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04-18-2016, 11:33 PM   #1
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Full frame v APS for sports/action photography

Full frame v APS for sports/action photography. Recently I was at a cricket match in Melbourne and had an interesting conversation with a part time pro photographer who was shooting the action with me from the boundary line.
I asked him what camera he was using he replied a Canon 5D Mark III. I asked him if he used an APS camera which he replied he has a recent Canon 70D but after using this camera the older Canon full frame outperformed the APS. He said while the APS brought you closer to the action, (he was using a Canon F2.8 white coloured lens 400mm, distance from photographer to action around 70 metres) the FF could be cropped much more even greater magnification than what the APS did. The Canon 70D has gone back into his wardrobe rather disappointing.
My question is :
Has anybody else found this situation to be the case with their photography.
PS I am considering an upgrade from my Pentax 20D and Canon 400D both APS cameras. Should I buy a FF camera?

04-19-2016, 12:58 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I would image an upgrade from the K20D is calling no matter what format you choose. ISO performance is soooo much better in the latter APS sensors - this is only the start of the story.

Your pro photography person has compared canon with canon - all good, but the APS camera is no K3 sooooo i would be cautious to transfer the results of this comparison to the Pentax brand. That said, the Pentax FF will offer better dynamic range and ISO performance. Also, the pixel shift technology will be interesting given it is hand held (not sure how it will work with action).

Lastly, the Pentax FF will offer you crop mode.

If I were you I would be entertaining the FF option especially given that you have a K20D.

have fun with your choice.
04-19-2016, 02:00 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wild Mark Quote
Also, the pixel shift technology will be interesting given it is hand held (not sure how it will work with action).
Pixel shifting is for stationary subjects only. If there's any motion in the scene, the benefit is negated entirely; the K-1 just ensures that there are no artifacts by reverting to the first frame instead of forcing you to do this in post.

QuoteOriginally posted by galelegg Quote
PS I am considering an upgrade from my Pentax 20D and Canon 400D both APS cameras. Should I buy a FF camera?
Both those bodies are nearly a decade only, so just about anything current would be a considerable update in terms of both speed and image quality.

What kinds of lenses do you have? What do you usually shoot? Can you justify the increased cost of FF bodies and lenses? All these considerations are important in deciding which way to go. Of course FF would be better if you can look past the added weight/reduced portability and the price of super-teles, but this doesn't apply to most users.

My gut feeling based on what you've posted is that you'd benefit the most by grabbing current APS-C bodies, such as the K-3 and 7D II.

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04-19-2016, 02:11 AM - 1 Like   #4
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You would get a huge gain in both image quality, camera quality and features just by upgrading to the latest generation APS-C cameras (even the cheaper ones). I would try that first. If you don’t get satisfied, the resell value will be good. If you get satisfied, then you saved a lot on not going for FF.

About the cropping part I think he exaggerate a little. The FF camera gives about the same reach in terms of absolute details, but it gives this over a larger field of view. That makes it more forgiving in terms of composition. Where the subject slips an arm or a leg out of the frame on APS-C, the FF camera catches that arm or leg. If you crop to APS-C size in post process you get the same sized field of view, but with a better composition. Hence more forgiving. This is especially important when the action moves closer. The wider field of view is less proned to "decapitation and amputation" of body parts.

To phrase it different: FF will give you a 1,5x or in his case a 1,6x digital zoom, where the longest end gives the same image quality and easier post composition, and the wide end gives you higher image quality.

04-19-2016, 03:03 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by galelegg Quote
Full frame v APS for sports/action photography. Recently I was at a cricket match in Melbourne and had an interesting conversation with a part time pro photographer who was shooting the action with me from the boundary line.
I asked him what camera he was using he replied a Canon 5D Mark III. I asked him if he used an APS camera which he replied he has a recent Canon 70D but after using this camera the older Canon full frame outperformed the APS. He said while the APS brought you closer to the action, (he was using a Canon F2.8 white coloured lens 400mm, distance from photographer to action around 70 metres) the FF could be cropped much more even greater magnification than what the APS did. The Canon 70D has gone back into his wardrobe rather disappointing.
My question is :
Has anybody else found this situation to be the case with their photography.
PS I am considering an upgrade from my Pentax 20D and Canon 400D both APS cameras. Should I buy a FF camera?
I find that photographer's comments interesting. It seems to me that things are a bit more complicated.

If you use the same (FF) lens on an FF and an APS-C camera, you will indeed have more cropping potential on the FF camera. The angle of view will be greater.
But this assumes that you have enough pixels after cropping for your purposes. In his case, there isn't much difference in megapixels, but I assume he still has enough (22 MP) for what he wanted.

(I'm looking forward to trying the K-1 when it arrives, at the same places with the same lenses where I've used the K-3II, for exactly this reason).

But suppose you use so-called "equivalent" lenses on the two cameras, giving the same field of view on both. The cropping argument now disappears, but you have two systems with significantly different size/weight/price differences. Or if you use the same lens, and the sensors have about the same number megapixels, you have extra reach on the APS-C camera.

I believe that to form a judgement about whether you should use FF or APS-C for sports/action photography, you need to be more specific about lenses and megapixels. It isn't as simple as FF versus APS-C.

Yesterday I started the following thread elsewhere to discuss precisely this matter!
04-19-2016, 03:15 AM - 2 Likes   #6
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The question is whether you are using the same lens on both cameras and how much you are cropping. The K-1 will give an APS-C crop that is pretty similar to the K-5. No better or worse. If, you generally crop to at least APS-C or tighter, then your full frame camera will not outperform, say, a K3. On the other hand, if most of your crops aren't that aggressive then the full frame could do better.

To truly get improved performance, you should either use a longer lens on full frame or get closer to the action.
04-19-2016, 03:21 AM   #7
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Thanks to all who replied. The lens quality situation I have been aware of, I have read it is pointless putting a low quality lens on a good camera, one should approach photography the other way around, good lens on low quality camera if budget is an issue.
For my Pentax 20D I have:
Sigma 150-500mm 1:5-6.3 (best I have number 1 choice with or without tripod, prefer tripod very heavy).
Pentax FAJ 75-300mm 1:4.5-5.8 (poor lens only got good results at F11)
Sigma 100-300mm 1:4.5-6.7 DL (OK lens excellent for closer in shots around 40 meters great for Tennis, Soccer when you are able to walk along the boundary line etc, very light lens).
Canon 400D I have;
Canon EF 100-300mm 1:4.5-5.6 (have used it little, but should)
And for both cameras via adapters I have:
Tamron SP 60-300mm 1:3.8-5.5 (great lens excellent IQ results if “you get the focus right”, manual focus only)
Hanimex 400mm 1:6.3 IQ as good as the Sigma 150-500mm if “you get the focus right”, manual focus only, and with tripod but if good light will work without.
Teleconverters (3) all 2x which I have stopped using once I got the Sigma 150-500mm. Results all lens very ordinary, however got some good bird shots when using a tripod with a teleconverter, which is another story.
04-19-2016, 03:48 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Seems to me that on general principles, if you've got anything with less megapixels than a K-5, the K-1 even in crop mode will be superior, and that's before we get to the better AF, improved processing algorithms and all the other tweaks they put on the sensor.

If megapixels are all that matters (and they shouldn't be), a K-5 JUST beats a crop-mode K-1 - but all the other improvements would still be worth it.

A K3 or K3-II vs. the K-1 in crop mode would be another matter... but even then, the K-1 has more AF points in the crop zone and the AF system is a newer variant of SAFOX. There's a report someone posted on the forums a couple of days ago (ETA here it is) about a German photographer who shot a circus with the K-1 all day long - fast-moving performers in low and shifting light with artificial fog - and was blown away by the camera's performance, and while I know it's only one user, it's the sort of anecdote I personally would pay a lot of attention to if I were considering shooting sports.

From what I've seen of the K-1 viewfinder overlay, if using a FF lens with crop mode activated you could use the periphery to anticipate the player's movements and start tracking them before they moved into the AF zone proper. Then you might hypothetically get a better focus lock earlier and a higher chance of keeping it.

The BIG question, OP, is how long you can afford to wait. I am forcing myself to sit on my hands for a year (unless I win the Ricoh Facebook competition, when I won't be waiting at all), because I don't need it all that badly, but even if I were as rich as Croesus and could buy it and all its lenses with my pocket change (so to speak), I'd wait a month or so until unpaid and unsolicited reviews based on use of the production model came out.

If that circus photographer's report turns out to be an accurate reflection of the camera's performance, I think Pentax might even have a world-beater on their hands. But I'm going to wait and see.

04-19-2016, 03:51 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by galelegg Quote
Thanks to all who replied. The lens quality situation I have been aware of, I have read it is pointless putting a low quality lens on a good camera, one should approach photography the other way around, good lens on low quality camera if budget is an issue.
For my Pentax 20D I have:
Sigma 150-500mm 1:5-6.3 (best I have number 1 choice with or without tripod, prefer tripod very heavy).
Pentax FAJ 75-300mm 1:4.5-5.8 (poor lens only got good results at F11)
Sigma 100-300mm 1:4.5-6.7 DL (OK lens excellent for closer in shots around 40 meters great for Tennis, Soccer when you are able to walk along the boundary line etc, very light lens).
Canon 400D I have;
Canon EF 100-300mm 1:4.5-5.6 (have used it little, but should)
And for both cameras via adapters I have:
Tamron SP 60-300mm 1:3.8-5.5 (great lens excellent IQ results if “you get the focus right”, manual focus only)
Hanimex 400mm 1:6.3 IQ as good as the Sigma 150-500mm if “you get the focus right”, manual focus only, and with tripod but if good light will work without.
Teleconverters (3) all 2x which I have stopped using once I got the Sigma 150-500mm. Results all lens very ordinary, however got some good bird shots when using a tripod with a teleconverter, which is another story.
I think a K-1, even in crop mode, will significantly out perform either of your current crop cameras. If you had newer gear, it might be a different story, but it should do fine compared to those two.
04-19-2016, 04:23 AM - 1 Like   #10
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The other advantage of FF over APS-C for sports/action shooting is usually superior high-ISO performance - ie better image quality once the light gets poor.

As everyone knows, poor ambient light is a regular issue for sports photography - poor sports stadium lighting, poor indoor event lighting etc. Plus sports shooters are often forced to use long, slow telephotos to shoot distant action, they usually can't use flash, and they often need to hold their shutter speed high in order to freeze motion.

So sports shooters often have to crank the ISO up due to all the limitations above, hence need cameras that can do high ISO without the image turning into lifeless mush. Full-frame typically has the edge over APS-C here.
04-19-2016, 04:45 AM   #11
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Thanks for reply rawr. You are spot on with the problems I was having for sometime with using ISO 200-400, underexposed photos that were very noisy, I was having to increase the exposure by 1 1/2 f stops in after processing along with using a noise reduction program, many of these photos were dreadful and not worth keeping. I read a posting on this site to use ETTR and I found that by using ISO 1600 my pictures improved considerably. I also found on sunny days with the big Sigma I was able to use F8-11 which gave me capacity to have more than one player (cricket) in focus.
04-19-2016, 05:07 AM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by galelegg Quote
I found that by using ISO 1600 my pictures improved considerably. I also found on sunny days with the big Sigma I was able to use F8-11 which gave me capacity to have more than one player (cricket) in focus.
It seems to me that we are taught to fear high ISO and highly stopped down apertures by self-appointed photography gurus who miss the point that subject nature and composition can sometimes be much more important than wall to wall sharpness, perfect exposure, or bokeh. Granted, everyone wants a good shot, well-lit and not unintentionally blurry, but sometimes a less than perfect shot is completely saved by what's going on in the picture. I love to keep my ISO low, but unless I'm on a tripod (and I seem to be going on a bit of a tripod binge right now), I'm not afraid to push it up to 3200 to get results. I don't go above that unless I really have to, though, and 51,200 is strictly for giggles.

On the tripod, though... that's another matter. But on-tripod shots aren't really all that suitable for any sport except maybe long range target shooting, chess, or croquet.
04-19-2016, 05:21 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
I found that by using ISO 1600 my pictures improved considerably. I also found on sunny days with the big Sigma I was able to use F8-11 which gave me capacity to have more than one player (cricket) in focus.
For cricket keeping the shutter speed above a minimum of 1/400 is important and for a fast bowler 1/000 keeps the ball 'in shape'

This is what happens at 1/200 (it was a really cold day and I wasn't paying as much attention as I normally do)


04-19-2016, 05:23 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by galelegg Quote
The lens quality situation I have been aware of, I have read it is pointless putting a low quality lens on a good camera, one should approach photography the other way around, good lens on low quality camera if budget is an issue.
I think that is a weird rule because it depends.. Its two different products with its very different jobs. Its not given that the limitations always are on the same side. Its a balance for every individual to evaluate.
04-19-2016, 05:28 AM - 1 Like   #15
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Interesting discussion on which should be the cheapie here:

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