Monday, June 6, 2011

Mission Monday

So…I’m issuing myself a challenge - to learn at least 1 new thing about photography, my camera (or related equipment), or post-processing each week. My plan is to post a question on my blog each Monday, do some research, and then post the answer the following Monday. Now I realize that by doing this, I’m putting it out there for everyone to see how much of a novice I am…but hey, I’m not too proud to admit that there is SO MUCH I still have to learn.

If you’re an expert and you care to share your knowledge about a particular week’s question, feel free to help a girl out. And if you have a passion for learning more about photography like I do, by all means take advantage of any information posted here that might be helpful to you.

On this particular Mission Monday, I’m posting a question and it’s answer – for a couple reasons: 1) I already researched this last week, and 2) next Monday I will be on a little vacation with no access to a computer. So…the question is… (drumroll)

What is a full-frame camera, what is the difference between that and a “non” full-frame camera, and…do I need one? (Let me just note here that it’s becoming clear already that this researching business will probably end up costing me. I have a feeling that the answer to all the “do I need one” questions is gonna be YES).

Anyway this is what I found out:

A full-frame digital camera has an image sensor that is the same size as a 35mm film frame – as opposed to an APS camera (and don’t ask me what APS stands for), which has a smaller sensor. The sensor size of FF is 36mm x 24mm, whereas for APS it is 24mm x 16mm. A 50mm lens on FF behaves like a 50mm should, but on an APS camera the smaller sensor can only capture the cropped central part of the image – an image that is approximately 1.5 times more narrow than the full capability of the lens. This is called the “crop factor” – i.e. the APS camera has a crop factor of 1.5. Put another way, because FF’s sensor is 50% larger than APS’s sensor, the crop factor is 1.5x.

Now, what are the advantages of this (because full-frame cameras are much more expensive so there are surely some big advantages)?

One advantage is with wide-angle photography and taking full advantage of a wide-angle lens. Here’s an example: a 24mm lens on a FF camera has an 84◦ view, but a 24mm lens on a camera with a crop factor of 1.5 has only a 62◦ angle of view (making it approximately equivalent to a 36mm lens on a FF camera).

Another advantage is pixel size and number. A larger sensor allows for larger pixels and more pixels. Larger pixels provide wider dynamic range and lower noise at high ISO levels, which means better quality images in low light situations especially. More pixels allow it to capture more light, which results in better color representation and an image with more depth and greater detail. Apparently this pixel advantage is dramatic with larger prints.

Now I did find out that if you do a lot of telephoto work – like you’re a wildlife photographer or something – there is an advantage to the ASP camera (besides being way less expensive). An example: a photographer using a 300mm lens on an APS camera is going to capture the same field of view that she would get with a 450mm lens on a FF camera – a much “tighter / closeup” view (remember it essentially “crops” the center image). The 300mm lens will be smaller, lighter and less expensive than a 450mm lens.

Unfortunately I can’t post any comparison photos because I don’t own both kinds of cameras, but there are lots of articles with examples on the web if you want to google it for more info.

Yay – my first Monday Mission accomplished! Sorry this was so long.  Thanks for reading.

Oh, I almost forgot – my next Monday Mission (which will be 2 weeks away this time) is: Lightroom.  Adobe publishes 2 products that are widely used for editing and post-processing of digital photos – Lightroom and Photoshop. What are the differences between the 2 and do I need both? (sigh, another “do I need it” question).

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