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Full Frame Sensors And Aps-c (canon Rebel,nikon 5100) And Lens Crop Factors

Posted by: Rich Franco on 12/07/2012 - 10:23 AM

I just had a good question asked by Donna in my Group,

About sensor sizes and what does it really mean. This comes up every month or so, so I posted it here too. Every full frame sensor I sell, I get a $1, so everybody throw away your old cameras and go buy a full frame sensor! Just kidding! No commission checks, unfortunately!


Good question! Here's a good and simple explaination from DP review.

If you look at the image on the right hand, the bluish rectangle, that's what most cameras have, when you go from a Point & Shoot, which has a sensor the size of the green rectangle, about the size of a finger nail! The full frame sensor is the same exact size of film, whether it was slide film or negative film and is shown in the example as a 24 x 36 film section. So you can see how much larger(better) the full frame sensor is, compared to the smaller APS-C sensors that are in the Canon Rebel and the Nikon 5100 that you have.

Now look at the smaller green one again and just imagine when they sell P&S cameras and say they are 16-18 mp and then compare the full frame sensor that has the same number of pixels, which pixels would you like to use for images and prints? I thought so!!!

And you can also read a bit further in this link and see how they explain the "crop" factor in lenses, when you have a APS-C sensor and a full frame lens,

Hope this helps,



Oldest Reply

Posted by: Sebastian Musial on 12/07/2012 - 10:31 AM


in that case I own you $2, where do I send the check :)
I have a D700 and added a D800 few weeks ago.


Posted by: Charles Kozierok on 12/07/2012 - 10:36 AM

In a nutshell..

Full-frame advantages:
- Wider field of view.
- Usually a larger, brighter viewfinder.
- Generally better image quality: superior noise performance and better dynamic range for a given number of pixels.
- Lenses are actually what they are supposed to be; no need to constantly "multiply" by a crop factor.
- More control over depth of field; better ability to get shallow depth when it is needed.

Full-frame disadvantages:
- Usually more expensive.
- More demanding of lens quality, especially if you care about corner sharpness on wide angles.
- Lose the "crop factor zoom" that can be advantageous for some types of shooting (where a 300 mm lens is really a 450 or 480 mm).


Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 12/07/2012 - 10:37 AM

I guess I owe you a dollar too Rich but I work on the same business plan as the stock agencies and only disburse funds when your account balance reaches $100.


Posted by: Rich Franco on 12/07/2012 - 10:42 AM

I like honest people! For info on bank transfers to my account, please call BR549!

I'll be waiting!



Posted by: Mel Steinhauer on 12/07/2012 - 10:44 AM

Thanks for the detailed info, Rich.

I have been using Nikon's D200 -10 mp and D7000 - 16 mp cameras for the last few years, but am now considering upgrading to the full-frame sensor next year. But then to do it right, I would also have to get some new lenses to avoid the " cropping down " issues. Hopefully, if I decide to do this I could trade-in some, or all of my present equipment. I have been looking at the Nikon D600, 24 mp full-frame, but reading about problems of oil from the mirror mechanism spraying on the sensor.


Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 12/07/2012 - 1:37 PM

@Rich ...reference minimum balance requirement and seek an alternate long term bridging loan. :)


Posted by: JC Findley on 12/07/2012 - 2:07 PM

I ended up going with a crop sensor for budget reasons and wow is there a difference in the 100% preview.

That said, there were some more things that are good about it, like the newer technology in the camera than the 5D (original.) There is also an advantage in macro shooting were the crop sensor gives you a better than 1:1 ratio OR if you shot the same image a deeper DoF for the overall shot.

Anyway, it is what it is until I can afford a MKII or III.


Posted by: Rich Franco on 12/07/2012 - 2:26 PM

If your lenses were designed for an APS-C camera, then you're right, but if they are used also on a full frame film or digital camera, you're good to go. Either way, it's quite an investment.

My people tell me that your card didn't go through, could you post the numers again, here on FAA and I'll ask everybody to close tgheir eyes, until I delete it? I'm very safety conscious, as you can tell....

I haven't shot with an APS-C camera, so I wouldn't know, but is sounds likr there is some good news/bad news with those camera types.



Posted by: Bradley Clay on 12/07/2012 - 2:41 PM

the latest generation of APS-C cameras are amazing, but still nowhere close to the lower noise of full frame cameras.

They do offer a size advantage, and you can buy the cheaper dx crop sensor lenses.

I have been buying full frame lenses thinking ahead for when i make the jump.

@Rich it will probably be a year or so, so can I start making payments on that $1?



Posted by: Rich Franco on 12/07/2012 - 3:42 PM


Sure ol buddy, let me just go ahead and sign you up on our "special" finance plan we have here at the Banco de Ricardo, pretty low from what I hear......



Posted by: Bradley Clay on 12/07/2012 - 3:50 PM

Actually what I will do is tape a nickel to every print you buy of mine.

That way by the time you get your dollar, I will be able to afford my full frame camera!

sounds fair to me, what do you think?



Posted by: Rich Franco on 12/07/2012 - 5:52 PM

Boy oh Boy, are you in trouble, what if I buy 20 prints, then you'll owe $2.00 HAHAHAHA fixed you huh?



Posted by: Bradley Clay on 12/07/2012 - 7:31 PM

Ok Rich,

I will make a deal.

You buy 20 prints, I will tape a buck to each one. Thats $20! You would have to convince 20 people to buy $2500 cameras for that kind of money!

Just think what you could do with $20! you could eat at McDonalds twice, or buy 6 gallons of gas!

I dont make offers like this to everyone, better jump on it!



Posted by: Bradley Clay on 12/07/2012 - 8:00 PM

Actually, I think your math was wrong in your other post.
Reminds me of this:

They can't english either, but at least you can!


Posted by: Lara Ellis on 12/07/2012 - 8:14 PM

From what I've read it is my understanding that if you get a full frame sensor you get reduced noise but less crop. So for example if you shoot a bird (with a camera of course ;-) ) the bird will take up less of your frame in the photo on the full frame sensor than it would on a smaller DX crop sensor with the same lens. So maybe if you are a landscape shooter the full frame would be better but if you are trying to squeeze as much magnification out of a lens that you can for shooting wildlife or birds, butterflies etc then the DX crop sensor would be the better option for you. That's my take on it anyways. Feel free to correct me anyone if I'm wrong though. :-)


Posted by: Juergen Roth on 12/07/2012 - 8:14 PM

I shoot with a Canon D7 that has a APS-C. I like the crop factor for wildlife and action and it's sufficient for any other nature photography I do. Saving some money on the camera and investing in good glass and lenses was key to me. Working with equipment I can afford, using that gear to the fullest, thereby becoming a better photographer is my focus. Where do you go from the full frame cameras ... there is no end and if one wants highest quality images I suggest the 60 Mpixel 40 x 54mm sensor the Hasselblad H4D-60 ... would love to give that baby a try! Btw, your dp review link does not work for me ... might be just me though ...


Posted by: Bradley Clay on 12/07/2012 - 8:44 PM


This is a much discussed topic,

The thing to keep in mind is that it is a "crop factor" not a "magnification"

I shoot a Nikon D7000. with a 500mm lens it is a "field of view equivalent" of a 750mm lens. The D7000 is 16mp. If I shoot a bird with this setup, the bird appears larger, because the image is only half a 35mm frame. Lets say the subject(the bird) takes 25% of the frame. the bird is portrayed with 4mp of information.

Now lets say I use a Nikon D800, full frame at 36 mp. the lens is now a true 500mm, the bird now is 1/8 of the frame or portrayed with 4.5 mp of info. I can crop in tighter in post processing and get the same pic in greater resolution, and better color and less noise than the crop sensor. In the case of a 24mp camera, the numbers would be only 3mp, but much better quality and less noise, and generally more detail than the crop sensor shot.

The advantages to the larger sensor always outweigh the crop sensor in noise and quality. The down side as Charles said, is they require higher quality lenses to ensure edge to edge quality in the picture.

EDIT: The noise advantage really blows away everthing else. For that matter you can add a TC and crank up the ISO to compensate and still get a much better quality image. In lab ratings the D7000 can go up to 1100 iso before noise degrades the image tremendously. My experience has confirmed this. The D800 can go to 2800 ISO before reaching the same noise ratio. The D3s is still the lowest noise camera tested, and can do 3200 ISO before reaching the same signal to noise ratio


Posted by: JC Findley on 12/07/2012 - 9:03 PM

Sort of.

Lets compare apples to apples though, a 36 MP camera can in fact be cropped to the same size with the same number of pixels. But if you have a 12 MP full frame and a 12 MP crop sensor cropping down to get the same image of the bird will in fact cost you a LOT of pixels which will cost you print size. You can correct for that of course by purchasing a 700mm lens v. a 400mm piece of glass. BUT, 700mm >>>>>>>>>$ than a 400mm so it comes down to cost. If you are on an unlimited budget, sure, go full frame and long glass or as the example above indicates you could go with more MP and the same glass.

The same is not really true of macro glass BTW as there are some actual advantages the crop has over a full frame. Now, if you can buy a Canon 3D with 46 MP just crop away. But for the same MP in a sensor you will in fact get "closer" with a crop sensor and if you do move it back for the same sized image you can get an increased DoF.

All in all, I would rather have a full frame sensor, but there are a few advantages to the crop not the least of which is budget.


Posted by: Bradley Clay on 12/07/2012 - 9:23 PM

Absolutely correct JC,

megapixels vs. megapixels size goes to the crop sensor. The big advantage is in the noise ratio, if cropping in on a full frame capture the signal to noise ratio is much greater.

A photosensor either captures a correct image pixel, or it overheats and creates a pixel of noise. there is no middle point. Either that pixel is image or it is noise. The advantage lies in the fact that the full frame always has more signal to noise. so with a 12mp crop and a 12mp full frame the crop would have more pixels covering the subject, but the full frame would have more pixels that are info and not noise, so it kind of washes.

I love my crop sensor camera, but the iso makes a big difference in low light, in the summer in the woods, I have to shoot at 1600 minimum, this is pretty noisy. having a camera I can crank to 3000iso would open a whole new opportunity.


Posted by: JC Findley on 12/07/2012 - 9:29 PM

Yupp, and your crop sensor does well with noise.

I haven't shot much with it but I was more comfy printing my 12 MP full frame shot images at 48 inches than any I have shot with the 15MP crop sensor so far. Noise wise, the newer crop sensor does WELL with the in camera noise reduction in Jpeg though it softens it up somewhat. (Technology advantage of the newer camera.)


Posted by: Bradley Clay on 12/07/2012 - 9:39 PM

Cameras are following in the footsteps of computers,

the technology increases three fold every year. The longer you wait to purchase, the more you get for the money!


Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 12/07/2012 - 9:41 PM

I only recently upgraded to a 5DM2 so most of my images were taken with my old crop sensor camera. For well lit daylight shots noise isn't going to be an issue. If you use a tripod you can overcome a lot too. Bottom line you have a decent camera and can start adding to your portfolio again.


Posted by: JC Findley on 12/07/2012 - 9:44 PM

Problem for me is I never shoot well lit daylight shots. When the sun comes up, it is time to pack up and go to bed.

I do everything on a tripod though, so we will see. If I am unhappy with it I will trade it in on a used 5D original.


Posted by: Lara Ellis on 12/07/2012 - 10:18 PM

I'm at the glass that I can afford now which is the 70-200 2.8 Nikon VR1 with a 1.7 teleconverter. So my D300 is what I'm going to use until I win the lottery or sell a gagillion pics on FAA :-)


Posted by: Charles Kozierok on 12/07/2012 - 10:24 PM

Good discussion.

"Problem for me is I never shoot well lit daylight shots. When the sun comes up, it is time to pack up and go to bed."

Ah, another golden hour, junkie, I see.

Don't be afraid of mid-day... there's lots you can do with it. :)

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Posted by: Paul Cowan on 12/09/2012 - 10:13 AM

It's a shame that best sensors are so expensive. It does create something of a barrier to getting the best quality. In the old days a pro's roll of kodachrome was the same as an amateur's, making technique and compositional ability rather than technology the key factor, particularly if everyone is using prime lenses.


Posted by: Charles Kozierok on 12/09/2012 - 10:21 AM

The reason larger sensors cost more is because they cost more to produce. A lot more.

At first there were no full-sized sensors at all.. so really, it's more like the technology advancing than like anyone being held back.

There's never been a completely level playing field image-quality-wise; even before digital you had people shooting 35 mm and others shooting medium or large format, etc.


Posted by: JC Findley on 12/09/2012 - 10:36 AM

A couple things worth noting, 3/11 of my best selling images were shot with a point and shoot including my second best seller. Composition and vision still count for a LOT when it comes to producing an artistic piece and to be blunt are in fact far more critical that "what" you are shooting with.

That said, there are two areas where the full frame v the crop sensor v. the point and shoot makes a difference. One is the size of the print offered for sale. My 12 MP full frame images prints fine at 48 inches. The 15 MP crop sensor looks like it will only go to 36 inches. The PS will print up t 24 and "maybe" 30 or 36 when the image was shot with good light.

The other difference is when you can get a usable shot and when you can't. The PS was virtually useless at night and often of limited value at dusk or dawn. The crop sensor is OK at dusk and dawn but the NR required makes the images soft. The full frame worked VERY well in those conditions.

So, to summarize, the artistic merit is not effected by the equipment but what you can produce and how large (meaning how MUCH $) you can go with a print is.


Posted by: Paul Cowan on 12/09/2012 - 10:39 AM

Yes, Charles, but everyone was able to buy the various different films for a modest price. I've still got 120 negs I shot as an impoverished student in the 70's.


Posted by: Charles Kozierok on 12/09/2012 - 10:46 AM

JC, this is how I summarize the issue:

Poor photographer + poor equipment --> Poor results
Poor photographer + good equipment --> Poor results
Good photographer + poor equipment --> Good results
Good photographer + good equipment --> Great results


Paul, that gets into a larger discussion of the pros and cons of film and digital. One advantage of film is low up front cost compared to digital; but digital has the opposite advantage of having close to zero per-shot expense. Ten years ago the up-front cost of digital made it inaccessible to a poor student, true, but not any more. And the lack of a need to pay for film and processing opens up the ability to experiment in a way never possible with film.


Posted by: JC Findley on 12/09/2012 - 10:52 AM

I agree 100% Charles.

For that matter, I shot film for 20 years before going digital and never came close to the level I achieved with digital because I couldn't afford the cost of film to do the whole 10,000 hour rule. Now, in three or four years of shooting digital, I have clicked the button ~ 200 THOUSAND times. That allows for a lot of learning that I just couldn't afford with film.

Oh, and one more category. The old cell phone shot. This is the only shot in my portfolio shot with one BUT it was the only camera I had and I do love the shot.

Photography Prints


Posted by: Charles Kozierok on 12/09/2012 - 11:01 AM

I think there's more upside than downside to the green box, as long as your images are reasonably sharp. But that's just a hunch.


Posted by: JC Findley on 12/09/2012 - 11:27 AM

Here is an example of extreme shooting with a full frame. This image is literally shot with moonlight as the ONLY ambient light.

Art Prints


Posted by: Paul Cowan on 12/09/2012 - 4:40 PM

Yes, I agree Charles, the quality of the photographer is the most important factor. I'm a bit of an inverted gearhead who likes to make things difficult for myself (amazing how much you can learn that way), I get more excited shooting film than I do shooting digital, though if I am honest I have to admit that my digital shots usually win on quality, even though they shouldn't if I was doing everything right. The delayed gratification of film and the far greater effort involved in creating shots makes me feel far more involved with the whole process.


Posted by: JC Findley on 12/10/2012 - 2:40 PM

And, thanks to Adorama's excellent return/exchange policy and a few extra bucks I am back in full frame Biness....


Posted by: Billy Griffis Jr on 12/10/2012 - 3:31 PM

"For that matter, I shot film for 20 years before going digital and never came close to the level I achieved with digital because I couldn't afford the cost of film to do the whole 10,000 hour rule. Now, in three or four years of shooting digital, I have clicked the button ~ 200 THOUSAND times. That allows for a lot of learning that I just couldn't afford with film."

Excellent point JC.

I shot film for 30 years before going digital and it was the same with me. I learned a lot since digital just because I can experiment without it costing me a small fortune. I shot up $50-60 in film and developing in one day a few times...then had to wait up to 2 weeks to see the results, because I couldn't afford to have everything developed at once. Also now with digital I can take 20 shots of a bird, that gives me a much better chance of getting one good shot. I've noticed I can take a half dozen shots of one subject, same lighting, nothing changed, but only one comes out really good. With film I wasn't usually willing to do that, too expensive.

I'll definitely be keeping an eye on what Pentax does with full frame, and hope I can afford one when they get it out on the market. I just don't understand why they haven't produced one already. Pentax has always been an innovator. They didn't get the first SLR, but they were very close, I think Minolta was first, I can't remember. But Pentax produced the first spot metering system, the Spotmatic, which was #1 choice of pros for a long time. Minolta, Nikon and Pentax were all neck to neck in the very early days of SLR. I wish Minolta hadn't got out of the camera business, if they had stayed with it I might be shooting a Minolta right now, the only 35mm I used was their SRT 101 but it was an excellent camera and after using it for a while I was starting to like the plain focusing screen as opposed to the Pentax split screen system. I found the split screen to be useful for some things, and a hindrance for others, like wildlife. I had started using the section outside the center split section to focus because it was easier with birds and such.

Now with digital, I can experiment, something I was hesitant to do with film due to the expense. If I take a dozen bad shots, that's not half a roll of film wasted...I've taken a lot more night time shots, I'm beginning to dabble in star shots, I did do a few moon shots and fireworks with film, but I'll do it a lot quicker now and don't have to be so critical about exposure. grab a test shot and I know where to go from there. And it doesn't cost a small fortune. I still do some film, but not as often. developing is harder to find. I wish I could set up a dark room and learn to do my own developing...I'd pull out the 35mm a lot more often, and you can scan negatives and get very good results.

OK I'll stop rambling...


Posted by: JC Findley on 12/10/2012 - 3:35 PM

I agree across the board. I cut my teeth with Pentax and wish they had the selection in the digital age that they did back when.

One more advantage of digital is the exif data. With film, you would have to write down all the settings to remember them, now I just look at the data.


Posted by: Bradley Clay on 12/10/2012 - 4:06 PM

I totally sympathise with you @Billy,

I remember having a box of film waiting for the money to get it developed. The sad thing was by the time you got the pix back, you didnt remember making some of the shots.

Minolta is now sony in DSLRs. sony purchased all their camera technology. They have some pretty nice models out there. The problem is lens selection.



Posted by: Charles Kozierok on 12/10/2012 - 4:10 PM

I actually quit photography for a couple of years after a lab lost several rolls of my film. It wasn't that I was so devastated that I couldn't continue or anything -- I just got so turned off by the experience that I lost interest. It was digital that got me into it again.

JC, not only do you get the EXIF info, but you can also do other cool things. I go on long photo treks where I travel hundreds of miles a day, and keeping track of what I've shot used to be difficult. Not any more.. I bring with my handheld GPS set to tracking mode, I synchronize its timer with my camera, and use software when I get home that extrapolates my position at the time every image was shot. The GPS coordinates go right into the picture, and I can bring up a map showing where I was for any image I shot. Very useful stuff.


Posted by: Billy Griffis Jr on 12/10/2012 - 4:24 PM

Yeah EXIF info is a cool feature. any time I install Irfan View on a new computer first thing I do is also install the plugin package, mostly for the EXIF reader. That's the main drawback wit the K 30, it doesn't ID the lens like the K-x would. It just gives the focal length. The K-x would give me what tuype lens it was, so if I used a M 50mm it would have K or M lens listed. M42 would list M42 or no lens (???) but that would tell me if 200mm meant the Vivitar or the Sears K mount 80-200, which was considered M lens. Ditto for the nifty fiftys, series A and K or M were listed even though it didn't ID the actual lens unless it was a full AF lens. With manual lenses I also don't get the aperture, the lens has no way to tell that to the camera, but it does have ISO and shutter speed. One nice thing is it also allows me to embed my copyright into every image. As the camera saves it, it includes that info. It has a GPS unit that is an addon I guess, it's not built into the camera but I don't think it will be an issue, I usually have a good idea where I was when I took a shot.


Posted by: Marcio Faustino on 12/10/2012 - 4:55 PM

Full frame are not better than smaller sensors, they are just different tools for different people and type of work.

I always prefered 1.5 crop sensor than full frame to photograph wide life, as well as sport action.
All my fashion and glamour photographs were taken with 1.5 cropped sensor.

Nikon when started with digital cameras was trying to sell 1.5 crop sensor for the professional industry, because the cropped sensor will have the intire image sharp in the widest narrowest aperture while the full frame, the edge of the images wont softer on the edgers when the focus in on the other edge direction. But professional choose canon cameras that was producing full frame digital.

In my opinion (it is just my opinion) for the price and camera sizes they have been selling the full frames cameras. The 35mm was developed to be small, light, fast, cheaper, etc and for that they sacrificed the quality with smaller film negatives. But they have being producing 35mm with the size, weight, agility of a medium format camera. And much more expensive than a large format camera.

So that, unless you need photograph action in a very poor light condition with natural or ambiance light, I think it is much more worth buy and shoot with medium format film cameras. You get much better visual quality, you spend much less money on camera, and you have a hard file to archive (the film negatives) without have to worry making loads of back ups to make sure your best images will last many years.

And the myth that photographing with film is more expensive and take much longer is not true.

Just my 2 cents.


Posted by: JC Findley on 12/10/2012 - 6:50 PM

OK, I agree that it is a personal choice and all but, I would love to know how shooting with film is not more expensive and why it is a myth that it takes longer....

I shot some 400 images at my son's basketball game tonight. So, I can go back to film and have it cost me, well no more than the wear and tear on the camera? How? Please tell me.


Posted by: Bradley Clay on 12/10/2012 - 7:35 PM

I have to second JC's question.

How is film being more expensive than digital a myth? The cost of film and developing forced me out of photography for a while. Going out into the forest with only 72 exposures in my pocket cost me many opportunities, and much experimentation.

I can go to an airshow, and blast several thousand images, knowing I can pick what works, and delete the rest. With a couple rolls of film youre done in the first hour!, and you have to pay to develop the whole roll, not just the good ones.

I have $50 worth of memory cards in my camera. so far Ive probably shot 20K frames on them. Thats five shots for a penny, as of now and will only increase until the cards go bad, and I think they have a lifetime warranty!


Posted by: Charles Kozierok on 12/10/2012 - 7:48 PM

Speed? No contest, digital wins. Period.

Cost? Well, I wouldn't call it a "myth" that digital is cheaper, but there are some arguments in film's favor, depending on how and what you shoot.

Film has low fixed cost and high variable cost. Digital is the opposite. If you are the type to be slow and methodical and plan out every shot, film could theoretically be cheaper. Digital obviously wins if you shoot a lot, or if you shoot things with a high reject ratio.

Then there's personal circumstances. People who shoot digital tend not to think about the many hidden costs, such as having a powerful enough computer, storage space, software, and so forth. The up front costs can be considerable if you don't have other uses for this hardware and software. (Just a few days ago someone posted here about wanting to spend $2,500 for a PC for photo editing.)

Marcio also talked about medium format. Ever priced MF digital gear? Talk about sticker shock. :)

And then there's the whole gear upgrade merry-go-round. No, you don't have to buy the latest and greatest every year, but many people do. It adds up.


Posted by: Bradley Clay on 12/10/2012 - 8:24 PM

I still don't get the concept I guess,

Even if you are slow and methodical, how does the price of a roll of film beat almost free? Thats before developing. memory is cheap these days. some cameras can even hold 30 images in the internal buffer without a memory card.

We are just talking picture taking here, we aren't considering software and computers etc.... as these would not be considered part of the photo taking, as would a darkroom setup not be included in the photo taking figure.


Posted by: Billy Griffis Jr on 12/10/2012 - 10:37 PM

OK I have to disagree with one comment Brad. If you have your own darkroom, then it would be considered part of the overall cost I would think. Just as developing at whatever outlet you want is part of the cost if you don't have a darkroom.

at any rate, I agree with the general consensus, film is certainly more expensive than digital. You have the initial outlay, which includes camera, batteries in some cases, extra battery if you have any sense, and you could feasibly include the computer to do the editing with. after all you can't do much with your pictures unless/until you transfer them to a computer. You could argue that a USB cable to accomplish that transfer (again in some cases) could be included. Oh and lenses...

So let's see. The camer I have now was a tad under $600.
Memory card $8 ( 4 others I think, probably $50 in all)
Laptop around $250 (sale)
No USB cable, I use the laptop's card reader, ditto if I go to the desktop. (I built it from mostly free used parts)
$10 for extra Li-ion battery
Around $200 in lenses, give or take 20 bucks
Flash $0 (free due to an online auction goof up, they sent me the flash instead of the Sigma 28-80 w/Macro I bought. Refunded my money, told me keep the flash, gave me the option to buy the lens outright and byass the auction if they ever found where they actually shipped it to) (which never happened)

That's about $1100 for my current setup, laptop included. No further expenditures unless I want another lens (like that's not gonna happen) or another memory card or three in addition to the 5 or so I have now. (not likely any time soon)

Around 6 different 35mm cameras, total at least $300, all used, first one given to me
Lenses included in that cost plus one at $75
Batteries every year or so at least $30
Flash $30 or so used
Film for 30 years - oh my God...
Developing for 30 years - Oh CRAP...

OK forget it digital wins...And I got off really cheap in the 35mm department...I saw cameras in pawnshops used at $100 plus...


Posted by: Paul Cowan on 12/11/2012 - 3:19 AM

I think I spend about $2,500 a year on digital equipment - new body every few years, occasional lens, replacing computers, buying hard drives (which have a worrying habit of failing, losing thousands of photos) and computer programs, etc

My large format Graflex cost me about $400 with a couple of lenses, film holders, flash etc. Black and white film costs about $1-$2 a sheet depending on the brand and another 30c to develop. In a day's shooting I would rarely take more than six carefully thought-out shots (film costs do make you more careful about what you shoot)

My Mamiya C220 (medium format) cost $200 and each colour frame costs about 80c for film and processing. Black and white would be about half that. I might use one or two films a day if I'm shooting with it, so that would be maybe $15.

I could be out shooting every single day for six months with either of these cameras before my costs equalled what I spend on digital equipment in a year, and the image quality is outstanding if everything is done right. Of course, 35mm is even cheaper (but with lower image quality).

There's no doubt that digital will work out cheaper for a studio which has to burn hundreds of frames a day, but for the casual user film might cost less.

Added to that, some of us find it fun to use, black and white film can be quite stunning (you can adjust the contrast in developing to avoid some of the problems digital has with high-contrast scenes) and the old lenses often have an interesting optical signature,

PS: I just noticed Brad wants to leave out the cost of computers etc. on the grounds it is like darkroom gear - but there's a big difference: a darkroom, once set-up, will last a lifetime while all the computer stuff needs constant adding to (hard drives .... your storage drives are really your film) and computers need replacing every few years. So it's unfair to film not to count these costs and unfair to digital not to add on one-fiftieth of the cost of the enlarger, trays and clock.


Posted by: Marcio Faustino on 12/11/2012 - 4:39 AM

When I left Brazil I started to photograph with a pocket crap digital camera that came in a magazine. 3mp
I went to Israel with this camera and I took many of the best potraits I have shot. The camera was slow, the batery didn't last much and. The memory was limited too. So I only shot what I really thought would be a good shot.

From Israel I went to Ireland where I bought an old, seccond hand, Nikon D70. With this old camera I took the fashion and glamour photos that people more apreciate in my port and some models and photographers admiration.

I started photographing more and practice more, but after a couple of Years I realised that I was taking more and more picture in order to get a good one, and often I was spending the intire day photographing and I didn't get any good pic. So I realised that I was shooting more and thinking less.

Then I bought a brand new nikon D90. The image was diferent, colours less worm, better grain with high ISO, much more tecnical options, new tecnology, but the quality of my images didn't change.

Then I thought that was time to change and look for new felds, so I looked for film cameras and I discovered how cheap they are. I got 2 cameras 35mm, a 6x4.5 camera and a 6x7 camera. 4 cameras that may last a life time or at least 20 or 30 years without have to upgrad. I got the best lenses ever made for theses cameras, I got chimicals to develop and print my negatives, I got the accessories needed and I spent less than a new digital full frame camera with a kit less, which will become tecnologically old in 5years more or less.

I can develop several vegatives at once and in the same day have the photos ready printed or in my computer.
Models Aways complained about photographers who took a week or more to delivery thair digital photograph. I always delivered my film photographs in less than 2 days after shoot. If I shoot in the morning and I have the afternoon free, I will delivery the photos in that same day.

I spend with film negatives and chimical but I don't shoot like Rambo fighting alone in a war. Many people with digital are used to shoot like mad and among 1000 photos only 200 or less are actually saved. It is a really bad production fraction.

I don't spend time nor money buying several hard drives and back up my files every 5years, saving several copies. I am not worry about my camera get old, no worries about dead pixels, dust on the sensor, recharge baterries, I don't need spend a fortune to get a extreme sharp lens, I don't have to spend updating computer, photoshop, wtc.

And at the end I enjoy and have much more pleasure working with my negatives, looking the image born in the darkrook, which make me feel much more attached to my photographs, than spend my time in front of the computer for something that don't exist yet because the digital image doesn't actually exist before you have it printed. Before digital image is printed all you have are computer information. And I get a much higher visual impact and dynamic range with big film negatives than expensive full frame 35mm digital.

Of course the choose is opitional and it depends how you shoot and for what. But relearned photography, and I am still learning a lot after move to the film photography field and darkroom. And I have a lot more fun, better quality, spending less. :)


Posted by: Billy Griffis Jr on 12/11/2012 - 9:48 AM

I did a little looking around just out of curiosity and found I have to correct myself. Found Camerapedia not long ago, good resource.

I posted above that I thought Minolta had developed the first SLR, far from it. Pentax did in 1952, prototype developed in 1951. Minolta produced their first SLR in 1958, Nikon in 1959. Canon also in 1959. I went back and checked because I wasn't sure I remembered everything right from my first look at the site.

Also if you're wondering about the history of your digital camera, this is a good link. Turns out Apple developed the first actual digital camera, Quick Take 100 in 1994, followed by Kodak DC40 in 95. Kodak developed the world's first megapixel sensor, a whopping 1.4 in 1986.

interesting stuff

Had to post this, I hate it when I post misinformation...


Posted by: Paul Cowan on 12/11/2012 - 11:49 AM

The SLR goes back a lot longer than that - the Graflex Series D was an SLR and I think that was the camera used to take the photos of construction work at the top of the Empire State Building. There's a stunning series of shots on Flickr taken with a Graflex Series D that the owner thinks was made in 1915

Pentax probably made the first 35mm SLR.

And I just found this on Wikipedia, which pushes it back further than I would have dreamed:

Thomas Sutton (UK) received first patent for SLR photographic camera. An unknown number made but very few; no known production model; no known surviving examples. The manually levered reflex mirror also served as the camera's shutter. Used glass plates.[32][33][34]
Calvin Rae Smith Monocular Duplex (USA): first known production SLR. Used glass plates (original model 3¼×4¼ inch, later 4×5 inch); many were adapted to use Eastman sheet film. Large-format glass plate or sheet film SLRs were the dominant SLR type until circa 1915. However, SLRs themselves were not commonplace until the 1930s.[32][34][35][36] The Duplex's name was a reference to the SLR's one lens performing both viewing and imaging duties, in contrast to the two separate viewing and imaging lenses of the twin lens cameras (first production 1882 [Marion Academy; UK]; not necessarily twin-lens reflex [TLR] camera, invented 1880 [one-of-a-kind Whipple-Beck camera; UK]) popular in the 1880s and 90s.[37]
A. D. Loman Reflex Camera (Netherlands): first focal-plane shutter SLR. Had mirror rise synchronized with the release of a roller blind shutter, with speeds from ½ to 1/250 second, internally mounted in front of the focal plane, instead of the previously normal unsynchronized, external accessory in front of the lens.[38] An internal camera-mounted traveling-slit FP shutter's main advantage over the competing interlens leaf shutter was the ability to use a very narrow slit to offer up to an action stopping 1/1000 second shutter speed at a time when leaf shutters topped out at 1/250 sec. – although the available contemporaneous ISO 1 to 3 equivalent speed emulsions limited the opportunities to use the high speeds.[39]

Early 20th century

Folmer & Schwing Stereo Graflex (USA): first (and only) stereo SLR. Strictly speaking, the Stereo Graflex was not a “single”-lens reflex camera, because, as a stereo camera, it had two imaging lenses. However, it had a reflex mirror and a typical for the era leather “chimney”-hooded waist level finder, albeit with dual eyepiece magnifiers. It took 5×7 inch glass dry plates.[40]


Posted by: Billy Griffis Jr on 12/11/2012 - 11:45 PM

Paul - You are right, I didn't specify that it was the 35mm SLR Pentax pioneered rather than the SLR in general. I also didn't know they went that far back, or that Graflex even made cameras that long ago.

Here's a side trip that may be interesting, a photographer using colored filters made color pictures in Russia around 1910. And pretty impressive ones too.

That was posted on a photography forum I'm a member of a couple of months ago, I was amazed. I didn't know color was possible at all that long ago.

and this guy, I think the link may have been posted here, who does pencil drawings that look like photographs.



Posted by: Paul Cowan on 12/12/2012 - 5:15 AM

Prokuddin-Gorskii's work is absolutely fabulous. I love the way you can see the people who didn't sit still for all three shots, or where he kicked his tripod and one colour is shifted, or the impossibility of getting a running river with constantly shifting tones to come out right with this method. It's also fascinating to see the world as it was before the motor car and widespread industrialisation changed everything.

Actually, I might have a shot at that myself. I've got red, green and blue filters that fit one of my Crown Graphic lenses and I think it is probably easy to copy three images into three different colour channels in Photoshop and view the results.

I have trouble appreciating Paul Cadden's work, because Sheryl Luxenburg made me deeply suspicious of the hyper-realism movement - and even if it is all above-board, what is the point of mimicking a photo so exactly and spending months doing it, when you could just have a photo?


This discussion is closed.