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FULL FRAME or SUPER 35 - What do you prefer and why?


lafilm
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Hey Ebrahim- I've wondered what the FF look was ever since getting a Canon 5D Mark II when it was launched (after seeing Vincent Laforet's "Reverie"). When the 5D3 was released, I bought two and sold the 5D2. When the FS700 came out, I didn't pay much attention, but when the Speedbooster was released, I bought the FS700+SB.  When the GH4 was released, I didn't really consider it until I realized I could get equivalent looks with fast native lenses on m43 after learning about the math and physics of equivalence. When the A7S was released with low light performance and being able to shoot with my existing Canon and Sony lens collections, along with decent color potential (with some work), and much smaller file sizes and effort vs. 5D3 RAW, it was a good deal.

After shooting with all these cameras and understanding the math, it's clear the "full frame look" is a myth, an illusion. Full frame provides affordable options, better low light, and higher potential resolution, but it's not really a significant difference on a camera like the A7S.

Here's the Nikon D810 again, shooting the same scene with almost the correct settings for equivalence (aperture should have been F4 on FF shot + different ISO):

Even when not set exactly right for equivalence- where is the full frame magic? A slight difference in DOF, which can be matched by setting the FF shot to F4. As leeys noted, most people won't notice the difference in this example (which again isn't equivalent).

So here's the challenge: you own or have access to the A7S? Shoot a still in APS-C crop mode with good shallow DOF. Then turn APS-C mode off and use the equivalence math: multiply focal length by 1.5, aperture by 1.5, and ISO by (1.5*1.5), then shoot the scene again and post the results. If there's a difference it will be undeniable in the photo(s).

Hey Simon- randomly ran across a solution for the F5: http://www.adorama.com/KABEFZEOS.html . Wasn't looking for it- google's ad technology surfaced the link! This means your T1.5/F1.4 24mm lens can look equivalent on your A7S and the F5 (very close: 1.05 crop).

This challenge can be done with any full frame camera (shooting a still), even it if doesn't have a crop mode. Follow the math for equivalence, then crop the "1.5 crop mode" settings shots in post, and downscale the FF version to match resolution. You can blur the FF version to perhaps help reduce sharpness to match frames better. Other than sharpness, both cases should look equivalent. If one isn't convinced by the above photo, doing the test yourself is the best way to find the truth, whichever way it leads.

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But what about an 85mm 1.4/1.2 (very popular lens amound full frame shooters). This is where fullframe has a look, one that can't be had with s35 in real world shooting/products. There aren't 50mm 0.9 lenses out there, so that's a look locked for FF shooters. Also the 50mm 1.4/1.2, very popular FF lens and look. Howa about 35mm 1.4, or 25mm 1.4, or 16mm 2.8, all unique popular FF looks. These lenses are avilable, cheap and of high quality, which don't exist in s35 and when they do they are much more expensive and of lesser optical quality. 

​Which is why so many full frame enthusiasts shoot very small, stationary objects?

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Hey Simon- randomly ran across a solution for the F5: http://www.adorama.com/KABEFZEOS.html . Wasn't looking for it- google's ad technology surfaced the link! This means your T1.5/F1.4 24mm lens can look equivalent on your A7S and the F5 (very close: 1.05 crop).

Thanks for the link but I'll keep the $1500 :)  I'm not keen on adding more adaptors than absolutely necessary as they can add chromatic aberration, softness etc.

The comparison shots of the woman  are a bit misleading because the majority of the background being the cityscape is so far away its going to have much the same blur no matter what its shot on. The railing thats closer the difference is more apparent.

I agree with what your saying but I love my A7s more than my F5. I can't believe I would ever say that after 18 months with the F5 and about 8 months with the A7s. 

Friday I had a shoot in the city and I'd lent out the A7s and I remember thinking "I'll have to use the F5"  Have to!! as if its a sad thing to have to use the F5.. How interesting is that. To me the F5 was about the most perfect camera I could imagine and bam along comes this little A7s and the F5 gets left behind.  Its not full frame vs super 35 why I like the A7s. Its the speed I can work with it. How customisable its menus, buttons and the function page are. How small it is. How well the Shogun works with it. And how beautiful its photos are. How I can remove it from its cage, put a 20mm pancake lens on it and slip it in my pocket. How accessible the SD cards are compared to SXS.  The F5 is technically better (although visually indifferent to me) but the A7s is more fun to use. Faster, less menus to dig through to change anything.

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"full frame look" is a myth, an illusion.

​70mm iMax film format is an illusion as well....... I'd love to see the equivalent lens of Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 in S35 format....

 

At the end S35 has been standard for many years and FF is more for photography, Imax will always be there and Alexa now has their 70mm as well. Common sense would tell you there's a difference between sensor size of cameras, how it gathers light and how focal lengths react. 

Peace

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Bigger formtas are totally useless, specially medium format. Don't buy any lenses for it, its totally crap, expensive and complicated. Largeformat cameras are only sold to rich people and fashion photographers who need to appear professional with big cameras. The obvious differences you can see in comparisons between different formats are only in our minds.

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Bigger formtas are totally useless, specially medium format. Don't buy any lenses for it, its totally crap, expensive and complicated. Largeformat cameras are only sold to rich people and fashion photographers who need to appear professional with big cameras. The obvious differences you can see in comparisons between different formats are only in our minds.

​Most medium format cameras, digital backs and lenses are designed by and sold to people while they are drunk.  If sober, they'd just go for aps-c and not spend £20k on digital backs.  :).

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​Which is why so many full frame enthusiasts shoot very small, stationary objects?

​Bingo.

The full frame DOF at f1.2 on an 85mm is so insanely thin as to be impractical for recording objects in motion. Sure, it's nice to have the option available, but the applications of that 'full frame look' are so niche, I don't think it should be a major consideration for the majority of video shooters.

Stils are another story.

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Full frame, 85mm f1.4 planar, @f2.8 - 2mtrs/8foot

16424376458_b6d2123371_o.jpg

 

APS-C/S35, 50mm f1.4 planar, @f1.4 - 2mtrs/8foot

15989394074_a38f466dfa_o.jpg

 

As anyone who knows lenses knows, there ain't much better than a 50mm contax/planar for sharpness wide open.  assuming this was a medium/close shot requiring a human face to separate from the background, I know which I'd choose for the money shot!

It's not all about wafer thin dof, a longer lens at a distance is better at obtaining separation between in and out of focus areas of the frame.  FACT.  If you don't value this attribte it's fine, but please don;t make the assumption that full frame doesnt have a creative and drastic technical advantage when dof control and sharpness are of utmost importance.

 

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I disagree with people claiming fullframe wide open is unusable. I used the 200mm f2.8 on a dialogue scene on a 5d wide open and the shots came out beautiful. With a smaller sensor? They still would've been good, but they wouldn't have had the magic where our characters were completely alone in a crowded environment. And their faces looked good. 

 

Fray_V13.10_04_44_15.Still002.jpg

Fray_V13.10_04_57_00.Still003.jpg

Fray_V13.10_05_54_21.Still004.jpg

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I disagree with people claiming fullframe wide open is unusable. I used the 200mm f2.8 on a dialogue scene on a 5d wide open and the shots came out beautiful. With a smaller sensor? They still would've been good, but they wouldn't have had the magic where our characters were completely alone in a crowded environment. And their faces looked good. 

​exactly!  

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I wasn't saying it was unusable, quite the opposite, but I was pointing out the drastic limitation of a shallow depth of field, thus the naievity of justifying larger sensor sizes by that alone. Unless you are a focusing savant, and they do exist, your subject will be rather stationary in the frame, especially if it is a human face and unless you like the effect of part of peoples faces/the thing that is the subject of your shot being out of focus, which personally gives me a headache, then you are going to be shooting small (depth wise) flat or very far away objects. Yes a human face side on at the end of a 200mm length filling less than a quarter of the screen is small.

That's not a criticism. Your scene was gorgeous.

But try watching something that makes you desperate to pick up your camera, the thing you turn to for inspiration. You will find a variety of shots, 95% of which are equally as easy to achieve on any sensor size, from iphone through to 70mm +, and you may find those other 5% of shots are in fact easier to achieve on a smaller sensor, depending on the style of the artist.

FYI, my vote is for full frame, but the reason is perhaps surprising.

It is the budget option.

I know, I know, full frame cameras are very expensive when compared to crop frame cameras, but this is a genius of marketing over the consumers willingness to understand the product. If I want to achieve a specific look, it is almost certainly cheaper to achieve that look on a full frame sensor than a crop frame, because lens manufacturers lie when it comes to f numbers. They give the rating for the light gathered by a full frame camera, even on lenses designed only for crop frames. And because the consumer is either unwilling to do the simple maths - full open light gathered = diameter of lens opening/focal length or is willing to believe that their favourite lens manufacturer can somehow bend light into the front of their lens with magic. Thus that $1000 beautiful quality lens is not and f2.0 wide open, it's more like f4.

Go look up the price for that lens that can cover a full frame, with the correct f number and see just how many hundreds of $ you can save to get a similar lens. Then work out how many lenses you need to buy before it would have been cheaper to go full frame from the beginning.  With products like the A7s, it's getting close to 1 lens.

The real kicker is that if you leave the crop frame system to go full frame, your lovely, overpriced lenses won't cover the sensor. So you have to hand over more $ to the scum who lied in the marketing material in the first place.

It's important to note, not every company does this all the time, but every company has done this at one time or another.

Of course, in the real world, you aspire to have a variety of cameras with a variety of sensor sizes and technologies. Then, no matter the look you are after, you can choose the tool that will achieve it the easiest. Because that's all sensor size is, a tool. I find internet discussions on the merits of claw hammers vs wooden mallets far more relevant and interesting, which is why my contribution to the debate is often tongue in cheek.

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Rich- nice job on the comparison. Your FF shot looks a bit different indeed compared to your S35 shot. You used 50mm and 85mm, both Zeiss Contax Planar primes? The FF shot indeed has more blur in the background, and the window handle. The scale is slightly higher as well (lens in foreground is larger. The light bokeh looks about the same, but slightly different scale. There's more contrast in the S35 shot (trees/blacks).

Are those differences due to FF vs. S35 crop? I don't think so. Let's look at the math for equivalence:

S35: 50mm F1.4 ISO 800(? ISO not important here- including to show math for next step).

To get the equivalent optics/physics:

FF: 50*1.5 = 75mm, F1.4*1.5 = F2.1, ISO 800*1.5*1.5 = 1800.

When shooting primes, we may not have exactly such a lens on hand, so perhaps that's why you shot 85mm F2.8? The results are pretty close, and it's clear that the 85mm shot on FF has shallower DOF, perhaps more edge blur vs. S35 (which uses the sharpest part of the lens- the center). The difference in contrast is perhaps due to different lenses being used.

In order to eliminate variables, I shot with the A7S in FF &  APS-C mode (S35) using my best lens: the Canon 70-200 F2.8 II and the MB IV adapter. The 'model' is the venerable Canon 5D Mark III sporting the 24-105 F4L going topless (no lens cap). In the background is a kitchen, with an iPhone creating a specular point light for bokeh.

Shot 1:

A7S_APS-C_70mmF2.8_ISO_800.thumb.jpg.36b

Shot 2:

A7S_FF_105mmF4_ISO_1600.thumb.jpg.863162

Here are the settings:

FF: (A7S APS-C mode off): 70mm*1.5 = 105mm, F2.8*1.5 = 4.2, F4 used, ISO 800*1.5*1.5 = 1800, ISO 1600 used, shutter 1/50.

S35: (A7S APS-C mode on): 70mm F2.8, ISO 800, shutter 1/50.

Which shot is which?

Here's a method anyone can do with any camera, regardless of sensor size, to see the effects of cropping and to work with the math of equivalence. I shot the same scene twice in FF mode, where camera settings were set up so cropping for S35 mode could be done in post. This eliminates any possible in-camera processing that is different between FF and S35 mode on the A7S:

Shot 3:

A7S_FF_105mmF4.5_ISO_2000.thumb.jpg.0b42

Shot 4:

A7S_APS-C_70mmF2.8_ISO_800_PostCrop.thum

For these two shots, JPGs were used. 

Which shot is which?

 

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From what I can tell on my Ipad, shots 2 and 3 should be FF, the lens is changing magnification/breathing btw.But the real deal is with focal length below 80mm. Do the same test with the 24-105 comparing 24 and 48mm, or even better with some matching primes (you just crop to something near s35 to match it)the differences should be much more noticable.

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Hey guys- the pics seem to have vanished on this forum. Here's a post on my site, you can figure out the answers if you are clever :) (not very hard)

http://brightland.com/w/the-full-frame-look-is-a-myth-heres-how-to-prove-it-for-yourself/

I need to get back to writing code- please share results if you have a case which clearly shows that full frame looks significantly different than Super 35 when using equivalence math. One really needs to do these tests themselves- if you find a case that shows full frame is significantly better, I'll try to replicate your findings. Like that Scientific Method thingy. If you have questions about the math, for example doing the crop in post (I used 2/3 or 66.67 percent in Photoshop, then resized both images to the same resolution), feel free to send me a PM or post on the forum.

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The thing is, equivalence math doesn't work when fullframe can go f1.4, what is the equivalent s35mm lens on that thing? Or in my example, an equivalent of 200mm f2.8? I have the 20mm f1.8 on a fullframe lens and there is nothing that can create that look on a s35mm system, except for real cinema lenses. 

Sure if you drop your aperture down and down and down, sooner or later you will get an image that basically matches 1/3" cameras. 

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