Sens(or) And Sensibility
Sensor size matters. There, I said it. I’m not referring to megapixels, for the most part I could care less and think we ought to be talking about the size of the pixels not only the number of them. But that’s not what I want to talk about.
In an unusually gear-focused post, and I’ll make it quick and painless, I promise, I wanted to mention two things about sensor size.
1. Sensor-size matters. Photography is an aesthetic art and when something – whether that’s gear or settings – affects the aesthetics of an image, it matters as much as the painter’s choice of brush does. Sensor size affects your potential depth of field. Why do some images look more film-like and “professional”? Better glass, yes, but I’d wager that the images had a better-than-good chance of being shot on a full-frame sensor. Want bang for your buck on your next body purchase? Quit chasing the megapixels and get a body with a full frame sensor.
2. Forget Equivalency. An 85mm lens is not “equivalent to a 135″ on a cropped sensor body. If there’s one thing that pushes my gear-geek button it’s this lunacy of perpetuating the notion that, oh, he’s shooting a Canon 50D so his 200mm lens is really a 300mm.” In a word: rubbish. Shooting with an 85mm lens on a cropped sensor is not like shooting with a 135. It’s alot like shooting with an 85mm on a cropped sensor body. Why does this send me to edge of geek-rage? Because it tells me we’re all still fixated on the size of the lens and not the behavior of it. The perceived compression of elements that a 200mm lens will create on an image created with a full sized sensor and a cropped one is the same. Only the crop is different. I get why people still use this equivalency stuff but it perpetuates the notion that magnification is the only property of a lens and that thinking effectively pulls an important tool from our creative thinking as photographers. Choose your lens based on behaviour, then consider the crop. If you need to get closer to the duck, use your feet.