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Why a full frame camera?

The market of digital cameras is full of different models. In the case of full frame dSLRs just seven choices share the 90% percent of full frame dSLRs market.

So why a full frame camera? What is the difference?

The basic difference is the lenses. The market share of cameras with full frame sensors is dominated by only two companies Canon and Nikon. Usually Canon has slightly bigger share. What makes them so successful is not the bodies of their dSLR cameras but their lenses. Quality photographic lenses unlike the cameras are very tough to be made. They don’t have the rapid electronic progress of the main electronic equipments. They are more mechanical equipments than electronic ones. For example a five year old dSLR is obsolete and can be bought new at a bargain price. A five year old lens for full frame cameras won’t loose its value easily after five years. In the case of prime lenses the technological depreciation is extremely slow.  Lenses force the dSLR users on a specific brand of a camera. The SLR camera manufacturers since the age of film avoided a common mount and common auto focus control of lenses. A Canon user who wants full control of the lens is obliged to use a canon compatible lens. The same with the Nikon users. A lens made 10 years ago is compatible with a new dSLR of the same brand. That is good and a quality lense is a real investment. It doesn’t loose it usefulness even after 20 years.

Most lenses from Canon and Nikon are made for full frame cameras. Why?

Most high quality Lenses are fully compatible with full frame cameras. Nearly all casual photographers without full frame dSLRs are satisfied with their mediocre Kit Lenses. In really the default kit lense is good for the majority of shots. Full frame dSLRs users are willing to pay more for the quality and variety of  lenses designed for full frame cameras. That have placed Canon and Nikon at the top of the photography industry. The other competitors can’t beat them due to their superiority and variety in lenses.

A full frame lens is not fully compatible in a non Full frame dSLR with crop sized APS sensor. That is a bad choice. The lens behaves with lower sharpness, apperture, brightness and different focal length. A lens for full frame cameras is named EF by Canon and AF-S by Nikon.

A Lens for crop sized image sensor APS dSLRs is named EF-S by Canon and AF-S DX in Nikon. An EF-S lens is not compatible with full frame Canon camera body. An AF-S DX lens is compatible to a Nikon full frame body with vignetting. It is an important feature of Nikon dSLR cameras. With Nikon the passage from APS sensor camera to full frame sensor camera is less costly. In general EF-S and AF-S DX lenses are cheaper with inferior quality.

There are three categories of full frame cameras by Canon and Nikon.

  • The cheapest Canon EOS-6D and Nikon D610 for amateurs.
  • The medium sized professional Canon EOS-5Ds and Nikon D810.
  • The big expensive flagships Canon EOS-1D C and Nikon D4S.

Until five year ago a full frame dSLR was only the choice of professionals and rich photographers. Quite resently two affordable models appeared.

 

The Canon 6D is the only full framevcamera with build-in GPS receiver.
The Canon 6D is the only full frame camera with build-in GPS receiver. GPS is a feature that most serious photographers snob. For amateurs travel photographers who want quality photos with embedded GPS tag this camera is s must. That makes Canon 6D a very interesting choice for first time full frame camera users.

The Canon EOS-6D is the best choice for amateurs who want a relatively  affordable full frame camera. The body costs around 1600 euros. It is the cheapest camera which can fully use the EF Canon lenses. Since it is targeted mostly for amateurs it integrates GPS and WiFi. The only negative is the lack of flip screen. Something very popular by amateurs but indifferent by professionals. Please avoid buying it with a kit lens. It doesn’t offer shallow depth of field and the bokeh is hard to appear.

 

The frame Canon 6D is not fully metalic due to GPS receiver.
The frame Canon 6D is not fully metalic due to GPS receiver. The signal of GPS satellites is weak. So the upper body is synthetic. It is a compromise against durability.

The best value for money lens for the Canon EOS-6D is the Canon EF 50mm – f/1.4 USM Lens. It is a normal lens and doesn’t have the unavoidable distortions of wide lenses or telephoto lenses. It has the field of view of a human eye. So photos look natural. It costs around 350 euros. A very good price for an aperture of  f/1.4. One of the things that differentiates an amateur photo from a professional photo is the shallow depth of field that creates bokeh. The f/1.4 aperture and the 50mm focal length is a good combination for bokeh.

The Nikon D610 is a direct upgrade of the problematic D600.
The Nikon D610 is a direct upgrade of the problematic D600. It is slightly cheaper than Canon 6D because it doesn’t have GPS neither WiFI. The main difference from Canon is that is compatible with DX lens for APS Nikon dSLRs.

The next affordable full frame dSLR is the Nikon D610. It is the upgrade model of the Nikon D600. It costs around 1500 euros. It works fine with AF-S lenses. It accepts AF-S DX lenses with vignetting at some focal lenghts. WiFi and GPS are optional with extra paid accessory. It has two SD cards slots. The Canon EOS-D6 has got only one slot. A double flash card slot is a professional feature. It offers redundancy. The photo is written in both cards simultaneously. If one of the two cards fails, there is a back up. Both Canon EOS-D6 and Nikon D610 don’t have flip screens. Nikon has a built in flash. The built in flash is useless. For serious photography an affordable external flash offers better results.

 

Nikon D750 is the only full frame camera from Canon and Nikon with a flip screen.
Nikon D750 is the only full frame camera from Canon and Nikon with a flip screen. The quality of photos is somewhere between D610 and D810. It has build in WiFi unlike the rest of Nikon full frame cameras. If it had GPS built in receiver it would be the most versatile full frame camera in the market.

The Nikon D750 is a full frame camera somewhere between Nikon D810 and Nikon D610. It is the only full frame camera of both Nikon and Canon with flip screen. This is very useful for special shooting positions.

 

The  metallic frame of the Nikon D750 is more robust than that of Canon 6D.
The metallic frame of the Nikon D750 is more robust than that of the Canon 6D.

 

 

The canon 5D series is the most popular full frame camera by professionals.
The canon 5D series is the most popular full frame camera by professionals. It is not big neither heavy. It is not very expensive neither cheap. It the best value for money if you want top and affordable quality.

The Canon 5Ds and the Nikon D810 are the mainstream cameras for professionals and passionate amateurs. They are not very expensive for the quality of photos they shoot.  They cost around 2.500 euros. Both are weather resistant with frame of magnesium alloy. They had great grip and stability.

 

The fully metallic frame of the Canon 5Ds.
The fully metallic frame of the Canon 5Ds.

The 5Ds has bigger buffer for endless shoots. It is great for filmography and is used by pros as a cheaper alternative to Sony professional video cameras. It has by far the most megapixels by any full frame camera.

 

Until the entry of Canon 5Ds the Nikon D810 was the fullframe camera with the most megapixels.
Until the entry of Canon 5Ds the Nikon D810 was the fullframe camera with most megapixels.

 

 

The body of Nikon D810 is very tough like most of dSLRs of its category.
The body of Nikon D810 is very tough like most of dSLRs of its category.

The Nikon D810 is inferior to Canon 5Ds despite being one year older and with a similar price. For those with nikon lenses is the best solution. It focus great and have good ISO. Nothing very special though.

 

In photography big size counts.
Canon EOS-1D C. In photography big size counts. Manufacturers can add more features or increase performance without the fear of adding weight and bulk.

 

Canon EOS-1D C frame.
Canon EOS-1D C frame. It is built like a rock.

The flagships of Canon and Nikon are the Canon EOS-1D C and Nikon D4S. Both arepricey around 12.000 euros. They cost at least three times more than 5Ds and D810. Its huge size provides a camera grip. They are targeted only for professional who don’t care about size, weight and want reliability and quality. Their body is metallic and the toughest of all. Of course they are water resistant, not just weather sealed. Only 15 Megapixels doesn’t mean inferior photo quality. Their quality is the best in dSLRs. Their shutter is tested to work 400.000 times without problems. A typical dSLR can shoot just 100.000  without shutter problems. 

 

The Nikon D4s is the best camera of Nikon.
The Nikon D4s is the best camera of Nikon. Its image sensor is made by Sony.

 

 

The frame of Nikon D4s.
The frame of Nikon D4s.

Both have incredible ISO above the 256.000. The noise is the lowest it can be. 12.000 euros for a camera is two much. I would prefer a Leica which depreciates fat slower in time. 

The Sony a99 is a case theat worths mentioning. It is decent full frame camera with great features. The truth is that it isn’t a popular camera. Sony don’t have a tradition in full frame cameras. However it is a dominant video camera manufacturer and knows about optics. The Sony bought Minolta resently and is the only with SLT technology. 

 

With SLT there is no movable mirror and that creates fewer vibrations. What differentiates an a99 camera is the image stabilization inside the camera. That stabilization permit the uses of old legacy lenses of other manufacturers. If it is combined with the external lens stabilization of a lens the result is the longest possible exposures without tripod. This is great in handheld photography with super telephoto lenses or with handheld low light photography. Is the camera of choice for paparazzi photo journalist because they use super telephoto lenses and a tripod is not an option. 

 

The frame of Sony a99 is made from magnesium alloy like most of full frame dSLRs.
The frame of Sony a99 is made from magnesium alloy like most of full frame dSLRs.


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