Ask yourself, do you really need a full frame DSLR?

Ask yourself that question; do you really NEED a full frame DSLR? Not want, NEED?

If the answer is yes then ask yourself this. Am I a professional photographer? If you answer yes, then you’re dismissed, you do indeed need full frame for which the benefits are well documented and obvious.

If you answered no then you don’t need that full frame DSLR, you merely WANT it.

Don’t get me wrong here; I’d kill to get my hands on a Nikon D3x but at 6k for the body only that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

With the advancements made on crop sensor cameras these days I just cannot for the life of me understand why an amateur photographer would need a full frame DSLR other than for bragging rights. Newer bodies such as the Canon 7D or the excellent Nikon D7000 have closed the gap from crop to full sensors enough to negate the benefits to the amateur when compared against the cost.

I went through this dilemma heavily a few months back. I was going to be in a position to upgrade my Nikon D90 and had identified the D7000 as the likely object of desire. However, over the space of a few weeks I found myself shuffling finances to try and make a Nikon D700 possible instead, and when I got that to add up, I started looking at used D3’s as they were around the same price. The killer though was the collection of DX format lenses I already had.

Not being made of money I had to think long and hard here. Buy the D700/D3 and get a couple of used middle of the road lenses to get me by or keep the existing kit and go for a Nikon D300s or D7000. I was all but convinced I HAD to go full frame until I took a good look at myself.

I’m an amateur photographer, I do it 99% for the personal enjoyment. I had a collection of reasonable DX format lenses already. Spending nearly 3k for a new body and a couple of lenses simply didn’t make sense at the end of day. I don’t have that requirement for perfect noise free images and any roads, I shot on a tripod at ISO100/200 most of the time anyway so the low light performance wasn’t the killer blow to the crop sensor for me.

In the end I bought a Nikon D7000 and added a MD-11 battery grip. It worked with all my existing kit, I got the newest Nikon technological advances and as I hadn’t broke the bank I was able to upgrade my filter system and a few other bits a bobs. So happy with the performance of the D7000 I was, I added a Nikon 18-200mm VRII lens to the collection to replace an aging DX format mid range zoom and couldn’t be happier with the combination.

I’m glad I went this way in the end, new kit with warranty has to be better than second hand just to get that full frame. I took a while but thankfully I managed to separate the WANT from the NEED and got what was right for my ability, intended use and budget.

Don’t fall for the hype; get what’s right for you. A properly used crop sensor DSLR will outperform a badly used full frame every day of the week. Don’t be that guy with a D3 who takes snapshots better suited to a compact camera!

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4 responses

  1. Chris

    Interesting dilemma. Thanks for the straight forward opinion. I too am a D90 owner and are throwing this question around. My question is how does the D7000 close the gap between crop and full frame for you?

    February 8, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    • Quite simply the D7000 is a hugely capable camera and it’s an absolute bargain too. Unless you want the frame rate of the D300s it’s the one to go for, it’s packing the newest Nikon technology and that 16mp sensor is excellent. The big question about full frame is always the same, how many lenses would you have to replace and that for me is the sticking point. I’ve not regretted buying the D7000 at all. It’s half the price of a D700 and less than half the price of the new D800. It handles noise very well at high ISO and is a top notch all rounder with great AF. Buy one, you won’t regret it.

      February 8, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      • Cage

        Well Played !!

        July 8, 2012 at 4:21 pm

  2. RAM

    Thank you for this article. I’m doing the same. I just can’t justify buying a full frame camera. You made my decision easier!

    May 23, 2014 at 2:48 pm

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