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DX, FX, and Internet BS

visionguru

Chicago, US
227 posts

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visionguru Registered since 03rd Nov 2008
Mon 21-Jun-10 02:45 PM | edited Mon 21-Jun-10 02:49 PM by visionguru

I've always been taking the face value of the DSLR online reviews. Recently, I've been looking into pros & cons of DX vs FX and found things floating around the internet simply dont' make sense:

(1)"DX has more reach"
Optically, 60mm is 60mm, DX or FX. The only difference is DX uses a smaller part of the image gathered by the lens, equivalent to crop a picture to smaller size.

Where is the more reach coming from? If I crop my pictures, then suddenly I have more reach?

(2)"FX has better ISO performance"

FX has a larger sensor, more than twice in area as DX. Take D700 and D300 as example,
If we crop the D700 sensor to DX size, it is a 6MP D300.
If we increase the pixel density of D700 to 24MP, basically the same density as D300, should have similar ISO performance.
If we merge the sensor output of 2 pixels of D300 into 1, at 6MP level, the ISO performance should be similar to D700.

ISO performance has nothing to do with DX or FX. All those expert comparisons of ISO performance are done at different physical scale, not a fair comparison at all.

DX is a cropped version of FX, FX has wider view, nothing more or less, the rest are basically the same.

I'd appreciate your inputs.

Jay
- Chicago Nikonian

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

briantilley

Paignton, UK
30235 posts

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#1. "RE: DX, FX, and Internet BS" | In response to Reply # 0

briantilley Gold Member Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003
Mon 21-Jun-10 01:06 PM | edited Mon 21-Jun-10 01:07 PM by briantilley

Neither of the statements you quote are true as general statements, but both of them do have a basis in fact if you specify the pixel count of the FX and DX cameras being compared.

For example, comparing a 12MP (approx) FX D700 with a 12MP (approx) DX D300... with the same lens and distance, the D300 will put more pixels on the main subject. Some folks think of that as an increase in "reach", but whatever you call it, more pixels can be useful for things like small wildlife where one is often "maxed out" on focal length.

The same sort of thing applies with High ISO noise. A D700 is better than a D300 in this area, but that's because it has larger photosites and the same "generation" of sensor technology, not because it is FX and the D300 is DX.

By the way - the D700 DX crop is 5MP (approx), not 6MP

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

TomCurious

Bay Area, US
2352 posts

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#2. "RE: DX, FX, and Internet BS" | In response to Reply # 0

TomCurious Registered since 03rd Jan 2007
Mon 21-Jun-10 05:22 PM

If you compare FX and DX as abstract notions, then yes, the only difference is the field of view. Talking about reach and high ISO performance makes little sense. For example, how would you compare the high ISO performance of a 35mm film camera to an APS camera?

The only way we can discuss reach and high ISO is when we look at specific sensors/cameras. For example, if we compare the D3X and D3000, which have about the same pixel density, then there will be zero extra reach in the DX model, and high ISO performance should conceptually be the same. It is actually different since the D3X uses a newer generation sensor, but that has nothing to do with the sensor size. So in this sense, you are right. There is no "DX reach" or "FX high ISO performance".

But in real life, D3X vs. D3000 is a silly comparison. Nobody in the market for a new camera will comparison-shop between these two models. A much more real-life scenario is to compare FX and DX models that have the same pixel count (like D300 and D700) and similar sensor technology. In this case, the D300 does give you more reach, and the D700 does give you better high ISO performance.

Since the "DSLR online reviews" you mentioned are geared towards real-life camera buyers rather than scientists, their statements are perfectly reasonable.

Tom
Bay Area Nikonian


http://www.tkphoto.me/

KnightPhoto

Alberta, CA
4962 posts

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#3. "RE: DX, FX, and Internet BS" | In response to Reply # 0

KnightPhoto Gold Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2006
Tue 22-Jun-10 09:40 PM

>
>I'd appreciate your inputs.

OK, now that Brian and Tom have provided some excellent answers, the next logical question is what are you looking to achieve and what cameras do you think will help with that


Best regards, SteveK

'A camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.' -- Dorothea Lange
My Nikonians gallery
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T42

Atlanta, US
301 posts

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#4. "RE: DX, FX, and Internet BS" | In response to Reply # 3

T42 Basic Member
Fri 25-Jun-10 10:59 PM

Hi Folks.

It seems to me that marketeers are given to frame limitations in the best light that they can.

Saying that one's telephotos are "effectively" 50% longer is more marketable than saying one will now need to buy an expensive wide angle lens, since the old one is not wide enough anymore.

The notion that APS-C has a 150% multiplication factor is much more palatable than saying APS-C has 43% as much recording area.

Photography. It's about light, isn't it? Putting things in the best light.

Henry

A Certified Dinosaur
Nikons F, F2, D700, L35AF, Leica M3, & Kiev 4a

LMMiller9

Potomac, US
1169 posts

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#5. "RE: DX, FX, and Internet BS" | In response to Reply # 0

LMMiller9 Silver Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2005
Sun 27-Jun-10 06:31 PM

I think what you really need to know (and I have both a D300 and D700) is that the advantages of the D700 in regard to high ISO is no BS. I regularly shoot indoors with my 50mm/1.4 and shooting at 1600-3200 ISO and get terrific shots in very poor light and with no flash. For me, anyway, this is a very great advantage and the D300 cannot match this in anyway.

You can try to frame things in many different ways, as others have, and that may be useful. But, the bottom line is the quality of photo you can capture in low light. If this matters to you, go FX.

Larry Miller, Potomac, MD
DF/D810
http://lmmillerphotography.smugmug.com/

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

briantilley

Paignton, UK
30235 posts

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#6. "RE: DX, FX, and Internet BS" | In response to Reply # 5

briantilley Gold Member Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003
Sun 27-Jun-10 07:22 PM

>You can try to frame things in many different ways, as others
>have, and that may be useful. But, the bottom line is the
>quality of photo you can capture in low light. If this matters
>to you, go FX.

Just "going FX" is not automatically going to get you ultimate high-ISO performance. Even though it's FX, a D3X isn't the best choice for low light. The D3(s) and D700 are certainly better in this regard than the D300(s), because they are FX and have the same pixel count.

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

T42

Atlanta, US
301 posts

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#7. "RE: DX, FX, and Internet BS" | In response to Reply # 5

T42 Basic Member
Sun 27-Jun-10 07:23 PM

Hi Larry.

I don't have a D300, but I do have a D700. Like yourself, I am finding the low light capability of the D700 to be nothing short of phenomenal. With the high ISO capability, a 50mm f1.4, and white balancing, my "available darkness" photography has stepped onto a higher plane than I ever knew with even the fastest color films.

I would not characterize the D700's low light performance as BS either.

Henry

A Certified Dinosaur
Nikons F, F2, D700, L35AF, Leica M3, & Kiev 4a

briantilley

Paignton, UK
30235 posts

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#8. "RE: DX, FX, and Internet BS" | In response to Reply # 7

briantilley Gold Member Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003
Mon 28-Jun-10 06:36 AM

At the risk of getting repetitive...

>I would not characterize the D700's low light performance as
>BS either.

No-one was saying that.

The initial proposal was that the statement: "FX is better at low light" is misleading (or "BS", if you will). That is true. FX has no inherent advantage in this area - it all depends on the pixel density and the technology used. A D700 would have the same high ISO performance as an imagined 5MP DX camera that used the same generation of sensor and firmware.

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

blw

Richmond, US
28704 posts

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#9. "RE: DX, FX, and Internet BS" | In response to Reply # 4

blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004
Mon 28-Jun-10 12:45 PM

> Saying that one's telephotos are "effectively" 50% longer is more marketable than saying one will now need to buy an expensive wide angle lens, since the old one is not wide enough anymore.

Assuming that we're talking about roughly equivalent densities in FX and DX (typical of Nikon these days, say 12mp D300 and D700), it's certainly more marketable to say that the D300 is effectively 50% longer than the D700. And yes, they are overlooking the fact that you now need an expensive ultra-wide. It might even cost you about $1000 (eg Nikkor 10-24). However, most people will buy into that argument very readily because in fact it's operationally true. And the $1000 cost of the 10-24 utterly pales by comparison to the step of upgrading that 70-300 into even something like a Sigma 500/f4.5. Even if we assume the $600 Nikkor AFS VR model, the Sigma 500/f4.5 is the least expensive prime past effective 450mm equivalent. (And of course if one argues that the Sigma 150-500 meets the need for less than the $1000 delta, I'll also observe that the Sigma 10-20 also meets the ultra-wide angle need for $450, still less than the 70-300-to-150-500 delta.)

At the end of the day, it's a format change. Nothing more, nothing less. Things are different. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!

LMMiller9

Potomac, US
1169 posts

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#10. "RE: DX, FX, and Internet BS" | In response to Reply # 8

LMMiller9 Silver Member Nikonian since 18th Dec 2005
Mon 28-Jun-10 02:49 PM

The subject of the thread is "DX, FX, and Internet BS" and the author was referring, I believe to the D700, not the 3Dx, which is why it is posted on this forum.

My point was simply that no matter how one slices the pixels, etc., the bottom line is that there is a very big difference between how a D300, for example, and a D700 perform in low light.

Larry Miller, Potomac, MD
DF/D810
http://lmmillerphotography.smugmug.com/

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

briantilley

Paignton, UK
30235 posts

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#11. "RE: DX, FX, and Internet BS" | In response to Reply # 10

briantilley Gold Member Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003
Mon 28-Jun-10 02:58 PM | edited Mon 28-Jun-10 03:01 PM by briantilley

>My point was simply that no matter how one slices the pixels,
>etc., the bottom line is that there is a very big difference
>between how a D300, for example, and a D700 perform in low
>light.

Yes, I find there to be about 1.5 stops benefit at high ISO, but the point being made is that it's invalid to translate that difference into a blanket "FX is better in low light" statement.

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

fwellers

Ashburn, US
110 posts

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#12. "RE: DX, FX, and Internet BS" | In response to Reply # 11

fwellers Gold Member Nikonian since 21st Nov 2008
Mon 28-Jun-10 03:02 PM

It is as far as Nikon is concerned. LOL.

Peace,
Floyd

T42

Atlanta, US
301 posts

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#13. "RE: DX, FX, and Internet BS" | In response to Reply # 8

T42 Basic Member
Tue 29-Jun-10 01:40 PM

>At the risk of getting repetitive...
>
>>I would not characterize the D700's low light performance
>as
>>BS either.
>
>No-one was saying that.
>
>The initial proposal was that the statement: "FX is
>better at low light" is misleading (or "BS", if
>you will). That is true. FX has no inherent advantage in
>this area - it all depends on the pixel density and the
>technology used. A D700 would have the same high ISO
>performance as an imagined 5MP DX camera that used the same
>generation of sensor and firmware.

I see your point, Brian. You are right, of course. I should have been thinking more clearly before committing fingers to keyboard.

I imagine that some fine grained film on APS format might be better than super-grainy film on a full frame of 35, for example. Likewise, I suppose that it is possible that the technology available to some APS sensor might be superior to that of some full frame sensor... And especially for some specific application. For one to single out a particular characteristic, such as format size, and make a categorical statement about its absolute superiority is probably a bit shallow.

In fact, when the D700 mounts a DX lens in DX mode, isn't it exactly that APS-C 5 Megapixel camera with excellent low light performance to which you refer?

I have had a digi for only 10 months now. It appears to me that the long standing notions I have had about the advantages of larger formats still apply in digital media. It seems to me that larger frames make larger photosites easier to achieve for any given total count of megapixels. And in my case, that larger format (FX) is more forgiving of my ten old Nikkors, some of which are not so sharp as newer optics. With less enlargement required, the images look better than if they were put under the more intense scrutiny of a high density megapixel sensor and stretched half again as much to arrive at any given image size.

And that advantage of better low light performance is a real bonus as well. For me, the D700 is a suitable digital film back for my old glass. That is really what I wanted most from a digi. So far, I have been delighted with the performance of the D700.

Henry

A Certified Dinosaur
Nikons F, F2, D700, L35AF, Leica M3, & Kiev 4a

briantilley

Paignton, UK
30235 posts

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#14. "RE: DX, FX, and Internet BS" | In response to Reply # 13

briantilley Gold Member Deep knowledge of bodies and lens; high level photography skills Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003
Tue 29-Jun-10 02:03 PM

>I see your point, Brian. You are right, of course. I should
>have been thinking more clearly before committing fingers to
>keyboard.

No problem - don't worry about it
>
>I imagine that some fine grained film on APS format might be
>better than super-grainy film on a full frame of 35, for
>example.

Yes - I think that's a great analogy!

>In fact, when the D700 mounts a DX lens in DX mode, isn't it
>exactly that APS-C 5 Megapixel camera with excellent low light
>performance to which you refer?

I guess it is...

>So far, I have been delighted with the performance of the D700.

Same here!

Brian
Welsh Nikonian

G