and friends!), with a bit of landscape/wildlife thrown in.

    Would the outlay on the 6d be worthwhile? If not, which cropped sensor camera is deemed "better" - 7d / 60d?

    Arghhh decisions decisions!! I just wish I could try them all out before purchasing... I know I could hire each camera out to try but the 100-150 it costs to hire for a weekend I'd rather spend this money on the camera and additional lenses!

  2. #2
    DanK's Avatar
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    Re: Full frame v cropped sensor

    I'm going through much the same thing.

    If you do much macro, particularly at minimum working distance, there is an additional consideration. At MWD, the image is life-size, regardless of the sensor size. Something that fills an APS-C sensor would fill roughly 40% of a FF sensor. Therefore, because of the lower pixel densities of most FF sensors, FF puts fewer (in most cases, far fewer) pixels on the subject. More than the weight and reach, this is the factor holding me back. On the other hand, I do some night photography, and for that, FF is clearly better. The bottom line: it's a bunch of trade-offs.

  3. #3
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Full frame v cropped sensor

    The 7D/60D question is one lots of people struggle with (yours truly included). As I see it, the main advantage of the 7D is its very quick autofocus system and high burst speed, making it extremely well-suited to action photography. Image quality is extremely similar to (usually slightly better than) the 60D. Ultimately, I went with the 60D because I considered it a better value than the 7D. Costs have changed since then, and there are rumors of a 60D replacement near the end of April. It's probably worth waiting until then to see if the 60D's replacement is an attractive option.

    Dan's points about macro are quite valid. Additionally, I think it's fair to say that a crop camera works better for portraits than a full-frame camera works for macro (though obviously you can get perfectly acceptable results either way). The main limit is prints. If you're planning to produce relatively large, highly detailed macro prints, then crop frame is probably the way to go. As Dan said, more pixels on subject = more detail.

    Backing up a bit, I'll address your points individually.

    Quote Originally Posted by smurfster
    - reduced reach in a full frame camera
    This may or may not be a problem depending on your usage. For portraits, your 100mm lens on an APS-C sensor yields a 160mm equivalent. Long, but not really a problem, since you're already dealing with that anyway. Would you prefer to go shorter by mounting the same lens on a FF camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by smurfster
    - the additional weight
    6D: 770g
    60D: 675g
    7D: 817g

    So the crop-frame 7D is actually the heaviest camera you mentioned, but the difference between the heaviest and lightest camera is only about 140g. Not really noticeable.

    Quote Originally Posted by smurfster
    - the 6d with kit lens looks way more expensive than my current setup and therefore I might be less likely to use it whilst out and about for fear of theft/unwanted attention.
    A thief is unlikely to be aware of which cameras are worth the most. Adding a battery grip, flash, or long lens will certainly make evil-doers more curious, but a camera is a shiny target no matter how much (or little) it's actually worth. I don't think any of the cameras you're looking at will make you significantly more or less likely to be robbed. The real questions are which type is best suited to your photography, and are they worth the cost? I think you'd be quite pleased with a 7D, but I reiterate that waiting for the 60D's successor is probably prudent.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Full frame v cropped sensor

    I have a full-frame and crop frame, albeit Nikons, but let me throw a few thoughts your way; as there are advantages and disadvantages either way.

    Main disadvantage - larger, heavier and much more expensive. You will likely have to invest in new lenses as crop-frame lens is not what you are going to want to have. Pro lenses are quite expensive; although there is a mid-range line is not as expensive.

    Upside - the layout and ergonomics are made for serious shooters. Professional features; you can make a lot of adjustments without taking your eye from the viewfinder and looking for something buried way down in the menu system. Nice, large viewfinder. Your DoF is about 1 stop shallower at the same aperture than a crop frame sensor would give you. Better perfomance with ultra-wide angle lenses (a 14mm lens is a 14mm lens, not the equivilent to a 22mm lens). If you print, you can get higher quality large prints, even if you are pixel peeping.

    In general, you can get a better, lower noise image with a full-frame sensor.

    Downside - if you are primarily someone who shoots long lenses, the crop factor works in your favour and your fairly inexpensive 300mm lens would require an expensive a pricey 500mm (technically 480mm) to give you the same level of maginifcation.

    Yes, you do get more camera for your money, but you are well into the diminishing returns; doubling the cost gives you a 20% better camera.

    If I were to do it again, would I still get a full-frame camera; absolutely yes; but that's just me. It might not be the right thing for someone else.

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    Re: Full frame v cropped sensor

    I think Dan hit this one on the head.
    Im sure a lot of members can give you the full breakdown of whats what, but what it really comes down to is what youre willing to live with and without. (in my opinion of course /flame guard)

    I too was in the same boat not too long ago. I opted to go the FF way for a few reasons. One of which was better low-light/less noise at higher ISO as I often find myself shooting indoors and wandering around at night. Another was the choice of lenses, especially on the wide end for the same reasons.
    Other more minor reasons were that I actually preferred the heavy weight of a FF in my hand (but of course not on my shoulders) and I felt after going through a few low/mid range DSLRs I wanted to jump into the FF world head on!

    But when its all said and done, its what you shoot and how you shoot to me. If you truly only shoot occasionally or only take informal shots with the sightseeing landscape shot thrown in and print 3x5s for the travel album, then Im sure you wont be disappointed continuing with a crop sensor.
    But if you often find yourself in situations where an extra stop or two (or three) could save a shot then FF would be a helpful option, but remember that those stops come at a price. Both for body and lens.

  6. #6
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    Re: Full frame v cropped sensor

    One more thought before going back to work:

    Professional features; you can make a lot of adjustments without taking your eye from the viewfinder and looking for something buried way down in the menu system.
    For me, this is very important, but it is not always the case that the FF offers more, or much more. I would do a side by side comparison of the 7D vs. the 6D (I haven't done that) to compare features. I do know that the 60D has a lower level of controls--it was a step down in that respect from the earlier 50D, which is what I have.

    Also, there are persistent rumors of replacements in the pipeline, almost certainly for the 60D and probably for the 7D. Might be worth the wait. If they offer a lot more, then you get a better camera, or alternatively, you may be able to buy the replaced version at a cheaper price. When the 5dIII was released, prices on the remaining 5DIIs dropped quickly.

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    Re: Full frame v cropped sensor

    Thanks for all the responses - lots to think about here!

    Quote Originally Posted by RustBeltRaw View Post
    ...and there are rumors of a 60D replacement near the end of April.
    If I can manage to wait another whole month, it could be interesting to see what Canon comes up with so I can maybe add a few more cameras into the mix. Like I don't have a hard enough choice already!

    Quote Originally Posted by DanK View Post
    side by side comparison of the 7D vs. the 6D
    This site does some handy comparisons:
    http://snapsort.com/compare/Canon-EO...s-Canon_EOS_7D

  8. #8
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    Re: Full frame v cropped sensor

    I have a 7d and 50d as backup having sold a 400d to gain the 7d.

    Whilst all are looking at the advantages of each format. Please remember that you have also batteries, card (SD or CF), Battery grips, Cable releases etc to consider.

    The 50d took the same size battery as the 400d. The 7d is different.... I now carry 8 batteries with me ... Cards are the same as are cables etc...

    It all costs in the end .. your 's ...

    Regards

    Victor

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    Re: Full frame v cropped sensor

    Here are a few more parameters to consider - not necessarily pros or cons. I will try to skew my comments toward macro work...

    The full frame cameras have better high ISO performance and you might be able to use a faster shutter speed and/or smaller aperture on a full frame camera than you could on a crop camera...

    The 7D has a set of three User Selected Modes which allows you to register a set of parameters and to select the entire set with one turn of the mode dial. The 60D has only one and the Rebel series doesn't include this advantage. Occasionally, I might want to shift from one shot focus to Servo AI

    The 7D has better autofocus capability than the 60D but, I think that the 6D has around the same capability as the 7D. However, I most often use manual focus for macro work BUT, macro work is certainly not my only use for a camera.

    I don't remember what they were but, the 6D is missing some parameters which are included in the 5Diii. I said to myself when the 6D was introduced, I would not buy this camera. I don't know if these "lacks" would impact macro work...

    The 7D has a faster burst rate than the 60D. This can be important when hand holding the camera with auto exposure bracketing selected with the intention of combining the images into an HDR composite. The three frames shot at 8 FPS will be more alike than the 3 frames shot at a slower burst shutter speed and will probably (this is theoretical - I have not tried it) be easier to composite...

    There are more lenses (a lot more) available for the 1.6x Canon DSLR cameras than for full frame cameras. I absolutely LOVE my 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens as a mid-range zoom and the 1.6x crop factor is handy when shooting with my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens. For macro work, there are some shorter macro lenses available for1.6x cameras - these are usually 60mm or so. Whether this would impact your choice of full frame vs. crop sensors is up to you.

    Of course, price is always a factor, whether we are talking macro or general purpose photography. Full frame equipment is more expensive than crop equipment.

    As far as distance, you will shoot at the same distance from your subject if you are composing at a 1:1 image ratio whether you are using the crop or full frame sensor (as long as the focal length remains the same). However, with the full frame sensor, you will cover more area with your image. At less than a 1:1 ratio, using a full frame sensor) you would need to be closer to your subject in order to fill the frame with the same area. This would result in a more narrow DOF which is always touted as a + factor for full frame sensors. However, I have always needed MORE DOF than less in macro work.

    Whichever way you go, I thnk that you will enjoy graduating from the Rebel series to either a 60D, 7D or full frame DSLR. They are simply easier and IMO more fun to use because you rely on the menu less for changing shooting parameters.

    Finally, there might be some image quality differences between full frame and crop sensor imagery but, using top-line lenses, you should be able to produce excellent imagery with either crop or full-frame equipment...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 21st March 2013 at 09:26 PM.

  10. #10

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    Re: Full frame v cropped sensor

    I would say, Sam, macro photography plus other wildlife and informal portraits all point to a crop sensor. Assuming all those activities are shot from further away than the minimum focus distance.

    Some landscapes and formal portraits, plus a few other items, would be better with full frame.

    However, total number of pixels also needs to be considered. If you are starting off with considerably more pixels in the full frame you may find that you can crop back more with FF and actually be better off or about the same as a crop sensor.

    This decision will come down to doing some maths.

    I chose a 7D. Originally, I was going to get a 50D to replace my 40D but found a very good offer on a 7D. A friend went for the 60D but when working together I always achieve my camera adjustments quicker and with less hassle than he does. But how much is down to camera or operator I'm not really sure.

    But when trying his 60D, I have been keen to return to my 7D. Faster shooting bursts, etc doesn't make any difference to me as I never shoot like that.

  11. #11
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Full frame v cropped sensor

    Quote Originally Posted by smurfster View Post
    The things I'm most unsure about upgrading for are:
    - reduced reach in a full frame camera
    My gut feel on reading this is "stay with crop." To me, the MAIN reasons I wanted to go full frame was so that my 24-105 would actually become the wide-angle lens it was meant to be, my 50/1.8 would actually become "normal" again, and all my adapted vintage glass would behave the way it was designed to behave. Plus, to me, after shooting film for so long, APS-C felt kind of like tunnel vision.

    - the additional weight
    Actually? This isn't a full frame consideration. The 6D and 7D are more or less the same size/weight (the 6D's actually the smaller/lighter of the two), and the 6D is only 15g heavier than the 60D (camerasize.com rocks for this kind of information). No matter which way you go, if you go up the tiers from a dRebel, you're going to get a bigger, heavier camera. It's why I got a Panasonic DMC-G3.

    the 6d with kit lens looks way more expensive than my current setup and therefore I might be less likely to use it whilst out and about for fear of theft/unwanted attention.
    Sorry, but that's par for the course with dSLR gear. I used to leave the house with an XT and $2500 worth of L glass. Today, my Canon gear bag is probably worth a good bit more. My mft bag is super-cheap in comparison and is still $1600 worth of gear. No. Wait. $1400. The G3 has depreciated like mad.

    ... If not, which cropped sensor camera is deemed "better" - 7d / 60d?
    As was mentioned, both are due to be replaced this year (rumors are the 70D in the spring, 7DMkII in the fall). And both share the same processor and sensor. So image quality? They're pretty much the same. The difference is in build quality and usability features. The 7D is far better for fast-action photography like sports or wildlife, and has more and better physical controls. But the 60D is less expensive, and transitioning from a dRebel will require fewer purchases (no switching from SD to CF cards, no need to replace your cable releases, etc.) Both are great, but what do you need?

    And lastly. I leave you with two images. The first was taken with a sensor even smaller than a Canon APS-C one. It's my Panasonic G3's four-thirds (2x crop) 16MP 2011 sensor with a 90/1.8 equiv. lens (m.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8). The second, with my 2009 21MP 5DMkII's 1x full-frame sensor, and an adapted Leica Summicron-R 90mm f/2.

    Full frame v cropped sensor

    Full frame v cropped sensor

    I think sensor size right now is much like megapixels and high iso settings used to be. More may be better--but how much is enough in practical usage may be less than most folks think.
    Last edited by inkista; 21st March 2013 at 09:06 PM.

  12. #12
    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: Full frame v cropped sensor

    Quote Originally Posted by DanK View Post
    I'm going through much the same thing.

    If you do much macro, particularly at minimum working distance, there is an additional consideration. At MWD, the image is life-size, regardless of the sensor size. Something that fills an APS-C sensor would fill roughly 40% of a FF sensor. Therefore, because of the lower pixel densities of most FF sensors, FF puts fewer (in most cases, far fewer) pixels on the subject. More than the weight and reach, this is the factor holding me back. On the other hand, I do some night photography, and for that, FF is clearly better. The bottom line: it's a bunch of trade-offs.
    So true.

    My APS-C (30D) was just fine with a 100 mm macro, but the 5DII needs something longer so I'm using rings and at times a 2.0 Extender.

    The pixel density of the 30D and the 5DII are very nearly the same. The only (small) disadvantage of the 30D is it doesn't have live view.

    Looking at the gear used by birders, etc. on another forum, many of them are using smaller sensor bodies.

    So I didn't struggle with the decision - I kept the old one because it works better in some situations than FF.

    They are different tools (like a set of wood chisels that come in different widths).

    Glenn

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