How to choose a full-frame camera

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The end of the year is a time to take stock. We will not stand aside and analyze how 2021 added to the pedigree of photographic equipment.

So if you are planning to update your arsenal, trying on the first camera and want to choose the best full-frame camera (and full-frame cameras are always a high price tag, and you cannot miss the choice) or just curious about new photos – the material below is for you.

How to choose a full-frame camera

      1. Mirrors or mirrorless

SLR cameras get their name from the movable mirror mechanism. It is needed so that the frame can be seen in the optical viewfinder window. Reflecting from the mirror, the light enters the viewfinder.

When the shutter is pressed, the mirror leaves the path of the light flux so that it can fall on the camera matrix. Due to the size of the mechanism, DSLRs are doomed to be heavy.

With full-frame mirrorless cameras, light is directed directly onto the sensor. They have fewer fragile elements, and they themselves are more compact than DSLRs.

Through the optical viewfinder of SLR cameras, you can see about the same thing that the eye can see, while the electronic viewfinders of mirrorless cameras show the picture taking into account the selected shooting parameters: shutter speed and aperture, photosensitivity.

In turn, SLR cameras have a large margin of autonomy. We wrote in more detail about the differences between these types of cameras. .

 2. Megapixels and inches

It is believed that the more megapixels, the better. This is true for the detailing of frames in large-format printing, for a photo everything is not so simple.

Megapixels are the number of light-sensitive points on the matrix, its resolution. These dots can be large and collect a lot of light, or small, capable of receiving less light, which will cause the image to lose brightness.

It depends on the physical size of the matrix. With the same sensor size, the number of megapixels may differ. After all, in order to fit more megapixels in the same area, you need to reduce the pixel size. At equal resolution, a wider sensor will give a brighter and clearer picture.

3. Matrix

We talked about the importance of the size of the matrix in the last paragraph. Now let’s talk about one feature that is presented as an important feature of the new cameras. This is a back-illuminated matrix.

In conventional matrices, light is partially scattered, while in new matrices, due to the grinding of the substrate to a thickness of 10-15 microns, it is not.

Cameras with such matrices are more expensive, they are more fragile, and when using light filters that attenuate the light flux, their use becomes meaningless. Back-illuminated matrices are mainly used in astronomical photography.

4. Sensitivity

ISO is a measure of the sensitivity of the camera sensor. He is responsible for improving the quality of shooting in the dark. ISO can be lowered if it is possible to increase the shutter speed, for example, when working with a tripod. When photographing handheld, it’s best not to experiment with shutter speeds to avoid blurry shots and just raise the ISO.

If a camera with a small sensor has a high ISO, this does not matter, since such a sensor is not able to capture enough light without noise.

5. Dynamic range

It is the ability of the camera to recognize and simultaneously transmit light and dark details of the scene being filmed. The wider the dynamic range of the camera, the better. Measured in exposure stops. Exposure is controlled by three components: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.

An exposure stop is a 2x increase or decrease in the amount of light entering the camera’s sensor. By understanding what an exposure level is, you can compare shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.

Simply put, if you shorten the shutter speed by 2 times (by 1 step), 2 times less light enters the matrix. The photo may come out dark. To compensate for this and return the exposure 1 step back, either open the aperture more or double the ISO.

6. Autofocus

In modern cameras, two types of autofocus are usually used: contrast and phase. The essence of contrast autofocus (it is used in both SLR and mirrorless cameras) is that an image in focus is more contrasting than an out-of-focus image.

To focus, the camera goes through different focus values, and reads in which direction the contrast has changed. This happens until the camera reaches the most contrasting position.

Phase detection autofocus originally appeared in DSLR cameras. This is a structure of mirrors located under the matrix. It divides the incoming light beam in two (these parts are called phases) and reads in which part of the sensor the light has hit.

If the object is in focus, then the light comes to the middle of the sensor. If not, closer to the center or edge of the sensor. Then the camera counts how much the focus was wrong and in which direction it needs to be changed.

In mirrorless cameras, phase focusing has a slightly different look. Instead of a separate focusing module, the main matrix is ​​used. For this, in each pixel the photodiode is divided into two parts, a microlens is installed above them. Next, it analyzes how much the focus was missed.

Modern cameras have many smart focus modes. The mechanism is able to track the eye, face, head, and body.

7. Stabilization

Optical stabilization in lenses is provided by a movable lens unit. When the camera starts to shake, this block moves out of phase to compensate for the shaking. Thanks to optical stabilizers, the camera lenses move in the lens, but remain stationary relative to the subject.

Matrix stabilization is introduced directly into the camera. This is a mechanism that moves the matrix in antiphase to the arising oscillations.

It is most profitable to use matrix stabilization in combination with optical. In such cases, you can compensate for the exposure up to 8 stops.

The cameras also have built-in electronic stabilization. It crops the picture around the edges, narrowing the viewing angle.

8. Bit rate is important for video shooting.

This is the amount of data encoded per second when shooting. Measured in megabits per second. The higher the bitrate, the better the video quality is.

However, a high bit rate increases the size of the files, so you will need a larger memory card. read more blog