Full Frame Mirrorless: Is it Worth the Price?

by | May 21, 2020

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Worth the price? When it comes to the pors and cons of purchasing a full-frame mirrorless camera, there;s more than just the price tag to consider. Sure the cost (and size) of full-frame vs smaller sensor cameras can be different, so let’s check out this comparison of body prices and weights:

Canon EOS R                $1,799                                                                         1.45 lb

Canon M6 Mark II:         $799 (APS, 22.3 x 14.9mm)                                     14.39 oz

Nikon Z7                        $2,796.95                                                                    1.29 lb

Nikon Z50                      $856.95 (APS, 24x16mm)                                        13.93 oz

Olympus E-M1 Mark III: $1,599 (MFT, 17.3 x 13mm)                                       1.28 lb

Panasonic S1 R            $3,697.99                                                                     2.24 lb

Panasonic GH5             $1,297.99 (MFT, 17.3 x 13mm)                                   1.59 lb

Sony Alpha a9 II            $4498.                                                                         1.49 lb

Sony Alpha a6400         $898. (APS, 23.5 x 15.6mm)                                    14.22 oz

Interestingly, everybody’s APS-C sensor seems to be a different size, especially when compared to the original APS-C film format that was 25.1 × 16.7mm. Full frame cameras seem to cost more and that makes sense because bigger imaging sensors costs more. But there’s more to it than that, which is why I added that third data column—camera weight. And that makes sense too because bigger sensors also take more space in the camera body along with their supporting hardware; all of which adds more weight.

But a bigger, heavier camera is not a negative to some people. To them, a bigger camera just feels better in their hands. My friend Cliff Lawson likes the feel of a big, solid camera as does my wife Mary. Bigger means better to her as well. Part of that reason is that bigger also mean higher image quality. I have no quibbles about the quality of the photographs from the 17.3 x 13mm sensor that’s in my Lumix GH4 but even when shooting with the Canon EOS M6 Mark II with its 22.3 x 14.9mm sensor image quality improvements are noticeable.

How I made this shot: I call this image “A Tale of Two Miatas.” I photographed these Mazdas at Cars & Coffee in Parker, Colorado using an Olympus E-M1X, which at 2.20 lbs nobody would consider a small camera especially considering the small size of it’s sensor. Lens was an Olympus M.17mm f/1.2 and the Program mode exposure was 1/1250 sec at f/5 and ISO 320.

Which brings me a question that I often ask myself when I head out to attend a Cars & Coffee event or maybe a car show, if and when these events ever come back. When I walk out the door, I’m more than likely to pick up my Panasonic Lumix GX1 (11.22 oz) that was introduced in 2011, which make it 88 years old in Internet years, which are like dog years. To be sure, this is an old camera but it makes good pictures and also lighter than any of the cameras in the above chart.

Does size matter? Nikon’s full-frame DSLR D780 that I tested for Shutterbug (Read my review here) weighs 1.85 lb, heavier than all but the Lumix S1R listed above. Shooting with it was a handful but I was working indoors in a museum, so it wasn’t too big for that situation. But I’m not sure I would schlep it to Cars & Coffee because of the size and weight of both the camera and the bigger lenses full frame cameras engender.

Point of interest: Real soon now I will be testing the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art Lens for Leica L mount and it weighs 1.75. Mount it to a Lumix S1R, which I plan to do, and the combo weighs in at almost four pounds. If I end up shooting some cars with this camera and lens, the results will show up on a post here, otherwise look for a post/review on my photography how-to Blog.

Today is my birthday and if you enjoyed today’s blog post and would like to treat me to a cup of Earl Grey tea ($2.50), click here.