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12-06-2008, 07:24 AM   #1
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Is the grass greener in full-frame land?

In another thread I happened to tally up what it would cost someone to get into Pentax at the highest level, assuming they wanted shake-reduction and weather-sealing on all components.

K20D
DA* 16-50mm f/2.8
DA* 50–135mm f/2.8 : €2,000
DA* 300mm f/4 : €1,000
DA* 55mm f/1.4 : €500
TOTAL : €3,500

Just for fun I thought "Hmmm... what if someone insisted on full-frame and wanted to build the same kit in the Nikon system?" Here's what you'd need, assuming matching FOV (no, let's not have that debate again). All prices from the same vendor.

Nikon D3 (only 12.1 MP but close enough) : €4,200
Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S N (not VR) : €1,700
Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR : €1,870
Nikkor 500mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S VR N : €8,500
Nikkor 85/1.4 AF D IF (not sealed, not VR) : €1,100
TOTAL : €17,370

Of course you could improve on your telephoto speed one stop by getting instead:
Nikkor 400mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR N : €9,650

Or keep the same speed and improve your reach somewhat:
Nikkor 600mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S VR N : €10,200

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like you can buy five Pentax systems for the price of a single Nikon full-frame system. Is the grass greener? Looks more like a scorched earth policy!

12-06-2008, 08:12 AM   #2
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it's greener if you need the features it provides and you're doing stuff for pay.

E.g., wedding photogs. Get a D700, get a 24-70 and you're pretty much done. Get an 85/1.4 if you're doing studio shots. Get a 70-200 for the extra body. Lot light performance spanks the K20D and those lenses are as sharp as primes.

Repeat for sports photog getting paid by magazines and buying $5K lenses.

For hobbyists? Not so much an obvious decision...depends on what you take pictures of and how much you value a higher success ratio at AF, lighting, etc...
12-06-2008, 08:26 AM   #3
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Canon 5DmkII: $ 2305,-
EF 24-70mm 1:2.8L USM: $ 1035,-
EF 70-200mm 1:4L IS USM: $ 952,-
EF 400mm 5.6 L USM: $ 1163,-
EF 85mm 1:1.8 USM: $ 329,-
========
$ 5784,- or +2/3.


Note:
When comparing APS-C and FF, all, the focal length AND f-stop number must be multiplied with the crop-factor (AND ISO number with the square of crop-factor) (for constant FoV, constant DoF and constant level of noise for a given shutter speed). Nevertheless, I choose the EF 24-70mm 1:2.8L because it is a nice lens and one actually MAY want to make use of the better low light capabilities of the FF sensor On the other hand, I dropped 500mm as a 300mm equivalent because Canon has no 500mm/5.6 lens and 450 is in the middle between 400 and 500.

Note2:
German online shop prices w/o VAT converted to USD.

Last edited by falconeye; 12-06-2008 at 08:44 AM.
12-06-2008, 10:59 AM   #4
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Had no idea the EF 85/1.8 was that cheap.

Love my Pentax gear, but wouldn't turn down a 5d Mk II with that lens, 50/1.4 and some form of wide angle zoom.

12-06-2008, 11:12 AM   #5
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I don't really get why the size of a 35mm film frame is some sort of magical, holy grail, standard by which a digital sensor should be measured and compared. Why not 110 film? Why not 19th century glass plates? Why not just accept digital sensors for what they are?

But that's just me.
12-06-2008, 11:20 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by MPrince Quote
I don't really get why the size of a 35mm film frame is some sort of magical, holy grail, standard by which a digital sensor should be measured and compared. Why not 110 film? Why not 19th century glass plates? Why not just accept digital sensors for what they are?

But that's just me.
I agree. However, the bigger sensor allows bigger photosites which means better (theoretical?) IQ.
12-06-2008, 11:21 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by pingflood Quote
Had no idea the EF 85/1.8 was that cheap.
I think the same is true of the Nikon f/1.8. However you pay a lot more for the f/1.4.
12-06-2008, 12:02 PM   #8
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you are not quite right.
2.8 on FF is like 1.8 on APS crop. I mean depth-of-field. Also for Nikon there is D700 and newly D3X with high resolution.

12-06-2008, 12:27 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by MPrince Quote
I don't really get why the size of a 35mm film frame is some sort of magical, holy grail, standard by which a digital sensor should be measured and compared. Why not 110 film? Why not 19th century glass plates? Why not just accept digital sensors for what they are?

But that's just me.
Evolution. 35mm is the size that proved most useful out of a really bewildering array of stuff... When digital first came out there was a notion cameras might become smaller and more varied in shape without need for film transport, but it hasnt really happened, even with cropped sensors. Hands haven't changed size, nor eyes, nor, really, have mirror boxes. From a design standpoint, they may as well use the space. It's just been that bigger sensors are more expensive to produce.

Oh, also there was something about how to engineer sensors so that light can strike them at more-oblique angles, the bigger the sensor, the more you need that.
12-06-2008, 12:36 PM   #10
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I think for the hobbyist the full frames are priced out of reach for most of us right now. It would be nice to own but i'm quite happy with what I have. I'm getting lots of good pictures and still learning to use the K10D. Buying a full frame for me right now makes as much sense as buying 150 HP bass boat to fish on a 5 acre pond.
12-06-2008, 01:23 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by MPrince Quote
I don't really get why the size of a 35mm film frame is some sort of magical, holy grail, standard by which a digital sensor should be measured and compared. Why not 110 film? Why not 19th century glass plates? Why not just accept digital sensors for what they are?
The larger the sensor, the more detail in the image, all other things remaining equal. A mediocre medium format lens will produce images that surpass in detail the sharpest 135 lens. It is sort of like comparing MPEG-2 with H.264 video compression, if you're a video geek; H.264 will do better at a given level of bandwidth, but I'll prefer MPEG-2 with ten times the bandwidth any day. Larger sensor provides greater "bandwidth." And the largest sensor you can put into a system designed for 135 film is a 135-sized sensor.

135-sized sensors are the "holy grail" because they maximize resolution without requiring an entire change of lenses and usability.

A think that everyone will acknowledge that a digital sensor the size of a 11" by 14" wet-plate would produce stupendously higher quality images than a full-frame (135) sensor...with a price to match.

Sensor size is always about compromises. A 135-sized sensor makes compromises, too.
12-06-2008, 02:47 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by MPrince Quote
I don't really get why the size of a 35mm film frame is some sort of magical, holy grail, standard by which a digital sensor should be measured and compared. Why not 110 film? Why not 19th century glass plates? Why not just accept digital sensors for what they are?

But that's just me.
Matt, if your Pentax K100D would happen to have a 19th century glass plates body and lens bayonet then you would see people asking why on earth it doesn't have a 19th century glass plates-sized sensor. Probably, because 19th century glass plates-sized sensors are very, very expensive. Fortunately, FF sensors became affordable in 2008. Fortunately, because your Pentax K100D happens to have a 20th century 35mm body and lens bayonet.
12-06-2008, 06:32 PM   #13
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Today I was at a race track and a friend of mine was also there shooting with a Nikon D300 and Nikkor 70-200/2.8 Zoom.

He lamented that his lens didn't have IS and that the IS version was so much more expensive. I just laughed a bit inside and kept from making the obvious comment.

IMHO Canon and Nikon do have better options for budget-unlimited buyers. For hobbyist shooters like us it's just overpriced equipment.

I currently have no desire for a FF camera. Maybe in 5 years if they become affordable.
12-06-2008, 06:36 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by pingflood Quote
Had no idea the EF 85/1.8 was that cheap.
It's not an L lens.
12-06-2008, 07:01 PM   #15
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What about the IQ questions if comparing pro-lenses with Pentax and Canon? Because there are only one of a kind DA* lenses and Canon do have a couple different lenses for each purpose. Every DA* should have great IQ because they are only pro-lenses. Is that correct?
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