Full-frame lenses on APS-C Camera bodies

Tony Northrup has made a video on YouTube about mounting full-frame lenses to APS-C camera bodies and it’s inspired me to write this. If you are someone who shoots with an APS-C camera body, buying full-frame lenses for your APS-C camera body is a great idea and could potentially save you a lot of money. Plus full-frame lenses are usually higher quality.

What is your use case? Do you plan to upgrade?

The title, “TECHNICAL: Full-frame lenses on APS-C cameras is USUALLY bad“, makes no mention of image quality; Tony Northrup has alleged, with the title of his video, that it’s bad practise in general to mount a full-frame lens to an APS-C camera body. This claim is wrong.

The title should read “are” and not “is”. Tony Northrup struggles with the English language, for example he says things like “that works good” instead of “that works well”, etc. Something doesn’t work “good” — it is either good or it works well. At first you might think I am being a grammar nazi but a part of me wonders if the average viewer (including myself) misunderstands Tony Northrup’s video because his use of the English language is so poor. If I could understand what he truly means, perhaps his arguments might not be so far fetched? Unfortunately, I cannot debate the imaginary or what’s inside his head; I can only debate what’s said or written… Both of those are inaccurate.

To refute what’s written in the title… If you’ve got an APS-C camera and you plan to upgrade in the future, buying full-frame lenses will likely save you money long-term as you won’t have to sell your APS-C lenses and buy new full-frame equivalents when you upgrade. This should be a major reason as to why you consider full-frame lenses. Full-frame lenses are often sealed better and have superior build quality, amongst other things.

Image quality, lens design, etc.

Tony Northrup has discussed his methodology for judging the image quality. From what I can understand, he’s gone about this entirely the wrong way. He also seems a bit perplexed as to how you keep the lens in the same position to judge sharpness results.

Firstly, you should know that lenses change sharpness based on their aperture, focal length, and focus position. Focus position is changed by changing the aperture and focal length as well. The solution is to mount a manual focus prime lens to your tripod; do not mount your camera body to the tripod unless the sensor is in an identical position relative to the tripod mounting point. Leave the lens set at its widest aperture and do not touch its focus ring. When you want to compare different cameras, you can then swap them over leaving the lens in exactly the same place. An autofocus lens might work but you have to make sure it doesn’t change focus when the camera is powered on.

If you use the crop tool in photoshop, and crop into an image, on a 1:1 pixel level the quality hasn’t changed. That is the equivalent of a crop camera vs a full-frame camera. Assuming all things are equal, mounting a full-frame lens onto an APS-C camera body will not decrease the detail. The sharpest part of a lens is usually always in the middle of a lens; however, it’s somewhat unfair to argue APS-C is sharper in that regard as if the pixel density of the full-frame sensor is the same as the APS-C camera, it still has those sharp parts of the image. It is fair to say that the edge of a full-frame photograph looks less sharp than the edge of an APS-C camera though, taken with the same lens.

The only theoretical anti-argument to this is if APS-C cameras have slightly different microlenses on their sensor or the thickness of the glass covering the sensor is slightly different, and APS-C camera lenses are designed SPECIFICALLY to those specifications.

For you to test all of this accurately, you would have to use cameras with sensors that have an identical pixel density per square inch. Otherwise, you risk changing more than one variable. I’d also recommend mounting an APS-C camera lens on a full-frame camera set to APS-C mode. If Tony Northrup’s claims are accurate, the APS-C camera lens should lose detail on the full-frame camera just as the full-frame lens loses detail on the APS-C camera. If it does not, all you’ve really proven is that specific lens is sharper than the one you compared it to. I’d be impressed (and disgusted) if lower budget (i.e. APS-C) Sony, Canon, Nikon, Leica, etc. lenses are all sharper than their own higher budget models.

Laptops as a desktop replacement, windows and mac

With the release of the new Macbook Pro 16 inch laptop, I think a lot of Apple users will be happy. I’m a very unbiased person when it comes to computer software as I’ve used over 20 different operating systems and they’ve all had pluses and minuses. This post isn’t about that however, but rather the hardware…

The new Macbook Pro 16 inch laptop has soldered components and a battery which will be at 80% of its full capacity after 12 months of use if you’ve kept the laptop plugged in a while. After a few years, it will degrade more, and the SSD will eventually break (they all do eventually; this isn’t company specific) but you won’t be able to replace it because it’s soldered on — good job Apple.

For the consumer this is absolutely fine (apparently people are okay these days with $3k products being treated as a disposable chocolate bar) but for someone running a business, I cannot recommend it. There is a lot of value in being able to walk in a store and have the item replaced very quickly but it’s still a pain if you’ve got a lot of data on there and you have to set up another machine.

I’d quite like to see Apple make a thicker Macbook Pro 16″ with user replaceable RAM, SSDs and a replaceable battery. Obviously they couldn’t charge a ridiculous fee for $100 in component addons but this would be better for the business person in general. They don’t really offer a workstation computer for the professional and this new machine will thermal throttle a lot (when the computer gets hot, it’s told to slow down the processors to cool the machine).

Needless to say, the Apple MacBook Pro 16 is garbage and there isn’t a Windows vs Linux vs Apple debate here because Apple doesn’t actually offer anything of value in this niche (is it even a niche? there’s a lot of people doing video editing these days).

Windows Workstation Laptops

As I’ve been forced into Windows if I want a powerful laptop which will be user repairable, I’ve been looking at various machines.

The Dell XPS 15″ caught my attention first; I’d seen a lot of hype about it on YouTube. It’s pretty poor, thermal throttles badly and they have poor quality control. The Dell Precision 5540 is basically the same machine except a few different hardware options and Dell Support would take you more seriously.

There’s a bunch of others made by Razer, MSI and whatnot. Some have OLED screens which should be avoided (burn in, colour accuracy depends on brightness, etc.) and some have a low colour gamut…

When you’ve filtered out the bad machines, you’re not left with much at all, haha. So I’ve seen the Lenovo X1 Extreme Gen 2, Lenovo P1 Gen 2 and the Lenovo P53. The first two models are similar except they come with different SSDs, the Lenovo P1 Gen 2 has 10bit colour and a different graphics card. The Lenovo P53 has way more options in general and the Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 card rivals that of some desktop cards.

Unfortunately though the aesthetics of these laptops simply doesn’t match that of Dell XPS computers or the Apple Macbook Laptops. Nonetheless, if you don’t care about that and you need a powerful laptop in a hotel, on a plane or whatever, check out the Lenovo P53. Don’t buy it with extra RAM and don’t get the i9 model (it produces too much heat). Buy the i7, 256GB (lowest option) with 8GB RAM and then upgrade the RAM and storage yourself. It will be a lot cheaper that way.

A brief update regarding Capture One Pro

I’ve been using Capture One Pro for a while now and I love it more and more. For anyone who’s wanting to try it there is a monthly trial available.

The more you use something, the more you get a feel for its speed compared to trying it for ten minutes. It is incredibly fast software, and it has great customisation options which Adobe Lightroom simply doesn’t have. For example, you can set the entire file structure when you import a photograph. At this point, I’d actually like to see Adobe issue a Photoshop only plan for 65% of the cost of the Photography Plan. I don’t need Lightroom any longer.

This isn’t a long review or anything as I’m not ready for that, but I do urge you to try it for a few minutes each day. If you’re a busy professional, it will be slower at first because you’re not used to it. That’s why I think trying it a few minutes each day and watching a video here and there will be good enough to give you a feel for it. The colours are really really good with Sony and I think it quashes the idea Sony cameras have bad colour science.

Capture One Pro & Adobe Software Workflow

I’ve recently been talking to more and more professional photographers about various parts of their business and workflow, and Capture One Pro has rapidly become an industry standard — rightfully so. With Sony and Fujifilm (Adobe has severe bugs when dealing with Fujifilm files) users especially, they should take a strong look at the software as it has many key benefits compared to its competition.

Capture One Pro vs Adobe Lightroom

Over the upcoming days, I will compare the software to Adobe Lightroom and why I think you should use this as part of your photography workflow.

I am not suggesting it replaces the complicated tools found within Adobe Photoshop, but rather that you should have a Capture One Pro & Adobe Photoshop workflow rather than an Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop workflow.

There are three striking differences which stand out to me in particular compared to Adobe Lightroom:

  • Colours and contrast are handled much better with Capture One Pro
  • Capture One Pro is considerably faster
  • Tethering works flawlessly with Sony mirrorless cameras e.g. the Sony a7r IV unlike Adobe Lightroom which is terribleThere are far more differences than those listed above but these features alone make a massive difference. I will make a more comprehensive post in the future, but please give the software a go. You can use it for free for up to a month.

Garmin Fenix 5x & Garmin Explore App with Android

I’ve recently found an app I didn’t know about before called Garmin Explore. It is different from Garmin Connect in that it lets you view a map (a bit like GaiaGPS), your saved waypoints and your activities.

Garmin Explore Offline Maps

You can download offline maps with it, and it seems quite smooth functioning. As with all apps like this, they drain a fair amount of battery when you’re using the GPS.

I’ve encountered a small problem which is that it won’t show any of my past activities prior to installing the app. However, it does show newly created ones.

Garmin MapShare with a Garmin Fenix 5x or Garmin Fenix 6x Pro Solar Watch

You can also use the mapshare feature (I thought this was only available to inreach customers) to show your activities on a map to friends/family and there’s an option to password it as well. This will only update when you have an internet connection and sync the watch, unlike a Garmin InReach Mini or the like but it’s still pretty awesome.

I am currently trying to figure out how to show previous activities. If I find a way, I will update this post. Certainly check it out if you have a Garmin Fenix 5x, Garmin Fenix 6x Pro Solar or whatnot :).

Sony a9ii release

The a7 and a9 cameras are starting to become quite a mess in my opinion.

The Sony a9ii doesn’t compete with the a7r IV

The ethernet port, beefed up mount and the extra dial could have been put into the a7r IV. There’s no reason for the pc sync port in 2019 either. This is their “pro” camera and it has to have everything, I get that. The problem is that it has everything only when compared to the Sony a7III — not the Sony a7r IV. If you want a high megapixel landscape camera i.e. if you want 61mp, you buy the Sony a7r IV. At least one camera should include the 61mp sensor, the extra dial, the ethernet port, etc. Otherwise you’re forced into a “do I want the extra features at the cost of the sensor?” dilemma.

There are studio photographers wanting a high MP camera who would benefit from that ethernet port. There are people who photograph houses (like me) who like to switch settings rapidly and they’d benefit from that extra dial.

Sports photographers aren’t the only type of professional photographers in existence either. It’s beyond irritating that I cannot bracket while controlling my camera with my phone for example. Give me a camera with everything; I understand that might sound very firstworldproblem of me, but sports photographers get everything.

Should there be a Sony a9r?

One way to tidy this mess up would be to give the Sony a7r V all of the improved features and sell the Sony a9 cameras as the vanilla Sony a7’s and then make a Sony a10 with a huge grip. Another way would be to continue what they’re doing but sell an a9r for $200 more than the a7r IV (I’m not paying more than that for a measly dial and an ethernet port).

Instead, they have all kind of have unique features and their target audience/purchasing demographic are the confused. Compare that to the Samsung galaxy s10 and the Samsung galaxy note 10, and you can see their intended sales demographic is quite clear: the one with more money gets everything.

Did they play into the lens mount complaints?

What I’m really confused about is why the Sony a9ii is advertised as having an improved / stronger mount for “bigger” lenses…

I’ve looked at the design of the e-mount lenses and they all (from what I’ve observed) have a breakaway point. So if you damage them, some lugs snap off and you replace the mount (it’s cheaper than bending parts and having to replace huge parts of the lens). This isn’t necessarily as good as you might imagine because the lens can still fall further and damage itself more once disconnecting from the mount. I digress… Is the improved mount even necessary, i.e. is it there just to stop people complaining, or are we to infer it is and you shouldn’t mount big lenses on the a7r IV?

It’s beyond me as to why they’re deliberately gimping the a7r IV in this way. The vanilla a7’s I get; this creates separation. But there’s not a high megapixel camera better than the a7r IV, so why not give it everything?

I’m just one person and I’m sure no one cares, but the way I usually react to this is by not giving them my money.