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Thread: Full Frame or Crop Camera

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    Default Full Frame or Crop Camera

    I am planning on purchasing a new camera body and are anxiously awaiting the new Nikon announcements over the next couple of months. I currently use either a D3x, d300s, or d7000 on my 600VR or 300VR. I consider myself to be an advanced amateur with a lot to learn about bird photography. I am torn as to whether to purchase either a D4 or D800 full frame if the current rumours are correct or to wait for a possible D400 crop camera later in the year. It appears to me that most of the best bird photographers tend to use full frame cameras. Is there a clear advantage to full frame over crop cameras? I thought crop bodies would be best as they would give a distance advantage over full frame cameras but I fear I don't understand correctly. Reading Arthur Morris's web site is an example as it looks like he sold his crop camera and kept his two full frame camera. Any help you can give me in understand the advantage of full frame would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Randy Stephens

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    BPN Member Roger Clark's Avatar
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    Hi Randy,

    Crop or not really has nothing to do with the common situation in bird photography: the subject is small in the frame due to focal length limited lenses and one wants the most pixels on the subject.

    Check out this thread (in particular, see panel #6):
    http://www.birdphotographers.net/for...Canon-EOS-1D-x

    Also, my article on telephoto reach:
    http://www.clarkvision.com/articles/telephoto_reach/

    Besides pixels on subject (combination of focal length and pixel size) important factors include AF performance, user interface for the photographer, lens aperture to deliver enough light, and the efficiency of the pixels to collect the light.

    Roger

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    I would say if you can afford it, buy one of each. I have a full frame and a not-so-full frame and I enjoy using both.

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    Randy,

    Note that the 1D-IV is a crop camera, with a 1.3 crop factor. Of current Canon bodies, the 5D and 1Ds are full frame, as is the coming 1Dx.

    What is your own experience between the D3x and D300s? My wife and I used to shoot Nikon and shared a D300 and D700. There was never a clearly better body. The pixels on subject of the D300 were preferable sometimes, the beauty of the D700 pixels were preferable other times. We now shoot Canon with 1D-IV and 7D bodies. We both tend to use the 1D-IV more than the 7D, as much for other body factors as the better IQ.

    Alan

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Lillich View Post
    Randy,

    Note that the 1D-IV is a crop camera, with a 1.3 crop factor. Of current Canon bodies, the 5D and 1Ds are full frame, as is the coming 1Dx.

    What is your own experience between the D3x and D300s? My wife and I used to shoot Nikon and shared a D300 and D700. There was never a clearly better body. The pixels on subject of the D300 were preferable sometimes, the beauty of the D700 pixels were preferable other times. We now shoot Canon with 1D-IV and 7D bodies. We both tend to use the 1D-IV more than the 7D, as much for other body factors as the better IQ.

    Alan
    The 1D-IV being a crop camera I didn't know!!! Thanks for clearing that up.

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    Avian Moderator Randy Stout's Avatar
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    Randy:

    You really have the perfect combination of cameras now to answer your own question. A lot depends on which birds and circumstances you are shooting under. I shoot a lot of larger birds, loons, swans, ducks, and whenever I have enough reach, always choose the D700 over the D300, for its superior ISO performance.

    The specs for the D800 makes it seem less desirable as a birding camera, and it will have some of the same performance limitations of the D3X.

    The D4 should be an excellent choice for many birders, but the number of pixels on the bird will be somewhat limited compared to the potential with the D400. The rumors I am hearing suggest that the D400 will have the D7000 sensor, with much faster burst rate and buffer, and perhaps the upgraded AF of the D4.

    So, if you like the images of the D7000, and need the reach, but not some of the buffer issues, then D400 should be the best bet.

    If you prefer the low noise potential of the full frame camera, and can live with fewer pixels on the bird, then the D4 is a better choice.

    You already have Nikon's best lenses, so you are set there.

    I would look back over your favorite bird images from the past year, see what camera you used, and go in that direction.

    Cheers

    Randy
    MY BPN ALBUMS

    "Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy" Sir Isaac Newton

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    I own both a full-frame and crop-sensor camera (the 5D MkII and the 7D) and prefer using the 7D for birds, simply because the subject is larger in the view finder and it's easier for me to keep and AF point on the subject. The 7D also handles faster than the 5D2, but that's an ancillary factor. IQ is very close to the same when I crop the final image.

    Dave
    Dave Stephens
    My Flickr Site

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    Forum Participant Charles Glatzer's Avatar
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    I shot full frame 1Ds III bodies exclusively for 3 years, and now use 1Ds III and M IV bodies. I prefer not to use cameras as cropping mechanisms, with either body I still try to fill the frame similarly to make the most of the pixels in hand. I use the different bodies for a variety of reason, cropping being not one of them.

    Chas

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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Glatzer View Post
    I shot full frame 1Ds III bodies exclusively for 3 years, and now use 1Ds III and M IV bodies. I prefer not to use cameras as cropping mechanisms, with either body I still try to fill the frame similarly to make the most of the pixels in hand. I use the different bodies for a variety of reason, cropping being not one of them.

    Chas
    Charles, since you own both, it might be interesting for you to tell us situations where you prefer one over the other and why.
    Dave Stephens
    My Flickr Site

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    Forum Participant Charles Glatzer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Stephens View Post
    Charles, since you own both, it might be interesting for you to tell us situations where you prefer one over the other and why.
    David, I love the IQ of the 1Ds III and prefer it over the Mark IV when AF acquisition/tracking, and drive speed/buffer are not necessary to capture fast moving decisive moments.

    I will typically opt for the Mark IV over 1Ds III in low light, as the noise reduction is particularly evident above ISO 800.

    Best,

    Chas

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