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05-18-2017, 05:46 PM   #1
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Fullframe or APS-C for sports or bird photography

I would like the opinions from anybody who has used both a APS-C and a full frame camera for sports or bird photography. While at my local camera club I said to other members I was considering upgrading my Pentax 20D or my Canon 550D APS-C cameras to a more recent model APS-C or a full frame camera (not unhappy with these 2 cameras just trying to improve). I have both a PK and EF Sigma 150-500mm lenses, main sports and birding lenses in bag. Two members both with Sony mirrorless 45 Megapixel cameras said full frame was the way to go. You will be able to crop far better quality images than what you do with a APS-C, in the end a cropped full frame will give you a better image cropped down to the same size image as APS-C. I should add neither of these 2 people took sports or bird photographs both were into fixed image style photography, landscapes, portraits etc. From what I have read the best sports style camera is the Canon 7D due to its burst rate and focusing speed, unsure if Pentax has equivalent, perhaps K3.
Which way to jump APS-C or FF for sports or birds?

05-18-2017, 05:50 PM - 3 Likes   #2
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Among FF cameras, only the 1DX and D4 have the framerates for sports or wildlife. Stick with crop.


QuoteOriginally posted by galelegg Quote
Two members both with Sony mirrorless 45 Megapixel cameras said full frame was the way to go. You will be able to crop far better quality images than what you do with a APS-C, in the end a cropped full frame will give you a better image cropped down to the same size image as APS-C.
I hate to be dismissive, but this is ridiculous.

QuoteOriginally posted by galelegg Quote
I should add neither of these 2 people took sports or bird photographs both were into fixed image style photography, landscapes, portraits etc.
That is obvious!
05-18-2017, 06:06 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Crop is the way to go if your budget isn't crazy and/or you don't want a heavy kit.

I'd recommend the KP if you're going to stick with Pentax, as the IQ is quite a big better than the K-3 II, and the AF is the same. Smaller burst buffer, but still usable in JPEG. The 7D II and D500 are exceptional cameras for the task if you want to go with the other brands. Many more lenses are also available for Canon and Nikon, especially from Sigma and Tamron.

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05-18-2017, 06:53 PM - 2 Likes   #4
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It's a tough call and really depends on which brand is ahead of the game when you decide to jump in. In the mid-2000s I moved from a Pentax K20D to a Canon 7D for shooting sports as my job suddenly required it and the Pentax couldn't keep up. I would have gone with a Nikon D300 at the time, but the first version 80-400mm lens from Nikon was simply terribly slow for sports, so I went with the 7D and a 100-400L. Since then I've sold the 7D in favor of the 5D Mark III. I use both cameras for both birds and sports. The 5D has superior AF and resolution of images after cropping. If I wasn't planning on retiring from sports shooting next year, I would pick up the 5D Mark IV as its AF is superb.
That all said, if I was starting out as a new shooter today I'd probably purchase the Nikon D500 and either the Nikon 200-500mm or the Tamron G2 150-600mm. I borrowed the D500 and the AF is the best I've ever used. Responsive and accurate. That would also set me up for a D5 or D810 (or its replacement) for the future. These cameras seem to have somewhat better capabilities than Canon's latest and greatest (which themselves are quite good really).
Serious value with shooting Nikon or Canon comes from third party support. I've owned both the G1 and the G2 Tamron 150-600 mm f6.3 and for the money they are real bargains in both optics and performance, especially the G2. I also rented the Sigma Contemporary 150-600mm f6.3 which is a tad better than the Tamron G1 but not up to the G2. I've also used the Tamron Tap-In Console (very similar to the Sigma Dock) to fine tune the AF on the G2. It takes a fair amount of patience taking all the baseline shots so the software can be configured correctly, but the results are wonderful--as good as any Canon OEM lens I've owned or rented.
Hope this helps.

M

05-18-2017, 06:53 PM - 1 Like   #5
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I have shot sports successfully with my K-3II and Sigma 150-500 DG OS. The K-1 burst rate may not be enough for your objective as you are portraying it, but it is quite capable of shooting sports activities and obtaining excellent images. The K-1 will give better detail in full frame mode (36 mp) than a K-3 (24 mp), and has an aps-c mode (16 mp) if you need it for additional frames in burst mode.

Below is an address to a thread that shows some motocross shooting done with the K-1.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/190-pentax-k-1/328166-pentax-k-1-does-motocross-mx-racing.html

Last edited by C_Jones; 05-18-2017 at 07:31 PM.
05-18-2017, 09:03 PM - 3 Likes   #6
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It depends on what you are shooting. I used the K3 for a long while, then last fall bought the K1. I haven't used the K3 since. The crop mode is pretty close in speed to the K3, and noise handling is much better.

The Nikon and Canon high end apsc bodies are very nice, with blazing fast frame rates. That gets shots you wouldn't get otherwise. I think the Nikon D500 has pretty good low light performance.

I find that my shooting window has lengthened on both ends of the day by about an hour with the low light performance of the K1. I got a shot of a merlin that I couldn't have gotten with the K3; low light and electronic shutter.

05-18-2017, 09:15 PM - 2 Likes   #7
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I'd stick with crop, Galegg. You're basically making your lenses get fifty percent more reach, and the frame rates are higher.

I use the Sigma 150-500 and the FA*300/x1.4TC combinations more often on my K-S2 than on my K-1 for birds, perhaps less so for sports, because the subjects are much bigger.
05-18-2017, 10:17 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by galelegg Quote
I would like the opinions from anybody who has used both a APS-C and a full frame camera for sports or bird photography. While at my local camera club I said to other members I was considering upgrading my Pentax 20D or my Canon 550D APS-C cameras to a more recent model APS-C or a full frame camera (not unhappy with these 2 cameras just trying to improve). I have both a PK and EF Sigma 150-500mm lenses, main sports and birding lenses in bag. Two members both with Sony mirrorless 45 Megapixel cameras said full frame was the way to go. You will be able to crop far better quality images than what you do with a APS-C, in the end a cropped full frame will give you a better image cropped down to the same size image as APS-C. I should add neither of these 2 people took sports or bird photographs both were into fixed image style photography, landscapes, portraits etc. From what I have read the best sports style camera is the Canon 7D due to its burst rate and focusing speed, unsure if Pentax has equivalent, perhaps K3.
Which way to jump APS-C or FF for sports or birds?
It really depends on your style of shooting, if you need a high rate of frames then cropped might be better for you. Not all wildlife and sport photography needs a high frame rat, for most of what I shoot its always geared for IQ over frame rate and the times I need frame rate 5 FPS can cover a lot of action work, we really didnít have cropped cameras that would go above 6 FPS until the late 2009 before that they were highly specialised equipment.

You can further mitigate the FPS needed if you have a reliable AF for tracking fast targets and relying less on FPS to capture in focus images.

05-18-2017, 11:16 PM - 4 Likes   #9
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I think the real advantage is not the fps, Ian, it's the cost.

To match a DA*300 and TC on a K-3 you'd have to find for a K-1 a lens to get around 600mm at f5.6 (such as the DA 560).

This will be an expensive proposition.
05-19-2017, 03:02 AM - 1 Like   #10
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Mpx count matters if you need to crop so, given your FOV, apsc sensors give you some more mpx than FF (pixel density math). that's interesting and useful for birds plumage, I suppose.
I mean: using the same lens , i.e. the 150-450 on FF and APSC gives you different FOV. If you need the FOV that only apsc gives you, you need to crop FF, losing Mpx and in this case APSC has the advantage in resolution thus giving you some more detail.

Last edited by bm75; 05-19-2017 at 03:20 AM.
05-19-2017, 03:49 AM - 2 Likes   #11
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IF you are a pro or have the budget for the best, then a flagship FF from Nikon or Canon is technically the ideal in terms of improved low light and utilizing the improved center resolution on the frame if crop is needed. But as others have noted, this comes at a price and with bulk. The APS-C is a much more practical solution and better value.

I have shot with the Nikon D500 and nothing comes close to it today in terms of low light performance, AF, and fps. But again, as a hobbyist, who is happy with your current Canon and Pentax gear, the value upgrade would be the Pentax KP.

To me, the Sony mirrorless main advantages would be video and a quieter camera if in close proximity or upwind of skittish birds. But are those Sony FF mirrorless weather-sealed? I'd also hate to give up IBIS of the Pentax for times off tripod or monopod.
05-19-2017, 04:00 AM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ian Stuart Forsyth Quote
Not all wildlife and sport photography needs a high frame rat
Squirrels need a high frame rat if you want good pictures.

(IIRC cropping is best with a high pixel density per square mm and plenty of light to saturate those pixels. APS-C and smaller formats get better and better the stronger the light. Some of the loveliest photos I've ever taken of my kids have been with my smartphone in near-ideal lighting conditions, but that conjunction of circumstances is pretty darn rare.)

If Pentax were annihilated from all creation throughout all time tomorrow, I would buy a D500 for workaday and a Df for fun (Crazy expensive and "only" 16MP on full frame, but dripping IIRC with ancient legacy lens support).

Pentax's AF now is surely better than Nikon's was when sports photographers first started loving Nikon DSLRs. Or is it?
05-19-2017, 04:41 AM - 1 Like   #13
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Almost all of my shooting is of birds and I prefer the K1 over the K3. The sensor is so much better and cropping images look better than the images from a K3. The loss of FPS is so small you will not be able to notice it.

When I ordered the K1 the plan was to use it for macro stuff and use the K3 for wildlife but after putting the K1 on the 560 it rarely comes off. I shoot lots of bald eagles and ospreys fishing and can get the dive,grab and pull up with no problem. I think the K1 is so much better I'm thinking of selling my K3 and picking up a second K1.
05-19-2017, 05:55 AM - 4 Likes   #14
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My 2c worth.... in Pentax land, unless your life revolves around shooting little skitish birds on sticks.... the K-1 every day. You Sigma will give better IQ with the K-1 over a K3..... and you'll love it.

This image is a 1/3 crop of a K-1 image (12mp)..... I printed it 24" square on canvas at 150dpi and sold three copies recently at a show here ($285 each.... print cost $45) and got $1,000 prize money for second place.... iso 2,000 as well.



I have a K3 and K-1.... and after just shooting everything for something to do (retired)..... I'd now take the K-1 and just get closer to get THE shot.... not just lot's off shots....

Last edited by noelpolar; 05-19-2017 at 06:00 AM.
05-19-2017, 06:51 AM - 1 Like   #15
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APS-C sensor is probably better than full frame for birds and sports. It can vary depending on the sport, the bird, your shooting location, and your shooting style.

Most birds are small and skittish, so you need lots of zoom. My longest lens is 500mm and I still find a need to heavily crop birds.

The smaller pixels of the KP make me think it would be better than the K-1 for your use. The KP has smaller pixels, faster burst rate, and similar autofocus. Disclaimer: I have never used the KP.
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