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Will, Canon, Nikon etc Ditch APS-C sensors in favour of Full Frame

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by hodgo, Nov 8, 2007.

  1. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    If I read Geoffrey Crawley's article in this week's AP correctly, APS-C is about on the limit right now based on pixel size and noise.

    Industry trends appear to be solidly towards FF - I don't see it being totally replaced, but I really don't see it as the main future format for enthusiasts. Not that I ever did...
  2. JDCB

    JDCB Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure whether Nikon will persist with DX for the very long term, but I'd guess there's enough of an installed user base for at least the next 5 years. There is probably also a niche DX desire among those who really need long focal lengths for wildlife photography or similar, and who are happy enough to save money on very expensive telephotos by using the 1.5 multiplier to best effect. I have a beaten up 180 2.8 (cost me about £200) that on a DX camera like the D200 is pretty much the same as a 300 2.8 (cost several thousand) if that were mounted on a FF camera.

    My guess is that we will gradually see FF trickling down the product range over the next 5 years. The D300 successor in a couple of years may be FF, with the D200 or D80 then being top of the DX line. 2 years later, the rest of the range may go FF with only one specialist DX for the long-range applications.

    I don't currently have any DX lenses, but do have 7 good quality FF AF primes and only one workaday zoom (24-85). I don't plan to buy any DX lenses either, but may instead go for a Sigma 12-24 to give me a wide angle capability now for the DX D200, and have a really wide-angle capability in the years to come when I may buy a FF camera. The Nikon 14-24 is too expensive for me, but I'm sure it will be a lovely lens.

  3. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    I think I'm agreeing here....

    The way I see the market, if full frame sensors come down market (and I don't see any technical reasons why they shouldn't) then APS-C/DX sensors may be squeezed out between FF and 4/3. By "down market" I don't necessarily mean "bargain basement", I'm talking about cameras in the Canon 40D / Nikon D80 price bracket.

    My reasons for saying this are that I expect four-thirds quality to improve, at least until the noise issues are no worse than they are with APS-C sensors nowadays, probably better than that. Four-thirds format has a clear lead when it comes to making small, light cameras with (effectively) long telephoto lenses which would appeal to the consumer market - and to the professional wildlife/sports market, if the build and optical quality is good enough.

    So my tentative forecast for 10 years time is a market segregated into four-thirds and full-frame, with mid-sized sensors gradually dying out. We've been here before - in the 60s there was a similar situation between 35mm and medium format, in the days before MF became the speciality of the professional and the enthusiastic amateur with very deep pockets.

    If (big if) I'm right, the question then arises as to which of the major companies selling mid-sized sensor DSLRs will be the first to announce a four-thirds camera? They could steal a march on the opposition but will inevitably annoy some of their existing customers. And who (if anyone) will be the first to abandon backward mount compatibility for the sake of improved telecentricity in full-frame lens design? (I'd guess Nikon, because their F mount is the smallest in diameter...)

    What a curse to live in interesting times! :rolleyes:
  4. hodgo

    hodgo Well-Known Member

    This is exactly the kind of article that made me ask the question in the first place. I know one thing for sure whatever the major manufacturers decide to, it'll be to their benefit first & foremost, with The customer coming a good second.

    I love advancing technology & the benefits it has to us all, but it should not be used in such a way that the ordinary guy in the street is put in the situation, whereby he has his existing gear made effectively redundant, having worked hard & saved to buy it only to find out he has to start all over again. For this reason I'm going to make sure that whatever lenses I buy in the future will be of use on both APS-C & FF, and it's something I suggest we all have to think seriously about.

  5. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    In which case they don't need the extra lug on the mount that stops you connecting a Canon EF-S lens to a full-frame EOS body (for the very sensible reason that you really don't want the mirror to collide with the rear of the lens). In which case they will work just fine on a camera with a full-frame sensor switched to use the central part of the sensor only.

    There is more to this than meets the eye. Isn't the ability to vary the aspect ratio of the frame between shots liberating in the same sort of way that the ability to change the ISO speed is? With a full-frame sensor, square format cropping becomes realistic (without losing too many of the pixels), whereas if you go for a "half frame" crop you could have it portrait mode without having to turn the camera on its end, and with full corner-to-corner coverage even with a lens designed for APS-C/DX format sensors.

    I might not want to do that but some people might; I can see a serious marketing point here, especially when Nikon realize that Canon can't match them with EF-S lenses. (Is this the point of the switchable mode in the D3?)

    So far as variable aspect ratios go, Sony's 16:9 format crop may be a major innovation, but judging from the review in AP, they would really need to provide a proper switchable viewfinder mask: those inset marks don't seem obvious enough to me.
  6. hodgo

    hodgo Well-Known Member

    I too have been looking at the Sigma 12 - 24 for a decent Wide angle capability, and the thing that swung the choice of that lens for me, is that if a few years hence I'm forced to replace my EOS 40D to go Full Frame, then it will as you say not only give an even greater Wide Angle facility, but most importantly it is one less lens to buy.

  7. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    And I'm in total agreement - I've been predicting this for years, so I have to be! :D
  8. alanS

    alanS Well-Known Member

    I agree with everything you say. :D

    Using my 4/3 screen lap top my compact pictures fill the screen, my DSLR pictures don't. Now that I've bought a wide screen lap top (there don't seem to be any of the old ones about,) neither my compact or DSLR pictures fill the screen. They don't fill a TV screen either.

    I'm sure that many DSLR users of today and perhaps increasingly in the future will think that FF is an odd format as it doesn't seem to fit with anything else they have in their home.

    The Sony idea seems to be a step in the right direction in this respect. At least it fits something.
  9. martinch

    martinch Well-Known Member

    Hmm ... I dunno ... the successor to the D300 (or maybe that's successor?) may end up being a FX body, but how quickly it'll move down-market I don't know. It's virtually impossible to make a "perfect" 10-12MP APS-C sensor (almost all sensors shipped will have at least one pixel fault mapped out at the factory). Given that the yield on electronic components decreases by about an order of magnitude when you increase the size/transistor count by a factor of 2, FX-sized sensors are rather expensive to make, comparatively ... Obviously, given time, this will gradually change, but it'll take a while, I reckon - they can't do what the electronics industry normally does to increase yield, which is to sell the item running below spec (e.g. you only make a 2.4GHz processor design, but those that come out less-than-perfect are underclocked to 2GHz or 2.2GHz because they run OK at that speed, and it keeps prices down and yields up).
  10. Brian

    Brian Venerable Elder

    I suppose it is of interest for some to constantly go on about cameras getting better and better. Indeed modern technology almost demands it and certainly the shareholders insist on it. But the truth is, cameras such as the D200 are more than capable of fulfilling the needs.....that's needs, not aspirations of 99.9% of photographers. Of course a problem here is that there are so many claiments to be included in that 0.01%.

    This and most other forums are full of posters asking if such and such is good enough for them or should they wait for some pie in the sky improvement to be heralded, truth is in many cases the question should be the opposite. Do I really need this performance, or do I make sure that I am using my present equipment to its full potential.

    Mind you I suppose it's only the digital version of the ending feuding between the 35mm guys and the grey bearded LF traditionalists.

    WOW....that I should ever have lived long enough to read something like this on a forum devoted to photography. Glass of D19 anyone? ;)
  11. Lounge Lizard

    Lounge Lizard Well-Known Member

    Brian, don't spoil the dream. So many people think that the next camera will be the answer to their dreams and make them the next Cartier-Bresson. It's nothing new with digital either. Remember Bert Hardy's famous pictures of the girls on the sea-front at Blackpool taken with a Box Brownie just because so many people thought he got good pictures simply because he was "lucky enough" to afford a Leica?

    Maybe it's human nature to think that their own creativity is limited by something else rather than themselves and waiting for the next "latest and greatest" probably won't make an iota of difference to their photography. But it's nice to dream....
  12. Brian

    Brian Venerable Elder

    Thats fair comment David. But it is the "Shall I wait for the next improvement to come along brigade" that my remarks are pointed. It is all very well waiting but it's not going to help if you turn up at the 'Pearly gate' and some grey haired old git says "Ah, here you are" Trouble is he hadn't got any memory cards ....he was still waiting for the Extra Extra Extra High Speed zillion Gb cards that X were bringing out. David life is short, it'll go fast enough without waiting for the the next technical leap forward.
  13. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Interesting that Canon DSLRs with APS-C sized sensors have a smaller mirror than 35mm and FF sensor bodies. I have just checked and find that the Nikon F5 and D2x have the same size mirrors. What this means is that, in mechanical terms the production of the D3 did NOT require major re-engineering. In theory a DX sensor could be fitted in a D1 or D2 body without any need for dimensional changes to the mirror box. Not sure whether the finder is more different.
  14. CircleOfConfusion

    CircleOfConfusion Well-Known Member

    I imagine before long only entry level DSLR's like the 400D will be using small sensors. Its a simple case of looking at what is top of the range now and giving it a few years to work its way down. Before long (now with Nikon's FF digital camera) people will believe they need FF because thats what the "pro's" use, this is what will drive the industry to FF, simply "keeping up with the Jones'". Did we really need auto focus? did we really need motor drives? did we really need 101 AF points? did we really need digital? there were plenty of good photos taken before all this came along but that doesn't stop everyone convincing themselves they need it all. :rolleyes:

    Also I should think FF is inevitable as small sensors have just about reached their pixel limit and I imagine the good old fashioned pixel race won't stop till 20 is in the reach of affordability for more people.
  15. hodgo

    hodgo Well-Known Member

    I've got to agree with Brian & Dave's comments about folks seeking to not only upgrade with each new innovation that comes around the corner, but that some folks seem to think whether consciously or not that a new upgrade will improve their lousy photography skills.

    I'm one of those lousy photographers, but I've no intention of upgrading from my newly acquired EOS 40D, I have the Camera I want & intend to run it until I'm forced to replace it, either because it packs up or if I can no longer get replacements such as batteries of memory cards.

    I guess another reason for asking the question I did, is just to confirm that I'm doing the right thing in buying both FF & APS-C compatible lenses, just in case the day comes when my EOS 40D packs up & the only choice I'm left with is FF, at least that way the only real expense I'll have is to replace the camera & not have to do the same with the lenses.

  16. Brian

    Brian Venerable Elder

    Despite being told otherwise I believe that size does matter. The DX lenses are just that much smaller than their FF equivalents, at least with Nikon. And for me weight is a major consideration. One day the perfect camera will arrive, trouble is I shall be pushing up the daisies, so I'm not holding my breath wasting time searching the net for news of it's arrival. Then of course the , is it any good? is it better? when will it come? I've got one, should I wait for the firmware improvement, what about the fringing, and it's great signed Dunce Head of Bolton ( sorry Bolton, change that to Wigan) :D and where is the cheapest place to buy it and on and....

    I shall continue with the equipment I have, equipment that I have brainwashed myself into believing is the best. If I were only using it as a stop gap until something better came over the horizon it would prey on my mind all the time. Was it Margaux that on being classified a second growth printed on the label. " First I am not, second I deign not to be" I think I shall have that engraved on all my equipment.....well nearly all, all might be a tad painful. :D

    Despite all this the only DX lens I have is the Nikon 12-24mm and thats because there ain't a 35mm coverage equivalent,the rest are the best....primes. ;)
  17. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    A few "dead" pixels are hardly a serious problem. In fact, with a Bayer pattern sensor, the software has to cope with the fact that at least half of the sensor cells are effectively unresponsive.

    Your point being? A N-pixel FX sensor contains exactly as many transistors as a N-pixel DX sensor, it's just that the components are bigger. Which makes manufacture of reliable transistors easier, by a factor which more than compensates for doubling the area of the substrate. True you fit less chips on a wafer at the fab plant, so the rate of manufacture is approximately halved. But the total world output of DSLR sensors is hardly enough to stretch one fab plant anyway. Lots of the cost of chip manufacture is the encapsulation process (wiring to the chip), that hardly varies with the chip size or density.

    The big factor in production cost between full-frame and small format sensors is the production volume, not the physics of the manufacturing process.

    Who says that the sensor chips fitted in DSLRs are being run at their full design rated speed? In any case, if CPUs are anything to go by, just a few percent change in running speed can make an enormous difference to reliability.
  18. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    Make mine Perceptol :)
  19. alanS

    alanS Well-Known Member

    Brian, it's a constant surprise to me that whenever people wish to have a harmless chat about possible camera development there are always others who express a disinterest, distain even, for this activity and yet feel the need to comment in a negative way.

    Perhaps the best course of action would be for you not to post, although the temptation to post negatively does seem to be hard resist for some. I believe that this is my fist rant BTW.

    Also BTW - I'm a fan of technology, having worked with it for decades, and I don't mind speculating and reading predictions, guesses and even rumours. In fact I quite like it. Although I can afford to buy whatever I want (not a brag mealy putting things in context) I chose to use a camera which is no longer in production and I have no plans to replace it at the moment. That doesn't stop me enjoying threads like this. I do however feel irritation at posts like yours.

    You do have the option of not posting you know and getting on with something you feel may be more productive.

    Forgive the uncharacteristic outburst folks. Irritation got the better of me.

    Oh, and no offence meant Brian. You can have a pop at my enthusiasm for technology if you like. :D

    It's been a long day...
  20. lostinbids

    lostinbids New Member

    I am pretty sure Nikon will offer the ability to crop image size if the range goes ff. After all the D2x and D2xs already offer a high speed crop feature which effectively extends focal length.

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