Time to go full-frame?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by cherubinphotography, Nov 8, 2011.

  1. I currently shoot weddings with two Nikon D300 bodies and will soon need to replace/upgrade the bodies. My dilemma is that if I stay with the crop sensor I would rather not put the money into the D300S given that this model is near the end of its cycle. So, do I wait for the D400 (or whatever it will be called), or change over to a full-frame model now? Am I wasting my time to even consider sticking with a crop body? And, if I do go full-frame, what model would you recommend?
  2. Do you have many lenses that only work on a crop sensor? If so, you will have to factor in the cost of buying new lenses.
    When thinking about that, think whether you will sell the old ones or keep them in the bag for when you use the old
    cropped sensor as a back up.
  3. As Vail says, the decision is multifaceted. Essentially, you are considering doing a dual format kit (unless you'd also be doing a FF for your backup), which certainly has it's benefits, but comes at a cost - it requires an additional level of thought in both planning and implementation (on site). Since it not only will affect IQ (esp. at higher ISOs), but also eff. focal length, and flash effectiveness, sometimes (in fact often, when it comes to weddings) simplicity is the better choice.
    I would carefully consider ALL these aspects, as well as honestly appraise your current skill level, and ability to cope with the additional mental demands on site before making the jump to a dual format kit. If you don't feel a pressing need for it, you probably don't want the headache involved in it.
  4. I shoot weddings with a combo of DX and FX bodies. I find that having a DX camera in my arsenal is great coupled with a 'standard' 70-200mm for ceremonies, and for candids during the cocktail hour.
    I generally try to stay as unobtrusive as possible, and the longer reach of a DX camera coupled with a long traditional telephoto lens allows this.
  5. Thank you for the responses. I was leaning towards changing out both bodies but Alex reminded me of the longer reach advantage of the DX. From an image quality standpoint, is the FX that much of an advantage?
  6. At this point it is rather hard to speculate anyway. With the issues in both Japan and Thailand, coming by a FX sensor Nikon is difficult to do. And if you think a D300s is at the end of it's life cycle, then surely the D700 (which is older) is well past it's life cycle. In terms of which full frame body to get, in Nikon terms you have the D700 (which again, everyone expects to be replaced before the D300s gets replaced) or the D3s. Currently $2700 and $5200 respectively, at B&H and "temporarily unavailable". So price might make your decision. There is also D3x but, IMHO, that camera is more suited for studio work than wedding work. As to whether you should go full frame, or dual system with both FX and DX bodies, I would prefer full frame myself... and this is coming from someone who currently shoots FX format.
  7. From an image quality standpoint, is the FX that much of an advantage?​
    For me, the main reason I want to switch to FX is the bokeh. I like shooting primes. One prime i like to use is my 180mm f/2.8. I like the 180mm because I get a creamy background even when using something like f/8. The drawback to the 180mm on DX is that I get a FOV of 270mm... in other words, I have to back up quite aways in order to frame a shot. If I were shooting full frame, I could be much closer using the same lens AND my bokeh would be even creamier. I don't know if that fall under "image quality"? The other advantage is that a DX sensor will do much better in low light. I have seen reception images with a D700 shot @ ISO 6400 and it gives me ISO envy. But if we are just gauging overall image quality via the final print, I think most brides would be hard pressed to see any difference. In terms of the advantage of the DX format having a longer reach, about the only time I need a longer reach is when I am in a church balcony and can't move. What I am looking for is the effect of the longer lens (the bokeh) without having to back up as much as I do now.
  8. Thank you John. You confirmed my thoughts and that my choice may come down to what I am willing to afford.
  9. Vail, you are correct. I have considered the lens updates as well. I currently carry a Nikon 35 1.8, a Nikon 50 1.8, a Nikon 17-55 2.8, and a Sigma 50-150 2.8. I will need to replace glass too.
  10. and this is coming from someone who currently shoots FX format.​
    Correction, I currently shoot DX and want to shoot FX.
  11. If you don't know why you would want to go full frame, you don't need to go full frame. It comes down to having a priority list re deciding upon camera platform, and knowing where full frame is, in that list.
  12. I appreciate that Nadine but my original questions were based on a need to replace the bodies. If I am going through the effort of updating then should I just take the opportunity to go to FX? I was asking if, as a wedding photographer, I would be better served using FX over DX....Assuming that I want to pay for the difference that is... :)
  13. And thankyou Nadine! I enjoy and respect your input in this forum. Unless someone has a "you're crazy for not using FX" statement then I will save my pennies and stick with DX.
  14. Go FX...you will not regret it. I moved from d300 to d700 and am thrilled.
  15. I was asking if, as a wedding photographer, I would be better served using FX over DX....​
    I hope I didn't come across as flippant, since I was deadly serious. The fact that you are asking the question above is telling. The question is basically unanswerable, except by you. Do you want to go full frame? Because a wedding photographer can serve his clients well with either and/or both.
    So answering the 'want to' question--if yes, got for it--if no, keep to cropped sensor. Do you have any kind of preference?
  16. My only preference is to produce the best image quality I can (without going broke). Only I can decide if the cost is worth it but I may be willing to invest more if the difference would blow me away. I believe you have enlightened me, Nadine, in that I do want to go full frame. Maybe I should have attacked this from more a technical perspective.... ie. What technical advantages will full frame give me when shooting weddings and, am I a fool for not going that route?
    I have been considering "upgrading" to full frame and was at an event this passed weekend where a fellow photographer said she could never shoot weddings with cropped sensor cameras... I suppose I am wondering how many others would agree with her statement.
    No matter. I appreciate the input from everyone. Thank you all.
  17. May I suggest that you rent a D700? Shoot something less risky than a wedding--like a portrait or something. Evaluate the experience and the files. Then you'll know.
  18. Christopher, I am a canon user, not Nikon, so I can't speak to the differences in the specific models, but I would say this,
    usually things cost more for a reason, particularly if it is within the same brand. Would I say the d700 is better than the
    5dmkii because it is $100 or so more expensive, no. And no I am not saying the 5dmkii is better than the d700. But when
    the d7000 is over $1000 less than the d700 that would make me stop and think. Plenty of pros shoot on crop systems
    these days and do great with them. The noise level has gone down tons. If you did a side by side comparison of images
    taken in very low light without the ability to use flash, the full frame sensor is likely going to perform better. Is the crop
    sensor image acceptable? if it is a pro body, then it is likely just fine, especially with the help of some good noise removal
    software. So do you tend to shoot in tons of dark churches? Have you been disappointed with the performance of your
    old rig in ways that switching to a full frame would help? Do you like to use lenses that give you a lot of distortion when
    you shoot wide? Do you want to have a wider array of lenses that were made specifically for your sensor size? Does the
    crop factor ever bother you, making you artificially closer than the lens should dictate? If the answer to all these are no,
    then sticking with a crop sensor is likely a great option for you. Nadine's idea of you renting a full frame and playing with it
    is the very best idea, unless you have photographer friends who would lend ou theirs for free ;). Nothing is as great as try
    before you buy. My theory is that if you are a photographer worth your salt and you aren't in super low light conditions,
    you should be able to shoot on a Nikon 3100 even or a canon rebel, have good glass, and have a good speedlite and still
    make things turn out well. But if you are doing this as your profession, you should be working with professional grade
    tools, and so have a professional grade camera body. For now, crop sensors still seem perfectly acceptable for
    professional wedding photographers to use. Will that change over the next five years, who knows, but by then you'll be
    ready to get a whole new rig. :)
  19. If you deside to do full frame get the dual card slots and perhaps the video. Video is coming in strongly. A lot of cameras now offer video. I'm not a Nikon shooter, but one of the top Canons, 10 frames a second offeres video. The 1D mark 3. I'm pretty sure the 1Ds mark 3 will be replaced with video most likely in 2011, for sure in 2012.

    Usually by March or so in 2011 the new models will be announce.

    There aren't too many weddings between now and March so I'd wait and see what Nikon is up to. Then decide. Weddings pick up a lot starting in May.

    I know waiting to buy a new camera is really hard! In your case, since you want the top camera, perhaps wait a few months.
  20. But when the d7000 is over $1000 less than the d700 that would make me stop and think.
    The D7000 is nothing like the D700 in low light. The autofocus of the D7000 isn't as reliable especially when working with fast primes, and I would personally not use the D7000 above about ISO 400 or 640. (I sold my D7000 and kept D700 and D3). The D7000 also has a mode dial which is easily nudged into the wrong position inadvertently, leading to lost images until you realize what happened.
    I'm not saying you cannot make a crop body work in weddings - of course it can be done, especially if you're master with flash. But the cost difference between these two bodies is quite small compared to the rather substantial advantage that the D700 offers in this type of work, meaning the indoor part of weddings and other indoor events. (For outdoor formals and studio the D7000 can be even better than the D700, but IMO the most important part is not what is your best picture but a consistent set of quality pictures across the whole event.)
    My recommendation is either D3s or D700 depending on budget. You can work with two formats if you like; I prefer having 2-3 bodies of the same format so lenses act the same on backup and primary and the image quality is close to the same so the pictures have be presented together without extra burden of trying to match different cameras in post.
  21. When I said that would make me stop and think, I should have clarified and said that the d700 likely then performs noticeably better. Sounds like Ilkka has confirmed that for you.
  22. Crop frame cameras do NOT have more reach when using lenses that work on both formats like a 70-200, which is a common misconception.
    In the case of Nikon, the effect is the same as cropping a FF file by 1.5X. You can crop a FX file for more reach, but you can't add a wider view to a DX file.
    DX cameras tend to be less expensive because the sensor is smaller ... with the draw back that the viewfinder view is also smaller/dimmer.
    Many FX cameras automatically switch to DX crop when a DX lens is mounted. So you don't HAVE to eliminate all DX lenses right away.
    There are a couple of routes to take when exploring FX choices ... wait and see what gets announced this winter (although Nikon is notorious for slow delivery of announced items) ...
    OR, seek a low-use used camera ... many well-off enthusiasts barely break-in a camera before moving on to something new. Lots of low use Nikon D3 becoming available because of the D3s ... the D3 is an amazing piece of engineering that is extremely relevant to wedding photographers ... great lower light machine with dual CF cards and incredible AF speed and accuracy. Built like a Abrams tank.
  23. Chris,
    The advantage of FX is a larger sensor which means:
    • 1 stop narrow depth-of-field
    • 1 stop better low light capability
    The disadvantages are
    • cost (substantial)
    • size and weight (doesn't bother me at all)
    Given you already have 2 great DX bodies and a good set of DX lenses, you would have to pay not just the incremental cost to upgrade but also the replacement cost. DX is very, very capable, particularly with a great setup like you have. IMO, it would be unwise swap it out for FX.
    I'd be additionally reluctant to upgrade now given that new bodies are overdue. With the D7000, Nikon has demonstrated they can improve sensor performance by 1 or 2 stops vs. the D300/D90. That makes me think they can do the same thing for the postulated D300 replacement and the postulated D700 and D3 replacements.
    Furthermore, since Canon has announced their new FX body, Nikon is under competitive pressure to respond. With the operational challenges they have in Thailand and have had in Sendai, they have to prioritize resources. With the D7000 already out and Canon having announced their pro body, my guess would be that Nikon would announce a D3 replacement first.
    If you've got a church wedding where low-light performance is critical, I'd go rent a D700 + 70-200. Otherwise, I'd sit tight on equipment for now.
  24. Alan, which canon are you talking about? The one in this announcement?
    http://www.canon.com/news/2011/nov04e04.html This just seems like a prototype to me.
  25. Not that one Vail. I think Allen means the recently announced Canon EOS-1D X ... a new 18 meg FF sensor DSLR with dual CF slots, 50 to 51200 ISO 61 AF points, and up to 12 fps.
    Sounds fantastic to me.
  26. Full frame is most definitely better than crop frame... but in your case I would probably buy a used D300 or D300s to use in the meantime. This isn't the kind of decision you want to make with your back to the wall, especially since going full frame would me revising nearly your entire lens library. It also gives you some time to see where Nikon is going in the next 4 months or so.
    I disagree with Ikka. While I agree that my D7000 will sometimes miss autofocus in low light with some lenses, I use it at ISO 1600 without hesitation, and up to ISO 3200 if I think it won't be blown up or if I can go black and white.
  27. Keep in mind that the 700 is next to impossible to find right now due to shortages.
  28. A little late to the party here, but I thought about this a year ago. I now have a couple aging D300's and a couple D300s'. But they all sit idle now as I am using the D7k's for most everything. I rarely pull out the D700 either now.
    Horses for courses, but I love the D7k's.
    If you go FF, wait for the D800. It's almost here now.

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