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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Will Full-Frame D-SLRs Take Over The World?

DPP talks to several photographers who weigh in on the future of full-frame, APS-C and medium-format technology and the potential for professionals


This Article Features Photo Zoom


“I’m in awe at the 39 megapixels I already have,” Creagh says of his medium-format system. “Yet, I do not trust my camera at ISO 200. I shoot exclusively at 50 or 100 speed. I just picked up the inexpensive [Canon EOS] 5D Mark II. It is fantastic, and with my 85mm ƒ/1.2 lens at ISO 800 and up, I’m taking shots my Hasselblad can’t even dream of.”

When you look at the overall D-SLR market in 2009,” says Canon technical advisor Chuck Westfall, “there’s no question that models with full-frame sensors are more popular than ever. I think it’s safe to say that D-SLRs with full-frame sensors will continue to grow in popularity over the next several years at least.

“All the formats are melding,” adds Schude. “The technology is there to shoot HD video and high-res stills off the same chip, and there’s a demand for it.”

Not So Fast
Full-frame sensors are rightfully beloved, but they haven’t taken over.

“When you look at the overall D-SLR market in 2009,” says Canon technical advisor Chuck Westfall, “there’s no question that models with full-frame sensors are more popular than ever. I think it’s safe to say that D-SLRs with full-frame sensors will continue to grow in popularity over the next several years at least.

“However,” Westfall continues, “I would expect smaller-sensor formats to continue to thrive in the digital SLR market for the foreseeable future. As of 2009, approximately 90% of all D-SLRs sold worldwide use APS-C or smaller image sensors. Although it’s not beyond the realm of possibility to think that full-frame-sensor cameras may eat into that share somewhat.”

While Westfall is talking about consumer-level cameras as well as the professional market, he makes an interesting point for pros. The pro market has never been overly large, and considering the high costs of research and development associated with any digital camera, the major companies will be going where the money is. It’s conceivable that smaller formats, with potentially larger R&D budgets, could leapfrog the full-frame models in terms of image quality and resolution, and in that case, the need for full-frame evaporates.

 

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