Full Frame Cameras, are they really worth the money?

Yet again we see the announcement of a new Camera.

Recently it was Fuji  heralding the arrival of the XA-7, which is firmly aimed at the younger, phone savvy set and has some nice improvements onboard when compared to the XA-5.

Prior to this was the new Canon  EOS M6 and the EOS 90D. Prior to this was the new Sony A7r IV.

Today sees the announcement of the Sony A9 II.

Looking back over the past 18 months sees a slew of new cameras brought to market, most of which are aimed at mirrorless and full frame users, and all come with a pretty serious price tag.  It seems there has been precious little to make those with a more modest budget excited. The new XT series from Fuji and the A series from Sony while bringing good cameras to market still tend to be too high priced for a lot of the budget conscious, myself included.

Personally I have zero interest in full frame cameras, I already have full frame cameras, they just happen to be 35 mm film cameras. I have zero interest in lugging around a set of heavy lenses as well. Pretty much most lenses for full frame and quality primes for both full frame and APSC are heavy. Even Panasonic has fallen prey to the “fullframe” malaise.

At least Panasonic and Olympus are continuing for the present with their much smaller and lighter micro four thirds cameras. Both makers have excellent glass for these cameras and being much smaller and lighter make it easier to tote around a few extra lenses in the camera bag.

Of late I’ve decided on a two lens approach for all my future photographic needs, a good 50 mm prime and a good/excellent ( price dependent) 18 to 300 mm range telephoto lens. Thats more than enough for most photography needs where I am concerned.

With that in mind I cant help but think that in a shrinking market, manufacturers producing new generation full frame cameras have a very limited audience. While the best YouTube channels are all sporting reviews and opinions, back in the real world just how many people are actually going  to have a use on a daily basis for such equipment. Yes there will be pro photographers that will swap or upgrade their gear, as well as some well heeled enthusiast/hobbyists.

But for the general  amateur/hobbyist photographer that just wants a nice reliable camera with a couple of decent lenses thats under $800.00 USD ( thats about $1300 NZD). Theres not too much available other than basic entry level gear.

Now at that sort of money its not hard to see why people are opting for a smartphone rather than a dedicated camera. Given that the modern smart phone is a portable phone/computer/media player/camera its not hard to see why people are buying them rather than a straight camera.

My wife runs her entire computing requirements including photo processing and printing off her Samsung Note9, running in DEX mode. When home its attached to a high quality 27 inch monitor with HDMI inputs and outputs, has sound in and out to run a set of desktop speakers and has a wireless keyboard and mouse for interface input.  It also has  256 gig storage to boot. The camera is excellent for the size of the lens /sensor combo. You can see examples from this phone in previous posts on this blog. The newer Note10  is even better with a faster processor and GPU, added DEX functionality and better cameras and sensors as well as improved video capability.

Original unedited image from the Samsung J3Pro
Original unedited image from the Samsung J3Pro

Its hard to see where the camera manufactures think the market trend is going when year on year we see plummeting camera sales across the market. Sure the professional photographer’s always benefit from newer improved gear but when one wants to spent money on a new camera body whats the attraction given today’s technology in a lightweight multi purpose package like the smart phone. In case you still arent sure about the modern smart phone, the image below was taken with my Samsung J3Pro, edited in Photoscape and printed onto A4 photo paper.

This image is the photo above printed in portrait mode on A4 paper. Unfortunately the J3Pro in low light is not too good so this image is a little dull. However when the photo is viewed there is no apparent noise,the focus is razor sharp,and color is well balanced and bright.

The Samsung J3Pro is a pretty low end smartphone when compared to something like the Note 9 or Note 10, or the latest top offerings from other manufacturer’s. Its a bit like comparing a racehorse and a draft horse, the J3 is definitely the draft-horse in this arena.

No matter what you needs are, theres nothing sure as to what the market will bring in the coming months and years, and time will tell whether the full frame camera market will stand the test of time or rapidly shrink into nothing more than a niche for those with the deepest pockets and a real need for the big camera setup.

Happy Snappin’




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