Transitioning from Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Understanding Full Frame vs Crop Frame Sensors

Transitioning from Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Understanding Full Frame vs Crop Frame Sensors

Upgrading from a point-and-shoot camera to a digital SLR camera can be daunting, especially when you start hearing people carry on about what kind of sensor to get and you have no idea what they are talking about! The following will help you understand sensor size and how it can be a factor in your photography. This information will better equip you with the knowledge you will need to successfully choose your next camera. What is a Sensor? Every digital camera, even your point-and-shoot, has a sensor inside of it. In the simplest of terms, all these sensors do is convert an optical image (light) into an electronic signal which can be read as digital information–an image you download and can see, edit, and share. Your point-and-shoots have tiny, little sensors inside of them and for the most part they do a good job of converting light into digital information you can use–a photograph! Some of you may have heard people carry on about the “size” of their camera’s sensors. The reason they care about this is because dynamic range and low-light sensitivity generally improves as the size of the sensor increases. Defining Crop Sensors and Full Frame Sensors A piece of 35mm film measures approximately 36 x 24mm in size, and that’s the size of the sensor in Full Frame cameras like the Nikon D4 and the Canon 5D Mark III. Full frame sensor cameras are among some of the most expensive DSLRs you can buy. However, you can buy a DSLR camera with small sensor and still experience much greater image quality than you can from your average point-and-shoot. Cameras like the Nikon D7100 and the Sony A77 have APS-C-sized...
Nikon D7100 – Cropped Sensor for Night Photography?

Nikon D7100 – Cropped Sensor for Night Photography?

Want to know how the Nikon D7100 stands up to the challenge of night photography? David Kingham is a landscape photographer who focuses on the night sky. Kingham put the Nikon D7100 to the test to find out if its cropped sensor is worth considering as a viable choice for night shooting, especially when compared to the similarly-priced Nikon D600. Nikon D7100 – Cropped Sensor for Night Photography? by David Kingham After my previous test The Best Nikon for Night Photography, I was bombarded with requests to test the new contender in the APS-C sensor arena–the Nikon D7100. The initial numbers from DXOMark looked very promising for a cropped sensor. Previous cropped sensor bodies do not fare well with the extremely high ISO’s needed for night photography. Set Up I needed a benchmark to compare the D7100 to so I choose the Nikon D600 as a comparison because it’s the closest, price wise, and is the next logical step up from the D7100. The D600 also fared extremely well against the other full frame bodies I previously tested. So I felt this was a fair test of APS-C vs. Full Frame sensors. For the test, I needed a fast, wide angle lens. For the D7100, I choose the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, which is a stellar performer when shooting wide open. For the D600, I choose the Rokinon 24mm 1.4. I set both lens at f/2.8 to level the playing field and I set the Tokina to 16mm to match the equivalent focal length of the 24mm. Build The build of these cameras are nearly identical. The D7100 is a...
Nikon’s Biggest Gun: A Review of the New 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR Lens

Nikon’s Biggest Gun: A Review of the New 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR Lens

Introduction Until recently, Canon’s 800mm f/5.6 lens has been about the longest lens currently in production by one of the big manufacturers. The longest lens on the Nikon side has been the 600mm f/4, which I took out for a spin not too long ago. Now, Nikonians have their own cannon (yes, pun intended) to play with. The Nikon AF-S 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR lens is finally shipping, and we’ve got them in our inventory for rental. I took this behemoth out for a test to see just what Nikon packed into it. Last week, I posted sample images from that shoot; here’s the full review. A Bad Start My experience with the 800mm began poorly. I took the lens out with a D4, an Induro AT–413 tripod and a Custom Brackets gimbal head to one of my favorite birding spots in the Redwood Shores region of the San Francisco Bay Area. Every spring, these black-and-white birds call Black Skimmers show up around here, and make for some excellent photo opportunities. They gather around the shoreline, and fly low over bodies of water, letting their lower beaks dip into the water as they fly, trying to snap up small fish. Get lucky, and you can walk away with an image of one with its beak creating a wake through water, which is what I was aiming for. Well, things didn’t start out well. I set up everything, balanced the lens on the gimbal, and started shooting. Immediately, I noticed that the lens was incredibly slow to focus. For static subjects, it was fine – you could zero in...
Sample Images from the Nikon 800mm f/5.6

Sample Images from the Nikon 800mm f/5.6

I’ve been out testing the Nikon 800mm f/5.6 lens we just got in, and have a few sample images to share. I went out to the Redwood Shores region of the San Francisco Bay Area to shoot the skimmers that show up around here every spring, and got a handful of other birds as well. The full-up review is coming soon, so stay tuned for that. Black Skimmer   Images © Sohail Mamdani. All rights...
The Best Lenses for Night Photography: A Case for Rokinon Primes

The Best Lenses for Night Photography: A Case for Rokinon Primes

David Kingham is a landscape photographer who focuses (pun intended?) on the night sky. He set out to find the best astrophotography and night photography lenses for their price point. Discover why Rokinon lenses may transform how you shoot. The Best Lenses for Night Photography by David Kingham Prime vs Zoom What do you want in a lens for night photography? The most important factor is how much light a lens will let in so that we can shoot at lower ISOs– this means apertures of f/2.8 or greater (f/1.4 being preferred). Most zoom lenses only go to f/2.8 and, while they are perfectly okay for night photography, they are not the ultimate lenses to use. Enter the prime lens! A prime lens is a fixed-focal-length lens that is designed to have much larger apertures. If you have looked into the major manufacturers’ primes (Nikon, Canon, Zeiss) you may be thinking I’m crazy right now because they are expensive (unless, of course, you rent them)! I went on a search for lenses with the ultimate quality-to-price ratio. Rokinon Lenses In this search I’ve become a huge fan of Rokinon brand lenses. These are also branded under Samyang, ProOptic, and Bower. They are all the same lenses, just with different names. Rokinon seems to be the more common name in the US. The following lenses are relatively cheap compared to the pro-series Nikon or Canon lenses: Rokinon 14mm 2.8 (also available in Canon mount) Rokinon 24mm 1.4 (also available in Canon mount) Rokinon 35mm 1.4 (also available in Canon mount) Rokinon 85mm 1.4 BorrowLenses.com has the following Canon cinema lenses available to...
The Poor Man’s Tilt-Shift: Freelensing Your Way to a Specialty Lens

The Poor Man’s Tilt-Shift: Freelensing Your Way to a Specialty Lens

While we’ll never condone the wanton destruction of a lens (especially one of ours), sometimes a little home reverse engineering can do wonders–or at least make for a fun weekend project. This is exactly what photographer Jay Cassario did over at Lightshop. He took a $120 lens and converted into a tilt-shift, saving himself about $1,000. Of course, he could have just rented a tilt-shift lens from us but that is not the point! Read all about Jay’s quest to break a lens and have it be reborn into a tilt-shift. FREELENSING – The Poor Man’s Tilt-Shift by Jay Cassario, reprinted with permission. Freelensing is a relatively inexpensive way of getting the similarly unique affect of an expensive tilt-shift lens, where the focus plane is thrown out of whack with the added bonus of natural light leaks. No, this isnt anything new, and the look that an expensive tilt-shift lens gives has been around for a while, but I wanted to share with you my experience with it and how I did it. Yes, I did purchase a brand new Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 D lens from B&H only to break it and take it apart the minute I took it out of the box…but that was the reason I purchased it. I had tossed around the idea of spending the money on a tilt-shift lens that would easily cost me over $1000, but after reading about the freelensing technique from Sam Hurd, I figured I would give it a try. At the end of the day, it’s the unique look that I’m going for, so if I could get that by...