In the frame
Buy an FX body and reap the benefits of a full-frame D-SLR. Matthew Richards weighs up the options…
ikon’s DX (APS-C format) D-SLRs range from entry-level models such as the D3300, to relatively powerful bodies like the D7200. But its FX (full-frame) cameras really are in a different league. Whereas DX bodies have sensors that measure 25x17mm (about the size of a postage stamp) FX cameras have much larger 36x24mm sensors, the same size as a conventional frame of 35mm film. But what does that mean for you as a photographer?
Nikon has two ways of approaching the larger surface area of an FX-format image sensor, giving you the choice of two upgrade paths. One approach is to stick to a modest megapixel count, so that the each photosite (equating to a single pixel in an image) can be larger. This enables the sensor to capture much cleaner (ie less noisy) images when shooting at high ISO settings under lowlighting conditions. Classic examples of this approach include the 16.2-megapixel Df and D4s (Nikon’s current flagship).
NNikon’s second approach is to pack the sensor with more photosites, as typified by the 36.3-megapixel D810. This enables incredible levels of detail and texture to be retained in images, but image noise is likely to be more noticeable at high ISOs. Meanwhile, cameras like the 24.3-megapixel D610 and newer D750 aim for compromise.
A major advantage of FX cameras is that you can use Nikon’s range of lenses to best effect, without the 1.5x crop factor of a DX camera giving you a ‘blinkered’ view. You’ll also be able to get a tighter depth of field at any ‘actual’ focal length, compared with the same ‘effective’ focal length on a DX body (so for example, if you shoot a portrait at f/2.8 on a 105mm lens on an FX camera and a 70mm lens on a DX camera, the ‘effective’ focal length will be the same (105mm), but the background will be more blurred on the FX camera. This is why portrait and still life photographers tend to prefer FX cameras.