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Archive 2013 · FF vs crop for portraits
  
 
Deanh
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · FF vs crop for portraits


I'm not sure how to ask this because I'm weak on the theory of how this stuff works. Maybe this is so basic I should already know it.

I have a 60D, I use it mostly for portrait photography. I was thinking of buying a FF camera like the 5DII/5DIII/6D because I have always heard the pictures are "better" from a FF.

I'm not worried about getting the reach a crop provides, the biggest I have printed is 20x30"

I don't know what exactly makes FF "better" and if they are "better" what makes them so?

Can you look at a portrait and see that one was made with a crop vs a FF? I don't know enough about the differences, if any to tell.








Jan 14, 2013 at 07:17 PM
Monito
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · FF vs crop for portraits


Do you need to print bigger than 20 x 30? If so, get a 5D2/3/6D.

What is wrong with your 60D that you don't like that you are [s]needing[/s] wanting a full-frame? Figure that out and you'll be most of the way to answering your question.

Are you just wanting to "keep up with the Joneses"?

Rent one! Try one out that way! Make friends in Portland with a full-frame owner and shoot side by side.

Download a number of Raw portrait examples from full-frame.

Edited on Jan 14, 2013 at 07:27 PM · View previous versions



Jan 14, 2013 at 07:24 PM
jerbear00
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · FF vs crop for portraits


FF is very nice for portraits. 5D/6D simply have a better sensor.

What type of portraits are you shooting?

A good photog will have no problems producing excellent prints on a crop or really most any camera.

IMHO portrait photography is more about lighting (99% light 1% equipment) and your understanding of how to best utilize light than your equipment. Make sure you have mastered the concepts before worrying about what equipment is better than your own.



Jan 14, 2013 at 07:25 PM
chez
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · FF vs crop for portraits


jerbear00 wrote:
FF is very nice for portraits. 5D/6D simply have a better sensor.

What type of portraits are you shooting?

A good photog will have no problems producing excellent prints on a crop or really most any camera.

IMHO portrait photography is more about lighting (99% light 1% equipment) and your understanding of how to best utilize light than your equipment. Make sure you have mastered the concepts before worrying about what equipment is better than your own.


The other where FF is better for portraits is the availability of lens designed for portraits and the better ability to control out of focus areas.



Jan 14, 2013 at 07:38 PM
SweetMk
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · FF vs crop for portraits


I read the attached:
Are you just wanting to "keep up with the Joneses"?

Very interesting!

I take pics with:
a 6mp crop DSLR camera
a 16mp crop DSLR camera
two AF lenses (A kit lens and a 50mm f1.8)
four manual focus lenses

My brother uses a Canon 6D. I can see the advantage of the 6D over my DSLR's when pixel peeping (massive enlargements) but, for normal pics, they are the same, to my eyes.

And, actually, the majority of my pics turn out better because virtually 100% of my pics I add light, 90% of those off camera light, and 50% of those through a light modifier.

My brother on the other hand, hates to add light and tries to enhance his pics with IS "L" lenses. He just got his fifth last Monday.

My brother said his 6D does not even have a built in flash, and he is reluctant to purchase one. Granted, the majority of his pics are outdoors, but, I have found that even adding flash outdoors enhances my photography.
(See the 100% statement above)

So, my conclusion, from my evaluation, resultant images are far superior by adding light, rather than mp or an expensive lens.

So my question to the OP is: What do you have for light? Are you skilled with a softbox?

Is light the possible "next step"?





Jan 14, 2013 at 08:00 PM
Deanh
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · FF vs crop for portraits


No I don't need to print larger than 20x30"

I take pictures outdoors with natural light, or with fill speedlites mixed in. Also indoors with just speedlites.

What got me thinking down this road was the impression I have got from reading that FF portraits are "better" or "nicer" or "more pleasing to the eye."

I like the images my 60D gives me. But I wonder if I would like the images "better" from a FF. What do I mean by better, I don't know, it's just the impression I have from reading. Is that a wrong assumption?

Basically with the same photographer, lens, setup, lighting, subject, everything: Can you tell the difference in a portrait taken with a crop vs a FF? I guess another way of asking is, why do people choose FF vs crop for these type of images?

As for keeping up with the Jones, well I could just buy one of the FF cameras and be done with it. I may do that, but I would like to understand at least what potential the FF gives me in this area, besides "it's cool."



Jan 14, 2013 at 08:09 PM
anthonygh
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · FF vs crop for portraits


The reality is that for most people it won't be FF vs Crop that will be a limitation...or the ability to 'blur' background.

If you have the right combination of lens X focal length X aperture X ISO setting X lighting X ability to communicate with the sitter...no problems.

Obviously if you have a pretty basic crop camera vs a top quality FF then that will be a factor in how the above works out for you.



Jan 14, 2013 at 08:15 PM
15Bit
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · FF vs crop for portraits


For me it depends a bit on focal length - i actually prefer the crop/50mm combo to the equivalent FF/85mm because 85mm lenses all seem to have quite long mininum focus distances, meaning i can get closer framing with the crop/50mm setup.

For other focal lengths (70-200mm especially) i prefer FF.



Jan 14, 2013 at 08:37 PM
robbymack
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · FF vs crop for portraits


The 60D is a more than capable camera, what lenses are you using to shoot portraits? On crop I always liked 85mm, on FF 135mm is my preference, however I have also used 85mm frequently on FF as well. It sounds like you are also using flash off camera when needed. IMHO this is the first step towards really moving portraiture. Yes we can all rail on about natural light being pure, but generally I have found the most stunning portraits to be done with a combination of both. Thats how you sculpt the shadows and bring out jaw lines etc etc etc.


Jan 14, 2013 at 09:04 PM
Monito
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · FF vs crop for portraits


Deanh wrote:
Basically with the same photographer, lens, setup, lighting, subject, everything: Can you tell the difference in a portrait taken with a crop vs a FF? I guess another way of asking is, why do people choose FF vs crop for these type of images?


Generally, you can't tell reliably in double blind tests unless conditions are extreme. Extreme conditions include 1) Very large (20 x 30, say) prints, and 2) Razor thin depth of field. The larger the format the thinner the depth of field (when the same perspective is compared), so razor thin DoF is a high sign (but not a sure sign) of full-format.

Now, if you are not doing double-blind and not doing 'blind' testing -- which is to say, if you are testing where the observer knows which format made which, then you can tell subtle positive differences in the full-frame camera. This is the reason photographers who seek the ultimate in quality generally choose larger formats, when other factors permit. Other factors of course include lens selection and ISO capability as well as physical camera size (thinking medium format and large format 4x5 and 8x10).

You can and will read interminable debates about image quality this and image quality that, but nothing will compare to you shooting and printing and evaluating with your own eyes, especially if you do so side by side, adjusting the focal length to make the comparison fair.

Since you can afford to do the comparison by buying, do so. Or at the very least rent.

Nothing less will suffice.



Jan 14, 2013 at 09:06 PM
 

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Ernie Aubert
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · FF vs crop for portraits


How about a session with your brother and his 6D where you try both and see the differences with your own eyes? That would be more informative than any theorizing.


Jan 15, 2013 at 12:17 AM
Monito
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · FF vs crop for portraits


Ernie Aubert wrote:
How about a session with your brother and his 6D where you try both and see the differences with your own eyes? That would be more informative than any theorizing.


The person with the 6D brother is not the OP. But Portland is a fair sized city. I think there are some full-frame cameras accessible to the OP.




Jan 15, 2013 at 12:19 AM
Kirivon
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · FF vs crop for portraits


Honestly, to be blunt, if you have to ask why one is better than the other than you probably don't need it.

But, for the sake of the thread.. All things being equal a FF camera is going to resolve more detail and have shallower DoF provided equal aperture, working distance and equivalent FoV. A larger viewfinder is nicer to work with as well. Arguably, the color bit depth might be deeper, but if you don't have a super picky client who requires something specifically it's irrelevant. And if you do, you're probably already shooting MF.

Cropped to web size they'll all pretty much look the same anyway. Light is going to make the biggest impact on your portraits, followed by lenses, followed by camera.



Jan 15, 2013 at 09:20 AM
scottam10
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · FF vs crop for portraits


Yes, full-frame can give you razor-thin DOF, especially with lenses like the 85mm 1.2
- this is a 'look' that many photographers like
- the larger viewfinder on FF cameras is nice to work with
- However shallow DOF isn't everything, and often you need to stop down anyway to get enough in focus. Most studio portraits are taken with large DOF (ie f/5.6 or more)

Full-frame can also show less noise at high iso. Can be useful in low-light, but not relevant for most portraits.

Crop is more than capable of producing excellent results. Improving your lighting skills will make the biggest difference.



Jan 15, 2013 at 12:58 PM
Sheldon N
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · FF vs crop for portraits


Totally agree with the above comments on about the difference in light, subject interaction, composition, etc making a much bigger difference than crop vs FF. This is especially true for stopped down, strobe lit shots where it can be very difficult to tell the difference in the final image.

The DOF difference has already been mentioned, full frame will give you shallower depth of field by approximately 1 1/3 aperture stops when compared to 1.6 crop.

The other byproduct is the overall "look" of the whole image, by virtue of the fact that full frame uses the whole image circle of the lens and crop uses just the central portion of the image circle of the lens. This means that FF will show more of the softness/vignetting/aberrations at the periphery of the image where crop will show just the central portion. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective and whether you like that overall look.

A second, and more subtle, factor is that full frame requires less enlargement from the sensor size to any given print size. A crop image has to be enlarged more to make the same print (not pixel dimensions, but actual physical dimension). As you enlarge an image more, you reduce local contrast (MTF). So the FF image has a slight advantage because it demands less resolution of the lens. This is why a print from a 4x5 or 8x10 view camera with shallow depth of field can look so sharp and contrasty at the plane of focus compared to the OOF areas, the lens is not having to produce a very high resolution and therefore the contrast (MTF) can be better.

Finally, FF vs crop forces you to shoot with different focal length lenses to get the same field of view. If you're shooting prime lenses, that also forces a comparison between the two involved lenses and which one is better.

Anyhow, enough words. Here's what the difference looks like in a practical, shallow DOF situation. Pay less attention to the DOF difference and instead look at the image as a whole to see what you like.

85L II at f/1.2 versus 50L at f/1.2, both from the same shooting position, 50L shot cropped to 1.6 field of view. No lens correction applied, same settings in LR.

50L with 1.6 crop






85L full frame







Jan 15, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Red 90
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · FF vs crop for portraits


There is definitely a difference between a full frame and crop. Whether or not those contribute to better portrait depends on you. The main differences are as follows

Depth of Field - With a full frame, you will have a shallower DOF than a cropped sensor. This is more evident on large aperture lenses. Whether or not thats the type of subject isolation your going for depends on your photography style.

Field of View- With full frame, you will have a wider field of view vs a cropped sensor. You may need to adjust your lens line up depending which lenses you have. For full frame, typical portrait lenses are 85mm, 50mm and 135mm. On crop that can be changed to the 35mm, 50mm and 85mm.

Noise - For an equivalent megapixel camera, a full frame will have larger photo sites than a cropped sensor. This generally means that you have less noise especially in the higher ISO. This usually makes more of a difference if you shoot more ambient lighting conditions and lower light conditions. If you make your own light, say with strobes in a studio, you will be shooting at low iso anyways. So, that will not make much of a difference.

Resolution - There is generally more megapixels in full frame sensors. i.e. the D800, 5D MKIII or the Sony Alpha. This can become a factor if you are making large prints.

So at then end of the day... Full frame sensors will typically expand the capability of the equipment, but whether or not you use those capabilities can make a difference in your portraits depends on you.



Jan 15, 2013 at 11:14 PM
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · FF vs crop for portraits


In practice I think it's mostly just the depth of field thing.
The others aren't very significant.

When I was using a rebel, my lenses were a 50mm f/1.4 and a 17-55mm f/2.8 zoom.

Since I switched to full frame, the lenses I use mostly are 85mm f/1.8, 24-70 f/2.8.

Both equivelent focal lengths. Only with the full frame can I (sometimes) get decent narrow DOF at the narrow (70mm) end of the zoom.



Jan 16, 2013 at 01:29 AM
Daan B
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · FF vs crop for portraits


FF or crop doesn't matter. Light, composition, technique and being able to get what you want out of your subject do matter.


Jan 16, 2013 at 03:53 PM
SoundHound
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · FF vs crop for portraits


FF has more sensor real estate so it is superior (all other factors held constant) for low light hi ISO to crop. But to get the same aspect ratio on a Tele you have to pay a lot more. For instance I shoot portraits @ F2.0 with the huge/expensive 200mm F2.0. The crop equivalent is the compact/ moderately priced 135mm F2.0. Ditto for wide angles if only becaise it takes more glass-and money-to cover the FF. So a move to FF will mean a change from APS C lenses and, typically, a higher price for the same camera/lens angle.


Jan 16, 2013 at 05:03 PM
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · FF vs crop for portraits


Daan B wrote:
FF or crop doesn't matter. Light, composition, technique and being able to get what you want out of your subject do matter.

But FF gives you a little more freedom when it comes to composition, and sometimes even lighting.
It's not huge, but portraiture is probably one of the types of photography where it makes the most difference (relative to other types). In some types, FF is a hindrance.

Soundhound at the lower end I don't see a problem with the lenses.
50mm f/1.4 (crop) vs. 85mm f/1.8 (FF)
17-55mm f/2.8 (crop) vs. 24-70mm f/2.8 (FF)
85mm f/1.8 (crop) vs. 135mm f/2.0 (FF)
70-200mm f/2.8 (FF)
Granted I bought most of my lenses before most of the modern-day price increases.



Jan 16, 2013 at 05:52 PM
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