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Chapter Three. The Truth About Lenses: W... > Zoomed vs. Full-Frame Lenses

Zoomed vs. Full-Frame Lenses

You’ve probably heard by now that most digital cameras (and dSLRs) have a zoom factor. What that means is that the number of millimeters you read listed on the lens used with a digital camera is different than what you used to get with a traditional 35mm film camera. For example, if you put an 85mm traditional lens on a digital camera, it’s not really 85mm. On a Nikon, the lens is zoomed in by a factor of 1.5, so your 85mm lens is really giving you the results of a 127mm lens. On Canon cameras, it’s zoomed in by 1.6, so an 85mm lens is really more like a 135mm lens. This drives photographers who have moved from film cameras to digital cameras a little nuts, because to them, an 85mm should be an 85mm, but that’s just the way it’s always been. However, now the big buzz is around full-frame cameras, and what that means is that with full-frame cameras, an 85mm is an 85mm once again. There is no zoom factor, no multiplication—the lens is finally really what it says it is. Ahhhh, but there’s a gotcha! (Isn’t there always?) If you put a lens that was made for a standard digital camera (and most digital lenses are just that) on a full-frame camera, it zooms it (basically, it crops your photo down to the zoomed dimensions). What that means to you and me is if you buy a full-frame digital camera, you won’t get the advantage of a full-frame camera (at least when it comes to lenses), unless you buy lenses that are specially made for full-frame cameras. Now, that being said, some of the higher end, more expensive lenses do work fine with full-frame cameras and they don’t crop down the image. So, how do you know which ones do and which ones don’t? I put together a partial list for Nikon and Canon users at www.kelbytraining.com/books/digphotogv3.


  

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