Talking about FX vs DX or full frame vs crop is a very common topic discussed by photographers. I will just try to say few words about my experience with my new d750 FX and how it compares to the older d5200 in terms of feel and quality. 

Image from captainkimo.com

When I started to dive deeper into photography I decided to go for a SH Nikon 5200, which I bought for a very good price. I was really impressed by the camera and I felt it like a huge step forward, especially when comparing with my previous point and shoot device.

I used the D5200 for around a year and I was overall very happy with it. Not much to comment about it, as I could get some really impressive pictures and I loved the flipping screen which allowed shooting at dubious angles and discovering new perspectives. However, I was always looking at the “more professional” cameras and especially I was curious about the FX range. Still, I noticed that most of these cameras were ugly big and not really fit for my adventure shooting (I was shooting a lot initially for myoffroad.net project).

Then I noticed an interesting model: d750. Particularly because of the smaller size compared to other FX monsters, size and weight beng a deal breaker for me. So when I found one piece available for a decent price on SH market, I went for it. I was planning to keep the body and slowly invest in some lenses, as I was aware that my DX collection will be useless. Still I tested it for bit of time with the 35mm DX prime lens, which actually works pretty well if you can accept some vignetting.

As I am writing this, I have already around 3 months of work on this d750, so I can share some points on the topic.

FX vs DX

Well, this was always a big debate. I can tell you that you can get really good results with DX camera and I am sure that 7000 series can actually get even better performance than my 5200. On the other hand, almost all FX cameras are considered high-end devices, so doesn’t make any sense to compare FX with DX models like 3300. Yes, most of these FX have much batter controls, better sensors and probably are a bit faster in every corner. However, if you just shoot occasionally, you might feel no difference.

One of the things that I noticed is that 50mm FX lens looks wider than 50mm DX lens. Which is normal, as DX sensor is just a crop of FX. Basically the DX is just cropping the center of the FX frame. Which helps for zooming, especially when sensors have same pixel count. So is easier to find and cheaper to run big zoom lenses on DX cameras, while for FX, if you want to shoot surfers, you have to invest a serious amount of money in a big-big lens.

Why? Because mathematically a 100mm lens acts as 100mm lens on FX and 150mm lens on DX. Pretty better improvement for DX, when you want to shoot distant targets. And you can get same pixel count, which means that on DX you can zoom and crop even further.

Another problem with stepping up to FX is the price of the lenses. OMG, that is gonna be a big pain. One good FX zoom will cost as much as all the DX collection you already have. And then you will need some mid-range, plus a big long-range, if you really want to shoot further targets.

Also, I noticed that FX zooms come with much bigger distortions and vignetting compared to DX counterparts. It is quite difficult to use any image without first applying the profile correction of the lens, a step which on DX was not really that critical.

Up to this point I mentioned the things which anyone looking to step to full-frame should know. But the main reasons you go for FX is quality. And I can spell it like QUALITY. When you pay the premium prices for a full-frame device, you will get quality camera, with a quality sensors and usually the lenses are also packed with lots of quality features (VR, nano-coatings, ED gass, etc.).

There is one thing I have to admit: images coming from d750 have beautiful colors and details out of the box, even without processing. While on d5200 images I was always adding Clarity and Vibrance, these files coming out from Nikon d750 are purely beautiful. Just apply lens corrections (actually camera can do it for you automatically) and you can show them to anyone.

And, maybe on of the most dramatic improvement between DX and FX is the ISO performance. And here the difference is BIG. While with d5200 even ISO 800 was bit too grainy for my taste, on FX I am happy even with ISO 3200. It really does look good even with noise reduction. Even ISO 10.000 can be acceptable in some situations 😀

Nikon D750, 70mm, f/4.5, 1/10 sec, ISO 1250, no noise reduction, no flash

ISO 1250, f/4.5, no noise reduction, no flash

ISO 1250, f/4.5, no noise reduction, no flash

Feeling the Nikon d750

It feels good. From the moment I touched it, it felt like the tool you could use all day long. Let’s put down some advantages I noticed:

  • purely beautiful colors and details in pictures, just as out of the camera
  • much easier to use for HDR and comes out with better details in under-exposed frame.
  • professional controls, you can adjust and change settings so easy, given all the buttons you have available
  • high-capacity battery, you can fill some SD cards before it will give up. Also the battery meter is accurate, unlike the 5200
  • two SD card slots, you can use one as backup during the most important sessions
  • much better build quality of the body, looks like a thing built to last
  • integrated wi-fi. No need for extra adapter to have wi-fi access to camera (but enabling it will use battery)
  • better display, but less flexible compared to d5200

Cons:

  • everything is more expensive: lenses, cards, bags, etc.
  • is pretty big and heavy. I don’t want to know about other FX cameras.
  • hard and expensive to find a good long-range zoom

HDR without tripod, against the sun, on Matrah Corniche

HDR with d750, against the light

HDR with d750, against the light

 

Will d5200 go away?

Not really. Is still easier to shoot distant targets with the DX sensor and the 200mm lens. It is also lighter and smaller and my wife really likes the way it works. Plus that it is blasting away any point and shoot for any daily shooting activity.