The hope of things to come?
I have always found it odd that camera manufacturers make full-frame cameras only for their high-end markets. There is a whole generation of digital shooters out there that have no idea what an 18 mm lens really acts like, or what the angle of view a 50 mm really gives you. They have grown up in a world of cropped (APS-C) sensors, and have cut their teeth on a 1.6 crop factor.
I remember my first DSLR, my Canon 300D, the very first Digital Rebel. I was so excited that I could pop one of my older EOS lenses on it and shoot, but something weird happened when I did. My lenses didn’t act like they were suppose to act. Up until this point I had shot only film. For that matter, most everyone had only shot using film. Up until then, when you put a 28 mm lens on a 35 mm film camera it gave you a 28 mm angle of view. Simple. Now my 28 mm lens was acting more like a 45 mm. Now, almost 10 years later photographers think wide-angle lenses acts like a ‘normal‘ lens.
Many people are confused about just what is changed when using a cropped sensor. Is my 50 mm now really a 80 mm, is my 28 mm now a 45 mm? Many are duped to to believe this is true. The clue is in the term “cropped.” The images are really just cropped. So, an image shot with a 28 mm lens on my old 300D is really a 28 mm image in every way, it is just cropped down to give you what you would see in a 45 mm lens. It is the same angle of view as a 28 mm lens, the same compression of a 28 mm lens, everything is the same except it is cropped. In effect users have been cheated. We are being told we are buying a 28 mm lens, but it is not giving us a 28 mm image. Then back peddling they tell us, “Well, ok-it is really a 45 mm lens.” But that’s not true either. The reality is if your not shooting a full frame sensor you have no clue what a 28mm lens acts like, or any other lens for that matter. The other interesting thing is, if a 28 mm lens crops to look like a 45 mm but still gives the angle of view and compression of a 28 mm and the 50 mm looks more like an 80 mm–there is no normal lens with a cropped sensor!
Then just the other day I started to think maybe–just maybe there is hope on the horizon. Recently, both Canon and Nikon have released what they are calling a “prosumer” full frame DSLRs, the 6D from Canon and the D600 from Nikon. These are both expected to retail for around $2100.00, not cheap but a far cry from the $3,500 sticker price on the Canon 5D MK III or the $3,000 tag on the Nikon D800. Could these two giants see the value in offering a full frame camera to the masses? Really, how much more is a full frame sensor than a cropped one? My guess is not much. So what’s keeping them from making a real entry level full frame camera? In a word: Profit. If Canon or Nikon were to make a truly entry-level full frame camera it would eat into their profits. Their entry-level markets and their pro level markets would both take a hit.
I would love to see photography return to reality. The kind of reality where cameras actually shot pictures in relation to the number that is printed on their lens barrels. As much as these two cameras create a level of hope in me there is still a large degree of skepticism that says greed will win out. Maybe some upstart or second string camera manufacturer will come in and shake things up and produce a $1000 full frame camera. Maybe that’s a dream, but I can dream can’t I?