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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Full-Frame D-SLRs

Nature photographers now have six models from which to choose at widely varying prices. These cameras are about more than just a larger image sensor.

Labels: CamerasD-SLRs

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Full-Frame Lenses
full frameLandscape photographers like wide lenses, while wildlife shooters like super-telephotos. Full-frame D-SLRs provide a wide selection of both, plus everything in between.

Canon offers more than 40 EF lenses for its full-frame D-SLRs, from a 14mm super-wide and 15mm full-frame fish-eye to a 800mm super-telephoto, including zooms from 16-35mm to 100-400mm, three tilt-shift lenses and a 65mm 1-5x macro lens. There also are 1.4x and 2x AF teleconverters.

Nikon offers more than 40 lenses for its full-frame D-SLRs, from a 14mm super-wide and 16mm full-frame fish-eye to a 600mm super-telephoto, including zooms from 14-24mm to 200-400mm, three tilt-shift lenses and three 1:1 macro lenses. There also are 1.4x, 1.7x and 2x AF teleconverters.

Sony offers more than 20 Sony and Zeiss lenses for its full-frame D-SLR, from a 16mm fish-eye and 20mm super-wide to a 300mm super-tele and 500mm mirror lens, including zooms from 24-70mm to 70-400mm, plus 50mm and 100mm 1:1 macro lenses. There also are 1.4x and 2x AF teleconverters. Sony D-SLRs can use Minolta Maxxum lenses, as well.

Independent lens makers Sigma, Tamron and Tokina also make lenses for full-frame D-SLRs, widening the selection even further.

If you’re moving up to a full-frame D-SLR from an APS-C model, you might have some lenses designed specifically for the smaller sensor (Nikon calls them DX lenses, Canon EF-S and Sony DT lenses). Nikon’s full-frame models will accept the DX lenses, automatically switching to a cropped DX format when one is attached. Canon’s full-frame D-SLRs won’t accept Canon EF-S lenses. Sony’s A900 will accept the DT lenses, but using one will result in vignetting because DT lenses were designed to cover a smaller APS-C sensor, not a 35mm sensor. Of course, you can crop the darkened corners out, but you’ll lose the full angle of view of the lens.

Image Quality
It’s not a coincidence that the top six spots in DxO Labs’ DxOMark RAW sensor performance ratings are occupied by the six current full-frame D-SLRs. Big sensors provide room for more and/or bigger pixels, both of which enhance image quality. (You can see the full list and explanations of how the ratings were determined at www.dxomark.com.)

The highest-resolution APS-C camera is 15.1 megapixels, while four of the six full-frame models provide more than 21 megapixels. And the largest pixels on a current D-SLR are found on the two 12-megapixel full-frame models—along with the best high-ISO performance. The full-frame D-SLRs definitely are the image-quality kings.


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