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

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Technique Tuesday: Bedroom


Ok, I’m calling this “Technique Tuesday” but I can’t promise I’ll do this every week. But today is Tuesday and this is about a technique I use almost everyday; hence the title. Brilliant, no?

A Master Bedroom

f/10, 1/3 second, ISO 200

The image above is pretty much the RAW image straight out of camera. It’s shot with a Canon 5D and a 580EXII on camera with a diffuser and bounced off the ceiling. If I remember correctly, I believe I have the flash set to TTL and boosted it by +2.

I then set up an Alien Bees 1600 strobe to camera left fired through an umbrella and set to 1/8 power for the image below.

Master Bedroom

f/8, 1/8 second, ISO 200

You can see right away what adding an extra off-camera light adds to the image. (Note: the image above was tweaked slightly in Adobe Camera Raw.) I then took another exposure for the window:

Master Bedroom

f/10, 1/180th, ISO200

I also tweaked the image above to bring out the blue in the sky a little. I then placed that image on top of the first one in Photoshop and masked out the window for the final image. I also got rid of that bothersome sensor dust in the ceiling.

Master Bedroom

That’s it. No fancy HDR tricks. Let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

Canon and Nikon DSLR Timeline


UPDATE Feb. 20, 2016: I originally wrote this post in 2010. In case you’ve run across it, here’s an updated graph showing both Canon and Nikon through 2014. It doesn’t include the most recent cameras like the 5Ds series, 80D or 1Dx MKII on Canon’s side or the D5 and D810 on the Nikon side.

Canon & Nikon DSLR Timeline photo CanonNikonTimeline_zps1edc9160.jpg

 

Original post is below:

 

Canon DSLR Timeline

click for larger view

So I was trying to figure out how old some Canon DSLR models were and I had trouble finding one source until I found the nifty little graph above in an on-line forum.  Click for a larger view and underneath the model number you’ll see the megapixel count and the sensor crop factor (1.0x = full frame, 1.6x = APS-C, etc.). For more on crop factors, check out this previous blog.

The graph ends in 2009.  For a list which includes 2012 check out this list on Wikipedia. 

The prices are interesting. Eight-thousand for the 1DS MKIII in December of 2007! Three years later it goes for about 6-thousand. Not bad depreciation.

I’m not leaving Nikon shooters out. Check out this similar graph on Wikipedia for the Nikon lineup through 2012. If you want a more visual presentation, Ken Rockwell has a timeline from 1973-2012 in reverse chronological order with pictures of each model beginning with the D1, the  “worlds first practical DSLR”, in 1999.

Nikon D1

Nikon D1

It’s also interesting to see how quickly or slowly Canon and Nikon replace some models. The 50D, for example, replaced the 40D in only one year. But the 5D MKII came along about 3 years after the 5D.  Nikon seems to average about 2-years between upgrades. This is why I tell people to invest in good lenses and not to worry too much about camera bodies.  My problem is… I want both!

Here’s hoping you get one or the other in 2011 if you didn’t for Christmas. On that note…Happy New Year!