In the frame

Buy an FX body and reap the ben­e­fits of a full-frame D-SLR. Matthew Richards weighs up the op­tions…

NPhoto - - Gear Zone -

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.

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