Sensor Size Sweet Spot is APS-C and not Full Frame, Claim These Industry Insiders

The Ideal Sensor Size

Yeah, let’s do it. Let’s stir up the spirits, and for one more glorious time, jump fully into the sensor size debate.

The trigger?

And article by DL Cade form Petapixel, who had a talk with Richard Butler (DPR) and Bill Claff (Photons to Photos), about:

  • Why Full Frame is perceived as the “serious” format
  • What is the “ideal” sensor size

The first can be answered with the popularity of 35mm in the film era.

But in modern digital times, is full frame really the sweet spot? DL Cade, Richard and Bill answer the following in this article:

DL Cade goes for APS-C:

I still believe there is a best sensor for “most people” and that this sensor is not full-frame. This sensor is APS-C. […] the performance to size to cost ratio falls into a sweet spot that neither Micro Four Thirds nor full-frame can match.

take the Fuji X-T3, which is a bit closer in price and weight to the a7 III, selling for only $500 less and weighing only 0.25lbs less. In the video department, the Fuji can already record 4K/60p 4:2:0 10-bit internally; Sony can’t even do that over HDMI. And it, too, shoots at a faster 11fps in 14-bit RAW, can capture up to 30fps electronically with an additional 1.25x crop, and benefits from a large selection of high-quality, compact lenses designed for APS-C.”

Richard Butler says:

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Fujifilm X-T3 vs Sony a7III, Buying Fujifilm on a Budget, Lenstip XF16mm f/2.8 review and Much More (Fuji X Cameras/Lens Roundup)

I do receive lots of email requests from fellow Fuji X shooters asking to be featured. And it is my pleasure to cut out regulary a space for you guys here on FujiRumors.

However, the requests are many, and the content on FujiRumors is overall very rich, so sometimes it takes a bit longer to be featured.

But I don’t forget any single one of you, and you’ll all be featured at some point. I just ask for a little bit of patience :).

Cover Stories

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Towerjazz Explains Why Sony’s Sensor Hegemony is a Problem, the 8K Downsides, the Dynamic Range Challenge and More

The Sensor Business

There was a time, when Fujifilm was making its own sensors.

However, at some point in time, Fujifilm sold its sensor business to Toshiba, which later on sold it to Sony.

As of today (and as far as I know) Fujifilm only makes the color filter array for sensors. Fujifilm also cooperates with Samsung on the ISOcell+ sensor development, which we reported about here.

In short: Sony dominates the sensor market, and most camera manufacturers buy all the sensors they need from Sony.

This gives Sony a huge advantage, as Fujifilm managers Toru Takahashi and Toshihisa Iida said back in 2016 here:

Sony has a big advantage, they make their own sensors. That is a very big advantage for them.

FujiRumors got information years ago, that Fujifilm had a contract with Sony, that allowed them to use the latest Sony sensor only 6 months after Sony used them on their own cameras, giving them a strategic time advantage (timing is crucial in business).

I don’t know if this contract has been changed in the meantime, but what I know is that Sony officially said once, that they will keep the best sensors for themselves, and not sell them to other camera manufacturers.

The Sony Problem

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FUJIFILM vs SONY Colors Compared: “If You don’t Want to Spent Time Color Grading, Fujifilm is Great”

Max Yuryev compares the Sony vs Fujifilm color science.

It’s a blind test, so you have to go through 10 frames, note on paper if you prefer camera A and B. Of course I did it, and it turns out I prefered Fujifilm in 80% of the cases.

The video frames from 1 to 4 are taken with standard picture profile, whereas from 5 to 10 he compares Eterna to a custom made picture profile.

Some general conclusions Max made, before we watch at the frames one by one:

  • in harsh daylight, with light bouncing, the Sony got some heavy tint, but Fuji’s smart color science got rid of it
  • Sony is usually more accurate, but you have to spend time to get rid of that tint
  • Fujifilm got it figured out, and you don’t have to worry about color tint
  • If you just want to shoot, and not spent time color grading, Fujifilm is great

We remind you that, as reported here, Fujifilm makes a distinction between metric color and memory color. Metric color is more realistic, whereas memory color is interpretation, it’s how your brain sees and remembers colors in a certain scene.

Certain Fujifilm film simulations are not ment to be accurate representation of real colors, but interpretations closer to how you remember those colors.

Other film simulations instead just have to give a unique vibe to the image, think at the vintage touch of the less saturated Classic Chrome for example, great for documentary photography, thanks to the “art of omission” that puts the story/content in the center, instead of colors.

Colors science is a crucial factor at Fujifilm, and we told you already that the engineer, who developed the original Velvia film, has also developed the digital Velvia film simulation.

And now back to the comparison:

1st frame

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Value Angle of Mirrorless Cameras Explained and Compared

At the last Fujifilm X summit (which we covered and sumed up for you here), Fujifilm talked to us about the “value angle”.

The value angle is not a weird concept invented by Fujifilm, but a factor that influences the whole design and development of a camera system, as well as image quality.

In short: the wider the value angle, the more precise and easier a lens can send light to the sensor. A wider value angle gives more flexibility for lens design and allows for more light and less digital correction.

As you can see below, Fujifilm X has a huge value angle and Sony Full Frame an extremely small value angle, which is why Sigma said that it is a challenge to develop full frame lenses for Sony, especially high quality ones.

Chart below provided by the German site docma.

In German we refer to Full Frame as "Kleinbild" (small format)
In German we refer to Full Frame as “Kleinbild” (small format)

If you want to get an anology with a soccer player hitting the ball, in order to understand it better, we can get the help of an article appeared at the German site docma many months ago.

Google translated version down below.

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