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Thread: Best Full Frame Digital Camera? Size of Prints?

  1. #1

    Best Full Frame Digital Camera? Size of Prints?

    I'm still working with film (gasp!), mostly because I can't afford a decent digital body, but also because I don't want to play the camera-upgrade game. I'm scanning low-ISO slide film right now, which works splendidly for my abstract, close-up style of photography. I'm thinking of moving to digital in about 3-4 years or when they stop making 35mm film, whichever comes first.

    This brings me to my question - I read in many the tutorials on this website that cramping together too many pixels in an image sensor results in increased noise in the resulting image. Is this why you use a 12mp body rather than an 18 or 22mp version, such as the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III? Or were you just trying to avoid that second mortgage?

    My interests in digital primarily lie in the ability to montage many images into one, exploiting the increased resolution, wider field of view and especially the flexible frame shape. However, I'd also like to be able to make acceptably large images with just one shot if needed. My style of photography doesn't usually require a high dynamic range, but I'd still like to maintain details in the deep shadows (which occur in almost every image) without a bunch of messy noise.

    I'd be buying a Canon body to match my lenses, and I was wondering if you had any recommendations on the best full-frame sensor of the bunch. How large an image can one print from a single (tripod mounted, carefully exposed) photograph made with your 12mp body, and what is the limiting factor?

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    California, USA
    Real Name
    Well, my reason for using the 12.7MP Canon 5D was to avoid the second mortgage . Actually though, I would prefer it even if it were about the same price as the 16.6MP Canon 1DsMkII, or the newer 22MP Canon 1DsMkIII. The extra ~30% megapixels with the 1DsMkII makes virtually no difference visually, but yet the 1DsMkII is MUCH larger and heavier, with a smaller LCD screen on back. I challenge you to tell the difference between the 12.7MP and 16.6MP in any print size with a decent upsampler.

    Yes, there is something to say about quality vs quantity when it comes to the number of megapixels, but this was not really the main factor. Take a look at my page on digital camera sensor sizes for my thoughts about this issue.

    I would recommend the 5D to start (or waiting to see what comes out next with its successor if the time to make the leap is not critical). I have found that it can do 16x20 inch prints just fine with a good lens and proper technique, and that the maximum size really depends more on subject matter than anything. To me the limiting factor is really the lens and technique at this size anyways. I rarely need to go larger than this unless it is a panorama, in which case it was stitched and can go much larger anyway. Make sure that you use a good upsampling program (photozoom, genuine fractals, etc) regardless.

  3. #3
    Thanks for getting back to me! I was actually just reading that article on sensors when you wrote your reply.

    You make a good point about the size of the camera - it's always an issue for me as a wilderness photographer who doesn't just take photos from the viewpoint with the car running in the background. I agree that the resolution difference between the sensors is minimal. Mainly, I just wanted an opinion on the print capabilities of the camera - something I can't get from a manufacturer or some photographers.

    Have you tried the Canon 135mm f/2 L? If not, you might enjoy it. I've used a lot of primes and this is by far my favorite. The colour accuracy approaches that of a Leica APO telephoto, and the sharpness past f/2.8 is unparalleled. I thought it might be of interest if your lens is ever the limiting factor in the equation. I have several other L and non L Canon prime lenses that are very good, but this one deserves mention.

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