Full Frame vs DX Format for hand held sharpness

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by allen_staley, May 26, 2008.

  1. Since I switched from film to digital I have noticed that I can't hand hold as many
    shots as I did with film and I attribute that to the crop factor in the dx format is this
    true? I find myself using the tripod more frequently due to camera shake. I have
    been using dslrs for 4yrs now.

    Staley Photography
  2. pge


    maybe you are getting older, it happens to the best of us.
  3. SCL


    I don't believe the crop factor has anything to do with your ability to hand hold shots. You probably are either experiencing some time lag in shutter actuation during which you have involuntary muscle movements, or perhaps you're just not as steady at holding the camera as you were before. I found, when I began using digital, that I had to get accustomed to a heavier weight package than I had with film. A little experimentation with different ergonomics and a little more arm strengthening exercises solved my problems. Hopefully your issue will self correct shortly.
  4. Allen, don't worry it has nothing to do with age. In fact you're right with your observations. A DX photograph is being scaled up 1,5 times more than a film photo. In the same scale motion blur caused by camera shake gets magnified.

    The old rule, a good minimum speed for handhold photos is not 1/focal length, instead it should be 1/(1,5 * focal length) - or similar.
  5. Moritz is right, of course, if you are comparing 50mm shots on film with 50mm shots on digital. If you are comparing shots with roughly equivalent angles of view (say a 35mm lens on digital and a 50mm lens on film) then there shouldn't be much difference at all.

    However, I might posit that you rarely looked at all your film shots at the equivalent of 100% magnification of a digital shot. Try printing some shots you find slightly soft at 4x6 size and see if you really feel they are less sharp than older film images you still have. I suspect much of your complaint is that you are looking at the equivalent of 8x10 (or larger) enlargements and comparing that to older film shots that are much smaller.
  6. Thank you all for your imput and I agree with Moritz and Ian as to what I suspected was true with the 1.5 crop factor. I will try to print some and compare them with my printed film pictures at 4x6. I would like to try the comparison with the equivalent lenes of the film and digital side by side of the same subject just for curiousity but I haven't a dinasour left in the house :).
  7. To take this to it's extreme, compare a 135 mm shot on a 4 x 5 camera to one of the same focal length on a 1.5 crop digital. On the 4 x 5 it's a wide angle, while on the digital it would be a medium telephoto. Big difference in shutter speed needed to handhold. The full -frame digital to 1.5 crop won't be as dramatic a difference, but it will be there.
  8. pge


    I have thought about this more and I disagree with the crop factor people.

    Shooting with a 50mm lens on a 1.5x crop factor dslr is not like shooting with a 75mm lens with film, it is like cropping off the outside portion of your film photo. There is no reason that the center rectangle of a photo would have more motion blur than the outside.
  9. "A DX photograph is being scaled up 1,5 times more than a film photo. "

    But if you are using something like a Nikon D3, the crop factor is applied with a DX lens in the body and when a non-DX lens is mounted....everything remains the same in the center portion of the frame. Only more area on the sides is captured on the sensor. Any lens below 135mm should not contribute greatly to a blurry image unless you induce some camera shake with the shutter release. This is not a pure-science answer....
  10. Don't neglect the degree to which the design of the camera affects camera shake; I get the
    distinct, though un-scientifically tested, impression that the camera induced(shutter + mirror)
    motion on my D3's is less than either the D2Xs or D200 that I had previously. It's extremely
    well-damped, IMO.
  11. Phil, the motion blur is a product of magnifying that center rectangle by a greater amount in order to produce a specific print size. So, in one way crop factor does have an effect. However if you crop a 35mm frame by the same amount and then make a print, you'll see identical results.

    I think a larger part of this issue is that it is now so easy to look at an image at a very high magnification. So we now see a lot of posts complaining about soft images and too much noise. BTW, there is a pretty simple method for determining the equivalent print size of a 100% zoom. Take the horizontal resolution of the camera and divide it by the horizontal resolution of the screen display. Then take a tape measure and measure the horiztonal display are of the monitor. Multiply that measurement by the previous product and you now have the horizontal measurement for the image size, which you can then divide by 1.5 to get the vertical dimension. Anyone who takes the time to do this will find that they are probably looking at an image size equivalent to 20 x 30 inches or larger. With some monitors, much larger. So, it's no wonder that they are seeing things they never was in a 4 x 6 inch print.
  12. Camera shake certainly can be attributed to shutter speed and focal length combinations .. short of using a tripod on most of your shots .. consider the weight and balance of your camera. I used to despise a heavy camera, passed on using the Nikon F5 for many years .. too damn heavy .. I've changed my opinion .. the balanced weight of the F5 has given me better shots than my other hand-held camera because it has, for me, the perfect grip, balance and stability .. I frame more accurately and hold composition better.

    I tried a D40 .. small, leight weight .. good pictures .. but could not hold it steady with the kit lens .. I use a D200 with double-battery grip which is okay, but not as good as my Nikon F5.

    Other things that affect this of course would be your comfort holding the camera .. and carrying it in the non-shooting position. But weight is not a bad thing when you're really shooting .. it is an advantage.

    In strong winds I have had trouble hand-holding my Nikon F100 and D200; and when it is cold and raining ... or I'm tired, I notice I shake a little bit. Of course that argument is not valid with my RB67 which causes me to shake after hand-carring for 2-3 hours .. but the weight of the F5 I can easily tolerate for all day shooting and consider picture quality better than my D200.
  13. You did not say which film camera you're coming from .. but try to find a camera with a similar weight and see if that is the real answer .. I don't think the other things mentioned above are as important as this .. surely you can adopt to using newer digital cameras and compensating for shutter lag, etc. .. but in the end, it's all about framing, composition holding and execution, not about full-frame vs. Dx.
  14. I noticed a reduction in shake at low speeds when I moved from my F and F2 to a D200.
  15. Motion blur is caused by motion of the camera or the subject during the exposure. If you are shooting with a DX camera and want the same FOV you are going to use a wider lens (shorter focal length) that in turn provides LESS image magnification. On a 35mm camera a 100mm lens provides roughly 2x image magnification. If to get the same FOV on a DX camera one uses a 70mm zoom setting, there is going to be 80% less image magnification at the time the image is shot. Enlarging the image to create a 8x10 just reverses the process so the overall magnification becomes the same.

    What is different from camera to camera is the shutter release mechanisms and the mirror dampening and the mass of the camera. I can hand hold a D2X or D3 at a slower shutter speed with the same lens than I can with a D200 just by virtue of the greater mass of the camera which dampens the mirror motion. This is one of the benefits of a battery pack grip on cameras like the D200 where the extra weight also adds dampening mass for slower shutter speeds.

    Back to shooting a 85mm lens on a DX camera that provides a FOV equivalent to a 130mm lens on a 1.5 crop camera. The magnification does not change due to the restricted FOV. And if to obtain a 85mm FOV on a DX camera one uses a zoom lens set at 58mm the zoom will provide less image magnification and greater DOF and make use of the center of the lens' elements all of which contribute positively to image quality.

    I see a lot of motion blur in wedding photography where people are shooting in circumstances with digital cameras that would not have been attempted with film cameras, and yet where high ISO noise considerations dominate and so slower than advisable shutter speeds are used. Or a VR lens is used and a much slower shutter speed is considered OK without considering subject motion blur which can be often evident in shutter speeds below 1/80th regardless of the lens or camera used.

    There is the old rule of thumb about using the reciprocal of the focal length for 35mm cameras. There is also the old recommendation to avoid shutter speeds in the vicinity of 1/8 to 1/15th where mirror slap vibrations are most evident. At slower shutter speeds the portion of the exposure that occurs while the mirror has caused the camera and lens to vibrate is a smaller portion of the overall exposure.

    With digital cameras and free film there is a greater tendency to shotgun pictures and with faster picture taking there is less care in holding the camera properly, bracing it and standing in a manner that minimizes camera movement during the shot. Not always possible, but at the same time it is easy to get sloppy (myself included) and not exercise proper technique. Using the faster shutter speeds is a good crutch but it will also encourage bad technique that can nip one in the butt from time to time.
  16. Nope, the camera is the same size, if you can handhold a full frame 35mm body steady, you can a digital body. If this is a real problem, make sure you are using lenses with VR turned on. Helps me.
  17. I'm with Phil,

    >Shooting with a 50mm lens on a 1.5x crop factor dslr is not like shooting with a 75mm lens with film, it is like cropping off the outside portion of your film photo. There is no reason that the center rectangle of a photo would have more motion blur than the outside.<

    Scott wrote:

    >Phil, the motion blur is a product of magnifying that center rectangle by a greater amount in order to produce a specific print size.<

    True, but the OP indicates he's never made a comparison at the same print size between his film and digital camera. His assertion, therefore, about motion blur is therefore subjective (whether or not true).
  18. Boy, you guys are serious about this little proposal I have submitted. Let me fill you in on my photo experiences. I first started with a manual Pentax k1000 then to Nikon FG then to Minolta Max 5 these were all film then I went to digital point & shoots Fuji S7000 then to Canon 20D and XT (bad back focus experiences with both those) so then I wen to Nikon D80 and haven't looked back. But ever since I went from film to digital I had some problems hand holding the digitals (I think some of it attributed to the point & shoot shooting from the electronic viewfinder) but since I switch to the dslr I still had some problems with this I mostly shoot with a tripod to remedy this. I was shooting macros with the film cameras with 70-300mm lenses then switched to digital with the same focal lenses which gave me a 480mm pic on the 1.6 crop factor with the Canon 20D. I was hand holding the 300mm lenses with sharp 4x6s at 1/60th shutter speeds but I have to go up to 125-250 with the digital to get sharp pics.
    I don't think there is much difference in the weight of Minolta Max 5 than the Nikon D80 in fact I believe the D80 might be slightly heavier with the 18-135mm Nikon lens.
    I guess I need to do some more test shots and some print comparisons.
  19. I would love to shot with some primes but my buget just won't allow me to buy one right now. I shoot mostly portraiture and most of my profit now is tied up in my studio payments until I can increase my sales and get my studio paid for I will have to use what I have for now.
    Does anyone know of a reasonable place to rent a prime lens so I can test one before I buy?
  20. Surely you can afford a Nikkor AFD 50mm 1:1.8, which is an appropriate
    focal length for portraits on a D80? Or you can pick up an old Nikon Series E
    50mm 1:1.8 for maybe $25...
  21. Yes you are right I can afford 25 bucks but I have yet to find one for that price. I will check ebay now for one.
  22. When I switched over from film to a dslr I was always at first almost crying (yes I'm a woman). But somewhere in there I realized that I was looking at the shots much larger than I've ever printed a film shot ever. That made me think twice... Once I made some adjustments with lenses & rethought what I was looking at - - I realized things are pretty much the same.

    Lil :)
  23. here are few shots I took sat. with D300(DX) with 80-200mm 2.8 AFS handhealded..





  24. Nice shots Juanjo. Now everyone is saying that in digital on the screen I'm looking at them at 100% but when I bring these photos up in p/s and click fit to screen on a 17in. monitor most of the time p/s says about 33%. Now with the D80 and pic size set to large what print size would that be equivalent to?
  25. A 4x6 print does not tell you as much as you think. I suspect you are pixel peeping with the DSLR which is not a fair comparison to a 4x6 print. On the other hand if you are comparing a 4x6 print from film to a 4x6 print from a DSLR made by Walmart or even made on a reasonable home printer then what you may in fact be seeing is simply loss of resolution rather than handheld movement. Traditional prints from excellent films are still superior to most prints from the more common DSLRs (ie. under 12 MP).
  26. What I am comparing to is a 4x6 wal-mart print from kodak 400 speed and fuji 400 bought from wal-mart vs Nikon D80 printed at wal-mart.
  27. Radford,
    I did find a Nikon Series E 50mm 1:1.8 on Ebay but will it mount to my D80 and what will and will not be functional on my D80 if it will mount? I know it will be manual focus but will the metering work?
  28. Nikon Series E lenses are AIS lenses, and will mount and work on any
    Nikon SLR or DSLR from 1959.

    On a D80, a Nikon Series E lens will not meter. But for portraits, I'd think
    you would usually have plenty of time to adjust based on the histogram (and
    lighting wouldn't change much). If you're using flash, you again could adjust
    manually, or use non-TTL auto if you have a flash that does that (most old
    ones do, plus I think the SB-800).

    Maybe not ideal, but I've gotten some nice portrait shots with the
    Series E 50mm and a D50.

    Of course, some of the old Series E lenses will have been abused. That's
    always a problem with ebay. But if it's in good condition, image
    quality will be excellent.
  29. Thanks Radford, I placed a bid on this one. I will be using it in the studio for portraits and just to play with to see if I like the effect and sharpness of a prime. I use studio strobes in the studio and rarely ever use flash for portraits outside as I believe natural lighting is supurb. But if I ever use flash I use a manual vivitar 285 for weddings and indoors other than in my studio.
    Thanks again everybody for you help and advice.
  30. I don't believe it has anything to do with 'digital' other than the fact you are now viewing giant images from 5" away. I had a shoot the other night in a VERY dark auditorium. I was handholding 1/50 @ 200mm (no IS) and was able to get about 75% without any camera shake. It's all technique.

    Also, great shots Juanjo! I used to race downhill mtb when I lived in BC.. it's a great sport to watch or to participate in.

Share This Page