The two universally known advantages of a full frame sensor over APSC are better high ISO performance and shallower depth of field, provided that the aperture settings, field of view of the lenses and the distance between the cameras and subject stay equal.
The latest Sony A7 and A7r mark the beginning of the end for DSLR’s as we know it. Yep, ladies and gentlemen, this was it, it is over, say good bye, don’t cry because the future is much brighter, sharper, lighter, cheaper, smaller and faster
more after the break
Faster? Well, eventually manufacturers will get it right, the AF thing, phase-detect/contrast-detect at the blink of an eye in all lighting conditions. We aren’t quite there yet, Olympus is out in front but the pack is closing in. Next generation Sony A? will get us a little closer to that illusive instantfocus™. I am looking forward to the day when I board a plane with one carry on bag, packed with two or three ILC’s capable of shooting 30+mp, 16fps track anything, 4k raw video up to 120fps, base ISO 800. Well, there is a lot of wishful thinking going on here. But hey, let’s keep dreaming for another minute.
Two zoom lenses, one super wide, one standard. Image stabilized and constant aperture.
And one or two bokeh-licious lenses, either a standard high speed prime and/or a medium tele photo.
To have a full frame sensor and possibly be limited for quite some time to 1.8 due to lens size concerns sounds rather pathetic. Why not release two lenses, a big high quality standard lens starting at 1.4 or even 1.2, currently an incredibly popular focal length and the 55mm f1.8 as a small, compact, high quality alternative. Of course if you can live with mf, there are plenty of 3rd party high quality lenses you can adapt.
And then there is the 24-70mm f4 oss, available early next year ,lovely but really nothing to cry home about. It is endearingly small, but seriously, for my type of shooting, I need a 2.8 standard zoom or something really practical in terms of focal length, like a 24-105mm or 24-120mm or 28-135mm, on the latter I will take f4 any day. But those lenses are huge and the same can be said about 1.2 and 1.4 lenses, large, heavy and expensive.
shot with the Nikon D800E and the Nikkor 135mm f2 wide open.
At this point we can’t have it all, to take full advantage of a full frame sensor, we need high speed primes and high speed zooms. Lens design as we know it won’t allow for quality high speed and compactness at the same time. Just take a look the Zeiss Otus, it is huge, insanely expensive and mf only. Even Nikon’s 58mm 1.4 is huge, heavy and expensive.
Now this is probably one of the reasons why the Fuji X system became quite popular. A small, lightweight ILC system rivaling and sometimes even surpassing the look and feel of images coming from FF cameras. Lenses designed from the ground up, maximized specifically for large apertures and image quality in a light weight, small portable package, not cheap but not as expensive as high quality FF lenses. I am using Fuji as an example because it is the only company offering an appealing lens line up right from the very beginning for a newly introduced system.
Lets recall the advantages of full frame, better high ISO performance and better bokeh.
Now in the field the lines start to blur if you can’t take full advantage of those inherent FF properties because your prime , for example, happens to be a 35mm 2.8 and you could get a 23mm 1.4 for an apsc sized system.
shot with Fuji X100s wide open.
shot with the Fuji X-E1 and the Nikkor 50mm 1.8 G wide open.
Comparing these two lenses wide open, the two stop FF ISO advantage suddenly vanished and it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to see a noticeable bokeh advantage in either shot. Despite the much larger aperture on the 23mm, the inherently shallower depth of field properties of the longer 35mm lens will look pretty descent and compensate for the weaker aperture. This applies to any prime or zoom and as long as you are aware of the angle of view and the equiv focal length on apsc you can easily figure out if your preferred lenses are available for the system you are considering and you will be able to tell right away if you really get a noticeable advantage going full frame or not.
Personally, I am very excited about the Sony A7r and can’t wait to get my hands on it. A D800E sensor in a small body, capable of shooting 1080/60p, framing it through a fantastic EVF with full manual control and audio level adjustment during recording, articulated LCD, that alone does it for me.
My advice, make sure you know exactly what you want from the camera and why you plan to buy it. Don’t rely on promises about future releases. It might happen, it might not.
If you happen to own serious DSLR gear, don’t dump it just yet, order the camera, try it out, make sure it suits your needs. It won’t replace my Nikon system yet, but I will store the A7r on the same shelf for the Nikon to see the future
Let me know what you guys think and how and if this new Sony release affects you. Thanks for reading!
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