Cropped Sensor vs. Full Frame Comparison


Awhile back I wrote a post about why sensor size matters when choosing your camera body/lens combination. In it I shared this video which demonstrates the difference in focal length between a Canon 5D MKII and a 7D.

Well just yesterday I had the opportunity to test it out first hand using a 5D and 40D. Here’s the set-up: I was shooting a bedroom with the 5D. I had it on a tripod to make sure I was shooting from the same position when I switched to the 40D.  I was using a 17-40mm f/4 L on the 5D and a 17-55 f/2.8 on the 40D. Below is the shot on the 5D. I thought I had it racked to 17mm but it was actually 19mm; but hey, I’m not gonna cry over 2mm!

Bedroom
f/10, 1/15, ISO 200, 19mm

 Next, I switched to the 40D and dialed in the same exact settings.

 

Bedroom

f/10, 1/15, ISO 200, 17mm

You can see how dramatic the difference is even without the 2mm discrepancy. I knew that a 17mm on a cropped sensor lens is about 24mm (1.6 x 17 = 27.2) so I put the 5D back on the tripod and set it to about 24mm to compare.

Bedroom shot with a Canon 5D

f/10, 1/15, ISO 200, 25mm

It’s pretty close I think (remember I’m off by 2-3mm). This is just another illustration of the difference between full frame and cropped sensor cameras. It’ not a bad thing or a good thing; just something to be aware of. With the knowledge you can take advantage of either a full frame of an APS-C sensor depending on what type of shooting you do.

I want to take a few moments to share a couple of related stories. First, a photographer friend of mine has a 35mm 1.4 and he wants the 24mm 1.4 to get a wider focal length. For an extra 11mm, I would take a step back when composing and save the $1700.

I was reading a blog about the 17-55mm f/2.8 and it said the lens gives you a wide focal length. I commented that it’s comparable to the 24-70mm f/2.8 but at a lower price point and with the added benefit of image stabilization (IS). The writer wrote back and said because it is an EF-S lens that the true focal length is 17-55. I referred him to some supporting documentation and never heard back. Just goes to show that just because it’s in a review or a blog (even this one) doesn’t mean it’s gospel.

Lastly, I’ve been asked if a full frame camera will deliver sharper images than an APS-C sized sensor. Sharpness is a function of the lens and your camera settings (shutter speed, focus drive etc.). The weakest part of a lens is typically the edges. Now imagine a circle inside a square. The square is your sensor and the circle is the image coming from your lens. Because the square is larger than your circle (full frame) you are going to see every part of the lens. This is why most lenses produce vignetting on full frame cameras but not cropped sensors.

 Now imagine a square inside a circle. Because the square is smaller (cropped sensor) you will not see the edges of the circle. So in general lenses perform better on cropped sensor cameras; but that’s not due to some design flaw in full frame cameras. It’s just the nature of the beast. The better the lens, the fewer the distortions. Again, I am generalizing and simplifying here.  Every lens generally performs better when stopped down from its maximum aperture. You really have to research a camera and lens and test drive it yourself.

Well let me leave you with the final edited image of that bedroom.

Master King Bedroom

Canon 5D MKII Price Increase


Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital Camera (Body Only)

Is it just me or has the price of the Canon 5D Mark II jumped recently? I used to see it on Amazon for about $2500. At last check it’s running from $2799 to $2999; and only from other vendors (not Amazon). A check at B&H has it at $2699.

This may have to do with supply disruptions in Japan from the earthquake or perhaps a sign of the upcoming 5D MKIII or both? Or maybe it’s unrest in Libya and speculators on Wall Street. Uh, ok, maybe not that.

I’m curious, have you noticed a price increase in other camera gear (lenses and bodies of any brand)? Hit me in the comments.

UPDATE: This post on Nikon rumors shows that Nikon cameras and lenses are also going up in price. So it’s probably due to supply constraints in Japan.

UPDATE #2: As of 5/7/11 the price has come down again and offered by Amazon for $2499.

Choosing the Perfect Camera and Lens


Snapsort.com Homepage

One question I get asked a lot is “which DSLR should I get”. Whether it’s a first purchase or an upgrade, the answer usually depends on what type of shooting you want to do and your budget.

About a year ago, I found a Web site that makes it easier to find what you’re looking for.  At Snapsort.com, you can learn about cameras, explore different types or just type in your budget and kind of camera you’re looking for; whether it’s a DSLR or point-and-shoot. But the tool I like and use the most is the compare feature.

[Disclaimer: Snapsort is holding a contest for anyone who blogs about the site, but that is not why I am writing this. I’ve known about the site for a while and I refer people there often. I just referred someone there a couple of days ago, so I thought I should let other people know]

What I like about the compare feature is being able to compare the specs of two cameras side-by-side. The site used to declare a “winner” which I disagreed with. Now it just gives each camera a score and gives a recommendation. I even take this with a grain of salt. You see, the “winner” or recommendation is based on specs; but your needs may be different. Compare, for example the Canon 5D MKII with the 1D MK IV. The 5D is full frame but shoots just under 4 frames per second. Where the MK IV has an APS-H sensor and shoots 10 frames per second. Which is better? It depends on what you shoot. A sports shooter would love the MK IV where a landscape photographer would choose the 5D. Still, being able to see the specs side-by-side for yourself is a quick and convenient way to decide. The cameras are evaluated on things like resolution, ISO, viewfinder coverage, LCD resolution, video capabilities and more.

Snapsort.com Compare

Nikon and Canon’s Web sites let you compare its models; but the Snapsort site lets you compare any make with another. So you can compare Nikons with Canons or Sony’s etc. Apples and Apples or Apples and Oranges. Pretty handy if you’re trying to decide which brand to go with.

The comparison gives you reasons to consider each camera and gives you a list of competitors to consider.

To find the right lens, use the tools at LensHero. Simply input your camera, budget and what type of lens you’re looking for and it spits out recommendations complete with specs, prices and reviews.

LensHero.com

So if you’re struggling with choosing the right camera or looking to purchase that next lens, these two stops will make researching a lot easier and help you make the right choice.

New TV Show Features Landscape Photographer


Peter Lik in Hawaii

"From the Edge" with Peter Lik on the Weather Channel

There’s a new television show on the Weather Channel that features landscape photographer Peter Lik. Imagine Ansel Adams and Steve Irwin rolled into one. Then take that person on “extreme” trips to capture nature’s beauty and you have “From the Edge”. Press “play” on the player below for a glimpse (sorry about the commercial).

Personally, I just think it’s cool that a TV show features a photographer!

More info and video on the Weather Channel page.

Also, check out this related post.