Steven Brokaw Photography

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My Full Frame Anniversary

I’ve been shooting digital almost exclusively for almost 10 years.  Only occasionally do I break out the film camera, but that’s primarily for personal projects or some street photography.  However, I am just about at my 1-year anniversary using a full frame digital sensor versus a crop sensor.

Here are my thoughts on the move to full frame from a crop sensor now that I have a year under my belt.  Bottomline, it was a good move for the type of photography that I do.  The last part of my comment is important.  I primarily shoot in portrait, fashion-inspired & model photography in studio.  Therefore, my experience with a full frame sensor camera is with that shooting style and genre.

I am currently using a Nikon D600, but previously a D300s, D200 & before that a D100.  I still use my D300s as a backup, but only as a backup.  All of my digital photography is now full frame.  The primary reason is:

  • Using my Nikkor lenses at the stated focal length

  •   Wider latitude for cropping and maintaining quality

Many people say the primary reason they use a full frame camera is to take advantage of the higher ISO range.  However, for my style of shooting I rarely get my ISO above the 800-1600 range.    Also, some will say it’s so you can have larger file size and therefore the ability to print larger.  Seriously, I don’t print billboard sized images.  The largest I do is 30” on the long side, and my crop sensor cameras could handle that just fine.

Since I moved to the full frame camera my AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 has become my go to in-studio lens.  With the crop sensor I rarely used it because the effective length was a bit longer than I wanted.  Also, I can take full advantage of my AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G VRII which is my second weapon of choice.  One downside however is that I only occasionally use my AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G.  My 24-70mm was my go to lens with my D300s.  The 50mm & 70-200mm are used in probably 80% of my shoots now, with the 24-70mm the balance.

The second advantage is the ability to shoot full body shots, and then crop them down to 9x12 (3x4) or portrait crops with no loss of quality.  This gives me much more flexibility; however, the advantage is probably not that significant because I normally shot to the crop size I want.  As an example if I think I will want a 9x12 crop I shoot 9x12.

So after 1 year using a full frame sensor I’m happy with the move.  Don’t get me wrong, a crop sensor camera (or even smaller) is still an extremely viable option and in many shooting situations I would probably / or do still use it.   If you are simply going to do snapshots, sports, landscapes, want a less expensive option, etc. I still recommend going with a crop sensor.  But if you are a studio shooter doing the type of work I do, full frame is the way.

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