Nikon backing away from full-frame

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Stanley Krute, Nov 12, 2003.

  1. Just in case folks missed it:

    Thom Hogan's excellent site ( )
    noted this correction on Pop. Photo's site:

    The money quote:

    " Mr. Komura told Mr. Keppler that Nikon will use
    the smaller sensor in future digital SLR cameras at all levels.
    "Nikon will continue to study full-size sensors," he said,
    "but it is for study only." "

    Fuji andor Kodak are my last hope.
    (Yeah, I know the 14n exists, but it's a low-ISO
    high-noise existence that I have no interest in).
    Otherwise I'm joining the Canon exodus.


    Stanley Krute, Nov 12, 2003
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  2. Stanley Krute

    Lisa Horton Guest

    [deep booming voice] Krute, turn to the light side! :)

    Lisa Horton, Nov 12, 2003
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  3. Stanley Krute

    Gavin Cato Guest

    Well, the Kodak 14N got a bad rap initially, but it's really starting to
    look good with the latest firmware. Still a low iso camera, but the 14n
    paired with a wide angle lens is a pretty schmick landscape solution at the
    moment. Noise has been drastically reduced and it can do relatively long
    exposures now.

    If you read also what Thom has been saying, he says the 14n attempts to
    capture by factory default up to 10 stops of dynamic range. If you use the
    Kodak software to clip it back to normal levels (say, 7.5 stops) all the
    noise issues magically disappear and it becomes just like all the other
    DSLR's, but with full frame and 14 megapixels :)

    I'm hiring one next weekend to evaluate for buying. It would be a great
    complement (not replacement) for my D1h.

    Gavin Cato, Nov 13, 2003
  4. With the recent move toward digital lenses which are a lot more cost
    effective with no real quality tradeoff, given a cropper, I'm curious what
    do you think the overall benefit would be for Nikon to go full frame?
    Yes, for the time being you'll ulitmately run into an almost ridiculously
    expensive limitation at the extreme WA end of the lens spectrum, but
    conversely you'll have better zoom at the other end, and sharper glass
    everywhere shooting through center glass. Given the same number of sensors
    are packed in, the current difference in chip size and FOV seems to me to
    favor the croppers, especially with very wide, very cost effective "digital"
    lenses on the way, that still shoot center glass and probably won't be as
    wide on full frame SLRs due to design vignetting.
    George Preddy, Nov 13, 2003
  5. Stanley Krute

    Böwser Guest

    I'm not sure what his reasons are, but here's mine:

    1. Larger sensors will result in better pictures (more resolution, less
    2. I don't want to either scrap the glass I have now, or buy more glass to
    suit a sub-frame sensor.
    Böwser, Nov 13, 2003
  6. Stanley Krute

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    There have been many attempts at smaller that 35mm film too - all have
    failed except as specialty items (like the Minox). With Digital, smaller
    than 35mm is currently the norm, but as more full frame sensor cameras
    become available the small sensor cameras will fade away. Nikon is making a
    big mistake --- if they are even being truthful here. This could well be

    home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
    The Improved Links Pages are at
    A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
    Tony Spadaro, Nov 13, 2003
  7. In general, this has been trure in the past, but doing what has worked in
    the past is not always a wise idea. Foveon has demonstrated that 70% more
    sensors can be packed into the same area with slightly lower noise by
    layering 3 deep (which admittedly isn't a 1:1 gain). Other advances will
    probably reduce noise even more in similarly clever ways in the future.

    Resolution isn't directly related to, it is actually a matter of total
    sensor count per unit density. This test clearly shows the 1Ds has no
    better resolution than the 10D within the same crop area (the test uses a
    prime lens), since the sensor count and density is basically the same within
    that area...
    Don't know about scrapping, but wouldn't you be open to better, less
    expensive glass in the future?
    George Preddy, Nov 13, 2003
  8. Stanley Krute

    Charlie Ih Guest

    I think Nikon made right technical decision by not going to full frame.
    I hope they can concentrate on improving the quality, reducing size and
    weight and more important reducing the price so that high quality DSLR are
    more affordable to everyone. Of course right technical decision does
    not always translate into market success. Only time will tell.

    If you have enough technical knowledge in optics and electrooptics,
    you will realize that the reduced sensor size (by factor of 1.5 or
    1.6) is plenty big enough capable for high quality images, comparable
    to that of 35 film in total pixels count and higher ISO speeds.
    The total pixel for CCD is approaching its limit (6 to 8 MP).
    To get to higher pixels, you need to go to CMOS sensor. Apparently
    only Canon has overcome the CMOS fixed-pattern noise problem (Kodak
    is not quite there yet). From a technical point of view, you
    don't need a full frame sensor. The full frame has its own
    place to replace the large format camera (i.e. 2 x 2) and will
    continue to have a high price tag.
    Charlie Ih, Nov 13, 2003
  9. Stanley Krute

    Charlie Ih Guest

    Lens design and fabrication have made important progress in the past
    10 years. Not only we gained more experience, but also the software
    and computer power have improved greatly. Actually the more important
    factors are that we have more specially design glasses with different
    indexes and different dispersion characteristics. On top of all these,
    we now can fabricate aspherical lenses economically not just the
    traditional spherical lenses. All these advantages make modern
    lens much better than those made ten or more years ago. Now we
    have fairly decent 10 X zoom and ultra wideangle (15 mm) lenses
    which are not possible 10 years ago. The resolution is also
    greatly improved to that we can take advantage of the smaller pixel
    sizes in CCD or CMOS sensors.
    Charlie Ih, Nov 13, 2003
  10. Stanley Krute

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    The only way to make a lens resolve better is to make more expensive lenses.
    THere is no way on earth (and possibly not in String Theory either) to
    change the diffraction of a lens. The reason why 35mm has remained the
    smallest general photography size for so long is because the picture quality
    goes down rapidly much below that size.
    The idea of a system DSLR is to use the lenses a 35mm shooter already
    has - not to trade them in an much more expensive new versions with higher

    home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
    The Improved Links Pages are at
    A sample chapter from my novel "Haight-Ashbury" is at
    Tony Spadaro, Nov 13, 2003
  11. Stanley Krute

    JackD Guest

    I thought this was due to the problem of film grain, rather than lenses.
    Film has always seemed to be the limiter when I shot 35mm.
    No comparison to medium format - even if I have crappy old MF and LF lenses.

    JackD, Nov 13, 2003
  12. No it's not. Simply scaling down the radii and spacings of the optical
    elements in the lens gives you a lens with smaller aberrations and
    higher resolution, but the same useful field of view - perfect for use
    with a smaller sensor.
    But diffraction isn't the resolution limiting factor except at the
    smallest end of the f-stop range. This range *does* get smaller with
    smaller sensors, but not that fast. Cameras like the Canon G series,
    with a sensor 1/5 the size of 35 film, have a useful aperture range
    of f/2 to f/8. This isn't as much as a 35 camera that will do f/1.4 to
    f/22 or f/32, but it's still useful. And as long as you stay at f/5.6
    or larger, diffraction isn't limiting image quality.

    For a camera with only a moderately smaller sensor, like the Canon and
    Nikon DSLRs, there's at most one stop of loss in the useful f/number
    range - hardly a disaster.
    Because the film resolution is limited, not because of the lenses.
    That doesn't apply if the photographer has no legacy 35 mm system lenses
    to reuse, and no intention of buying a 35 mm camera. They could acquire
    an entire new system adapted to a smaller sensor, if the manufacturer
    made it. "System" doesn't necessarily mean "compatible with 35".

    Dave Martindale, Nov 14, 2003
  13. Stanley Krute

    Gary Guest

    Film is the limiting factor, not lenses. Kudos to Nikon for this, and
    Olympus and any others who want to do it right instead of the quick way that
    will sell a lot of cameras. If a bigger sensor is so important, why not ask
    for MF size instead of 35mm? The idea is to get the quality needed from a
    smaller sensor through technological improvements, not to imitate a film
    format that only came about because movie film was that size.

    Nearly everyone I know who has joined the Canon parade has started buying
    new lenses right away, even if they already had lenses that would fit. So
    while the idea of "I want to use my existing glass" sounds good, it seldom
    works out that way. Once you've bought a few lenses, Canon has you firmly
    in their grip regardless of what better, more efficient sizes come along.

    There's no magic in the 35mm film size, it just happened due to convenience.
    I find it amazing that so many are crying out for full-frame digitals
    instead of digitals that are designed from the ground up to be the best, not
    to imitate film cameras. If 35mm is really that important to so many, maybe
    they should resurrect the ridiculous Silicon Film idea, then you can get a
    digital cartridge that fits in your current film camera, and you can reuse
    everything. I won't be in line for one.

    Gary, Nov 14, 2003
  14. So far, exactly right. But.
    We are! Fuji has announced a 52 x 37mm 20.2 MP back for the GX680, GX645AF,
    and Hasselblad H1. I'd love a GX645AF with that back. And other over-20MP MF
    backs are already available.
    The first point is that the larger the pixel, the lower the noise. The Oly
    E-1 noise at ISO 800 is about the same as the noise in the 300D/10D/D100/S2
    at ISO 1600. A full stop is a big difference. The 300D ISO 1600 and E-1 ISO
    800 noise level involves severe damage to shadow areas.

    Strictly speaking, the pixels themselves don't have to be larger, just the
    spacing, since microlenses collect the light, you don't need all that much
    larger sensor element devices.

    The second point is that it looks to me that although optical systems scale
    at the 6MP level, from the 1.5x dSLRs on down, these cameras are at the
    limit of lens performance. Maybe 8MP might fly, but much over that isn't
    really possible.

    Meanwhile, 10.8 and 13.4 MP full-frame sensors are already flying. (Well,
    sort of: the Kodak lacks microlenses and fails to deliver high ISO
    performance.) And over 20MP sensors are already available in MF backs.
    Scaling up the 1.5x/1.6x sensors gives 15MP with reasonable high ISO
    To a certain extent, this is quite right. I use a 21mm, 35mm, and 80mm
    (equivalent) lens kit, so if I'd need 14mm, 24mm, and 50mm lenses for a 1.6x
    camera. But it's only part of the story.
    But what a lovely grasp it is: according to the Japanese reviews I've seen
    the 17-40/4.0 is (on a full-frame camera) a much better lens than the Nikon
    12-24 is on the D100. A choice of _THREE_ tilt/shift lenses. Etc. Etc. Etc.
    And all the fun Sigma wide angles are available in Canon mount, but would be
    meaningless in an Oly mount on the E-1.

    One big reason people are buying more lenses, is that there are lots of fun
    lenses to buy.
    The bottom line is that the size of the sensor is going to determine
    resolution and noise. It's at the 1.6x size that high-ISO performance begins
    to take off, and it's at the full-frame 35mm size where resolution
    performance begins to take off.

    So to the best I can tell, anything smaller than the 1.6x is going to be a

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Nov 14, 2003
  15. Stanley Krute

    Steve Guest


    I don't know much about this subject, but I do remember reading somewhere
    that full-frame sensors have a problem at the edges of the frame. It's to
    do with the angle at which the light is striking the sensor. On film, this
    isn't so much of a problem because the recording surface is very thin, but
    the depth of a digital sensor causes various aberrations and artefacts.
    Does anyone know if this is true? I read it in connection with the Kodak
    Steve, Nov 14, 2003
  16. Stanley Krute

    Gavin Cato Guest


    I'm a little doubtful of that. The 12-24 is very good optically - though not
    to the level of the Nikon 17-35 which is the utter king of wide angle lenses
    for 35mm.

    The Canon 16-35 and 17-40 don't hold a candle to the Nikon 17-35.

    Gavin Cato, Nov 14, 2003
  17. The 17-35's certainly a fine lens (the Japanese review at hand rates it best
    in its class), but (again, according to the Japanese review I read) the
    12-24 has coma problems in the corners that the 17-40 doesn't.

    Wide angle really needs better resolution than 6MP provides (for A4 prints),
    so it would take a real dog of a 17mm lens on an 11 or 14MP full-frame to be
    anything but a lot better than the 12-24 on a 1.5x sensor.

    Of course, all this is day dreaming: the 12-24 on a D100 would be lots of
    fun. If Yodobashi had had the 12-24 in stock the other day, I'd probably
    have bought it...

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Nov 14, 2003
  18. Stanley Krute

    Gavin Cato Guest

    hmmm. I've borrowed a 12-24 and never noticed anything wrong with it. Here's
    a shot from it - i only had it for about 30mins though. Pretty wide, though
    I think the 14mm f/2.8 lens is a better option if you want truly wide on a
    1.5x ccd. I'm never giving up my 17-35 though :)
    Gavin Cato, Nov 14, 2003
  19. Stanley Krute

    Rafe B. Guest

    This was my situation as well. I gave up waiting on Nikon
    and was rather swayed by the overwhelming positive feedback
    on the Canon 10D. Of course the first thing I had to do was get
    a Canon lens... <G>.

    No regrets. That Canon L (16-40) appears to blow away anything
    in my Nikon kit, though I'll grant the Nikon glass isn't in the same
    league, nor did it cost anywhere near what the Canon zoom did.

    Maybe I already knew all that and got the Canon in order to
    make a clean break. Who knows. The Nikon gear is mostly
    gathering dust at the moment. My poor old FE is pretty much
    on its last legs anyway.

    rafe b.
    Rafe B., Nov 14, 2003
  20. Stanley Krute

    Böwser Guest

    This is ludicrous. I measure resolution frame for frame, not by the square
    unit! Based on what you said, an image shot with an 8x10 view camera has the
    same resolution, in a given crop area, as a 35mm frame! Guess which frame
    has more total resolution? Bottom line, the 1Ds produces an image superior
    to the 10D because it has more pixels in the same frame. Who cares about the
    unit density?
    Maybe, maybe not. Where is the cheaper and better glass? The Nikon 12-24?
    Nice, but a grand for a limited use lens?
    Böwser, Nov 14, 2003
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