Tag Archives: full frame

Full Frame Mirrorless Don’t Make Sense … Yet

I’m not saying they are bad or useless. They just don’t make any sense yet. Here’s why …

The biggest, if not the only, reason for going mirrorless is size reduction. Everything else, good or bad, about mirrorless are just consequences of size reduction. 

Let’s talk about the good stuff first. 

Although a lot of DSLR shooters hate electronic viewfinders (EVF) they are actually very useful tools. EVFs allow you to see what’s hitting the sensor before you hit the shutter button and that is a very good thing. No more chimping after every shot. You also get a horizon level indicator, histogram, focus peaking and automatic brightness boost among other goodies. I like EVFs. In fact, I feel that I have become a slave of EVF. When I shoot with my DSLR I always have to double check if my camera is giving me the correct exposure values. Not so with EVFs. What I see is what I get. EVFs are a necessary “evil” for going mirrorless. There’s no other way around it unless you want to have a rangefinder like the Leica. 

Lens adaptability is another good consequence of going mirrorless. By getting rid of the mirror, lenses can now be mounted much closer to the sensor thus resulting in smaller lenses. It also means that with a cheap adapter, you could mount just about any full frame lens regardless of brand. Of course this also means that camera bodies can be made thinner and lighter. That’s size reduction in action.

Without the flapping mirror, the camera is quieter. This is essential when you are into wildlife photography or when you need to be discrete during weddings or funerals or even when out in the streets. 

Now on to the disadvantages of going mirrorless.

Mediocre battery life is first on my list. The EVF and the sensor, among other electronics, need to be running all the time otherwise you can’t see anything. This reduces battery life considerably. And since the camera body is much smaller, batteries also need to be smaller which doesn’t really help with the problem. 

EVFs aren’t there yet in terms of speed. When you are shooting sports, the lag can be irritating and/or disastrous. 

Ask a DSLR fanboi and he can tell you more about why going mirrorless is bad. 

Bottomline is that you probably do not want to go mirrorless for its disadvantages but every advantage you get are just direct consequences of size reduction. To reduce the size of camera bodies they needed to remove the mirror and use an EVF. To reduce the size of the body and lenses they needed to bring the lens mount closer to the sensor. Size reduction is the whole point of going mirrorless. 

So with all the pros and cons aside, why am I saying that full frame mirrorless cameras do not make any sense yet? Because they are still HUGE! Yes, the cameras are smaller but the large sensor requires large lenses which defeats the purpose of going smaller. You are better off buying a full frame DSLR instead because the size difference isn’t really that much and with a DSLR you get a more ergonomic grip that helps carry those hernia-inducing heavy lenses. 

So when is full frame mirrorless going to make sense? When manufacturers stop upgrading their DSLRs and you have no other option but to buy mirrorless. This is a big marketing problem especially for the giants like Nikon and Canon. I can see Sony heading in that direction. When was the last time Sony upgaded a DSLR?  It’s very risky but this is exactly what Olympus did. They totally stopped upgrading their DSLRs, went mirrorless and never looked back. Yes, they lost loyal customers but in return they gained new converts because mirrorless m43 makes total sense. They are small. 

Again, full frame mirrorless do not make any sense. Get a full frame DSLR instead. If you really want to go small, buy m43 or APS-C mirrorless cameras. My personal recommendation would be the m43 format because the mount is standard which means you have more lens choices. And did I say they are small? That’s the whole point of going mirrorless — size reduction. 

Full Frame Is Not An Option

Not too long ago, getting a full frame camera actually mattered. It wasn’t just because real photographers have a collection of lenses that were meant for 35mm film but full frame sensors were actually different from their crop counterparts. Different and better.

Back then, a 12Mp APS-C sensor camera was fairly common. Canon, Nikon, Sony and Fuji had their own versions of the 12Mp DSLR. Those who had deeper pockets could go full frame. Although the resolution remained the same at 12Mp, the full frame sensors guaranteed better image quality especially in low light performance. The “affordable” and ancient Canon 5D and Nikon D700 can still hold a candle even against the latest full frame cameras of today.

It is quite frustrating that sensor development hasn’t really improved that much since then. Some full frame sensors are really just bigger crop sensors. Take the Nikon D800 36Mp full frame sensor for example which is just an enlarged D7000 16Mp APS-C sensor so we expect their performance to be the same (https://dtmateojr.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/debunking-the-myth-of-full-frame-superiority/):

 

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(Image taken from dpreview.com)

Yes, there are other sensors such as the 24Mp of the D600 and the 16Mp of the D4 but if you compare their performance against the 7-year old 12Mp D700 sensor I would expect the huge technology gap to provide me with at least something that is visibly much improved. Have a look at the comparison below. Aside from the image size differences, the newer sensors have got nothing to say against the D700. In fact the D800 is visibly inferior:

 

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(Image taken from dpreview.com)

So in terms of performance, my opinion is that full frame is NOT really any better than APS-C (D800 vs D7000) and newer is NOT necessarily better (D600 or D4 vs D700).

What then has full frame got to offer compared to smaller sensors?

In some cases, full frame is really just a waste of space (https://dtmateojr.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/resolution-and-sharpness/), so unless you make really huge prints, if you print at all, then there is no point in going for more megapixels.

Another issue that you have to deal with full frame cameras is depth of field. Shallow DoF, in the real world, is a problem NOT a feature. You will be forced to stop down to gain enough DoF and then you start dealing with diffraction issues.

Full frame cameras require bigger, more expensive lenses and bigger tripods. Bigger and heavier means lesser usage. Unless you have pre-planned trips, you will tend to leave your full frame in the closet. Everyone now has a camera. More people are bringing tiny m43 cameras that produce full frame quality images so you can’t afford to leave yours behind if you wish to be competitive. Of course, there is now a trend towards smaller cameras with full frame sensors. The problem here is that they require a new set of lenses unless you decide to go with their wonky adapters which essentially negate the whole point of having a smaller camera.

On a slightly different topic, I find it funny that Pentaxians are practically switching over to a different brand just to satisfy their full frame cravings. Even if it means selling all their Pentax gear to fund the purchase of an entirely new set of equipment. Even if it means losing a lot of money. Well if you really like something then buy it. There is no need for excuses. Thinking that switching to a full frame will help you make better photos is a thing of the past. It doesn’t apply anymore. I mean honestly, unless you already have a stash of full frame lenses, going full frame is no longer a good option.

Landscape Photography Appreciation #1

I have decided to create another series of posts that deal specifically with landscape photography. I hope that this will make others be aware and appreciate what goes into creating landscape shots.

Among the different types of photography, I find landscapes to be the most interesting, fun and, in some cases, very frustrating. I have been in this hobby for about four years now and I think I have some ideas as to what makes landscape photography tick. I will attempt to describe my own experiences, compare it with other types such as portraiture or sport and generally point out why you should try it if you haven’t yet.

I understand that most people who visit my blog are after topics that discuss equipment so let me cover that first. What I like about landscape photography is that it does not require expensive gear to get fantastic shots. Even ordinary point and shoot cameras will get you there.

The photos below were captured by my Canon G10:


It does not matter if you have the cheapest small sensor m43 camera like my old E-P1 with 17mm/2.8 lens:


or E-P3 with 40-150 kit zoom:


Even inexpensive APS-C and kit lens are good enough such as the Nikon D60 and 55-200mm that I borrowed from my friend:


You want full frame? Then shoot with an old FILM camera:


Gear does not matter at all in landscape photography. Compare with sports or wildlife photography where you will need super telephoto lenses and cameras that shoot high FPS. Even portraiture calls for wide aperture telephotos that cost thousands of dollars. In landscape photography, any camera will do, even an iPhone can capture fantastic shots:


It’s all in your hands … and eyes. Gear has got nothing to do (figuratively speaking) with taking landscape photos. So go out there with whatever camera you have and start your own photography journey.

I’ll see you next time.