Still not sold on full frame

I often harp on about how unnecessary so-called full frame cameras are and how I would never buy one.

By Ivor Rackham
Monday, 18 March, 2019, 15:44
Puffin.

Technology has come a long way over the last few years and the quality of crop frame sensors is better now than 35mm sensors were just a handful of years ago.

What was good enough for high-quality photography a few years back will still be adequate today, and now crop sensor cameras can do that job too.

Crop sensors bring wildlife much closer and get the entire creature in focus using the same focal length and aperture that wouldn’t work with full frame.

Street and documentary photography benefit because of the reduced body size and extra reach; you don’t intrude on the subject. Plus, everything is much lighter.

There really is no need to buy a full frame camera. So why have I just bought one?

An agency approached me for a contract and insisted on me using full frame. It also required particular focal lengths and a high pixel count. I wanted the work so invested in a full frame, mirrorless camera system.

This meant not only new bodies and lenses, but new accessories to go with them. Some of what I own already is compatible, but much isn’t.

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It seemed daft running two systems so my pro-end crop frame cameras went on the market. Then they came off again. I really don’t like the new camera anywhere near as much as what I already had.

What I bought is not a bad camera, but it doesn’t fit my hands so well. The viewfinder display lacks the range of options of my other cameras and the icons are far smaller. It also got dust on the sensor – my previous cameras have never suffered that in over 12 years of use.

What annoys me is that some of the functionality that comes as standard on my other cameras I have to buy separately as apps for the new one. I cannot think of any other top of the range equipment where full functionality does not come as standard. It’s like buying a Porsche and having to pay extra for the heater, radio and door locks.

I am enjoying learning the new camera. Changing sensor size and aspect ratio mean I must relearn how much depth of field I get and how close a subject appears at certain focal lengths. With my other cameras it is second nature.

Other aspects I must get used to include pressing a function button to activate moving the focusing spot, the limited customisation of the buttons, no fully-articulated touch screen and the different menu layouts and nomenclature.

I am not stating which brand the camera is, nor which brand I already had. It’s not my job to influence you. Others have invested in and are pleased with the same make I just bought. The choice of system varies from person to person.

I stand by what I always say. Most photographers don’t need full frame to achieve great results.

What makes good photography is how we compose and set the camera for the shot and the stories we tell through our images. Those have little to do with the camera’s make, design or build.