Olda-GFeatured By OwnerNov 2, 2012Hobbyist Photographer
Interesting commentary and I see you are getting several replies from exactly the sort of close minded people you are talking about.
I currently use both full-frame and APS-C cameras, both dSLR and mirrorless. I even have a mirrorless medium format film camera lying around. Which camera-lens combination I use depends on what I want to shoot and how I want to shoot it. I use an OVF most of the time, but I use live view in situations where it is more useful. Despite what some are saying there is no format that is the "truth" or more natural. Cameras should be thought of tools for capturing images. Most of the time I pick up the tool that is going to be most useful (but sometimes I experiment). Most of us are more limited by our own skills and creativity than by our equipment.
It is always fun to see replies of people from both sides of the fence. For me I don't really care about those "I have a full frame and you only have an APS-C camera so I am cooler" statement. I don't mind being "lame" for having a cropped sensor as long as it suits my need.
I agree with what you said there. A good camera will certainly create a good photograph easier, but at the end of the day it is the skills and creativity that defines a good and a bad photographer.
Bigger sensor is better, all else being equal. A 70mm sensor digital camera would be amazing to shoot with (but large, heavy, and very expensive - making it impractical for many photographers and working environments). The 35mm format is popular in digital as in film because it's about the largest sensor area you can get in a camera while maintaining decent portability (in the "you can easily carry it on a strap over your neck all day while travelling" sense, at least).
As for optical vs electronic viewfinders, I prefer optical for three reasons:
1) No time lag. At all.
2) I like manual focus. Which you may argue is another antiquated leftover, but I find it more natural than worrying about setting focus points and modes. And a split-prism optical viewfinder is a far better tool for manual focus than anything I've seen done with an electronic screen.
3) When shooting with an optical viewfinder you're holding the camera against your head. In the case of an SLR, you're holding a relatively large and heavy camera against your head. This grants far greater stability than an electronic display that you look at on the back of the camera. As for the kind of EVIL cameras which have an eyepiece electronic viewfinder, I've never come across one where the tiny electronic viewfinder was anywhere near as sharp or contrasty as an optical viewfinder would be. Give the electronics people a few more years to work on super-high-pixel-density displays and that statement may change, but for the moment it's not yet a fully-mature technology.
And as for being a relic of "film", the SLR format was only one of many camera body designs for film photography. There were view cameras, TLRs, simple light-tight boxes that you aimed and focused by rough eyeballing or measurements and math, range-finders, and offset-viewfinder point-and-shoots. SLR won out as the near-universal format for non-niche professional photography because of good ergonomics and an easy to control and understand interface for composing and focusing images.
...but the SLR was in a sense born out of film in that the earlier glass-plate media didn't lend themselves to portability and thus didn't create a demand for flexible, portable cameras for the masses. Film made photography more accessible and made of the SLR a design that could be taken seriously as a useful replacement for the old large-format view cameras that were once dominant. Digital similarly gave rise to a class of point-and-shoot cameras far exceeding the capabilities of their film-based predecessors. But large-format view cameras aren't dead, because there are things they can do that SLR's aren't particularly well suited to. And, while the digital point-and-shoot is a far more powerful and versatile tool that the film point-and-shoot, it's never going to completely replace the SLR design for photographers who want a camera that favors image quality and good ergonomics over compactness of form.
You're 100% wrong about full frame vs. cropped. Full frame is better. Why? On full frame, 50mm is 50*1.6 for 80mm. On a full frame, that math doesn't apply. A 50mm is a 50mm. On medium format it's usually something like 50*.71 for a 35mm. So full frame is better. Not to mention those are "flagship" cameras packing the most features a manufacturer can put into a camera.
Focal lengths don't change. a 50mm lens is a 50mm lens on whether you put it on a FF, APS-C, Medium Format camera. The size of the sensor/film doesn't change the focal length of the lens one bit. What does change is the equivalent Field of View between the different size formats.