Final thoughts (Full Frame vs APS-C)

Lately I’ve been writing a bit about Full Frame (or 35mm) sensors vs Crop (or APS-C) sensors.

List of articles in the recent series:

There's a definite size difference here.

There’s a definite size difference here.

Lessons I learnt:

  1. The Xpro2 is just as good if not better with colour and realistic colour to the 1DsIII.  It’s better than the 1Dx when it comes to colour.
  2. There is some DOF difference (more background blur on FF). But in real shooting it isn’t really noticeable.
  3. The 1DsIII has an amazing sensor when exposed right, but it can’t recover blacks worth a damn.
  4. Xpro2 at low ISO isn’t as good as the 1DsIII at low ISO, but it beats most modern crops and some modern Full Frame cameras.
  5. The Fuji 23mm 1.4 is slightly soft from f/1.4-2, sharp from f/2-4, VERY sharp from f/4-8 and f/8-11 starts to get softer due to diffraction.
  6. The Sigma 35 1.4 Art is an amazingly sharp lens, even wide open.
  7. For most purposes (baring shooting at base ISO) the Fuji Xpro2 sensor is as good as any full frame, lacking only resolution (over the large MP cameras some camera makers offer) and minor DOF differences.
  8. I will keep my 1DsIII for base ISO shooting (it’s cleaner).

 

Full Frame advantages:

  1. Shallower Depth of Field 
  2. Resolution (generally the bigger the sensor the more photosites they can stick on it and therefore they can push the resolution more)
  3. Better base ISO? (Not too sure about this, in the case of the 1DsIII it’s true at least, less so with some other cameras)
  4. Better high ISO (in theory – sensor dependant)
  5. Easier to shoot wide angle (just to clarify, I mean generally at a given mm a Full Frame’s FOV is wider)*

*It’s actually quite easy to go wide on a crop camera too, it gets very expensive to go longer though.

 

Crop advantages:

I would have to wear wrist braces (not shown here) when shooting a Full Frame for a long time

I would have to wear wrist braces (not shown here) when shooting a Full Frame for a long time

  1. Deeper Depth of Field (sometimes  you want more in focus, sports for example)
  2. Size and weight (in most cases a crop camera is lighter and smaller than a full frame camera)
  3. Reach (as it crops the edges of the image, it narrows a lenses field of view, therefore giving the lens more “reach”)
  4. Much less conspicuous (especially in the case of Fuji, yes Leica is an exception, but it costs heaps)
  5. Cheaper (not all the time, but on the whole)

 

Why/where it doesn’t matter.

  1. Exposure (a 1.2 lens will give you the same amount of exposure on any size sensor, noise and how much you can push it IS effected slightly, however mostly this is a moot point as nowadays even crop sensors can easily shoot to 12800iso and even above and still be acceptable).
  2. Resolution (yes generally I know I said this is a Full Frame advantage, however these days unless you NEED 36MP+ a modern crop is 20-24MP making the resolution a moot point for most people).
  3. Video (in most cases a Full Frame sensor isn’t an advantage, even shooting 4K)
  4. Autofocus Accuracy (this depends on the system, not the sensor)
  5. Autofocus Speed (same as above)
  6. Dynamic Range (all modern cameras can be pushed to about 12+ dynamic range these days, unless you’re really picky there’s not much difference)
  7. Sharpness (per pixel sharpness isn’t affected by sensor size)

 

I used to get so tired carrying my camera around with me I'd have to lay down.

I used to get so tired carrying my camera around with me I’d have to lay down.

 

When would I use Fuji Xpro2 or Canon 1DsIII:

  • Studio: Either.   I love the fuji colours so much I would probably just use the Fuji with a 23mm/56mm/90mm combo (35,85,135 in FF terms) though a Sigma 35mm ART and if Sigma release it one day a 85 1.4 ART would be a perfect studio combo for me on the 1DsIII.  Let’s see what is best later.
  • Portraits: Either. I could go either way, the Fuji has slightly nicer colours I think however the FF camera lets me have a bit more blurry backgrounds (though actually not by a significant amount).  For now, Fuji.  The 56mm and 90mm combo is perfect for portraiture.
  • Events: Fuji. I actually think being able to shoot at f/1.4 and having a slightly deeper DOF is useful for event shooting.  So I’d probably go Fuji for this. In the past I’d definitely use Full Frame for the noise advantages (being able to shoot at 6400 or even 12800 is why I got my 1Dx). However these days you can easily shoot at high ISO levels with a Fuji Xpro2 so I’m not worried about that.  Also smaller size lets you blend in more.
  • Sports:  Fuji.  Even if I still had my 1Dx I’d still go Fuji (but with a X-T2)
  • Product/Objects/Macro:  Either.  Would really depend on which lens I owned.  I don’t currently own a macro and the closes I have is the 90mm from Fuji so I guess I’d go Fuji now.
  • Travelling: Fuji.  Size and weight make it an easy choice
  • Streets: Fuji.  Smaller, less conspicuous, hybrid viewfinder (on the Xpro2) the choice is really obvious.
  • Weddings: Fuji. Easier to blend in and same reasons as events.
  • Every Day: Fuji.  Obvious choice.  Lighter and more compact, I can carry it every day without issue.

So for me at least, I’d use Fuji most of the time and could use either for the other things.  Portraits/Studio/Product Shooting being the ones I might go for Full Frame.  I could shoot sports using Full Frame no problem too.

Conclusion

I have both crop AND full frame cameras but I mainly use the Fuji system (which is a crop camera).  I find the images they produce are EXTREMELY nice and the size/weight saving is more than worth it for me.  The ONLY reason I can think to shoot Full Frame is if I really want the shallowest DOF possible or possibly times where I want the best base ISO (product shooting perhaps).   I do currently thing a nice sports DSLR is faster focusing than the X-Pro2, but reports of the X-T2’s AF system are very promising.  The 1DsIII (the full frame camera I own) is a classic that I’ll use until it breaks (which will be a long time) the base ISO shots from that camera are so nice I just have to keep it.

 

One thing I know is true for SURE is I’m MUCH more likely to pick up and go out with my Fuji system than my Canon system (even when I had a 1Dx and a bunch of lenses).  This is a major reason why I switched mostly to Fuji.  The size, weight and USABILITY of the Fuji system are MAJOR advantages for me.  What good is a shiny expensive sports high end pro camera if you’re never going to use it.

 

Lastly… for me at least… shooting with FUJI makes photography FUN.  Canon and Nikon are great tools, but they lack the soul of Fuji.  That’s a personal thing I know, but still.  Also, the Fuji user community feels nice, that’s very subjective of course and there’s a bunch of jerks in any group, but overall they’re a great bunch of coconuts.

I actually use this camera daily.

I actually use this camera daily.  Note, no wrist brace.

 

Thanks for reading and I promise I’ll get onto a different topic soon 🙂

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