Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2008/12/07

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Subject: [Leica] Bad news at Leica - FF or crop survey
From: jbm at (Jeff Moore)
Date: Sun Dec 7 15:01:17 2008
References: <> <>

2008-12-07-03:35:19 Mark Rabiner:
> Of the vast majority of us who are getting most of our shots with DSLR's 
> how
> many of use are FF's and how many of us are croppers?

I'm not sure I entirely understand -- when you say DSLR, are you being
literal, and thus excluding a DRF like the M8?

Because...  when I was dragged kicking and screaming into the digital
age, I started using a Canon 10D.

I hated it -- about 80% because it was an SLR, and I just don't
generally like SLRs.  I'd already established that given the way I like
to work, I'm "rangefinder people", and will only reach for an SLR if I
really need its strengths (super-long lenses, really close-up
photography, exceedingly precise formal composition, an exact view of
objects' relationships through some really wide lens).  And I hardly
ever need those strengths.

And the other 20% of why I chafed with that early Canon DSLR had to do
with a combination of the "look" of Canon glass, the slowness of certain
operations, and the weird extra-tunnel-visiony characteristics of the
cropped-seeming field of view, and, yes, the difference in "looks"
between how lenses image on the smaller-than-35mm sensor and on 35mm
film.  But that was a tiny percentage of my discontent, and really not
worth basing a buying decision on.

Now: I use a M8 for...  at least 95% of all photos I make these days.
Yes, the sensor is a different size from the imaging area of a frame of
135 film.  So?  I just don't get the obsession with making one's digital
camera adhere to that arbitrary historical convention.  If a later DRF
came out whose sensor were the size of that old piece of film, would I
want to buy one?  Sure, if it offered an overall set of advantages which
seemed valuable to me -- advantages like lower noise, or better
resolution and/or dynamics without an increase in noise or weird corner
problems.  But that mystical and arbitrary characteristic known as
"full-frame-ness" is meaningless.

Having said that -- the DSLR I reach for for many of those 5% of
pictures I don't use the M8 for -- the ones I'm not using a silly
tiny-sensor point-and-shoot for -- is a Canon 5D.  Yes, its sensor is
35mm-esque "full-frame".  It has advantages for me relative to the
smaller-sensor Canon DSLRs which were available at the time (including
lower noise at highish ISOs, usefulness of Canon lenses I like better at
particular image-inclusion angles [the latter the main "full-frame"
argument: at roughly comparable fields of view, I vastly prefer the
Canon 35/1.4L to the 24/1.4L], and a real biggie for me: just how nice
the view is through the eyehole.)  The smaller-sensor Canon DSLRs have
an annoyingly narrow view through the eyehole relative to the
larger-sensor ones.  It seems as if they use the same viewfinder
magnification and just crop the visible area.  Since one of my primary
problems with using an SLR is the suffocating sense of visual
claustrophobia I feel looking through a camera and seeing nothing but
the image area, smaller-sensor cameras which increase that perception
are that much worse.

Now, I'm not claiming that cameras with different sensor sizes make
pictures which look the same as each other when taking in the same field
of view.  But there are all sorts of things which make pictures from
different cameras look different from each other.  You just have to look
at the system as a whole, and figure out what will work for you.  But
an obsession with "full-frame"-ness as the primary measure of whether a
camera is worthy -- almost always from people who've never spent a week
just working with an M8 but are glad to theorize -- bugs me.


In reply to: Message from mark at (Mark Rabiner) ([Leica] Bad news at Leica)
Message from mark at (Mark Rabiner) ([Leica] Bad news at Leica - FF or crop survey)