Home Cameras SLRs Is It Time To Go Full-Frame?
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Is It Time To Go Full-Frame?

New models and dropping prices put the benefits of full-frame in the hands of more photographers

Labels: CamerasDSLRs
This Article Features Photo Zoom
If you're into telephoto lens work, an APS-C DSLR is a more economical way to go. Canon, Nikon and Sony lenses longer than 400mm cost more than $8,000 (although Sigma and Tamron offer slower tele-zooms that go out to 500mm for around $1,000). Of course, the opposite is also true: If you're into wide-angle work, a full-frame camera gives you a wider angle of view with any given lens.

Anyway, the point is, there have never been more full-frame models available at near-APS-C prices than there are right now. And that—the previous paragraph notwithstanding—means there never has been a better time to go full-frame.

Of the top-10 cameras on DxOMark.com's camera sensor ratings, Nikon holds six of the top spots: the D800E* comes in at number one, followed by the nearly identical D800 at number 2. The newest and most affordable full-frame Nikon, the D600 places at number 3, while the older—and considerably more expensive—D4 and D3X rank number 6 and number 9, respectively. (*The difference between the D800 and the D800E is that the E model omits the low-pass filter used in most digital cameras to prevent moiré patterns.)
Canon offers 55 EF lenses, which cover full-frame sensors. These range from an 8-15mm fisheye zoom and a 14mm superwide-angle to an 800mm supertelephoto. There are also four manual-focus TS-E tilt-shift lenses and several macro lenses, including the MP-E 65mm ƒ/2.8 1-5x, as well as 1.4X and 2X teleconverters. Nikon offers 59 lenses that cover the full-frame format, from a 14mm superwide-angle to a 600mm supertelephoto. There are also three manual-focus, perspective-control (PC-E) lenses and several 1:1 macro lenses, as well as 1.4X, 1.7X and 2X teleconverters.

Sony offers 20 lenses that cover full-frame, from a 16mm superwide-angle to a 500mm supertelephoto, including full-frame fisheye and 1:1 macro lenses. There are also 1.4X and 2X teleconverters. Sony DSLRs can use legacy Konica Minolta Maxxum lenses, too.

Canon, Nikon and Sony also offer some lenses that were designed specifically for the smaller APS-C sensors, and these won't cover a full-frame sensor. Canon's EF-S lenses can't even be mounted on full-frame DSLRs.

Nikon's DX and Sony's DT lenses can be mounted on full-frame DSLRs, but when they are, the camera automatically crops to APS-C format (with a corresponding loss of angle of view and pixel count). It's best to use full-frame lenses on full-frame cameras, but in the case of Nikon and Sony, it's nice to be able to use your APS-C lenses when moving up to full-frame.


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