By : Nikon School Blog | 20 Sep, 2014 |
Ever wondered why all’s well when you are shooting with your phone or compact camera, but all that changes when suddenly, the light drops? The answer lies deep within the camera.
The sensor is the heart of the camera where the image is formed, just like a canvas in a painting. As painting details in a very small canvas is difficult, even the best compact or phone camera sensors, being very small, can’t cope with minute details and challenging light conditions. Blown out highlights and lost shadows are a constant problem. This is the reason why any serious photographer would always trust a D-SLR for even the most regular photo ops.
DSLRs use a much bigger sensor that can gather and process more light. This inevitably results in much higher image quality than can be achieved by even high end compact and phone cameras. Moreover, bigger sensors require larger lenses that significantly improve image quality, as bigger optics result in sharper images.
The bigger sensor has further advantages. The smaller the sensor, larger the depth of field is. Simply put, it’s difficult to take images with a nicely de-focused background. This is why many phone cameras use in-camera software to create the effect of shallow depth of field, but these effects are hardly convincing.
The DSLR range in Nikon is categorised into two formats namely, Full Frame (FX) and the APS-C (DX) format. A clear understanding of these two formats will help you use your Nikon gear more efficiently.
The more popular format is the APS-C or the Nikon DX format. This format has a crop factor of 1.5 which means the sensor is 1.5 times smaller than the FX one, when measured diagonally. The DX format offers a perfect balance between quality, size and performance.
The large sensors produce very high quality images while the lenses are not so large to cause any burden to the photographer who travels a lot. You can produce most of the exciting results to be achieved in photography with any DX format camera paired with appropriate lenses and accessories. Even in low light, the DX sensors perform much better than any smaller sensor cameras. Where the phone camera is of no use, the DX format sensor can open up a wide range of creative possibilities.
The FX format sensor is roughly the same size as the 35mm film that was widely in use till the early 2000s. This is the largest digital sensor used in the consumer camera category. Generally, professionals and serious amateur photographers prefer this format. One clear advantage FX has over DX is the low light capabilities. In low light, these sensors produce much crisper images than smaller sensors, even the DX cameras, and can produce commercially usable images in extremely tricky light. The FX format lenses are, obviously bigger than DX format lenses, and the larger optics results in better image quality. Photographers requiring shallow depth of field benefit more from this format as lenses with openings up to f/1.2 are available.
If you are serious about pursuing photography, consider upgrading to a DSLR as the control that you get over every picture you shoot, is incredible. Which one is for you? Start with a DX and you’ll know when you need to move to FX.