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Old 23-01-2007, 07:45   #1 (permalink)
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What are the benefits of full frame

It isn't top of my list of priorities but with Canon likely to be reviewing there complete range soon it is an option. My lenses are all EF so that's OK but is it really worth it?
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Old 23-01-2007, 07:51   #2 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits......

I can only see signal to noise ratio being lower and wide angle lenses being wide angle.
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Old 23-01-2007, 09:55   #3 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits......

For a given subject framing, depth of field is reduced on a full frame camera as you are using a longer focal length to achieve the same framing.
You get a bigger viewfinder to look through.
You have more real estate to crop with, though pixel density tends to be lower than on the crop cameras.
Lens are back to the view they were designed to have, though I must admit I'm not sure how significant that actually is.

Obvious disadvantages are that the sensor is unlikely to actually have the same density as, say, the current 10mp crop cameras. (crop a 5D image to the dimensions(in mm) of a crop cameras images and you get something like a 6MP image)
It also uses more of the edges of the images formed by any lens, and thats where lens tend to be weaker (how people ever managed in the film days seems incomprehensible now )
It's likely to be more expensive, which means you have less cash to spend on lenses, and might mean you are less happy about flashing it about in public, which means you use it less, which sort of defeats the point of having it really.
What you gain at the wide angle you also loose at the telephoto end, the imapct of which depends on which end you tend to shoot most at.
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Old 23-01-2007, 10:23   #4 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits......

Thanks Soupy and thanks for the comprehensive reply Liam
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Old 23-01-2007, 17:49   #5 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits......

For various reasons I won't go into here I have a 20d and a 5d, I use them both. Apart from having to be aware of the different angle of view I get from the same lenses there's little difference between them in terms of the image you'll end up with.

There's one or two applications where I'll use one in preference to the other, Portrait shots in my small lounge are better with the 5D as it's easier to control the DoF. The 20d provides a handy extension to my 100-400mm when I'm trying to shoot wildlife. But mostly I take one or the other depending on how much I can be bothered to carry as the 5d has the battery grip attached and weighs a fair bit more.

Most of my lenses are quality 3rd party or Canon L though so I would hope that they'd mostly be good across the full frame.

cheers

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Old 23-01-2007, 18:17   #6 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits......

Just thought of a new difference. Diffraction effects are related to sensor size. On the crop cameras f14 is the limit, but on the full frame it's more like f22, as it was in the film days (naturally).

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Quote:
Sensor.......N
1/2.5".......3.5
1/1.8".......4.4
2/3"..........5.4
4/3"..........11
APS-C.......14
35mm(FF)..21
6x7..........45

The important point is that the value of N computed for a given sensor size is the largest value that can be used without degrading the image. This calculation applies to an ideal lens where the performance is diffraction limited. Real lenses have various aberrations and usually show the best resolution at a couple of N stops from the largest aperture.
That can make a difference for DoF, but can also make a difference if you want to increase the shutter speed a little and need to reduce the light, such as for moving water.

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Old 23-01-2007, 20:27   #7 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits......

Thanks guys, appreciate the extra input. I understand your points Danpen but Liam, to be honest, I've never given defraction a thought.
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Old 23-01-2007, 21:29   #8 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits......

I wasn't aware of the point Liam's making here and can actually see a very practical application of this for me, I do a lot of macro photography, mainly bugs, DoF is a valuable commodity in this case and potentially being able to increase the aperture before I get lower quality through diffraction could be useful.

I shall have to try some tests and see if it makes a noticeable difference in real life use.

cheers

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Old 25-01-2007, 09:36   #9 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits......

I'm not sure I understand/agree with this. Diffraction effects are surely related only to pixel size. There's no way that the size of the sensor can affect the diffraction which occurs at the aperture of the lens, long before it reaches the sensor.

It is true that a 10 megapixel full-frame sensor will allow you to use a smaller aperture before diffraction is apparent than a 10 megapixel 1.6FOVCF sensor will allow, but this is because the individual size of the pixels must be smaller on the 1.6FOVCF sensor in order to squeeze them into the smaller form factor than on the 35mm sensor. If the pixel density is the same on a 1.6FOVCF sensor and a FF sensor, the point at which diffraction becomes apparent will also be the same on both, surely?
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Old 25-01-2007, 13:08   #10 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits of full frame

The article I linked to is saying that the upper limit on how much diffraction you can have before it starts degrading your image is when the Airy disk caused by the diffraction is equal to the circle of cunfusion of the sensor. The circle of confusion (as the wiki link shows) is only based on the physical size of the sensor/film, not it's pixel density.
Resolution is based on pixel density, but it seems focus and depth of field and diffraction limits are not, and are instead based on the CoC, and hence the sensor size. Wierd, huh.
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Old 25-01-2007, 20:52   #11 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits of full frame

OK, I think we're talking at cross-purposes here.

You're talking about the circle of confusion, which is used to define whether a point in the photograph appears diffracted to the human eye. For example, when viewing a 10 inch print at a distance of 25cm, your eye will (if you have an average eye) resolve detail down to a level of around 20.5 micrometers - i.e. if there is detail beyond that resolution you will not be able to perceive it. This means that if you take a photograph with a 35mm sensor, you can indeed use a smaller aperture than if you take a photograph with a 1.6FOVCF sensor.

This is because, for a resultant 10 inch photograph, the enlargement required from the 35mm camera is less than that from the 1.6FOVCF camera. In other words, if you use f/20 on a 1.6FOVCF camera, enlarge the resultant image to 10 inches in size, and view it from 25cm, the circle of confusion will exceed what your eye can resolve, and hence the photograph will appear unsharp. However, if you do the same thing on a 35mm camera, although the diffraction in the lens is exactly the same, you are enlarging the image less, which means that the circle of confusion will drop below that which your eye can resolve.

While this is an interesting concept, I find it hard to be of practical use. It's much more complicated than saying a FF camera is usable up to f/21. If you're viewing a 10 inch print at 25cm, then that's accurate. If you're viewing a 10 inch print at 50cm, it's usable up to f/42! If you're viewing a 20 inch print at 25cm, it's only usable up to f/11 or so.

In my opinion, a more valuable assessment is the point at which the diffraction of the lens causes the airy disk to exceed the size of the individual pixels on the sensor. This is dependant on amount of space each pxiel takes up, and varies depending on both sensor size and sensor resolution. For example, a 1.6FOVCF camera with 6 megapixel resolution has a pixel size of 7.4 micrometers, whereas a 1.6FOVCF camera with 8 megapixel resolution has a smaller pixel size of 6.4 micrometers.

If the aperture of the lens is small enough, the airy disk at the sensor will exceed the pixel size of the sensor. On the 8 megapixel example, this occurs above about f/9, whereas on the 6 megapixel camera, due to the larger individual pixels, you cannot detect diffraction until around f/11.

What this means is that the pixel size, which is a combination of the resolution of the camera and the size of the sensor, determines the amount of detail the camera can resolve, and hence the point at which diffraction from the lens can be detected.

This is unrelated to the CoC you are referring to, which is determined by the human eye's ability to see detail in a printed image. However, it can be observed that the diffraction the lens causes will affect how large the resultant image can be displayed before that issue becomes apparent. If you have taken a photograph where the aperture of the lens is large enough that the airy disk does not exceed the diameter of the pixels, the limit to which you can enlarge the image is dependant on the viewing distance and the pixel size.

Enlarging the image too much will cause the viewer to be able to resolve detail that exceeds that of the relative size of the enlarged pixel. Basically you are intending to reduce the CoC to a point where the enlarged pixels are smaller than the resolving power of the viewer's eye.

However, if you have taken the photograph with the aperture small enough that the airy disk exceeds the diameter of a pixel, you have now lost resolution in that image. Instead of the maximum enlargement being determined by the size of the pixel, it is instead determined by the size of the airy disk - for example, if the airy disk is twice the diameter of a pixel, you can only enlarge the image by a quarter as much as if the airy disk had been equal to or less than the diameter of a pixel.

So yes, based on your interpretation of a fixed enlargement viewed from a certain distance, the sensor size is the only thing that affects what aperture you are using. However, this interpretation limits what you can do with your photographs. I prefer to shoot my images so that the airy disk projected by the lens onto the sensor is smaller than the individual pixel size. By doing this I have the flexibility to enlarge the image to the maximum size the resolution of the image allows.

By shooting at f/21 on a FF sensor, you will be able to view an photo enlarged to 10 inches from a 25cm distance without seeing the diffraction, but you will have limited the maximum size your photograph can be enlarged to (unless the resolution of your FF camera is exceedingly low - less than 4 megapixels - in which case that becomes the limitation). I would recommend that you instead shoot at an aperture which enables your camera's sensor to not be affected by diffraction - on a 5D this is approximately f/11, on a 1DsMkII it's closer to f/9.

This probably wasn't a particularly clear explanation - it's easier to explain in person with diagrams and hand-waving - but I hope it's clarified the difference between the CoC when viewing a printed image and the diffraction detected by the camera's sensor.
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Old 25-01-2007, 21:30   #12 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits of full frame

Liam, abirkill, I bow to your greater erudition. When I have a quiet moment I shall read that through again, and again.
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Old 25-01-2007, 22:33   #13 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits of full frame

All of this is fascinating stuff but if we drag this kicking and screaming back to the practical world of viewable photography, most of the mathematics becomes unimportant. We could get into all sorts of stuff using mathematical forumlae (at which point you would lose me completely as I am not a mathematician!) but unless we start viewing our photographs under magnifying glasses they are of little importance.

The point about CoC is always relevant of course when talking about professional photography but I would argue that its relevance is basically limited to 'Is it sharp or isn't it?' so if the CoC is greater than 0.2mm, a person with decent eyesight holding a picture 10 inches from his face will see the image as slightly blurred. At a CoC size of 0.2mm it will seem sharp, at a size of less than 0.2mm it won't actually appear sharper because the human eye cannot discern the difference to any noticeable degree. Pepople with excellent eyesight will perceive sharpness slightly better but not a great deal so.

So putting this all back to the original point about 35mm sensor size as opposed to the APS sensor size of a 1.6FOVCF sensor, the image will generally appear sharper within the constraints of the quality of the optics being used. The difference for practical purposes is, it must be said, pretty minimal but if you are doing work that is to be reproduced on a large scale, and by that I mean greater than A3+, the use of a full-frame sensor will be an advantage.

I have tested this out at A3+ level by taking the same photo on a 5D and a 20D and I really cannot say there was a 'must-have' difference in the quality of the sharpness. This was done using RAW in both cases, the same camera settings and applying zero sharpening to either picture. The difference was evident if you zoomed in to pixel level but that is an entirely hypothetical difference as I for one never normally view my pictures like that!

I have to say, you will notice a more measurable difference in sharpness when comparing a cheap lens with a high quality professional lens than you will comparing these two sensor sizes.

Cheers,
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Old 25-01-2007, 22:36   #14 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits of full frame

The article on Luminous Landscape has now been updated twice. The first update was basically to say what Alexis has just said, that pixel size is more the limiting factor than print size on resolution. The original author then responded. He points out that his aim had not been to maximize resolution, but to maximize depth of field, which isn't quite the same thing. He then goes on to explain how pixel sizes fits into the discussion and why difraction effects mean sensors need anti-aliasing filters. He also echo's Rob's last point, that back in the real world, your lens will do more to image quality than anything else.

I guess it's yet another photography compromise. A smaller depth of field with a higher resolution, or less outright resolution but larger depth of field, and a caveat on how big you print the image afterwards.
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Old 26-01-2007, 07:11   #15 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits of full frame

Thanks Rob - seem sensible comments
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Old 27-01-2007, 09:03   #16 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits of full frame

been keeping an eye on this thread......great stuff guys....very intresting.
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Old 27-01-2007, 11:47   #17 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits of full frame

It's interesting that Canon has kept the full-frame format for the 'pro' cameras but Nikon hasn't. Personally I prefer the APS-C cameras and think of them as the 'full-frame' of DSLRs. The 1DsMkII and 5D are 'medium format'.

Given that 10MP or thereabouts is more than enough for most people, that full-frame DSLRs seem to need the very best glassware to produce good results, and that we now have super-wide lenses for the APS-C format, I'll stick with it. It's not even as if we can regard cameras as a long-term investment these days, and the 30D will be cheaper to upgrade than the 5D.
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Old 27-01-2007, 14:04   #18 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits of full frame

How's it hangin Silky?
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Old 27-01-2007, 14:47   #19 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits of full frame

Downwards, as usual, Soupy. Downwards.
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Old 27-01-2007, 15:51   #20 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits of full frame

Quote:
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Downwards, as usual, Soupy. Downwards.
Oh Dear! problems?
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Old 27-01-2007, 16:18   #21 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits of full frame

Nothing apart from the usual problem of time marching onwards and dragging me with it.
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Old 27-01-2007, 17:31   #22 (permalink)
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Re: What are the benefits of full frame

I could talk for a long time on the realisation of my own mortality.
I still have not got over it.

Still, best not hijaak someone elses thread.
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