Thursday, 14 July 2016

Whither Full Frame

Timmy's and a Laker
D700, 35/1.8G DX (in FX mode)

There is a certain expectation that a serious photographer will be shooting a Full Frame camera. I don't and I get asked occasionally why I don't.

The reality is I don't need Full Frame. I've taken 2 kicks at that can and may take another in the near future, but so far my experience is that the gains of FF (IQ, wide lens options) do not exceed the downsides (size, weight, cost) for my shooting style. Note this is from a perspective of someone who shoots handheld much more than on a tripod and prefers a smaller, less obtrusive camera.

The gear head in me wants to be shooting FF. The IQ certainly is nice (the D600 remains the best camera I've owned in terms of IQ) and I do like the big viewfinder. But I don't like carrying big & heavy cameras like the D700 or D600, and especially not ones with poor grips like the D600.

I find the IQ from 16MP m43 camera's to be entirely acceptable and today's 24MP APS-C camera's are so good I don't really need anything more in terms of IQ. Lens lineups in mirrorless have all my needs pretty much covered, while the DSLR world is good but not ideal (not enough wide prime options for non-Pentax shooters, Pentax's 14/2.8 and 15/4 make a huge difference for a wide to short tele shooter like myself). I'd be perfectly happy shooting Fuji or m43 in mirrorless or any of the decent DSLR options in APS-C.

The only real use case for me in FF is as a digital option to carry alongside a film kit, taking advantage of the common frame size to minimize the lenses I need to carry. I really have 3 options along these lines.

1. Carry a NEX/A6x00 body + native wide + adapters
2. Carry a A7 body + adapters
3. Carry a Fuji X-E2/X-T10 + native wide + adapters

Unfortunately the crop factor in m43 makes a similar kit impractical, I'd need at least two native lenses for that kit to work (wide + normal).

The A7 body is obviously the simplest choice. It'll use exactly the same lenses I use on the film body and will minimize the overall carried kit.

The E mount (NEX/A6x00) kit is the cheapest option, since the bodies are reasonably inexpensive used and I'd simply use a Sigma 19/2.8 as the wide. It also uses the same set of adapters as the A7 and provides a ready path to upgrade.

The Fuji path is interesting because I love the glass, especially the 18/2 which would be the likely wide choice, but would end up nearly as costly as the A7 in the end and would have me fighting X-Trans conversions again.

What will I do? No clue. A lot depends on where my film shooting goes as until I know that, I don't know what I should be optimizing my kit for.

1 comment:

  1. Full frame does not have to be big. The A7 is not much larger than the A6000/A6300 and I simply love this little camera. It can shoot pretty much with any lens and Canon/Nikon AF lenses if you want through smart adapter. For me, there is no going back to DSLR, though I still have a D810 which I use rarely. The D810 is nice but the size and weight just turns me off now that I am so used to carrying the A7 with me everyday in my small bag. A used A7 is under $1K used. I can't see a better value in full frame.