This is one of the most entertaining, well-done video reviews I’ve seen in quite a while.

Count me a fan of Zack Arias.

Even if I don’t agree with everything he says.

In a walk down memory lane, Zach schools his audience with an abbreviated history of film and sensor formats, all in service of making two basic points:

1) The full-frame vs. crop sensor (especially vs. APS-C) debate is overblown; and
2) Beyond the camera itself, this is in large measure why he feels so comfortable taking the Fuji XT-1 on a professional shoot.

Zach makes a third, more subtle point — or, perhaps, offers a second data point — which is that micro 4/3 is just fine, too: his review is shot on a Panasonic GH4.

I don’t want to spoil the fun, so I won’t write much more about the review other than to say 1) I laughed out loud and truly appreciated the artistry of the performance, its content and the shoot itself; and 2) present my one caution: while it is true, as Zach asserts, that the differences between full frame and APS-C sensors is moving toward negligible (see “Downsizing from a 5D Mk II to…the Rebel SL1?”), it’s entertainment at the expense of verity — maybe better to write “truth at the expense of accuracy” — when he compares the “war of the sensors”  to the “war of the film formats” a generation ago.

They’re different, and they’re not.

Why? Because:

1) The chemistry of film and the physics of sensors are different.  35mm Tri-X, for example, is the same emulsion as 6×6 Tri-X and 8×10 Tri-X: same grain structure, same light sensitivity, same everything except size.  The only real difference among film formats in image quality, therefore, is resolution (and thus, it’s true nuances in tonality). Different sized sensors, with different sized photo sites and different circuitry and software, yield different light sensitivity, dynamic range and color rendition.

2) Irrespective of format, the lenses in the film format wars were usually functionally equivalent: e.g. an 80mm 2.8 on a 6×6 Hassy was the true focal length and DOF equivalent of a 50 1.8 on a 35mm Leica (less true when considering 4×5 or 8×10, but then they were typically used for landscape, where infinite depth of field was appropriate and daylight was the standard (oh, and there was NO MOTION). In the digital age, the lenses currently native to crop sensor cameras — APS-C or MTF or even the much smaller P&S and smartphones — typically have MUCH smaller maximum aperture equivalents than full frame, leading to significant differences in depth of field and, all else being equal, requiring more light  (or accepting a noisier image), especially when shutter speed must be held constant for videography.  It’s why there’s a growing recognition and yearning for very large maximum aperture lenses in the formats smaller than full-frame

But to the larger point, he’s still right — especially when one considers that most images are not mural sized, but shown instead on computer screens operating well below the potential resolution of most cameras out there — or HDTVs with even lower resolution.

And to what is his most important point — that it’s ultimately not about the equipment but about what the artist brings to it — one can only say: “just so.”  Tri-X could yield billboard sized images, too — and did — when grain was an integral part o the emotional and visual punch of an image.

Zack, you da man!

Crop Sensors vs Full Frame :: Crop Or Crap?

Via Youtube Description:

Let’s get a few things out of the way ::

I have said, in the past, that you should move toward full frame sensors. I have always championed full frame sensors. At the end of the day, full frame sensors beat APS sized and smaller sensors.

The whole reason I bought an original x100 was because it had the largest sensor I could find in a small camera. It had been a number of years since I had shot an APS crop frame sensor. The last APS camera I shot professionally was the Nikon D200. I replaced that with a Nikon D3 (full frame) and then moved on to the Canon 5d2, (also full frame.) From the time I retired my D200 to using the x100 on jobs was about four years. When I bought that little x100 I had ZERO desire to change to a new camera system. I sure as hell was NOT going to switch from a full frame camera to an APS camera. Full frame cameras are better. Right?

If I have ruffled your feathers, as these topics usually tend to do, please read my entire blog post about this topic before you fire something off at me. I go more in depth there.


(cover photo credit: snap from the video)

Hugh Brownstone

Hugh is a corporate escapee and founder of Three Blind Men and An Elephant Productions.He and the team write, direct, shoot, score, and edit web-centric films; conduct photo shoots; and write copy, white papers, blog posts, and profiles. If it's about telling stories, it's in their wheelhouse.

And always with the ambition of authenticity, humanity and wit.