My head is going to explode!

Blog Forums Photography My head is going to explode!

This topic contains 10 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Zach Matthews Mar 6, 2015 at 11:48 am.

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  • #88568
    Bob Riggins
    Bob Riggins
    Member

    Ok, this seems like it would be a simple question but the answers I could find make no sense to me. First, the reason for the question. We may go to Africa and I want a camera with a decent zoom without breaking the bank. I’m not taking pictures for National Geographic. I finally got my hands around sensor size, so I narrowed it down to a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 which has a 16X zoom stated as up to 400mm (35mm equivalent). It has a 1′ sensor. However, at the price ($800 +/-) I realized I could buy a Canon T5i dslr with an 18mm to 55mm and a 75mm – 250mm lens for about the same price and get an APS-C sensor. Here is where it gets really squirrely. Due to something called a crop factor, the 250mm on the Canon really means 400mm (35mm equivalent). Sooo, it seems like the Cannon would be 16X with this lens, like the Panasonic.

    When I try to confirm this on the internet, all I get is a lot of technical mumbo jumbo to what should be a simple question. If I take a picture with both cameras at maximum zoom, will I get the same magnification on the print? My research also brought up an ancillary question. Does the 16X have anything to do with the magnification? In other words, if I take a picture of the same elephant at the same distance with the two cameras, will the elephant be the same size on an 8″ X 10″ print.

    #88573

    Bob,
    Great question – this issue confused me as well when I started looking into cameras with interchangeable lenses.

    It’s funny how the point and shoot cameras with their “_X” zoom designations to make things seem simple, actually end up making it more confusing. 16X just refers to the range of focal lengths. For example, on the Panasonic camera you mention, the longest focal length is 400mm (actually, the equivalent of that on a 35mm camera). So if the zoom is 16X, that means the shortest focal length for the camera (i.e., the widest angle of view) would be 400/16=25mm (35mm equivalent).

    With the ASP-C sensor Canon you mention, the crop factor is about 1.6 (good article on what a crop factor is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_factor). This means that the 35mm equivalent of the focal length will be 1.6 times the focal length of the lens you use. So the 18-55mm gives an equivalent field of view on the ASP-C sensor as a 30-88mm on a 35mm sensor (note that a 35mm sensor on a digital camera is often called a “full-frame” sensor). This lens would have a 55/18=3X zoom factor.

    So with the two lenses you mention, the T5i will give you focal lengths (in 35mm equivalent) of 30-400mm. With the Panasonic, you’d have coverage from 25-400mm (in 35mm equivalent). So you’ve found two systems that give basically the same coverage in terms of different angles of view. So yes, with both at their maximum focal length, that elephant will cover the same amount o the frame.

    I don’t know much about either of these cameras (or the lenses), but I’d be inclined to go with the camera with the larger sensor. Larger sensors generally improve image quality, especially when there is less light. That DSLR will probably also give you some additional features that are helpful.

    Whatever you go with, make sure to spend plenty of time with it learning functions, etc. before your trip!

    J

    #88576
    Brett Colvin
    Brett Colvin
    Member

    Hi Bob,

    I think Jason has done a good job covering the nitty gritty. I will just add that a DSLR gives you the flexibility to change lenses as your needs vary.

    Another point you should consider along with interchangeable lenses is the option to rent. A trip to Africa will be very memorable and what I can tell you from experience is that every time I’ve gotten my hands on a camera lens with higher magnification, I immediately want…MORE MAGNIFICATION. Even on a crop sensor, I personally would consider a 300mm lens (on top of the 1.6x crop factor) as the minimum for wildlife. You will probably be wishing the whole time that you had 400mm or even 600mm.

    The good news is that you don’t have to buy these lenses. They are available to rent from places like http://www.borrowlenses.com for pretty reasonable prices.

    As one example, the Canon EF 100-400mm zoom can be rented for $61 bucks per week. They ship the lens to you, along with a pre-paid label for returning it when you’re done. Slick and pretty inexpensive…

    I’d love to see some of your shots when you get back – Africa is definitely on my bucket list.

    Safe travels.

    #88578

    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    Bob –

    Your question has been answered very well technically, but I’ll try to put it into a lay context.

    The Canon has a sensor the size of 22.2 X 14.8 mm which is 328.5 square millimeters.

    The Panasonic has a sensor which which is 13.2 x 8.8 mm for a total of 116 square millimeters, or about 1/3rd the size of the Canon (as an area measurement).

    If you’ve ever put a lens designed for a smaller sensor size on a camera with a big sensor, you’ll understand this: the lens shines a circle of light back onto the sensor/film area. The sensor itself merely records a square which is “punched out” of that circle of light. On a mismatched setup like I described the square punch can be bigger than the round circle of light and you can thus actually see the circle in the final image. Here’s an example of what that looks like:

    Get the idea? Now imagine that instead of the light circle being smaller than the square “punch,” it’s the other way around. The question becomes, how big is the square punch? Let’s assume we use the same lens on the same camera and merely change out the sensor size, ok?

    Unquestionably the bigger sensor will take better pictures. This is because it is capturing more of the available circle of light. When you blow that little square up to a regular viewing size (say 8X10), it takes much less *magnification* to fill the 8X10 space than if you used the tiny sensor in the same circle of light.

    Generally speaking bigger sensors and bigger lenses are always going to take better pictures. This is why photographers like Ansel Adams used the enormous full sized Land Camera with 4 inch by 6 inch plates of film to take their amazing landscape shots. A few years ago Kodak made a single camera that took a life-sized picture of a human being (they used it after 9/11 to photograph firefighters). The resolution was astounding because there was no magnification at all. It was like looking at a 2D person standing in front of you.

    I tell you all this so you understand what is really going on with “crop factor.” Really it is a measurement of magnification only. If I take a 200 mm lens and put it on a full frame body (meaning it has a sensor the size of 35mm film), and take a picture, THEN I put the lens on a “DX” or APS-C style body, and take the same picture, then the shot taken with the smaller sensor will be more zoomed in and thus will appear to give more of a telephoto effect. But, this is really just an optical illusion, because I can take the picture from the first body, MAGNIFY IT, cut out the center, and get the exact same result. The advantage of the bigger chip is that you actually have the OPTION to decide whether you want to magnify the image to “APS-C” size or not.

    In other words, there is no true telephoto effect assuming one uses the same lens. The smaller chip size simply forces you into magnification *after the light is collected by the sensor*, which generally speaking is something you’d rather control versus being forced to accept.

    Your question is more complicated because of course you are not comparing apples to apples. One is a DSLR with multiple lens options and the other is a glorified point and shoot with only one lens, although that lens may well be more versatile than any single lens you could get for the DSLR. I think you need to decide whether you are looking for an easy carry around versus more of a real commitment to the camera. Of course, if you are looking for a mere carry around, you most likely already have an excellent point and shoot camera in your pocket.

    Zach

    #88587
    Bob Riggins
    Bob Riggins
    Member

    Thanks guys. As you can see, I’m no photo bug and have no aspirations in that direction. I haven’t owned an SLR since my film days. Most of my pictures are for my own use and I rarely print over 8″ X 10″. I actually started out looking at the Canon T3i a while back, but when the possibility of the Africa trip came up, I started looking at super zoom bridge cameras like the Canon SX50 with a 50X zoom. That’s when I got tripped up on sensor size. The super zoom cameras are able to get that amount of zoom by using a small sensor (1/2.3). After deciding to look at larger sensors, I came up with the Panasonic FZ1000, with 16X. In the mean time, I discovered that the 50X and 16X didn’t really mean what I thought it did.

    So, while I like the simplicity of a point and shoot, I decided that for the money I could get the T5i with a decent zoom. I really like the idea of renting a longer zoom for the trip. I can rent a zoom up to 400mm, which would give be about 640mm on the APS-C, so that is probably the direction I want to go.

    Now the only question is whether I want an Image Stabilization lens and 250mm or non IS at 300mm. (Oh no, my head is starting to hurt again)

    #88609
    Bob Riggins
    Bob Riggins
    Member

    Just wanted to thank everyone for the input. I was about to pull the trigger on the Canon T5i, but after some more research I shifted gears and bought the Nikon D5200 with an 18mm-55mm DX lens and a 55-300 DX lens (this was hard because I have always been a Canon guy). I know the lenses aren’t great, but again, I’m not shooting for National Geographic. From all the reviews I read, the Canon seemed more user friendly, but the D5200 consistently scored higher in image quality. Since I mostly shoot landscapes and wildlife, image quality was the key consideration.

    #88610

    Alan Corbin
    Member

    I think you won’t regret it. I have that same camera but the larger lense is a 55-200. Lots of features and quality images
    Enjoy

    #88616

    Congrats Bob. Look forward to seeing your images.

    J A Y M OR R
    http://www.flickr.com/jaymorr

    #88633

    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    Yeah definitely congrats Bob. Post them here when you take them.

    Zach

    #88644
    Bob Riggins
    Bob Riggins
    Member

    OK, after listening to Mike the Maven videos trying to learn how to use the camera, I finally got out for some practice. These were taken in JPEG and reduced in Picassa, so I’ve lost a little detail, but I am really happy with the quality of the images (at least the ones I didn’t screw up). I understand that real photographers shoot in the RAW, but I was afraid I would get arrested.

    The white egret is the very first picture I took with the camera. We went to a seaside park to take some pics and I was able to get this one. There was construction going on so most of the park was closed. We had to go to another lakefront park, where I got the gator. I really had problems here due to a low sun and strong backlight on the water. Most of my shots were trash, but I learned some lessons.

    The other two shots were taken at a lake close to home. I generally got the lighting better overall, but I still had trouble with depth of field. Anyway, with the help of Mike the Maven and playing with the camera, I am getting more comfortable.

    #88668

    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    Cool Bob!

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