I mostly shoot with a Nikon D300 using prime lenses, which for the most part has been prefect for my needs.
I purchased this camera in 2007 and therefore more recently felt the need to upgrade. Like most of you, I am amazed by all the technology improvements and new cameras that continuously bombard the market. and feel that wow, they really improve my work.
There is also so much technical information and marketing about which brand/product is better. I find it amusing when people are loyal to a brand, as if big corporations ultimately care about anything else than profiting from your purchase. The whole idea is you have choice and competition - therefore brand loyalty, distorts (sic) your view rather than assisting to decide which product is most suitable for your needs.
The flood of new cameras on the market has created some unexpected benefits by way of great second-hand deals, on some great cameras.
I am an impatient male and a bit lazy (I know that's rare…) and I found this great online shop, www.camerajungle.co.uk, which deals in second-hand cameras and equipment. There service includes a six-month warranty and a next day delivery if you are based in the UK. They are professional and very helpful and I would highly recommend them. It was due to finding this shop, that I was able to access some very good second hand cameras and get an idea of the prices camera models currently hold.
First test was to measure how much cameras have improved over the last few years, so I tested my D300 against other crop frame cameras I could get my hands on.
All those cameras had roughly the same (size) sensors, which are either a crop frame or an APS-C sensor. I tested a wide range of cameras from both Nikon and Canon, the newest being the Nikon D5200.
If you know what you are doing and have the correct lens it is possible to achieve reasonably good results with whatever you are using, so this is not so much of a technical test, but more intuitive-based.
I shot in a number of different situations, mostly using my style of photography (the newer cameras were more fun), but after a while when the newness faded away, it ultimately became about the final image.
In this respect I was very disappointed with the results. The improvement in terms of the final images was only marginal in my opinion. This is despite some of the newer cameras having double the image size. One advantage of a greater image-size is, by reducing the size of the 5200 image, it produces better detail (due to the down- sizing process in Photoshop). But I found the improvement was slight and what was the point of having a larger image?
It then dawned on me, that in the last 5-6 years (with most cop-frame cameras having similar-sized sensors), most of the changes and updates have only been minor advancements with slight improvements on the end product.
So how will an old full-frame sensor (from a 2005 model) compare with my crop frame cameras?
Nowadays you can pick up a Canon 5D Mk I for about £360.00
So the canon 5D Mk I, now entered the test. This camera was launched in August 2005 and cost £2500 at the time. The fact that you can now pick up a second-hand full frame camera for under £500.00, is in my opinion amazing and I am surprised that this isn't talked about more. The Canon 5D Mk I was the first camera to combine a full-frame sensor, into what was considered a compact body. It received rave reviews and was a groundbreaking camera of its time.
The first thing I noticed was this camera had character. You feel its age with the buttons and menus, but this is not evident with the images it produces. There were significant differences in the images and it out-shot all the crop frame cameras I test it against. This was mainly due to the advantages of a larger sensor. I work with both natural light and continuous lighting and seem to be moving away from strobe lighting nowadays. So the larger sensor really helps my work.
If you enjoy shooting with a prime lens, you will fall in love with what you can capture, it is well-worth the experience and at an affordable price. You will notice the difference, especially in low-light situations.
So what are the differences between a crop frame and full frame camera?
When your camera takes a picture, the information is stored on a sensor, rather like how film would be captured on a roll, before Digital SLR.
The size of the sensor would be the size of a negative shot on a roll of film. The bigger the sensor, the more light can enter, which results in an increase in detail.
With a full frame camera the sensor is 24mm × 36mm. With a crop frame sensor – (which is exactly what it says) a cropped version of the same type of sensor, it is approximately 24mm x16mm in size.
The resulting crop gives you a narrower depth of view and with the cameras internal system you get about 1.5 magnification/crop factor.
This produces a slightly different image, than if you were to just crop the image on a full frame sensor. An advantage that these cameras have when using a zoom or long lens, is that 300mm becomes 450mm due to the 1.5 magnification, making it great camera for wildlife, sports etc
The other major difference was price, until now.